I special ordered my 2011 GT in March '10 and received it in July. I checked alot of option boxes and it came as a Sterling Grey with Machined-Face Aluminum wheels, automatic transmission, HID headlights, security package, comfort package, remote start, navigation and glass roof... https://www.allfordmustangs.com/forum...cs-inside.html
By the 10,000 mile mark in late January, I was ready to begin buying mods. A few questions I asked are at these links: https://www.allfordmustangs.com/forum...i-missing.html https://www.allfordmustangs.com/forum...vt-wheels.html
After extensive research and putting in several orders, I accumulated the following parts: From American Muscle:
SCT SF3 Tuner with Bama 87 street, 91 performance, 91 race tunes
3.73 FRPP gears and Motive basic install kit (sans bearings)
J&M Extreme LCAs
J&M Adjustable Panhard Bar
Eibach Pro-Kit springs (1.0" front, 1.5" rear) From Sam Strano:
Tokico D-Specs From CJPonyParts:
FRPP 2011 GT500 Performance Pack Wheels, with BFG KDW2 tires (275/35/19 front, 295/35/19 rear) mounted and balanced along with TPMS installed for an extra $30 or so fee for that labor
TPMS Reset Tool
GT500 Strut Mounts From autoanything.com:
Heartthrob Exhaust Stainless Steel Cat-to-Axle kit with resonators A quick vendor review:
I had A+ service from each of these vendors throughout the process, with special attention due to Sam Strano and Mike at Heartthrob Exhaust for their willingness to chat with me over the phone and via email prior to purchasing their products... and to Ken and several others whom I've forgotten at American Muscle, and to Matt, the customer service manager at CJPonyParts, as he put up with an inordinate amount of emails from me as my wheels/tires were initially backordered. He was a great help. ****
I started off by installing the CAI and tune myself in an evening after work. Easy as can be! Went right to the 91 Race tune. Loved the instant change to the car!
At that point, I took the car to the dyno shop, dyno'd it, had the shop install the Heartthrob Exhaust cat-to-axle and the GT500 axlebacks and dyno'd again... we had some dyno issues all day long. That story is chronicled here: https://www.allfordmustangs.com/forum...-tweaking.html
At that point, I hoped to install the rest of my mods at a local shop that had a guy who has Mustang experience (but not S197 experience, I came to figure out!)... so I hoped to go back to the dyno with the adjusted tunes from Bama. I haven't yet done so, hence that thread hangs in limbo. My story tonight picks up from the end of the above thread... note that this places us at about the last week of February.
I took all my aftermarket parts to the local shop. They got excited and went to work. They quickly installed everything but the gears, having to order a new pinion bearing since the stock one shattered when they tried to remove it. Okay... no problem... (They charged $116 for the one they ordered from Ford. You can get these from American Muscle for $49.99... and of note, the 2011 pinion bearing/race are spec'd slightly differently from every other Ford 8.8" rear end.)
The shop called at the end of the day to report that they had some problems with shimming the backlash on the new FRPP 3.73 gears. They'd shim them to spec (.010" backlash) and drive the car 10 miles, come back and check, and the backlash shifted to .025". The gears whined horribly, with a couple different harmonic sounds resulting from the bizarre shifting. They couldn't get the teeth to line up, and declared the gears to be too soft. They assured me of their experience re-gearing rear ends.
I called American Muscle, told them of the problem, and Ken in Customer Service provided some excellent assistance with an RMA and with setting me up with a replacement set of gears to be two-day-overnighted (the shipping at my own expense for choosing the priority service) so that I could get the gears Friday morning and have that replacement set installed for the weekend.
(I took the car home for two nights until that Friday... it was practically undrivable with the horrible gear whine!)
Gears arrived... they were 4.10s! The warehouse hiccuped when they pulled the order. Called Ken back and he immediately reimbursed my shipping costs and gave me an RMA for the gears. Since I wanted gears THAT WEEKEND... I drove an hour down the road to Reno to the Summit Racing Warehouse to get a set there so that the shop could install them on Saturday...
The shop owner strongly recommended Richmond Gear based on his own experiences.
HORRIBLE IDEA! Everything you've read about Richmond Gear-brand gears whining is absolutely true... DO NOT BUY THIS BRAND! I'm sure they're fine for racing applications, but for a street car... it is awful. And they won't warranty their gears for the whine. Their attitude is "that's what you bought, buddy! The gears just do that!"
Anyway... I got the Richmond Gears and a complete bearing install kit, and more Royal Purple, from Summit. The shop installed these gears Saturday and Monday morning. They called me Monday to report that the car still whined! So they ordered all new gauges. Turned out, their gauges were ten years old and .002" off from the new gauges they got from Summit... it added up to my rear end being off .006"! So they adjusted... and called me Wednesday morning to pick up the car.
But the tech said "I broke your car... there's a vibration. Oh and it still whines." A VIBRATION?? NOW?
He thought he improperly removed the pinion flange when he disassembled the rear end. (There's a specific puller tool... he used a hammer. Awesome.) So he ordered a new flange from Ford and paid for it out-of-pocket. (By this point, I was wayyy over-budget on labor at this shop... and they were kind enough to stop charging me after they installed the Richmond gears on the first attempt...)
Waited two days with a vibrating mustang for the flange. He put it in. It kinda helped, but not completely. What the heck? The tech was concerned he somehow damaged the driveline... so he referred me to a local chain place called "Driveline Services". He figured he'd have to buy me a new drive shaft next if that proved to be the problem...
The driveline guy is a solid guy who knows these issues well. He immediately diagnosed a driveline vibration, and believed it coming from the center bearing in the Mustang's 2-piece driveshaft. He custom-built a steel 3" driveshaft, confident it would fix the problem. It made no difference. I mentioned that alot of aftermarket places are making aluminum driveshafts for these cars... so he did some research and ordered the raw materials to make me an aluminum shaft.
He also noted that the angles of the pinion and transmission didn't line up, so he shimmed (with 4 washers) the rear end of the transmission. It didn't really help. (These were removed today.)
In the meantime, the weekend of the 4th and 5th, I took the car on a road trip to Vegas, six hours away. The vibrations only existed between 48 and 75mph, and 79 and above. It was worse between 60-65, and would make your teeth rattle above 85. But there was that window around 75 where I could make it tolerable. The car *had to* make the trip, since part of the purpose of the trip was to show it off to some friends from back home... pics below are of the car that weekend at Hoover Dam.
I got it back without issue (except a stop in Vegas at a muffler shop to have the Heartthrob over-axle pipes re-adjusted... I *think* they were hitting upwards into the trunk, but they seemed snug, so the shop adjusted them for free and let me go. They've been good since...)...
On Friday this past week, the driveline guy received the aluminum for the driveshaft. I took the car in yesterday, Monday, and picked it up today, Tuesday.
As I dropped it off yesterday, I gave him a couple other tidbits:
1.) I noticed that my rear end was offset to the left! As we all know, when you lower these cars, you'll typically need an adjustable panhard bar to compensate for the likely shift of the rear end at the new angle. Apparently, my shop that I had install the bar didn't bother to adjust it. I guess they didn't realize what it was for... the left tire stuck out just a bit beyond the wheel well... the right wheel was recessed about the same amount!
2.) I gave him a JPC Adjustable Upper Control Arm from American Muscle that I ordered the week before... he thought the pinion angle was good, but he did adjust it a bit more after putting this in.
With the combination of adjusting the panhard bar, installing and adjusting the upper control arm, and installing his custom 4" aluminum driveshaft... he cured the vibration!!! Three weeks of pain and suffereing came to a happy conclusion for me today. His bill was a bit better than if I would have purchased a driveshaft and paid his labor to install it... and to install/adjust the control arm. So I think I barely came out ahead on that deal. So here I am... about $7000 in parts and $1500 in labor later (had planned for $5900 and 800, respectively!)... I'm finally mission-complete. I have what should be a bad-ass stang.
Now to just set up that dyno appointment, test those tunes, and see where I stand. I can't wait!! Lessons learned:
1.) DO NOT buy Richmond Gears for your street car.
2.) Do not add more than one mod at a time to the car... it was, throughout the experience, difficult to diagnose the cause of the vibration. I guess I still don't really know, except that it was a combination of issues... lowering the car leading to bad angles of the driveline, the tech's hammering of the pinion flange, and, probably, his failure to center the rear end. Possibly also the stiffer components helped transmit a vibration that previously was undetectable... and the aluminum driveline, operating at different speeds and different balancing, made it go away...
3.) Sometimes unforseen things just plain happen. These are the chances you take...
4.) Because things can go wrong at a shop that does a little of everything (like my original installer does,) your best bet is to take each mod to a shop that specializes in that system. Take gears to a driveline shop, exhaust to a muffler shop, etc. You'll wind up going to them anyway if things go wrong... why double your efforts? Reviews of individual parts added:
Airaid CAI - Easy install, looks great, sounds nice.
SCT SF3 Tuner with Bama 87 street, 91 performance, 91 race tunes - Jury's still out on these guys... will update the other thread once I'm done at the dyno!
3.73 FRPP gears and Motive basic install kit (sans bearings) - I'll go back to FRPP gears to RE-re-gear my rear end. I hate the Richmond gear whine and find it worth saving another $1000 to have the driveline guy (and NOT the multi-specialty local shop) do it right.
3.73 gears in-general for an automatic-transmissioned car: AWESOME! Definitely a bit quicker. These, plus the WIDE BFG KDW2s have cut my mpg significantly. At best on occasionally-rolling northern Nevada terrain I'm getting just under 22mpg on the gauge and just over 22mpg (sometimes 23-24 on very flat stretches!) according to what I put in the fuel tank and miles covered since last fill... My gauge used to read 25+mpg on the highway compared to the 21.6ish average now. I expect it'll improve as I am able to drive at other speeds besides 75mph (to avoid the vibration!) Also, I video'd my speedometer 0-60 runs prior to ALL mods, and again post-mods. Looks like, hand-timed, I've gone from an average 4.8 seconds to 4.3 seconds, 0-60. At 3930ft of altitude, that works to almost 4.0 at sea level. Not bad! I think the gears are a part of that. They DO shift from first to second much sooner... and you do skip over first entirely sometimes, even with the Bama Race tune. But you can learn how to get it if you need it... and boy it is fun!
J&M Extreme LCAs - Look good, fit good, probably contribute a bit of NVH due to the poly/spherical bushings. Didn't have much wheel hop before, and talking to Sam Strano, I probably didn't need these. But I have 'em now so I'll keep 'em!
J&M Adjustable Panhard Bar - Comes in bare metal finish... but priced right. Does its job if you tell the tech what its for...!
Eibach Pro-Kit springs (1.0" front, 1.5" rear) - Lowered the car just the right amount, and I don't mind the ride at all. Eibach makes the FRPP springs, I guess...
Tokico D-Specs - Look great, and when tightened all the way, the handling is absolutely incredible! When you dial them out to about 5 turns from full hard (out of a possible 7.5 turns, I believe... 5 recommended by Tokico for a baseline street setup) they feel marginally better than stock. Tokico makes the FRPP adjustables, I guess... so these, with the Eibachs, it turned out, gave me basically the same as an FRPP package setup. I'm very happy with the car's handling now and my ability to control it.
FRPP 2011 GT500 Performance Pack Wheels, with BFG KDW2 tires (275/35/19 front, 295/35/19 rear) mounted and balanced along with TPMS installed -- These look FANTASTIC! The tires *do* have more road noise than the stock Pirellis though... I notice I have to speak just a touch louder to be heard on bluetooth when calling people, and I turn up the radio a bit higher when on the highway. But it is NOT a deal-breaker. Will I try a quieter tire next time? Probably. But as much to experiment with other brands as anything...
TPMS Reset Tool - I did wind up needing this. CJPonyParts forgot to include it with the wheels/tires (I did order it at the same time!) and this is where Matt in Customer Service was awesome about getting another out to me. My "TIRE PRESSURE FAULT" messages were intermittent until I used the re-learning procedure discussed in another thread here about two weeks ago.
GT500 Strut Mounts - Needed these for the 2010-style struts on my 2011 car. Discussed ordering caster-camber plates from Sam but decided to try these, first. Glad I did. Ford spec, according to the alignment shop that checked it, calls for 0 to -1.5 deg of camber. I'm at -1.3. I figured that'll do for now. (My left front wheel's toe was off a bit but they fixed that with the alignment.)
GT500 Axlebacks - These sound great with the Heartthrob kit. I almost wish they were a touch louder. But they're certainly louder than stock and they give the right tone for this car. I'm very happy.
Heartthrob Exhaust Stainless Steel Cat-to-Axle kit with resonators - Fitment issues over the axle like so many others have reported. The H-Pipe has some exhaust leak issues. I'm going to eventually take it to a muffler shop to get it welded up. At $401 from autoanything.com, the price was right, and I'd probably do it again. H-Pipe, cat-back, and GT500 axlebacks for $680ish total? Can't go wrong. Maybe someday if I want to tweak the volume, I'll try resonator delete tubes from Heartthrob in front of the axle. I had hoped to measure the rwhp increase after installing these exhaust components, but I guess now we'll never know for sure. ****
I'm sure I've left a few details out. I'll add as I think of them, and hopefully your questions will remind me of the holes in the story. I can't wait to hit the dyno again and see where I stand now!