STRUT TOWER BRACE INSTALL
Written by Mustangworld.
Upper Strut Tower Brace shown as standard equipment in
'96 GT 4.6L GT.
why this brace is missing in '98? Call it cost cutting, bean counting,
whatever you want, but whatever the reason... it's missing in the new
Mustangs including the Cobra in '98!
strut tower brace came standard in the Mustang GT/Cobra from '96 - '97
but is missing in the V6 Base model Mustangs and many new '98 Mustangs.
YOU PRE-DRILLED FOR THE BRACE?
If you have a base model Mustang from '94 to '97, then you're lucky and
already have holes for a brace in your Mustang (if you have a GT / Cobra
of those model years then you already have a brace installed). Many '98
Mustangs do not have the holes "pre-drilled". In Mustangs where
the holes are pre-drilled, you will also find that many are also "pre-tapped",
including a threaded nut in place to hold a bolt! This makes installation
of the upper strut tower brace extremely easy, just lay it in and bolt
want to look in your stang for these pre-drilled holes, if they are there,
then you are in luck. You will need to get a upper brace that fits the
STOCK MOUNTING LOCATION. This means buying the Ford factory brace OR an
aftermarket piece that mounts in the EXACT same location as the stock
brace does. This way you can take advantage of the holes already in your
do not have any holes pre-drilled in your stang then you will need to
drill holes. You will be securing the brace in your stang using supplied
nuts on the back side. This will mean you'll have to reach into the fenderwell
area with the nut and bolt the brace down from the top. This is the standard
procedure for many '86-'93 stangs where the upper strut brace was not
standard. This may also be the case in your new '98 Mustang.
DOES THIS UPPER BRACE DO?
This brace keeps the shock towers from flexing / collapsing under hard
driving conditions or minor accidents. The SN95 based Mustang's chassis
is very stiff up front as is, but this brace will further increase the
stiffness up front. There
are several manufacturers that make upper strut braces including Mac,
Saleen, BBK, Steeda and more. The typical cost of this brace is $149 avg.
COBRA USES A DIFFERENT BRACE
The brace you use will depend on your intake system in your engine. In
'96 to '98 4.6L Cobra's, you will need an upper strut tower brace that
clears it's slightly larger front intake system. The
Cobra brace is slightly bent forward in the front to accommodate for this.
GT with the optional SVO intake system COMES with a new upper strut tower
brace (the cobra brace). One brace is not better than the other, they
are just different to clear different intake systems under the Mustang's
MAY FIT IN YOUR STANG AT ALL
An upper strut tower brace may not fit in your stang at all. For example,
in our '89 Mustang, our supercharger induction interferes with an upper
strut tower brace (the tubes hit the brace), so we can't run with one.
Certain plenum spacers in the 5.0 (that raise the intake plenum up) may
cause your intake system to interfere with the upper brace as well. If
this is the case, then you may not be able to run an upper strut tower
brace in your stang. There is very little clearance between the upper
brace and the stock hood. In these applications a new hood or custom brace
may be needed.
a '96 GT with the brace and a '96 V6 base model without it. So we'll show
you photos of each.
HERE WE GO!
Let's first look at a brace that's already mounted.
You can see that on the passenger side there are 3 bolts. ONE
bolt down from the top and TWO from the side. As you can see there
IS another "un-tapped" hole on top here, but it interferes
with the camber/caster plate.
On the Driver side it's a different story! Here
there are TWO bolts on the top and only ONE bolt on the side.
Many folks don't notice this and think it's symmetrical on both
sides, but it's not. This is why if you purchase a brace, MAKE
SURE you ask for one that uses the stock mounting location (if
you already have the holes pre-drilled). There IS another hole
on the side here to accommodate another bolt, but it's not factory
"tapped" / threaded.
In the rear, a metal plate extends out from the
firewall area where the brace is held in place with two bolts
going down (vertically). Many '86 - '93 Upper strut braces bolt
into the firewall area (horizontally) which is normal for that
model year stang.
Here's a close up of the rear bolt. You can notice
how it goes through the metal. There is a threaded nut welded
into place here (underneath and out of view) that holds the upper
strut brace down to the metal.
Now Let's look at just the holes. As you can see
here in our '96 V6 (Passenger side) the holes are pre-drilled
AND also include threaded nuts already in place! Notice the TWO
holes on the side and just the ONE threaded hole on top. The second
hole on top is too close to the camber/caster plate to be used
and is not threaded from the factory.
over to the driver side, you can notice the holes exist here
as well, pre drilled and pre tapped / threaded
Some newer Mustangs may not have any of these holes we are talking
about in this install pre-tapped or even pre-drilled. Check
yours to see if it is.
is the metal lip extended out from the back, and you will notice
the holes are pre-drilled AND pre-tapped / threaded. The hole
on the right on our V6 has a wire harness plugged into the hole,
so you can't see it, but there are 2 holes available.
are approx. 2cm from the side of this lip to the center of the
hole. Braces bolt snug up against the back of the stang's firewall.
YOU HAVE TO DRILL THE HOLES YOURSELF
If you find that you need to drill holes in your stang to put a brace
in, then what we recommend is centering up the brace in all areas
first. Like we mentioned before, the holes in the rear are approx.
2cm from the side of this metal lip in the rear to the center of the
hole. BUT it would be best to center it up yourself manually after
laying in the brace and measuring it for best fit.
Make sure you are parked on a flat level surface. Make sure you are
using the correct brace for your stang (Cobra, GT, etc.) and that
it won't hit the hood when it closes.
2) Lay the
upperstrut brace into the engine bay and check for clearance of all
hoses and engine components.
3) Once the upper strut brace is layed in properly Mark all
the holes with a felt pen, then drill the 2 holes in the rear.
4) Next mount the brace using only the 2 holes you just drilled.
5) Now you can check the holes in the front part of the brace to see
if they still line up properly. If they don't then re-mark them.
6) Remove the brace and drill the holes in the front area.
7) This can be reversed (drilling the front first etc.).
you know what you are doing, then you can mark all the holes first
then drill them all at once. Keep in mind you basically have one shot
at this, once you drill a hole, that's it. You'll want the brace to
be bolted down with little or no bending of the bar (due to a misalignment),
which is why we recommend drilling 2 holes at a time. This is especially
true if you find that the brace does not fit in your stang perfectly.
That is, if you notice a gap or space between the brace after you
lay it in for marking.
OTHER BRACE DOWN THERE...
Lower Cross member Brace or "g-load" brace
(Black Bar in photo above).
This photo is from our muffler install, but it also shows the lower
crossmember brace (the black bar in the photo above). It is another
brace we think you should all have. Check to see if you have one already
installed in your stang. It is named the "Lower Crossmember Brace"
or "G-Load" brace. This lower brace has a more noticeable
effect in "feel" to the driver. It works with the upper
strut tower brace to stiffen up the front end.
This brace comes standard in most new V8 '94-'98 Mustangs.
brace is a simple bolt on item for all Mustangs '86 - '98, no holes
to drill. It mounts into two existing bolt locations. When we put
one on our '89 GT, we noticed an improved steering response and tighter
feel right away. The stock unit is a 2-point brace. Aftermarket makers
have 4 point lower crossmember braces available. They average $30
- $80. Installation is simple, if you don't have one, just buy one,
remove the two bolts currently in place down there and bolt the g-load
brace to your stang.
are several manufacturers that make lower crossmember braces including
Mac, Saleen, BBK, Steeda and more.
It, Til next time... see ya on the street !.
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