One of the most common modifications that enthusiasts make to their Ford Mustang is changing the wheels and tires. None can argue that the overall look of a car hinges on the choice of wheels that are installed. This can make or break the appearance of your Mustang! Whether you like a classic 5-spoke look, a period-correct stock-inspired wheel, or a multispoke design, wheels and tires are parts that will be removed and reinstalled several times over the life of your vehicle. Check out our Best Mustang Wheels that we at LMR have ranked.
When installing wheels on your Fox Body Ford Mustang, the vast majority are bolted to a hubbed brake rotor that has 4 lug nuts per wheel from the factory. All 1994-2021 Mustangs will have 5 lugs per wheel. If you do not know the correct torque spec, you or your tech could potentially damage your car in more ways than one! We will cover what exactly wheel torque is and why it matters. This article will also show the specs needed for your particular model year whether you have a Shelby GT500, a Boss 302, a Fox Body Mustang, or any other special edition Mustang from 1979-2021.
Wheel torque is the amount of force needed to properly secure your wheels to your car. This is measured in something called “pound-feet” (lb-ft or ft/lbs). The manufacturer, in this case, Ford Motor Company has determined a specific rating for each model year based on wheel side, the number of wheel studs, and the size of those studs. An example of this would be for a 1993 Ford Mustang GT, the wheel torque would be within a range of 80-105 lb-ft. of torque. The 2015 Mustang has larger wheel studs so this torque rating has increased up to 150 ft/lbs. of torque.
In order to ensure the correct amount of torque for each wheel, your local trusted professional or experienced go-getter will use a torque wrench or even a torque stick to achieve the proper specs when installing or reinstalling a set of wheels. The torque wrench is preferred because of its accuracy and adjustability which will greatly reduce the chances of improper installation and incorrect torque being applied. So, to answer the question of, “what torque should lug nuts be” on the Ford Mustang, see our chart below!
|Model||Year Range||Wheel Torque Specs|
|Fox Body||1979-1993||80-105 lb/ft|
|New Edge||1999-2004||80-105 lb/ft|
Now that we know what wheel torque is and what specifications the manufacturer recommended for each model year Mustang from the Fox platform to the 1999 Mustang all the way through the 2014 Ford Mustang and to the current 2021 models, let’s examine just how to torque your wheels.
Removal of your lug nuts does not have to be in any particular order. Break the lug nuts free while the wheels are still on the ground. This will make your job much easier. Once your Mustang is safely secured on jack stands or the use of the Ford scissor jack in your trunk, remove the lug nuts with a cross lug tool or your lug wrench, one at a time, from your wheel. Remember the ol’ adage, righty tighty, lefty loosey!
Now that the wheels are removed you can perform whichever service is needed whether that is repair, replacing your tires or upgrading to a new set of SVE Wheels! When it comes time to reinstall the wheels, pay close attention when threading on the lug nuts. You do not want to cross-thread the lug nuts on the wheel studs, so thread on your lug nuts by hand before using your power tools. Once you have verified that the threads are not damaged and you have hand-spun on the lug nuts, you can use your wrench or impact tool to snug them up. Once each wheel has been reinstalled, lower the car to the ground and grab your torque wrench. Torque each lug nut in an alternating or star pattern. This will ensure that pressure is dispersed evenly across the wheel hub to help prevent possible damage!
That damage that could result from incorrectly installing the wheels with proper torque includes but is not limited to damage to your brake rotors, lug nuts, wheel studs, or even improperly balanced wheels!
Brake rotors undertake a lot of abuse from daily driving. As a result, they get quite hot and, if torque is not evenly spread across the lugs, different pressures can cause the rotors to warp which results in vibration in your steering wheel. The only way to fix this is to replace the rotors and correctly torque the lug nuts. This can also lead to imbalanced wheels. With excessive torque on the wheel hub, one portion of the wheel may not be torqued with the same pressure which will cause the wheel to spin erratically. Because of this, tire damage can also occur over time if correct torque is not performed.
Damage to the wheel studs and lug nuts can happen by either overtightening or under torquing your wheels. For example, the 2014 Mustang takes 100 lb/ft of torque. If the 2015 Mustang spec is used with 150 lb/ft of torque, the wheel studs could break or the lug nut could end up stripping threads. While each of these does not sound like major issues, they can lead to significant safety issues if multiple wheel studs or lug nuts become damaged. Under torquing wheels can also result in stripped wheel studs and can also damage lug nuts due to the wheel vibrating or wobbling while driving.
Though often overlooked, proper wheel torque is a paramount detail that you do not want to ignore. Educating yourself with the proper knowledge can save you time and money as well as keeping you and others safe while on the road. Whether you have a Performance Package Mustang or a Ford Focus, make sure you or your qualified technician torque your wheels to manufacturers' specifications with proper tools like a torque wrench!
As always, for more tech-related articles, keep it here with the real Mustang enthusiasts, LMR.com!