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2005-2014 Ford Mustang Maintenance Guide

Written By: Glenn Cope II

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AmericanMuscle carries the maintenance parts you need to keep your Mustang running at its peak performance. From oil filters to ATF and injector cleaner, you'll find everything you need for your '05-'14 Ford Mustang.

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Mustangs of today do not require the schedule of maintenance as the Mustangs of the past, but they still need to be maintained properly. So before you let that service light burn out on your 2005-2014 Mustang, you might want to go ahead and plan to keep your Muscle car in good working condition.

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Common Mustang Maintenance Parts

  • Air Filters—Stock filters are paper, and replacing it with an aftermarket panel filter can allow your engine to breathe better
  • Oils—Synthetic oils go further than conventional oils, and if you race your Mustang, you should consider premium brand oils to reduce wear and friction 
  • Belts—Belts can dry out over time and need to be checked at different intervals before being replaced at 150,000 miles
  • Brakes—Brakes should be checked yearly, in addition to rotors and brake fluid
  • Cooling System—At 30,000 miles the levels and integrity should be checked
  • Shocks & Struts—For hard drivers, shocks and struts should be checked at 80,000 miles at the very latest
  • Tires—Do not buy cheap tires, and maintain proper inflation levels to insure maximum performance
  • Spark Plugs—For hard driving Mustang owners, spark plugs should be checked every 30,000 miles, and if your Mustang is supercharged, they should be checked yearly

When it comes to routine maintenance on your Mustang, you can either work on the car yourself, or take it to a mechanic to get things done. If you choose to do things yourself and save money, this guide will give you a brief rundown on the types of routine maintenance work. Regular maintenance is very important to keep your Mustang operating smoothly as well as performing well. Most of us drive a Mustang because we like a car that performs above your average daily driver, but to keep things that way, maintenance to essential operating parts is required.

There are several things to consider when maintaining your Mustang. First, you should not only keep up on it regularly so it doesn't break down or cause serious issues down the road, but you might also find way of improving your Mustang's overall performance at the same time. This article covers all the things you need to be mindful of as you put miles on your Mustang.

2005-2009 Mustang K&N Drop-In Replacement Filter
Aftermarket, Drop-In Replacement Air Filter

Mustang Air Filters

First let’s look at the Mustang's air filter. Your Mustang most likely came from Ford with a paper filter. This filter will get dirty depending on the environment you drive it in. This is the same for your cabin filter as well. Changing this filter when it’s dirty will allow your engine to breath better and maintain its level of fuel efficiency. Two performance options you have are: 1. to get an aftermarket panel filter or 2. replace the whole air box with an open air element filter. They each will allow your engine to breathe easier, increase throttle response, and efficiency, leading to better gas mileage and the addition of a few rear wheel horsepower.

Air filter replacement is quite simple. Opening the hood of the vehicle, the air filter is located right behind the driver side headlight. Releasing the tabs holding the cover over the filter will expose the filter, allowing it to be removed and replaced if necessary.

2011-2014 Mustang GT Cold Air Intake
Cold Air Intake

Oils

Next let’s look at the oil and oil filter. Most synthetic oils go a lot farther than conventional oils. They will last five to ten thousand miles. If you drive your car hard or take it to the track then you will want to change it sooner. Premium brands have shown to reduce wear and reduce friction. If you have the budget and drive your Mustang hard you may want to consider them. At 100K miles you will want to change your automatic transmission fluid. Even if you drive a manual transmission, changing the fluid is also a good idea. While you’re at it you should also change the rear end oil. Going with high quality synthetic oil can actually increase your overall efficiency.

Changing the oil on an 05-14 Mustang is just like every other car. Run the engine for a few minutes to get the oil slightly warm (to increase the viscosity). Then remove the fill cap on the valve cover. Next, remove the oil drain plug and let the oil drain out of the pan. Also, remove the oil filter at the same time. Next, lube the new oil filter with some oil lightly around the o-ring and install it onto the vehicle. After, reinsert the drain plug without cross threading the bolt. After, you can fill your Mustang with the proper oil spec listed in the owner's manual.

S197 Mustang Getting an Oil Change

Your Mustang's Brakes

The importance of the brakes goes unsaid. When you hear the squeal then it's about time to replace your brakes and turn your rotors. So check them every year. More often if you ever put your car on the race track. The same goes for your rotors and brake fluid. You would be surprised at the difference a set of aggressive pads and rotors make in your braking distance and feel.

Changing brake pads is a more complex task, but can be done in a few hours with basic hand tools. Removing the wheels (after the car is properly on jack stands) allows the caliper bolts to be exposed. Remove the bolts and then the caliper. Replace the brake pads, remembering to properly compress the pistons as needed. 

2011-2014 Mustang Ceramic Front Brake Pads
Ceramic Front Brake Pads

A Mustang's Cooling System

At 30K you need to check the levels and do an integrity test. With a simple tool you can get at the auto parts store you can check to make sure the coolant is good enough for how cold it gets in your area. Also, check your hoses at the clamps. This is where they will tend to start cracking. Your fuel filter should be changed at sixty thousand miles. If your car is running fine then you may not need to change it exactly at 60K but it’s still a good idea. It will eventually slow down the flow of fuel and you will see your Mustang start to hesitate or it'll be hard to start.

Draining and replacing coolant can be a little more time-consuming. The proper way to flush the system is to make multiple passes through the system with distilled water. Once the fluid becomes clear and appears to be completely water, the system can be replaced with the coolant of choice. 

2005-2014 Mustang Aluminum Radiator
Aluminum Radiator Installed

Mustang Shocks & Struts

Between 80K and 100K you will want to check your shocks and struts. Again, if you drive like your grandmother then they will make it this long or maybe even longer. If on the other hand you like tossing your car around corners then you will be lucky to make eighty thousand miles. If you have ever driven a car with worn out shocks you will know how it feels. The handing will be very sloppy and in extreme cases when you come to a stop the car will still rock back and forth a little.

Shocks are a simple replacement while struts can become a little more work. Replacing a shock requires jacking the rear end up while keeping the axle itself under load. Removing the nuts from the trunk and at the bottom of the shock allows it to be removed. Installation is the opposite of removal. Struts on the other hand, require spring compressors. Since the spring sets on the perch of the strut, care needs to be taken when replacing the struts. The removal is removing the wheel, lower two nuts and upper strut mount nuts, then lowering the strut out. Next, compress the spring and loosen the main upper strut mount. Install is the reversal of removal.

2011-2014 Mustang Adjustable Strut
Adjustable Strut Installed

Pay Attention to The Tires

You can use the famous coin test to check your tire's tread depth. Most people do not attribute enough credit to the tires when it comes to their Mustang's overall performance. Tires are what are in contact with the ground when you are stopping. Plus, their performance in the rain varies from brand to brand. Do yourself a favor and do not buy cheap tires.

Tires need to be properly inflated. Under-inflated tires will use more gas, as well as build up heat. This could lead to a blowout at sustained highway speeds. Also tires will wear unevenly so be sure to rotate them. Many people rotate with every oil change.

Four Performance Mustang Tires

Spark Plugs

Tune-ups are becoming a thing of the past. Ignition timing is computer controlled and there are no carburetors to fiddle with, but the spark plugs do need changing. If you drive your Mustang like your grandmother then they will last sixty thousand miles. If you drive your car hard then you might want to look at them every thirty thousand miles. If your Mustang is supercharged then you should check them every year. If you're wondering what the best spark plugs are for a Mustang, or your Mustang is modified and needs more juice than the stock plugs can provide, an aftermarket set of spark plugs will have many performance benefits that the stock plugs do not.

Spark plugs is simply like every other vehicle, quite simplistic. Removing the bolts for the coils and removing the coils exposes the spark plugs. Using a socket, removing the spark plugs can be used with an extension and ratchet. Install is the opposite of removal, stopping the tightening of the plug when force is felt. 

Mustang NGK Spark Plug

From the Factory: Mile by Mile

If you're looking to have your Mustang maintenanced by a Ford dealer, below is a breakdown (mile be mile) of what the techs will look for/service at various milage intervals. Note: at every interval the dealer will perform an oil change, tire rotation, tire inspection, wheel play and noise inspection, and a multi-point inspection. This will be refered to as basic maintenance in the list if this is the only maintenance performed at that interval.

  • 7,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 15,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Cabin air filter change performed and lubrication of suspension and driveline joints (ball joints, half-shafts, etc)
  • 22,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 30,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Replacement of engine and cabin air filters, plus fuel filter performed as well as lubricating suspension and driveline joints
  • 37,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 45,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Cabin air filter change performed and lubrication of suspension and driveline joints
  • 52,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 60,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Replacement of engine and cabin air filters, plus fuel filter performed as well as lubricating suspension and driveline joints
  • 67,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 75,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Cabin air filter change performed and lubrication of suspension and driveline joints
  • 82,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 90,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, non-sealed steering linkages, and drive belts. Replacement of engine and cabin air filters, fuel filter, and spark plugs performed as well as lubricating suspension and driveline joints
  • 97,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 105,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Cabin air filter, pcv valve, and coolant change performed and lubrication of suspension and driveline joints
  • 112,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 120,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, non-sealed steering linkages, and drive belts. Replacement of engine and cabin air filters plus fuel filter performed as well as lubricating suspension and driveline joints
  • 127,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 135,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, and non-sealed steering linkages. Cabin air filter change performed and lubrication of suspension and driveline joints
  • 142,500 miles: basic maintenance
  • 150,000 miles: check exhaust system, heat shielding, cooling system, entire braking system, non-sealed steering linkages. Replacement of engine and cabin air filters, fuel filter, manual trans fluid, and drive belts performed as well as lubricating suspension and driveline joints

Note: if you drive an automatic, the fluid level is inspected every 15,000 miles and the fluid is replaced at the 150k mark.

Mustang Engine Belts

Per the Ford maintenance schedule, the accessory belt(s) is to be inspected at 100k miles. This is to continue every 20k miles until 150k miles, where they are to be replaced.

Changing a belt can be done in a matter of minutes. Noting the belt routing, a ratchet placed onto the tensioner can allow for the tension to be relieved. Removing the belt and reinstalling the belt the way it came off is crucial. Afterwards, relaxing the tensioner allows for the tension to be reinstalled, finishing the installation of the belt.

Mustang Serpentine Belt

Other Things to Look Out For:

All along the way you should keep an eye on all your various lights (headlights, fog lights, brake lights, side markers etc.) as well as other commonly replaced items such as wiper blades and fuel filters. Changing all these components is rather straight forward, including the fuel filter. Jacking the engine up correctly, the fuel filter is on the driver side near the floorboard. Removing a few bolts for the protective cover exposes the filter which is held on by basic clamps. Removing the clamps allows the filter to be removed and replaced. 

Keeping Your Rear Diff Up to Snuff

The beauty of the 8.8 rear end is it's durable. Not only can it take a beating, but it can take a beating for a long time as well. The best way to keep it maintained is to keep current on two particular items. 1) Make sure it is not leaking fluid 2) Make sure the gaskets are in good condition and the wheels are free spinning with ease when the car is in neutral.

Average Costs of Mustang Maintenance 

As pricing can vary whether work is self performed or contracted and the quality of the parts, there is a general amount that can be given for maintenance costs. The following is a rough range of what parts can be: Air filter [$10-$35], Oil [$35-$100], Oil filter[$5-$15], Brake fluid [$15-$30], Brake pads [$100-$200], Coolant [$50-$100], Shocks and Struts [$150-$300], Tires [$400-$1000], Spark plugs [$75-$125]. These prices vary based on type, brand, amount required, etc.

S197 Mustang Coming Out of the Garage
Fitment includes: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, V6, ShelbyGT500, Boss