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Best Mustang Acceleration Modifications

Written By: Ryan Doyle

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If better acceleration is what you are after, a tune and cold air intake should be your first stopping point. Not only will acceleration improve, but your Mustang's all-around performance and efficiency will increase.

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When it comes to getting a quicker quarter mile time, 0-60 time, or gaining a peppier jump from red lights, improving acceleration is what it's all about.

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A Quick Run Down

  • Power doesn't help you unless you have the traction to put it to pavement: invest in tires
  • Leighter wheels mean less power is lost turning them
  • Depending on how fast you want to be off the line, consider the various rear gear ratios available for Mustangs
  • Don't forget to correct your speedometer if you change the rear gears
  • A cold air intake and tuner combo can helps your engine breathe and make more power
  • An aluminum driveshaft further reduces the weight of your drivetrain

Tires and Wheels: Acceleration Starts Here

Mustang Wheel & Tire Combo

You can have every mod in the world installed on your Mustang, but if you can't put that power to road where it really matters then it's all for nothing. Upgrading to a set of performance tires offers maximum grip in all sorts of conditions (depending on the option you choose). The better the tread and the more tire you can get on the ground, the better traction you will have. That being said, upgrading to a larger tire--most importantly the width of the tires--adds more traction during launches and all other forms of driving. Upgrading your rims (which is sometimes required for a larger tire size) often benefits not just style, but also lightening the drag load by taking off weight. Wheels that weigh less have easier rotation speed thus increasing your car's acceleration. Rims and tires are easy to replace and can be done simply in your driveway with only a jack and a few basic hand tools.

Gears: The Go-to Mustang Modification for Improved Acceleration

Ford Mustang Burnout

The gears in your Mustang's rear (depending on your year and model) often come geared quite low and are not ideal for acceleration. These low gear ratios were designed for optimum fuel economy for the daily driver. Mustangs in most cases have very powerful engines even from the factory, but are very limited at the same time. Rear gears are one of the most obvious limiting factors that drastically effect acceleration.

By upgrading your gears you can take full advantage of your engine by unleashing it through your rear axle to the road. Depending on your preference and what exactly you will be using your Mustang for, there are a few choices that need to be examined when looking for new rear gears.

Which rear gears are best for my Mustang? 

Gears Help Increase Acceleration

One of the most popular gear setups with the road racer in mind is 3.73s, which offer great acceleration and decent fuel economy while still enabling your Mustang to reach high speeds. 4.10 gears, often used for drag racing, take more from your car's top speed for a greater boost in acceleration over 3.73s. 4.10s will get you into the rpm band quicker than 3.73s, but take a little more off your overall top speed. If top speed is a concern, 3.73s should be your go-to gear ratio, but if pure acceleration is what you're looking for, 4.10s might be a better choice.

Also remember, with greater acceleration comes a need for more traction. There are many other available gear ratios; your decision should be made on your goals and other modifications. Gears will require advanced mechanical experience or even a professional for proper installation. Be sure to replace your speedometer gear, as gears will effect how your speedometer properly reads.

Upgrade to a Cold Air Induction and Tune

Intake & Tuner Combo

Air induction is where it all begins for your Mustang. Without the proper amount of air going into your engine, the combustion process isn't as efficient and your motor will not produce the horsepower and torque it is capable of. Stock intake systems are designed with fuel economy in mind as well as noise reduction. By upgrading your Mustang's intake, you then allow more air to easily enter your engine.

A cold air intake is designed to take the air from within the wheel well, which allows for cooler, denser air to enter your motor. A good rule of thumb is for every 10 degrees you can lower your induction it's possible to gain 1 rear wheel horsepower. This doesn't sound like much, but if you decrease engine temperature significantly it will add up. Upgraded intake systems often have a smoother surface inside the piping allowing for better air flow through the filter, piping, mass airflow sensor and then into your engine.

To take this step even further and to take full advantage of your intake, a proper tune is recommended. When a tuner is used with a custom tune, acceleration can be increased getting you off the line quicker. Intakes can be installed at home with a few simple tools.

Mustang Aluminum Driveshafts

Ford mustang Aluminum Driveshaft

The stock drive shaft in your Mustang is steel, making it heavy thus more difficult for your engine to turn. An aluminum drive shaft will allow your engine's revolutions to rise faster and can also reduce vibration. Although you will not technically gain any horsepower from a new drive shaft, you will considerably reduce drag, resulting in faster track times, faster revving, and a smoother ride. Just like how lighter wheels increase your acceleration by reducing rotation effort, a lightweight aluminum driveshaft affects your acceleration by doing the same thing.

How To Reduce Weight In Your Mustang

There are many ways to reduce weight in a Mustang in order to gain acceleration. While removing weight does not gain any power, it allows the engine to move less weight. In extreme terms, will a 300 hp engine move a tractor trailer faster or a Mustang? That's how weight removal is explained in a nutshell. Less weight means less load to haul, which means to faster acceleration.

If a Mustang owner is not fearful of being stuck because of a flat tire, they can remove the spare tire and jack components from the wheel well. Rear seats can also be removed to save some pounds from the total weight as well.    

For modifications that remove stock parts in order to save weight (such as suspension), saving weight can quickly add up.

Certain items that can be changed are:

  • Tubular K member
  • Tubular Radiator Support
  • Front and Rear Control arms
  • Stereo Equipment
  • Aftermarket front seats
  • Front Sway bar amongst others

Many items can be replaced or removed and while each item may not be much in weight, they add up rather quickly. These items are great to change in order to gain more acceleration.

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