Modified 2008 Ford Mustang GT

Tech Tips: Lowering and correcting wheel hop on a 2005+ Ford Mustang

If you’re the proud owner of a 2005+ S197  Ford Mustang then you are fully aware that the factory suspension has some serious weak points. When launching from a stop, your rear axle feels like it’s running over a washboard. Not to mention that the factory ride height and wheel gap are pretty excessive for such a sporty car.

To fix this, there are a plethora of aftermarket parts available,  but you can spend hours trying to find the right parts to get you the solution you are looking for. Fortunately, I have done the legwork for you  and am including a guide for what I feel is the best setup for the money. There is probably nothing that adds more enjoyment to driving than having a good suspension setup on your car.

Following these steps does have some trade offs. It will transfer more noise from the suspension to the cabin and make your ride just a little bit harsher but for most people, it’s completely worth it. To eliminate your wheel hop and give the car a more aggressive stance you will need to stiffen up the rear control arms/link, replace the shocks, struts, pan-hard rod and springs.

The 3-link setup of the rear suspension

Factory Setup
The Ford Mustang comes from the factory with a very simple rear axle 3-link setup. There’s a Pan-hard rod to prevent side to side movement, lower control arms and an upper control link. This makes upgrading the suspension components relatively inexpensive. The front of the car rides on a MacPherson-strut suspension. The components in the front are general up to task so we will only be replacing the struts and springs. On the other hand, the rear factory control arms are flimsy stamped steel that flex during load and cause your car to wheel hop.

The first item that needs to be taken into consideration are the springs. Going with too aggressive of a drop will actually harm your cars performance by throwing off the suspension geometry of the vehicle. My recommendation is to go with a mild drop, specifically Vogtland springs which will drop the car 30mm or about 1.2 inches. This is a mild enough drop to be able to reuse the factory camber bolts and keep the pinion angle of your drive-shaft in spec yet give the car a dramatic visual impact. In addition, these are progressive rate springs which means that for daily driving they are not too stiff but when cornering they stiffen up and help to reduce body roll.

Shocks and Struts
Like everything else with the Ford Mustang there are a plethora of options. My recommendation would be to get Koni STR.T shocks and struts. They won’t jar your teeth out are known for their reliability and accuracy. Koni also makes yellow adjustable shocks but unless you are going to be autocrossing your car, you can get away with buying the cheaper non-adjustable STR.T version. Additionally, Bilstein shocks are a good alternative. Please note, 2005-10 and 2011-2014 shocks and struts are different units.

Control Arms
There are a many options when selecting a replacement for the Ford Mustang’s control arms and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Options include adjustable, non-adjustable, billet aluminum and tubular steel models. In addition, there are different bushing types that can have an effect the ride harshness and noise transmitted into the cabin. Since the springs we are using only have a mild drop, we can get away with non-adjustable lower control arms. For the upper control link, I recommend a double adjustable unit. Billet arms look pretty but are not as strong as tubular steel and cost more. A good choice is J&M products tubular non-adjustable lower control arms and double adjustable upper control link. They come loaded with poly-ball bushings that reduce binding.

Control Arms
The J&M control arms are a good choice to add ridigity to your suspension

Pan-hard Rod
Since we are lowering the car, we will need to replace the pan-hard rod with an adjustable unit so we can get the rear axle lined up properly with the car. As with the control arms, I would go with a J&M unit – specifically the adjustable one.

With this setup you should no longer have issues with wheel hop and your ability to take corners will be increased ten fold. The average do-it-yourselfer can tackle this project with the help of some basic tools and a spring compressor. If you would rather have someone else do it you can get the work done for around $600 in labor. The next logical step to upgrade the wheels and tires.

Parts List

Vogtland Sport Lowering Springs 2005-Pres. Ford Mustang GT V8 $206.99
KONI STR.T 2005-Pres. Ford Mustang Struts and Shocks $330.96
J&M 2005-Pres. Ford Mustang Double Adjustable Upper Control Arm Street $148.52
J&M 2005-Pres. Ford Mustang Street Lower Control Arms $130.33
J&M 2005-Pres. Ford Mustang On-Car Adjustable Panhard Rod $127.95
Total $944.75