Are you currently in the market for a new clutch setup for your 1996-2014 V8 Mustang GT, Cobra, GT500 or Boss? Late Model Restoration has you covered with our great selection of top name brand clutch assemblies.
In this article we will cover the main differences and what to look for when trying to find the perfect clutch for your Mustang. Stages, spline count, diameter and overall application come into play when sizing up what clutch to run in your ride. Here is an over-view in regards for what to look for and how to pick out the proper clutch.
Let’s start out with the “Stages” of clutches. Many of you may have probably asked yourself “I have a bone stock GT, should I run a stage 2 or 3 on my car?” This section will go over all of the different stages of clutch assemblies associated with power output and applications for your vehicle.
This is your starting out point, just like the name sounds, these clutches are for a stock replacement application only. If you have multiple bolt-on parts or plan on running drag radials or slicks, this is not the clutch for you. These will be designed for the “daily driver” stock car. They will offer perfect drive ability and stock pedal effort for a comfortable feel.
The stage 1 Mustang clutch will have a slightly firmer pedal effort over stock, but not excessive by any means. The friction material will be upgraded and will normally support 400 HP applications. Stage 1 clutches are not recommended to run sticky tires on them; overall longevity will be lessened if you do so.
Stage 2 Mustang clutches will get you into the 500 HP range for power output. The pedal effort will be comparable to the stage 1, however the friction material will be upgraded on the disc assembly. Normally these will offer an aggressive organic material or a dual friction type compound. These clutches will be more prone to chatter when taking off from a stop, but will hold up better with the sticky tires.
Stage 3 Mustang clutches are for your high horsepower application vehicles. Pedal effort will be hard compared to stage 1 or 2, and will chatter. Power capabilities will be in the 600 HP range, and we would highly recommend running a billet flywheel with these. Normal stock flywheels will get eaten up by the aggressive nature of these setups. Beyond these you would get into the dual disc setups, but that would be an entirely different article all together.
Now let’s go over the differences in the diameters of the clutch assemblies. In your 1996-2000 models, they all used a 10.5” diameter clutch. Even some of your early 2001 Mustangs will fall under this category as well. Beginning in 2001 the 11” setup was introduced, this size was carried all the way up to the 2014 year models.
Spline counts can be a tricky topic. This is definitely one of the most commonly asked questions when I have helped out customers in the past. The best thing to do is always inspect your existing clutch disc and physically count the splines on it. This will be a 100% accurate way to verify what you need to go with. Not all of us have the capabilities or the time to pull your transmission to check though. A majority of your 1996-2010 V8 Mustangs will have a 10 spline input shaft with the exception of the GT500’s which have a factory 26 spline. Starting in 2011-2014, these year models were equipped with a 23 spline application. Now if you have upgraded to a TKO, Magnum T-56 or have an 03-04 Cobra with an upgraded input shaft you will need to source a 26 spline count clutch. This would cover all 96-04 applications.
With any clutch install, Late Model Restoration always recommends to have your existing flywheel re-surfaced or to purchase a new one. This way you will have a true mating surface for your new clutch to properly mate with. Warranties will require this across the board, and make sure if you have it resurfaced to keep your invoice for your records. Accessories at a minimum included with the 96-04 clutch kits will include a clutch alignment tool, release bearing and in some cases a new pilot bearing. The 05-14 kits will normally only include the alignment tool. Some of the clutches do include a performance style hydraulic release bearing, the prices will reflect this if included. These are not typically required on the stage 1 & 2 setups, when going to the stage 3 you may want to look into upgrading these at this time.
Finally let’s go over the differences in pressure plate bolts and hardware. The 10.5” clutches are all going to be a 6 bolt pressure and will use a smaller standard thread bolt. 11” clutches will retain a 6 bolt pressure plate but will move up to a larger metric bolt. The metric bolt will carry up to early 2011, while in late 2011 Ford went to a 9 bolt setup and went until 2014. A majority of your aftermarket flywheels will be set up for the 9 bolt pattern, don’t worry the 6 bolt will coincide with this pattern and bolt up with no issues.
When doing a clutch install, this is the perfect opportunity to inspect all associated components and hardware with your driveline. Inspect the clutch cable, quadrant, fork and stud while you are in there. The driveshaft and shifter are another area to inspect as well. When checking out all hardware, look for the obvious flaws that may be a concern. Any rounded edges, cracking or signs of cross threading, you will want to replace them. When inspecting your existing flywheel you will want to check for bluing, heat checkmarks, or cracking. Replace if necessary.
For more clutch information or to pick up a new setup for your Mustang check out https://LMR.com
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