By Owen Pham
Being the longest-produced nameplate in the Ford Motor Company, the mighty Mustang needs no introduction. You don’t even have to be a car enthusiast to have heard about the Mustang. It was introduced in April 1964 and went on to have its ten-millionth unit produced in 2018. It is a much-venerated American muscle car.
Check out 5 reasons classic Mustangs make the best muscle cars right here. But when we are talking about the Ford Mustang, we need to discuss its recurring potential sticky bits as well, given its decades-long mass production run and popularity.
Despite its rugged good looks and the special place it occupies in our hearts, a Mustang’s list of reported problems is far from short. As a model, the Mustang has gone through as many as 72 recalls during its production run. Below is a description of the 5 most common problems associated with the Mustang and a how-to on avoiding/fixing them.
(It’s worth bearing in mind that any and all of these problems can be avoided and/or fixed by talking to a trusted car servicing business, preferably who specialises in Mustangs like Muscle Car UK. It’s worth researching the specialists that are geographically closest to you. )
1. Leaks Everywhere!
Ford allegedly had 72 Mustang recalls between 1995-2000. Does that mean those model years are all fixed and have zero issues? We wouldn’t say that.
This brings us to one irritating issue that popped up more often than not: leaking. This problem was seemingly everywhere: in the cabin, under the hood or even under the car.
The cabin leak was usually related to cheap finishing on the insulation around the door, the windowpane and even overhead in convertible models. It could be prevented by changing the insulation itself or re-aligning panels to make them fit properly.
The leaking under the bonnet, however, could be more serious since it usually involves leaking hot oil from transmitting tubes on the hot engine that could most likely end up in engine combustion/fire.
Some owners complain about a leaky water-coolant system that also impairs the powertrain on a running vehicle. All these leaks around the engine could be taken care of by simply changing all tubing systems and their joints.
2. Squeaky Steering/Suspension
Another common problem with the Mustang that comes up a lot on related forums is chirping steering and rigid suspension. The symptoms are mostly felt when turning a hard corner, where the steering wheel is in a full rotation angle. If you can hear the sound while your steering wheel is under less stress, it means that you have missed an essential repair.
The sounds are generated around the outer tie rod ends, where the material usually wears out (though it varies based on model year). They need to be replaced.
It’s not an uncommon performance issue, but let’s be frank: it’s embarrassing for a Mustang. Tie rods might be the first place you need to look while examining the steering system, but these squeaking sounds might indicate that some other parts may be malfunctioning as well.
Other known sources of abnormal sounds in a Mustang are worn-out struts, shocks and suspension bushings, to name a few. Sometimes they will go away with simple lubrication, but also be on the lookout for more permanent damages that might need more heavy-duty attention.
Most model years that were affected by this problem were reportedly between 1996-2010. This issue hasn’t resurfaced after the 2010 model, but those in the market for older models should be aware before purchasing.
Compared with other common problems detailed in this article, transmission/engine issues cost the most to fix. Sometimes it even makes more sense to not undertake major modifications or and restorations of old classics depending on whether they’re worth it. Read more on engine and transmission repairs.
Many Mustang car owners are used to dead or stalled engines. Some common issues include failed transmission performance during gear shifting, the grinding motion in low revs/speeds or grinding transmission sounds.
If you are about to be a future Mustang owner, please consider a thorough diagnosis before purchase. Even then, though that might help prevent a lot of unforeseen problems, you need to go for regular car check-ups and maintenance. Moreover, you would be well-advised to avoid the 2006-2007 Mustangs altogether.
4. It’s a Shocker!!!
Random electrical inconsistencies are more affiliated with the first and second generation Mustangs but not unique to those models. The 2005-2006 models also experienced similar problems.
The biggest issue owners complain of is irregularity with the performance gauges. Either they do not work, or they display false information (an issue that was fixed in the 2007 model).
The list of other electrical issues associated with other model years consist of irregular battery drainage, not being able to start the car, dimmed headlights, short-circuiting due to poor assembly, the check engine light that turns on for no apparent reason, and the list goes on..
The remedy to the gauge problem is a relatively cheap replacement of the gauge motor. The dimming headlight problem was quite prevalent, and in most cases, the dimmer fuse was the primary culprit. Fixes to other problems can also be diagnosed by visiting a repair shop and cost much less than mechanical issues.
5. Engine Failures
According to experts, “It wouldn’t be a Mustang if the engine didn’t die every once in a while”. Even if you haven’t had a busted engine at one point, you might have experienced a number of other irregularities with the powertrain.
From a dead engine to a sparking one, there are numerous letters/comments by owners and multiple YouTube videos that testify to and go more in-depth with issues related to the Mustang engine. After a search, you’ll discover that there are many failing parts that are all working together to interrupt power generation in the engine block or even the transmission that can cause the odd idle or rev issues while driving or shifting gears.
The fact is the Mustang engine problems have always been there from the beginning and only faded for a while, making a comeback with the 2016-2017 models. Many of these engine issues may not even be diagnosable/noticeable with only a test drive or short-term ownership. Yet another reason to take your car for check-ups, where the staff know all the tricks to get cars to show their weaknesses.
The only way to avoid the exorbitant cost of repair or replacing a Ford engine on your Mustang is routine health checks and emergency check-ups if you believe the vehicle is not performing in its usual manner.
Suspect a Problem with Your Mustang?
Here you go—the 5 most common Ford Mustang problems through the decades and how to deal with them. Like mentioned before, this is a short list. There are numerous other problems we simply could not fit in this article, such as a stuck horn or bad driver seat positioning. Again, not all models share the same problems since they’re relative to their model year and market region.
There are often production issues on the fringes that are resolved in some garage somewhere and are never talked about again after being taken care of. If you know or heard about something strange or problems regarding a Mustang, make sure to leave a comment on our social media and let us know how it was dealt with.
Author: Owen Pham
Muscle Car UK and Pilgrim Motorsports are leading UK classic car specialists for muscle cars, sports cars and classic cars. We build, service and upgrade all classic cars, specialising in Mustangs, V8 engines, Carroll Shelby Cobras and Corvettes.
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