Custom Ford Mustang -- Where do I start?


One of the most appealing aspects of the Ford Mustang is the ease of modifying them to fit the driver's personal needs and tastes.  There is probably no other car available in the United States with such a booming aftermarket, with options to make the car look and run exactly how you want.

As you begin to modify your Mustang to make more power, keep in mind that you want to increase air flow both in and out of the engine and if you modify both ends of the combustion process equally you will see greater gains as you go.  Starting off, the most common and easiest modifications for newer Mustangs are cold air intakes, exhaust systems and 'tuners'. 

Cold air intakes are probably the simplest modification that you can make to your Mustang and in most cases this will also be the cheapest.  The cold air intake replaces your factory intake tubing and filter box, allowing for better air flow to the engine but in most cases, also making more engine noise.  The 2010 and newer Ford Mustang GT comes with a factory cold air intake designed with optimum air flow and minimum noise but changing to a aftermarket intake will often give your Mustang a little more power and sound. 

A hand tuner is the next easiest modification and while these can be a bit pricey, they provide more additional power than the intake or cat-back exhaust system and they require no real technical knowledge.  If you can locate your OBDII port under the dash and plug a cable into it, you can use a hand tuner.  Along with changing the parameters of your engine computer to make more power and often increase economy a tuner can allow you to check and clear engine codes, alter the shift point in automatic cars, and even monitor other engine diagnostics while driving.  The price of these will usually be higher than the cold air intake but may be less than some of the top of the line exhaust systems.

Much like the intake, a cat-back exhaust system is the next easiest modification, although prices will vary based on brand, quality and whether or not you can install it yourself.  It only takes simple tools and can be done in a driveway and this is a modification that can really give your Mustang some personality.  Stock exhaust systems are designed to dampen the noise where aftermarket exhaust systems often amplify it - helping to make your Mustang sound like an American performance car.

Once you have added the cold air intake, cat-back exhaust system and the tuner you need to get into modifications that will cost more and require more mechanical know-how to get more power from your Mustang.  These are all modifications that can be done by a hobby mechanic but care should be taken as with these mods, a poor job can cause damage to your car.

Exhaust headers add more power but for a novice driveway mechanic, these can be challenging and poor installation can cause more problems.  However, when coupled with high flow catalytic convertors and a good cat-back exhaust system, headers will help to increase the overall flow of your exhaust gases thus making more power.

A larger throttle body and larger fuel injectors will help get more air and fuel into your engine.  These will give you very minor gains but as you continue to build your engine they will become necessary. 

Finally, we come to the high end modifications.  These are not for the faint of heart or those without proper mechanical knowledge as poor installation will ruin your engine.

Forced induction has become the most popular means to make big horsepower.  Superchargers, turbochargers and nitrous oxide can provide hundreds of horsepower depending on the application but should you decide to go this route, do your homework.  Research the best forced induction kit to fit your needs and find a reputable shop to do the install work unless you are comfortable doing the work yourself.



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