Oftentimes, 1979-2014 Ford Mustangs tend to have an inherent flaw with their upper and lower suspension components. This causes many Mustang enthusiasts to wonder if they should continue using stock control arms or upgrading to tubular control arms. Check out LMR's comparison of Stock & Tubular Control Arms to see what will be best for your build!
The stock units throughout the 1979-2014 Mustang year models do vary, but overall there is always room for improvement. Normally what you see on the stock arms will be a stamped steel body or housing with a rubber bushing. Ford did this for many different reasons including lower cost and ease of manufacturing but overall you can possibly experience unwanted deflection with these under heavy use. Both the Mustang front control arms and rear units were stamped from the factory.
With the front suspension, the lower arms tend to be stronger than their rear counterparts, and in many cases, a factory replacement will do just fine to maintain good ride quality. LMR.com offers new OE-style front arms with replacement ball joints that are ready to be installed if you would prefer restoration of your Fox Body, New Edge Mustang, or S197. The design of the front suspension would change in 2005 with the introduction of the S197 chassis and would remain very similar through the 2014 model year.
The stock Mustang rear control arms are OK for the daily driver but for the weekend enthusiast, they are known for producing issues like Wheel Hop. This is the alteration of your drive wheels obtaining and losing traction rapidly. This is caused by the lower and upper control arms flexing under load. If you have ever experienced it firsthand you know how inconvenient it can be. This may sound like a heavy rapid clunking noise coming from the rear of the vehicle. To the inexperienced driver, you may think something is breaking or is coming loose on your Mustang.
The Mustang GT, v6, and independent rear suspension (IRS) of the SVT Cobra all experience these issues. The difference with the IRS Mustang lower control arms is that they are made from cast aluminum instead of stamped steel so the hopping could be caused more by deflection in bushings and other links instead of the arms themselves.
To help eliminate wheel hop, upgrading to tubular steel control arms can be a drastic help and improve the strength of your suspension. Overall these units are leaps and bounds stronger than the stock counterpart.
Normally, Mustang Tubular Control Arms tend to include a polyurethane bushing instead of the stock rubber control arm bushings. This will help you evenly plant the power of your Mustang directly to the ground whether you upgrade your tubular front and/or rear arms!. Some aftermarket options even eliminate the bushing altogether and will use a spherical bushing/bearing. The name of the game here is to eliminate any and all deflection so you can make sure all of the power is connected to the ground.
In most cases, when upgrading to tubular front arms, you will be required to change the suspension from the Modified MacPherson style where the springs are separate from the strut to a coilover suspension on your 1979-04 Mustang. This will not only strengthen your suspension, as mentioned earlier but will reduce weight with a more compact system.
Recently, manufacturers have produced tubular arms that have the factory-style spring perch that allows OEM or standard lowering springs to be installed if you do not want coilover springs. With Fox chassis Mustangs (1979-04) the rear can remain with the OE style of shocks and springs when upgrading to the tubular design so upgrading to coilover is not necessary.
The S197 Mustangs do not have to worry about these questions as much because they have a MacPherson (coilover type) front suspension directly from Ford. Unfortunately, not much is available for aftermarket front control arms so upgrading the OE units with stock style Ford Performance Parts is the best course of action. The good news is that the rear arms can be upgraded from a number of manufacturers to keep your Mustang putting its power to the ground as best as possible!
You may experience clunking noises from your front or rear suspension if your OE bushings are worn out. You can also have excessive steering wheel wondering or vibration. If this is occurring, taking your car to a qualified service technician to diagnose if your Ford Mustang needs an alignment or if the control arms are the culprit.
If the control arms are the cause, do not fret. This will happen with age and prolonged use and can easily be fixed by replacing your worn parts with factory parts or upgrading to stronger arms.
LMR offers many of the top manufacturers for factory replacement or tubular control arms. Our dedicated tech team is always here to help you make a decision on the best choice for your ride.
Make sure that you subscribe to LMR's YouTube channel so you can be up to date with new exciting tech content like this and many other LMR tech articles. You can also find many different install videos for these year models and the installation of these control arms.
As always, keep it here with the real Mustang enthusiasts, LMR.com!