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Mustang Clutch Tech & Review (96-14 Mod Motors)

Created by Jay Walling
Last Updated 5/17/2021

Have you been searching for the perfect clutch for your 96-14 Mustang? Check out our clutch guide for all of your answers.

Viewing this install and using the information shared is subject to the terms set forth here - View the LMR Install Instructions Disclaimer.

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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.

Stage 0

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.

Stage 1

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

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

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.

Other Important Info

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

About the Video

Ford Mustang Clutch Review (96-14)

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Published on 2014-10-27
These Mustang clutch kits from Latemodel Restoration are a great way to get your American muscle car in gear! These kits from top brands such as Exedy, Spec D, Ford Racing and Ram include everything you need to replace a chattering, slipping, or worn out clutch. We have various stages to get the perfect performance and feel in your Fox Body, SN-95, New Edge, and S197 Mustang. Choose from stock factory replacement, stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, twin disc, high performance, and extreme performance Mustang clutch kits for your setup. These clutch kits are offered in a variety of kits with options such as flywheels, cables, alignment tools, and throwout bearings. Get everything you need to finish your installation like Mustang clutch forks, alignment tools, pressure plates, and many other clutch related items.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] If you're in the market for a new clutch for your 1996 to 2014 Mustang V8, well, we're going to cover some of the differences in clutches throughout those model years and some of the things you need to look out for. That way you can pick out a new clutch for your Mustang and get the right one the first time.

The first set of differences we want to cover is going to be stages, starting out with Stage 0, or stock replacement. And those clutches are just that-- a stock replacement for a stock car that's doing stock things. Not a clutch that you're going to want to put in a performance car. These clutches are going to have stock pedal effort, and they're going to have perfect driveability characteristics. So this is a clutch that you want to put in your daily driver car that has no mods.

Stepping up from that, you're going to go to your Stage 1. And your Stage 1 clutch is going to have a little bit firmer pedal effort than stock, but not harsh by any means. And the friction material is going to be a little bit more aggressive . These clutches are going to handle up to 400 rear-wheel horsepower, so it'll cover a lot of your bolt-ons and some of your heavier mods. However, a Stage 1 clutch is not going to live very long if you're running drag radials or full slicks. And it's definitely not the clutch you want to put in your car if you're taking it to the track.

Stage 2, that's going to get you into the 500 rear-wheel horsepower capability range. The pedal effort is going to be comparable to a Stage 1, but your disc friction material is going to be upgraded. Typically those clutches either have an aggressive, organic friction material or a dual-friction type, where it's organic on one side, semi-metallic or ceramometallic on the other, or even just a full-on ceramometallic on both sides. These clutches are going to chatter a little bit when taking off, but they will handle some limited use with sticky tires, like drag radials or slicks, at the track. So this would be the clutch that you would want to look at hard if you frequent the drag strip a lot.

Now for your big power-handling capabilities, you can go to a Stage 3, which is still a single-disc clutch. But it is going to have a hard pedal effort. It is going to chatter. It's going to handle up to about 600 rear-wheel horsepower. These clutches, Stage 2 and Stage 3 both, you're going to want to run a billet steel or billet aluminum flywheel, because the aggressiveness of the friction material is going to eat up a stock-type flywheel pretty quickly. Beyond your Stage 3 single-disk, you get into your dual-disk, which that's a whole other video. We're focusing just on single-disc right now, as that is pretty much your most popular.

Now we'll talk out differences in diameters. As you're '96 to 2000 all used a 10 and 1/2-inch diameter clutch, even some of your early 2001s would've still had a 10 and 1/2-inch diameter clutch. Starting in 2001 and carrying all the way through 2014, all your V8 cars are going to have an 11-inch clutch.

On your spline counts, pretty much everything from '96 to 2010 is all going to be a 10-spline, except for like your GT500s, which did have a 26-spline from the factory. Starting in 2011 to 2014 in your Coyote cars, you ended up with an oddball 23-spline. And that comprises your factory-type spline counts.

Now if you're upgrading to a TKO or a Magnum T-56, or even have a '03-'04 Cobra that you've upgraded the input shaft on, then you're going to want to get a 26-spline clutch. And that doesn't matter what year you're running, from '96 to '04, any one of those transmissions or your '03-'04 Cobra upgrade, it's going to require a 26-spline disc.

Any time you install a new clutch, you'll either want to resurface your existing flywheel or purchase a new one. That way you've got a nice true mating surface, so you don't have any defects or performance issues with your new clutch.

Accessories in the box at a minimum. For your '96 to '04 cars, it's going to include a clutch alignment tool and a release bearing. Some clutch kits even include a new pilot bearing. Now for your '05 to '14 cars, most of them only come with an alignment tool.

Now some clutches do include a new performance-style release bearing. And if you see a difference in price on clutches, that's typically what it is in the '05 to '14 range, is the inclusion of that new hydraulic release bearing. A new hydraulic release bearing typically is not required with your Stage 1 or Stage 2 clutch upgrades. Getting into a Stage 3, you might want to look at something like a performance unit from either Exedy or RAM.

Finally, I want to talk about differences in pressure plate bolts, and even the number of bolts. Your 10 and 1/2-inch clutches are all going to be six-bolt pressure plates, and they're going to use a smaller standard-thread bolt. Starting with your 11-inch clutch, you're going to retain a six-bolt pressure plate, but you're moving up to a larger metric bolt.

That metric bolt carries all the way through to early 2011, while in late 2011, Ford went to a nine-bolt pressure plate. It kind of threw things off a little bit. Nobody was used to seeing that. But that nine-bolt pattern did carry through to 2014. A lot of your aftermarket flywheels are going to be the nine-bolt pattern. Don't worry-- a six-bolt pattern, '11 to '14 clutch, will bolt right up to a nine-bolt pattern flywheel with no issue.

For more clutch information and to pick up a new clutch for your Mustang, be sure to check out latemodelrestoration.com.