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2003 Mustang Cobra illustrated. Applications to cover all Mustangs from 1982-2010.

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2003 Mach 1 illustrated.  Applications to cover all Mustangs from 1982-2010.

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Terminator FAQs
2003-2004 Cobra Frequently Asked Questions

The top section consists of questions in orange text.  The answers to the questions are found in the bottom (white) section.  Scroll through the questions and click on the question of interest to be taken to the answer.

Section

Question

1.    

About this FAQ

1.1.               

Disclaimer and limitation of liability

1.2.                

Version Info

1.3.                 

Authors and Contributors

1.4.               

Notification of Copyright

1.5.                  

Contact Information

2.                       

General Questions

2.1.                   

Basic Questions

2.1.1.              

What are the differences between the 2003 and 2004 Cobra?

2.1.2.              

Where did the "Terminator" name come from?  Where can I find more background information about the 2003-2004 Cobra?

2.1.3.               

How many were made for each year?  And when did production begin and end for the 2003-2004 Cobra?

2.1.4.               

What changes were made on the 2003 SVT Anniversary Edition?

2.1.5.               

How can I get a replacement Owners Manual and SVT Supplement? 

2.1.6.               

When will I get a copy of my original window sticker or my Build Certificate?

2.1.7.               

How do I de-code my VIN, and where are the VIN plates located? 

2.1.8.               

I have a blue stripe on the driver side head.  Does it mean that the head was replaced by the dealer or at the factory to fix the tick issue?

2.1.9.               

What things should I check for when buying a used 2003/2004 Cobra?

2.1.10.            

What colors were available for both model years?

2.1.11.          

What options were available?

2.1.12.            

Does the stereo play MP3’s?

2.1.13.            

I heard that a Terminator ID Tag/Plate can be purchased for my engine bay and/or interior console. Where can I get one?

2.1.14.            

What are some good web sites for 2003/2004 Cobra information?

2.1.15.            

What kind of gas mileage should I expect?

2.1.16.            

How do you clean the Alcantara fabric (imitation suede) on the seats?  And where can I buy it to re-upholster my seats?

2.1.17.            

What is the part number for the Ford factory battery? 

2.1.18.       

I have OEM chrome wheels with the gray coating on the inside.  How can I remove it?

2.1.19.       

How do I change the Eaton supercharger oil?

2.1.20.        

Should I upgrade to the latest revised heads for my Terminator?  And is it worth it to get the new heads ported and give them a quality valve job?

2.1.21.        

I'm storing my car for the winter.  What are some storage tips, and how can I prevent damage from mice?

2.1.22.        

Is it safe to wash my engine?  Will it cause any drivability issues?

2.1.23.        

What are the general specs such as lubricants, torque specs, engine specs, etc.?

2.1.24.        

Where can I buy a good car cover?

2.2.                    

Technical Questions

2.2.1.                

What are the general specifications for each model year, including standard and optional equipment?

2.2.2.                

What do 2003-2004 Cobra’s typically dyno from the factory (stock)?

2.2.3.                

What are the differences in the 2003 Cobra production runs?

2.2.4.                

What are the differences between the 2003 Cobra and the 2001 Cobra?

2.2.5.                

How does the Traction Control System work?

2.2.6.                 

What are the TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) for the 2003/2004 Cobra?

2.2.7.                 

What is heat soak?

2.2.8.                 

How does the supercharger work?  And do all Eaton snouts say SVT on the front?  How do I paint my Eaton a custom color?

2.2.9.                 

What transmission does the Cobra use, and is there a maintenance guide for the transmission?

2.2.10.              

What are the specifications for the Cobra’s IRS and suspension components?

2.2.11.              

My Cobra shakes at speeds over 100mph.  What could be the problem?

2.2.12.              

What are the specifications of the Cobra’s brakes?

2.2.13.              

What fluids should I use in my Cobra?

2.2.13.1.          

What engine oil should I use in my Cobra, and what filters are recommended?

2.2.13.2.          

What supercharger oil should I use?

2.2.13.3.          

What transmission lubricant should I use?

2.2.13.4.          

What primary coolant should I use?

2.2.13.5.          

What intercooler coolant should I use?  What is the procedure for burping your system?

2.2.13.6.          

What brake fluid should I use?

2.2.14.               

Where are the jacking points for jacking up the 2003-2004 Cobra?

2.2.15.               

How do I change the inner serpentine belt?

2.2.16.

How do I change the fuel filter?

2.2.17.

How do I adjust my clutch?

2.2.18.

What is the FRPS and where is it located?  And what causes it to fail?

3.                           

Modifications

3.1.                       

What are the common bolt-on mods?  Is porting my Eaton worth it, and where can I get the porting done?

3.2.                       

What does a Cobra with XYZ mods dyno at?

3.3.                       

Do mods void the warranty?

3.4.                     

Is a custom tune needed with a pulley swap?

3.5.                       

What is the difference between an upper blower pulley and a lower crank pulley?

3.6.                       

How much boost will a Cobra make with the various upper/lower pulley combinations?

3.6.1.                  

Upper & Lower Pulleys

3.6.2.                   

Is it not good to do WOT runs to 140+ mph?  I've heard that the motor could be damaged as a result.

3.7.                       

What size belt should I use with a pulley mod?

3.8.                       

What is the difference between dyno tuning and road tuning?  And are mail order tunes safe?

3.9.                       

What is the proper way to break in a new (crate) Terminator engine?

3.10.                    

What spark plugs came from the factory, and what are best with a pulley mod?  And what's the best way to gap Iridium plugs?

3.11.                    

What exhaust mods are available for the Terminator? Are there any sites that have sound clips?

3.12.                   

Should I get a “catted” X pipe?

3.14.                     

What is the difference between a RAI (ram air intake) and a CAI (cold air intake)?  Which RAI is best?  Which CAI is best?

3.15.                     

What are the so called 'free' mods?

3.15.1.                

I've heard about the hood mod.  Is it okay to remove the hood blanket?  Are aftermarket hood vents safe in the rain? 

3.15.3.1

How do I clean my K&N FIPK filter?

3.15.4.               

Are there any modifications I can make to my shifter for an improved reach/feel?  Where can I buy a new shifter ball?

3.15.4.2.           

How can I shorten my antenna? It's too tall.

3.15.4.4.           

How can I quiet my shifter?  It is too noisy.

3.15.5.               

Weight Reduction

3.15.6.               

What is the boost gauge mod?

3.15.7.               

How do I remove the “Pony” on the grill?

3.15.8.               

What is the boost bypass mod?

3.15.9.               

What is the fan mod?

3.16.                   

Is there an aftermarket aluminum radiator available for the 2003-2004 Cobra?

3.17.                   

What size wheels and tires will fit in the rear without rubbing/scraping?

3.18.                   

How do I get rid of wheel hop?

3.19.                   

Is anyone using nitrous with a 2003 Cobra?  What about using E-85 as a fuel?

3.20.                   

Can the T-56 be replaced with an automatic?

3.21.                   

Can a live axle be installed in a 2003 Cobra?  And is a live axle better for racing?

3.22.                   

Are there any aftermarket superchargers for the 2003 Cobra?

3.23.                   

Are you over spinning the Eaton blower with a smaller pulley?

3.24.                   

How much boost can the Cobra’s internals take?

3.25.                   

How do I check for detonation, and does using higher octane fuel help?

3.26.                   

I want to lower my Cobra to get rid of the 4X4 look. What spring kits are available? Or should I cut my springs?

3.27.                  

Are there any intercooler upgrades?

3.28.                  

Are there any suspension and handling upgrades?

3.29.                  

Are there any braking upgrades?

3.30.                   

How do I change the pulley belt?

3.31.                   

What is the right way to check my oil level?

3.32.                   

How do I get the traction control to stay off?

3.33.                  

What are the differences in dynos?

3.34.                  

What correction factor should I use for my dynos?

3.35.                  

How do I change the stock shift indicator RPM, and what is the maximum safe RPM with the stock internals?

3.36.                  

If I install long tube headers how much power will I gain?

3.37.                  

What are the limits of the Cobra’s stock fuel system?

3.38.                 

Why does my boost fluctuate with the pulley mod?

3.39.                 

What wheels are available for the Terminator?

3.40.                 

What drag radials are best?

3.41.                 

What is the difference between DRs and slicks?

3.42.                 

Do you recommend any 160 or 170 degree thermostats?

3.43.                 

Are there any “beyond bolt-on” mods available for the Cobra?

3.44.                 

What gauges match the factory gauges?

3.45.                 

Are there any gauge pods available?

3.46.                 

Is an Air/Fuel gauge useful?

3.47.                

What does a pyrometer do?

3.48.                

How do I install an aftermarket tachometer or shift light?

3.49.               

What clutch components should be upgraded to handle more HP?

3.50.             

Where can I find a list of ECU diagnostic codes?

3.52.

Does a smaller upper pulley or larger lower crank pulley require a larger alternator pulley to under drive the alternator?

4.                    

When drag racing, what RPM is best to launch at?

4.2.                 

What should I do if I have wheel hop?

4.3.                 

What “tricks” will get me better times?

4.4.                 

What do stock Terminators run in the 1/4 mile?

4.5.                 

Should I do a burnout?  How do I do a burnout?

4.6.              

How do I Plasti-Dip my wheels?

4.7.                 

What is a “good” 60’ time?

4.8.                 

Should I power-shift?

4.9.                

Why do I keep missing gears?

4.10.             

What is the best 1/4-mile time and trap speed for a modded 2003 Cobra?

5.                    

TSBs and Quality Issues

5.1.               

The “pull” issue

5.2.              

The “vibe” issue

5.3.              

The “clunk” issue

5.4.              

The “stall” issue

5.5.            

The “tick” issue

5.6.               

Paint problems

5.7.               

Fitment problems

5.8.               

How many threads do the stock heads have for the spark plugs?

5.9.              

Window squeal

5.10.            

Hard to Shift

5.11.            

Clogged Cats

5.12.            

Pedals Cracking

5.13.           

Grinding gears

5.14.            

Noisy shifter

5.15.            

Clutch pedal vibration

5.16.            

Dirty rear brakes

5.17.            

The paint on the underside of my hood isn't finished. Is it hard to repaint it?

5.18.            

Where can I buy spray touch up paint?  Is it possible to get a custom color in a spray can?  Is it difficult to use spray touch-up paint?

5.19.            

Poor clutch adjustment

5.20.           

“Skunk” smell

5.21.           

Pop in the front/rear of the car while turning

5.22.           

Double sided tape showing from under spoiler

   


 

Section

Description

Answer

1.  

About this FAQ

 

1.1.       

Disclaimer and limitation of liability

The information provided in this FAQ is correct to the best of my knowledge, however I make no warranty, express or implied, regarding the use of, results of, or liability created from, application of this data. This information is presented in good faith, however I assume no liability whatsoever in regards to anything contained herein. If you don’t agree with this policy, stop reading now.

1.2.       

Version Info

This is version 7.5 released on 11/23/2012.

1.3.       

Authors and Contributors

The primary author of these FAQs was Brian Hill. He is to be commended for the time he put into gathering much of the information here. He stopped publishing the FAQs in 2005 and allowed me to take over ownership. Changes/additions/updates are now authored by me. Contributions are many and can't always be named in the interest of space/time. All are thanked for their contributions. 

1.4.       

Notification of Copyright

This document is the property of Stang Shifter Gaskets, LLC. It may not be sold or altered in any form or way without express, written consent from Stang Shifter Gaskets. If permission is granted to another party to use these Terminator FAQs, they cannot be modified, and a notation must be made above the FAQs that clearly identifies the owner as Stang Shifter Gaskets, LLC. If you wish to link this document from your website, feel free to do so, but please send me an e-mail and let me know.

1.5.       

Contact Information

For errors, omissions, or additions, please contact me at Bob@StangShifterGaskets.com

2.  

General Questions

 

2.1.       

Basic Questions

 

2.1.1.     

What are the differences between the 2003-2004 Cobra?

Changes were mainly limited to color and trim. New exterior paint offerings for 2004 were Torch Red (re-introduced after being discontinued mid-year on the 2003), Screaming Yellow and Competition Orange.  An optional Mystichrome package with an exterior paint treatment that changes color when viewed from different angles was offered for 2004. Inside the Mystichrome Cobra, the leather seat inserts and the steering wheel cover also shift colors.  Interior wise, the 2004 Charcoal Gray seating added dark gray inserts.  2003's were lighter gray. Other differences:
●  The 2003 radio decks came with an AUX 20 pin port in the back. The 2004 had the SAT button. 
●  The door lock on the drivers side on 2003 Cobras were black, 2004 Cobras were chrome.
●  The 2004 the cats were bigger.
●  Early run 2003s came with a trunk cargo net.
●  Early 2003s
came with a black antenna; then changed to silver.
●  Early 2003s had adjustable center interior vents; adjustment lever was removed after that.

●  The 2003 had a small interior headliner cargo net.  It was deleted for 2004.
●  The computer codes were different between the two model years.

2.1.2.     

Where did the "Terminator" name come from?  And where can I find more background info about the '03-'04 Cobra?

The Terminator program name is credited to Tom Bochenek, the Cobra program manager.  The name actually came from a meeting discussion about the competition the 2003 Cobra might have, in particular the Camaro if it was continued beyond the 2002 model year.  The SVT team knew that a supercharged 2003 Cobra would "terminate" the Camaro vs. Mustang war once and for all.  So the program name Terminator was chosen.

If you'd like more background information on the '03-'04 Cobra, there is an excellent book entitled 'Iron Fist, Lead Foot' written by Frank Moriarty, available in both hard copy and PDF versions.  It can be purchased by clicking on this link.  Purchase Iron-Fist-Lead-Foot.  You can also download additional book related color photos there.  This book contains a wealth of information about the Terminator program, the people behind it (including John Coletti), the development of 2003 Cobra, behind the scenes photos and information, and the car's specs & facts.  It's highly recommended.

2.1.3.     

How many were made for each year?  And when did production begin and end for the 2003 and 2004?

According, in part, to the book entitled '"Iron Fist, Lead Foot" by Frank Moriarty......
●  Production begins for early 2003 builds: May 8, 2002
●  Production begins for late 2003 builds: Sept. 29, 2002 (some say the date is earlier in September)
●  Production ended for regular 2003 builds some time in early May 
●  The 10th Anniversary model was built in June/July of 2003
●  Production ends for 2004 builds: March 31, 2004

Production numbers for both the 2003 and 2004 models are available by CLICKING HERE

2.1.4.     

What changes were made on the 2003 SVT 10th Anniversary Edition?

The 10th Anniv. Edition is mechanically the same as the standard '03 Cobra. Trim changes were:
●  Carbon fiber weave inserts on the shift boot, E-brake handle and steering wheel
●  10th anniversary SVT badging on the trunk and both front floor mats
●  Red and black leather seating
●  Red door inserts
●  Red painted brake calipers
●  Multi-spoke anthracite wheels with polished lip.

2.1.5.     

How can I get a replacement Owners Manual & SVT Supplement?  Is a Dealer Brochure available?

Helm Inc. has them CLICK HERE to order on their website.  Or call them at (800) 782-4356.  I believe the price is $44.95 and that includes the SVT Supplement and leather cover.  Helms does all of the OEM factory manuals for Ford, GM, etc.

If you need the SVT Supplement Guide that came with the Mustang Owner's Manual, click CLICK HERE for a PDF file. For a PDF copy of the Mustang Owner's Manual, click CLICK HERE.

The 2003 SVT Cobra Dealer Brochure (16 pages) is no longer available from Ford, and is very hard to find.  If you're content with the electronic version, click CLICK HERE for a PDF version. 

2.1.6.     

How can I get a copy of my original window sticker?  And How can I get my Build Certificate? And where can I find the build documentation?

Many who buy used Terminators ask how they can get a copy of the original window sticker.  While it is possible to order a new one from your dealer, it is difficult to get them to do it.  An easier way is to buy a reprint.  Jeff Brown, a member of STVPerformance.com can get you one.  His member ID is JBROWN1238.  CLICK HERE for Jeff's  email address.  Click on this link for more information about Jeff Brown's replacement window stickers.  How To Get A Window Sticker Copy

Build Certificates (different from the Build Sheet) were printed and sent out at the end of the model runs.  It contain exact build information and detail the production number and date, vehicle identification number and where the vehicle was produced.  The original Certificate sent out by SVT contained John Coletti's signature on the right side.  The ones sent out later do not contain Coletti's signature.  Also, exact duplicates of the original Certificate were available by mail from Jeff Brown, complete with Coletti's signature.  Jeff's Certicates are no longer available.  I mention this because if you are not the original owner of the car, having Coletti's signature doesn't prove you have an original Certificate sent by SVT.  It could be a duplicate.  This probably doesn't matter to most Terminator owners.  Perhaps most important, Terminator owners generally consider John Coletti to be the father of the Terminator, so his signature does mean something.  Just pointing it out. 

If you bought a used Cobra you can call Ford Performance for a new Certificate.  However, it does not contain Coletti's signature. They will need your name & VIN number. The cost is $40.00.  If you are a member of SVTOA a discount is available. Call Ford Performance and have your vehicle information handy (1-866-377-8862). Or contact the Ford Performance Info Center directly at:  1-800-FORD-788 • Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). You can also order a Build Certificate directly on the Ford Performance Group/Ford Show Parts website for the same $40.00. Note that you cannot get your Build Number from Ford unless you buy the Certificate.

Build documentation has been found in various places on the vehicle, typically wedged into gaps in the vehicle bodywork. A common location is under the rear bumper.

2.1.7.     

How do I de-code my VIN and where are the VIN plates located? 

VIN Breakdown
Example: 1FAFP48Y73F310692

 1FAFP48Y73F310692
 1FA ........ Ford Motor Co.
 F ........... Restraint System (F-air bags & active belts)
 P ........... Passenger Car
 48 ......... 2dr Coupe Cobra (or 49 for 2dr Convertible Cobra)
 Y .......... Engine Code (4.6L DOHC Supercharged V8)
 7 ........... Check Digit (varies)
 3 ........... Year (3 - 2003)
 F ........... Plant (F - Dearborn)
 310692 ... Consecutive Unit Number

The VIN plate is attached to the driver's side of the dash, visible through windshield. The VIN can also be found inside the driver's door jam. VIN info has also been reported to be found on a tab welded to the front frame behind the impact bar. There is also a hidden VIN, but I won't disclose the location for obvious reasons.  

2.1.8.     

I have a blue stripe on the driver side head.  Does it mean that the head was replaced by the dealer or at the factory to fix the tick issue?

This is a question that has been tossed around more than a mixed salad.  The popular rumor is that the blue stripe means that the head was replaced by the dealer (or at the factory) to fix the tick issue.  First, some facts.  The tick issue is not common, but it can occur on any 2003 or 2004 4.6L DOHC engine (Cobra, Mach 1, etc.).  The latest head (the one that fixed the tick issue) wasn't released until 01/2005.  Second, the blue stripe has appeared on 2003 and 2004 Cobras/Mach 1s from the factory, and it has appeared on both the driver side and passenger side heads.  So it has no correlation to the tick issue fix.

As far as what the blue stripe means, JB from SVTPerformance.com belongs to a local Cobra club and they toured the factory a few years ago.  This was the explanation given at the factory.  "Assembly plants use just-in-time inventory, meaning parts are not stored up but are delivered daily.  The paint markers provide a visual confirmation of when particular batches have been purged from the line.  They show up on other Ford engines besides the '03/'04 Cobra. The bottom-line is that the blue stripe doesn't mean a head has been replaced by a dealer".

Here's a history of the '03-'04 Cobra heads. Thanks to Joe G. (Jrgoffin on SVTPerformance.com). These are the casting numbers on the actual heads. The actual part numbers are different.  It get confusing.  As Joe says, "The engineering numbers I listed above can be close to the actual part numbers, but it's usually confusing no matter what. Adding to that, FRPP gets in the mix and then they create yet another part number!! Again, guys have to look at the engineering/casting number to know what head they have".
The 2C5E-6C064-AF & AG castings were the earliest heads, with 4 plug threads. Some have the blue paint, some do not.
The 2C5E-6C064-DA head was the first update to the driver's side (also with 4 threads). Some have the blue paint, some do not.
The 2C5E-6C064-DB head came out for 2004 and had nine plug threads.
The 2C5E-6C064-DC head was the final 2005 revision and also the FRPP head.   

2.1.9.     

What things should I check for when buying a used 2003 or 2004 Cobra?

Questions to ask the seller
●  What are the reasons that you are selling the car?
●  Are you the original owner, and how long have you owned the vehicle?
●  Has the vehicle ever been driven in rain or snow? If so, how often?
●  Has the vehicle been garaged when not in use?
●  Was the car raced or driven hard?  If so, how often?
●  Was the car used as a daily driver?
●  Has the car been smoked in?
●  Do you have all of the maintenance records?
●  Are there any existing/known mechanical issues (engine, drivetrain, suspension, etc.)?
●  Has ANYTHING (glass, wheels, body panels, tires, transmission, engine, etc.) been replaced or repainted since the vehicle was purchased?
●  Are there any chips in the windshield?
●  Is there significant chipping on the front bumper from road debris?
●  In what condition are the tires (front and rear)?  What brand/size are they?
●  Are the wheels stock or aftermarket?  If aftermarket, what brand and size are they?
●  What specific modifications have you done to the car?  Have the seller disclose ALL mods (intake, exhaust, tune, pulley, shifter, clutch quadrant, shocks, springs, etc.). 
●  What is its build number and build date (on Certificate of Ownership from SVT)?
●  What is the VIN number so that I can run a Carfax on it?
●  What documentation do you have?  Do you have the black zipper pouch with the four booklets (Mustang Owners Guide, SVT Mustang Cobra Owner’s Guide Supplement, Scheduled Maintenance Guide and, Warranty Guide). In addition, most original 2003 Cobra owners received a hard cover book entitled "Powered By SVT".  If possible, get this book.  It's a good one.
●  Does the car have an extended warranty?  If so, be sure to get the documentation.

Third party verifications: 
Get the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and run a Carfax to help you determine the ownership history of the vehicle and to determine if it has been in any major accidents. Be aware though that this is not 100% reliable. What is contained in the history is what has been reported. Occasionally a repair shop doesn't report a repair. Take the VIN to a Ford dealer and have them run it through their warranty system (OASIS) to verify that the car has a warranty and to determine what warranty repairs have been performed.  

Things To Check For
●  Look for previous mods. Check the end of the blower drive snout, in the center of the pulley. If there is any form of a dot in the middle of the shaft, it has probably had a pulley mod done.
●  Listen for strange noises coming from the motor, suspension, body or interior, whining in transmission or rear end, clunking in the drivetrain, etc.
●  Look at the throttle body bolts, intake clamp screws, etc.,for signs of being messed with.
●  Check for the tick issue.  Don't confuse this with normal fuel injector noise.  It will be louder.  If it is the real tick, it will get louder as the rpms increase.  CLICK HERE to listen to what the tick issue sounds like. And be aware that although any 2003-2004 Cobra engine without the latest heads or a cooling mod are susceptible to develop this issue, only a very small percentage of these engines have actually been affected to date. 
●  Make sure the clutch doesn't engage too low.  If so, it might need to be adjusted.
●  Look at tires.  Abnormal wear, rubber residue in wheel wells, or new tires on low mileage car might indicate it was raced. 
●  Look at brake pad wear.
●  Look in the oil filler cap for burnt oil residue, indicating possible infrequent oil changes or hard driving/high operating temps.
●  Look for signs of cooling system leaks.  Running low coolant with aluminum heads is very bad. 
●  Check body for dents or visible damage, front spoiler damage, and paint surface scratches, chips, flaking, over-spray or orange peel.  There is a TSB for flaking paint on the hood.
●  Inspect the rear spoiler; the 3M tape is known to creep out requiring adjustment or trimming.
●  Check for catalytic converter damage: Rap on cats and mufflers looking for rattles.  
●  Check for system leaks and drips:
     ●  Valve covers and engine
     ●  Rear end and differential
     ●  Transmission
     ●  Power Steering and ABS
     ●  Radiator
 ●  Check Wheels and Tires:
     ●  Check wheels for damage from encounters with curbs.
     ●  Check that all lug nuts are tight.
     ●  Check the air pressure in the tires.  
●  Check entire interior for defects:
     ●  Check steering wheel and seats for scratches, cuts, stains and wear.
     ●  Check power window operation.
     ●  Check power top operation if it is a convertible, or fraying or damage to the convertible top.
     ●  Check center console trim: Some have found that clips were missing or broken
     ●  Push on the trim around the A/C vents-- it shouldn't move.
     ●  Check the instrument lighting for proper operation.
     ●  Check for passenger seat rubbing against passenger door.  There's a TSB to fix this: 03-01-05. 
●  Check the Engine for the following:
     ●  Oil level.
     ●  Radiator Coolant level.
     ●  Stains on the motor and on engine bay components which might indicate fluid leaks.
●  Test Drive the Vehicle and check for the following (TSBs can be found HERE):
     ●  Do the doors lock on startup?
     ●  Check for rough idle: Idle should be about 750rpm
     ●  Listen next to the driver's front wheel for tick issue. Don't confuse with fuel injector noise.
         You can CLICK HERE to listen to what the tick issue sounds like.
     ●  Check for any drivetrain vibrations, especially at higher speeds.
     ●  Check alignment. Does the Vehicle pull to either side?
     ●  Is there any vibration during braking? Pulls to either side during braking? 
     ●  Misfire or stumbling at moderate RPMs during test drive?  Could be caused by a faulty FRPS
        (Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor).
     ●  Stalling on deceleration?  There is a TSB for this - 17-54-2.
     ●  Clunk noise from the suspension while turning?
     ●  Driveline clunk during acceleration after coasting?
     ●  Belt Slipping or squealing?
     ●  Does the clutch have any play, rattle, or a loose feeling?
     ●  Check for "skunk" smell after test drive (more evidence of plugged cats). 
     ●  Does carpet interfere with gas pedal operation?  There is a recall for this.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to take a good test drive before you commit to a purchase.  Don't take the seller's word for the condition of the car, and don't let the seller drive.  YOU should do the test drive. It is near impossible to check everything, but the more thorough job you do the better the chance you'll be pleased with your purchase. If there is any concern about the condition of the engine, I recommend a compression check of each cylinder, and a leak-down test.

If you're buying what is described as a 'stock' or 'near stock' Terminator, do a visual check for previous motor mods, and get the seller's claim in writing. It's common for people who have modded their Terminators to remove all or most of the mods, and then advertise it as a "stock" or "near stock" car, simply because they can either make more money doing this, or because they know most buyers prefer a stock Terminator. A seller is unlikely to hide previous mods if he has to put it in writing. This most neglected step is for the buyer's protection and peace of mind. Consider asking  the seller if he is a member of any Mustang forums. If so, ask for their forum name.  Then go to the forum and see if you find any evidence of mods or how the car has been driven/maintained. It's very common for owners to openly discuss on forums what they've done to their cars - the good, the bad and the ugly. And that can work in your favor.

If you can't physically check the car yourself due to distance, have the seller take photos from different angles. Request specific shots to satisfy any concerns you might have, such as rust, condition of the engine bay, undercarriage & interior, etc. The photos can be emailed to you.

When you take delivery, one of the first things you should do is check the A/F.  If it happens to be too lean you'll be driving a time bomb. Get the car onto a local dyno, or use a wideband, to check the A/F. It's nice to have baseline numbers anyway. If the A/F is too lean get a new tune ASAP.

2.1.10. 

What colors were available?

All exterior colors for both model years can be found HERE.
Convertible Top: Black or Parchment (With Red Fire, Torch Red, Black or Oxford White Exteriors)
Interior: Dark Charcoal with choice of Medium Parchment or Medium Graphite accents (dark accents were added for 2004). The 10th Anniversary model has red accents. The 2004 Mystichrome model has special color changing pigmented leather seating and color changing steering wheel surfaces.

The seats used in the 2004 Mystichrome model have the same color changing properties as the exterior paint. Garden State Tanning (GST), had developed leather colored with ChromaFlair pigments. They had excellent success substituting ChromaFlair for traditional leather pigments. To match the Mystichrome exterior paint, GST starts with leather hides tanned with a black dye. The same blue/green ChromaFlair pigment used in the exterior paint was mixed with leather-softening oils, and then sprayed onto the surface. Finally, a clear protective layer was applied to seal in the color.

2.1.11. 

What options are available?

The only options for the '03/'04 Cobra were the spoiler delete and chrome wheels. There was also a 10th Anniversary model for 2003 and the Mystichrome model for 2004. Each has unique trim pieces.

2.1.12. 

Does the stereo play MP3’s?

Unfortunately, no. Neither the '03 or '04 (which has the Mach 460 system) can play MP3s. Nor can even year play MP3 files on a CD. If you are looking to use an MP3 player with the stock audio system, controlled by the stock controls, go to this link for some great information. 

2.1.13. 

I heard that a Terminator ID Tag/Plate can be purchased for my engine bay and/or interior console. Where can I get one?

The original Terminator ID Tags/Plates were made by Gary Loat and sold from my website.  There was a plate available for the fan shroud in the engine bay, and another plate available for the interior console.  Unfortunately Gary shut down his business in October, 2011.  These ID Tags/Plates are no longer available from Gary, but Custom License Plates And Keytags can make an identical plate to Gary's, and even customize the plate for you in just about any way.  Here is the plate that Gary Loat used to make.  Custom License Plates And Keytags does this exact same plate.  So if you prefer the original design, you'll want their Plate.  They can also customize it for you if you want.  Contact them for more details by clicking on the link above.

Another source of similar plates is the Anchor Room. The plate below was done recently for a customer. When you click on the link above you will see numerous plate designs, but not this particular design. If you're interested in it, contact the Anchor Room and discuss you needs with Jason.

DataPlatesPlus makes very similar plates for both SVTOA and the SVT Cobra Mustang Club. They are very similar to Gary Loat's defunct plates, so check them out HEREThis is an example of their Mystichrome plate. 

TIP:  Are you concerned about the factory hood scratching the ID Plate when in its lowered/stored position? The simple solution is to slip two black rubber/vinyl O-rings onto the prop rod (choose a size that is snug on the rod) and slide each down the rod until they are positioned to just beyond the left and right edges of the Plate.

2.1.14. 

What are some good web sites for '03-'04 Cobra information?

The best focused '03-'04 Cobra forum sites around are svtperformance.com and modularfords.com. However, the 2003-2004 Cobra shares many components with earlier Mustangs, so many general mustang forum sites can be helpful as well.

Pro Weld Performance Parts has some excellent '03-'04 Cobra tech information, including exploded engine and supercharger diagrams with part numbers, engine operation detail, valve train operation, etc.  CLICK HERE for their 2003-2004 Cobra Description & Operation page.

2.1.15. 

What kind of gas mileage should I expect?

On the interstate, around 20 MPG (17-22) should be the norm. In the city, it depends on how much you like to get into boost with a heavier foot on the gas pedal. General city driving mileage is around 14-18 MPG.

2.1.16. 

How do you clean the Alcantera (imitation suede) seats?  Where can I buy this material to re-upholster my seats?

The seating material is called Alcantara (a brand of Italian Suede).  I have a PDF file which gives general cleaning tips. If you would like to see it, CLICK HERE

Visit the Alcantara website for specific cleaning instructions and recommended cleaning products.

If you are looking to buy Alcantara material to re-upholster your seats, it is available through Gulf Fabrics in many colors, including the stock Cobra colors. CLICK HERE to go to their website, then click on the Alcantara link, and then click on Colors.   
 

2.1.17. 

What is the part number for the Ford factory battery?

The factory battery part number is BXT59.
 

2.1.18.     

How do I remove the inner gray coating on my OEM chrome wheels?

For those who didn't know, Ford added a silver coating to the chrome plate on the back of the wheel.  Be assured that under the gray coating is pure chrome.  And according to Stang2WRX, aircraft remover won't harm the chrome plating.  It will only remove the gray coating over the chrome.  Some have used a very fine steel wool to remove the coating, but this method is easier and faster.  NOTE:  If you decide to use the aircraft remover, test it on a small area of the wheel coating to insure it won't harm the chrome.  Personally I would stick with using fine steel wool.

Thanks to Stang2WRX from SVTPerformance.com for this info.  Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

Step 1:
Make sure you have all of the necessary supplies:
'Aircraft Remover' (available at AutoZone)
Container to pour smaller amounts of the stripper into
Paint brush (3" or 4" recommended)
Heavy-duty rubber gloves
Safety glasses
Bucket of hot/warm water
Old sponge
Car wash soap
Hose/water supply

Step 2:
Once you have your eyewear and gloves on, pour a small amount of aircraft remover into your container.  Then apply it to the painted finish on the rim, with the brush, in swirling motions.  You can do 1/4 to 1/3 of the wheel at a time if you want to do it right.  Let it sit for 2 minutes.

Step 3:
Use an old car wash sponge and dip it into hot water. Ring some of the water out and begin to wipe off the aircraft remover. The gray finish should freely come off.  If not, then you either didn't swirl in the remover with the brush enough or you didn't give it enough time to set.

NOTE:  Be careful that you don't let it sit for too long, as the gray finish will begin to set again.
Repeat this procedure around the rim. Be sure to keep away from the center caps.

Step 4:
Prepare a bucket of soapy water. Use the soft wheel brush and wash down the wheel and tire thoroughly to remove any remaining residue.  Dry the tire and wheel.

2.1.19.     

How do I change the Eaton super-charger oil?

Special thanks to airmanb2b on SVTPerformance.com for this write-up. Note Ford says the factory fill is good for 100,000 miles, but if you are using a smaller upper pulley to increase boost you are over-spinning the blower and should change the oil more often.  Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

Parts and Tools Required
1 large syringe (any pharmacy)
8 oz. Mobil 10w30 motor oil or Ford XL-4 (replaces part number E9SZ-19577-A) or GM 1234-5982.
3/16 Allen wrench
2 rags
1 small bowl or cup (to put old oil in)
Approx. 6 inches of clear fish tank hose (any pet department)

First step is to locate the oil drain/fill plug

Use a 3/16 Allen wrench and unscrew the plug. The plug might be tight. Don't worry, just put sufficient force on the wrench to loosen it. Lay rags under the plug. You will get a bit of oil out. It's inevitable so just let it drain on the rags. Watch how it flows out. That will be important later.

Push the hose into the hole as far as it will go and suck out the oil. It will take a bit depending on the size of syringe. Repeat until you get only air. Put oil in cup or bowl.

Once the Eaton is empty, you will have some oil in the hose that you cannot get out. Purge the line with new oil to get the old out of the hose.

Keep filling the syringe with new oil and squirting it into the Eaton until it flows out like it did when you first removed the plug. It should hold about 8oz or so. If you have small fingers, you can stick your pinky into the hole and feel the oil. It should be level with the bottom of the drain/fill hole.  Once the oil is flowing out freely, and you cannot put anymore in, re-install the plug. Don't over tighten! Just get it snug.

2.1.20.     

Should I upgrade to the latest revised heads for my Terminator?  And is it worth it to get the new heads ported and give them a quality valve job?

The latest heads (dated 01/2005 or later) have improved cooling passages which are designed to eliminate the heat issues experienced with the older heads (the so called "tick" issue).  They also have additional spark plug threads.  They retail for approximately $1,400. for the set, and are worth the investment in if you can afford it.  The following comments are from JimmySideCarr on SVTPerformance.com and are well worth reading.

"As good as even the older versions of our heads are, the factory valve jobs are not the greatest.  Some are nearly perfect but many have issues. Even with a new set of the improved heads, if it was me I would have mine treated to a professional quality valve job.  The porting IMHO is not a big deal.  I can tidy up the overall quality of the port finish myself, including a casting flash clean up and doing a bowl clean up (but NOT polish).  I don't believe there is much power to be found in porting these revised heads.  Not so with the valve job itself!  I believe THIS is where people are finding the improvements. With a positive displacement engine the subtle little shaping improvements that work so well on naturally aspirated engines (that rely on air pressure differentials for cylinder filling) I believe have very little effect on a PD engine (you can't suck air past the rotors of the blower). If ported Terminator heads were that big of an improvement you would be reading about crazy boost drops after porting, and I'm not seeing that. Now if our heads were junk (which they aren't), then porting would be worth doing.  If someone is shooting for a 600+ rwhp car then the new heads are worth it IMO. The additional plug threads alone will pull more heat out of the combustion chamber face! The additional coolant flow and better cooled exhaust valve guides also makes for improved detonation resistance and the ability to run more timing in the tune and that equals POWER! If tuners are already dialing in more timing if you are running the LDC or Even Flow left head cooling mod then you know they are going to be able to take advantage of the the elevated detonation protection threshold afforded by these new heads."  

2.1.21.     

I'm storing my car for the winter.  What are some storage tips, and how can I prevent damage from mice?

For storing your Mustang for winter, I offer the following recommendations.

●  Fill the tank with gas and add a gas stabilizer like Sta-Bil to keep your gas from becoming stale. 
●  Change the oil and filter. I recommend changing it again when you take your car out of long term storage.
●  Thorough wash the exterior of the car. If possible, remove each wheel and thoroughly clean/polish them, especially the back side where dirt and road debris accumulates. Polish/wax the exterior after using a clay bar to remove surface contaminants. Clean/detail the engine bay. Consider covering it with a quality car cover from California Car Cover or Big Sky Car Covers, or another high quality cover. Your detailing will reward you in the Spring!
●  To prevent tire flat spots, use jack stands to raise the car off the floor. Set the stands under the control arms so that the weight of the car is still on the suspension, and just high enough to keep the weight off of the tires.  Putting the jack stands under the spring perches is recommended by some. If jack stands are not available you can use wood blocks.  Just remember that the suspension likes to be loaded.  It's heavy.  Many recommend that you just inflate the tires to the max and put carpet squares or plywood under each tire.
●  Check tire air pressure and be sure all tires are the same pressure. Note that regular air can leak during storage due to faulty valve stems, wheel irregularities, etc. Some shops and dealers  offer nitrogen to fill tires.  Nitrogen is heavier than air and less likely to leak out (larger molecules). 
●  Disconnect the negative battery cable.  Some prefer to use a battery tender.
●  Place a few moisture absorber packs (desiccants) on the interior floors and trunk to absorb moisture. Large packs are usually available at most do-it-yourself building supply or hardware stores. As an alternative, kitty litter can be used in small containers.
●  Get some baking soda to put in the cabin. Open the tabs and place the entire box on the floor, ideally one on the rear floor and one on the front floor.  This will prevent any musty smell.
●  When starting the car after long term storage, hold the accelerator to the floor (which will turn off the fuel injectors) while starting.  Turn the engine over for about 10 seconds to get the oil flowing to the top of the engine.  Then start the car normally.    

Protection From Mice

The best way to keep mice out of your car is to keep them out of the storage area, usually a garage. Keep doors and windows sealed as tightly as possible. Keep food out of your building and cars. If there’s nothing for mice to eat, they won’t usually hang around. Vacuum the carpets, seats, under-seat area, console and glove box. Then shampoo the carpets.

Traps and poisons are a line of defense against mice, but remember that bait traps are designed to attract mice and then kill them. Keeping the mice away in the first place works best. Some people prefer to put triangle shaped tube traps, that have a sticky inside base, near the garage door on both sides where the floor meets the wall, where rodents are more likely to walk.  

Mice typically enter a car by scampering up the tires. If the vehicle is stored without tires, it is a bit harder for them to get inside. Rodents can nest in several places in a vehicle: the engine bay, the interior and the trunk. They will eat electrical wires and even spark plug wires. Mice can also get into cars through any small hole, including around cables, pedal shafts, steering columns and so on. If you can seal all these openings, mice can’t enter. Leave the sun visors in the down position. If you want to keep the windows slightly open for better airflow, cover the opening with screening.

One final step in fighting rodent infestation is to make spot checks every couple of weeks. If you see droppings or notice that unpleasant mouse smell, the steps you have taken so far aren’t working. In this case, you might need the services of a professional pest control service.

2.1.22.     

Is it safe to spray wash my engine?  Will it cause any drivability  issues?

It is not uncommon for Terminator owners to spray wash their engines to keep the engine and engine bay looking factory fresh.  However, occasionally people experience an engine miss after spraying down their engine.  The most common reason is a damaged COP (coil on pack).  Water can seep into the spark plug hole where engine heat turns it into steam and damages the coil. Here are some things you can do to prevent the problem:

1) Never wash the engine without covering the coil packs.
2) Apply a liberal coating of dielectric grease to the rubber seal on the coil where it connects to the engine.

If you expect a damaged COP, try the following:
Remove the coil (COP). Make two resistance measurements with a digital multimeter, one for the primary side and one for the secondary side. The first measurement is for the primary side of the coil.  Where it connects normally to the connector will be two connections or terminals you will need to measure across, this if for the primary side. Connect your meter leads to the (+) and (-) terminal. The resistance should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.55 ohms. The secondary measurement will be from the (+) terminal and the terminal that is connected to the spark plug when it is on the car. This measurement should be in the neighborhood of 5,500 ohms, or 5.5M ohms. If either measurement shows 0 ohms or “overload” “OL” “999.999” or what ever your meter reads when there is an open the coil is bad.

2.1.23.     

What are the general specs such as lubricants, torque specs, engine specs, etc.?

Lubricants and Sealants
Motorcraft Premium Engine Coolant - VC-4-A ((In Oregon VC-5, In Canada CXC-10) ESE-M97B44-A
Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant - VC-7-A (In Oregon VC-7-B) WSS-M97B51-A1
SAE 5W-20 Engine Premium Synthetic Blend Engine Oil XO-5W20-QSP WSS-M2C153-H
Metal Surface Cleaner - F4AZ-19A536-RA WSE-M5B392-A
Silicone Gasket and Sealant - F7AZ-19554-EA WSE-M4G323-A4
Pipe Sealant with Teflon® - D8AZ-19554-A WSK-M2G350-A2
Threadlock 262 - E2FZ-19554-B WSK-M2G351-A6
 
Engine
Displacement 4.6L (4V) (281 CID)
Number of cylinders 8
Upper pulley size: 3.65
Idlers size: 90mm
Bore 90.2 mm (3.55 in)
Stroke 90.0 mm (3.54 in)
Firing order 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8
Oil pressure 138-310 kPa
Oil capacity 6 ± 0.25 (a)
Compression ratio 8.5:1
Cylinder Head and Valve Train
Cylinder head gasket surface flatness 0.10 mm (0.004 inch) max. overall
Combustion chamber volume 52.6 ± 0.5 cm
Valve arrangement (front to rear) (b)
   Intake (left hand): S-P-S-P-S-P-S-P
   Intake (right hand): P-S-P-S-P-S-P-S
   Exhaust (left hand): E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E
   Exhaust (right hand): E-E-E-E-E-E-E-E

For additional engine and torque specs, refer to this PDF file.

2.1.24. 

Where can I buy a good car cover?

If you're going to buy a car cover, but a good one.  Be sure it fits well and that the fabric is high quality so it won't damage your car's finish.  And, of course, be sure it provides the level of protection you need for either indoor or outdoor use.  There are a number of good ones out there. I highly recommend Big Sky Car Covers. Another good choice is California Car Cover.  

2.2.       

Technical Questions

 

2.2.1.     

What are the general specifications for each model year, including standard and optional equipment?


 

               GENERAL SPECS

COUPE

Drivetrain layout

Front engine, rwd

Engine type

Supercharged 90 Degree V-8 with fully counterweighted forged crankshaft, cast-iron block/aluminum heads

Valve gear

Chain driven DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.

Bore x stroke, in/mm

3.55x3.54 / 90.2x90.0

Displacement, ci/cc

280.7 / 4601

Compression ratio

8.5:1

Firing Order

7-3-8-1-6-5-2-4

Induction

Eaton Generation IV Roots-type supercharger with water-to-air intercooler, 8.0 psi maximum; aluminum intake manifold / tuned equal length runners, 57mm twin bore throttle body, 90mm mass-air sensor

Fuel Delivery

Sequential electronic fuel injection

Fuel Injectors

39 lb. (blue)

Ignition

Distributorless coil-on-plug

Exhaust

Stainless steel, dual 2.25" / 3" polished tips

Max horsepower @ rpm

390 @ 6000

Max torque @ rpm

390 @ 3500

Specific output, hp/liter

84.8

Power to weight, lb/hp

9.6

Redline, rpm

6500

Transmission

TTC T-56 6-speed manual with 11" single plate clutch
1st Gear - 2.66
2nd Gear - 1.78
3rd Gear - 1.30
4th Gear - 1.00
5th Gear - 0.80
6th Gear - 0.63
Reverse - 2.90

Axle/final-drive ratios

3.55:1 / 2.24:1

Driveshaft

Aluminum driveshaft

Rear Axle

Aluminum case rear axle: 8.8" 3.55:1 Trac Lok

Suspension, f;r

Front: SVT modified MacPherson struts, with gas charged Bilstein monotube dampers and separate 600 lb./in. coil springs (500 lb. in. on convertible) on lower arm, 29mm tubular stabilizer bar
Rear: Multi-link independent system, cast iron upper control arms, aluminum lower control arms, aluminum spindles, fixed toe-control tie rods, gas-charged Bilstein dampers and 600 lb. in coil springs (470 lb. in on convertible), 26mm tubular stabilizer bar

Steering

Rack and pinion, power assist

Steering Ratio

15.0:1

Turning Circle

41.7 ft.

Brakes, f;r

4 channel/4 sensor system
Front: 13.0" vented Brembo discs with 2-piston calipers, ABS
Rear: 11.65" discs with single-piston caliper, ABS

Wheels, f;r

17x9.0; 17x9.0, 5-spoke cast aluminum (optional chrome plating)

Tires, f;r

275/40ZR17; 275/40ZR17, Goodyear Eagle F1 (spare tire is a Goodyear 155/70R17)

 DIMENSIONS

 

Wheelbase, in

101.3

Track, f;r, in

60.3; 60.3

Length, in

183.5

Width, in

73.1

Height, in

52.3

Curb weight, lb; f/r %

3665 lbs; 57/43 - Coupe      
3780 lbs. -Convertible

Fuel capacity, gal

15.7

                             CONSUMER INFO

 

Base price

$33,125 (coupe)

Price as tested

$34,750 (coupe)

EPA mpg, city/hwy

16/22


Click on each thumbnail image below to see a full size Data Card for each model year.  These full color Cards show all of the specs, standard equipment/trim, engine and drivetrain specs, etc. 

   
 2003 Specs Card          2004 Specs Card

2.2.2.     

What do 2003-2004 Cobra’s typically dyno at stock?

On average, stock Terminators dyno between 345-395 hp at the rear wheels using SAE correction. The lowest stock dyno number I've seen is low 340’s and the highest was 395. Average is 365-370 rwhp. The wide range of reported numbers are likely due to a number of factors, including.....
●  motor break-in period before first dyno run
●  manufacturing tolerances
●  factory tune
●  dyno variances
●  weather conditions when dynoed

2.2.3.     

What are the differences in the 2003 Cobra production runs?

2003 Cobra’s had two production runs. First run cars seem to have a bit more variation in dyno numbers and quality, come stock with AGSF12FM1 spark plugs, and have the older QUD2 EEC program, identified by a white sticker on the passenger side door, near the locking mechanism. Second run cars seem to have leveled out a bit, use AGSF22FM1 spark plugs, and have the newer YDH0 or YDH1 program.  2004 Cobras had either the AMZ1 or AMZ2 program.

2.2.4.     

What are the differences between the 2003 Cobra and the 2001 Cobra?

The '03 Cobra has several mechanical & visual differences from the '01 Cobra. The '03 has a 112 c.i. Eaton supercharger, intercooler, intercooler reservoir, slightly different heads and cams, 8.5:1 compression, forged pistons and Manley H-beam rods, iron block, Tremec T-56 transmission, 3.55:1 rear gears, and stronger half-shafts. The 03’s have a different spoiler, front fascia/splitter, hood, side skirts, redesigned 17”x9” wheels, redesigned suede seating, and slightly different interior trim.

2.2.5.     

How does the Traction Control System work?

The Cobra's Traction Control System is an all-speed traction control system (TCS) that is standard equipment on all the 2003/2004 Ford SVT Mustang Cobras.  The system's "Power Start" feature allows the driver to spin the drive wheels under acceleration, as long as the car tracks straight. If the system senses the vehicle slipping sideways, the traction control system will engage. The system also has a driver-selectable on/off switch.  When the light is ON, the TC system is off.  When the light is OFF, the TC system is on.  A bit confusing but that's the way it works.

With the TCS activated, when either of the two rear ABS/traction control sensors detects a wheel spinning at a rate higher than its counterpart, the engine management system retards ignition timing and modulates the fuel-air ratio to reduce power to that wheel. If the spinning continues, engine management cuts off one or more cylinders, and the ABS applies braking to the spinning wheel, transferring power to the other drive wheel. The system can detect the difference between wheel spin due to acceleration from cornering slippage, based on differences in slip rates at the wheels.  The TCS engine management strategies work at all speeds, and the system can apply braking to either rear wheel at speeds up to 62 mph.

2.2.6.     

What are the TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) issued for the 2003/2004 Cobra?

Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and Recalls for 2003/2004 Mustang (Cobra is included)
 
04-24-8  STEERING RACK NOISE  - Some 2002-2004 Mustang vehicles may exhibit a squeak or creak type noise while turning.
ACTION: Replace both power steering gear tube brackets. Refer to Workshop Manual Section 211-02 Steering Gear Mounting. Tighten the steering gear mounting fasteners to 52 lb-ft (70 N-m).
PART NUMBER PART NAME - E5DZ-3K620-A BRACKET

17-54-2 DRIVEABILITY (Stall Issue), referred to as 'Lack of Power on Decel". SOME 2003 COBRAS MAY EXHIBIT DRIVABILITY CONCERNS INCLUDING LOSS OF POWER ON DECEL. THIS MAY BE CAUSED BY THE CALIBRATION OF THE POWERTRAIN CONTROL MODULE (PCM). TO SERVICE, RE-PROGRAM THE PCM WITH THE LATEST CALIBRATION AVAILABLE USING WDS RELEASE B29.3 OR HIGHER.

18-22-9 STEERING  -  POP/CLUNK OR SQUEALING NOISE FROM THE STEERING GEAR WHEN TURNING, DRIVING OVER BUMPS, OR BRAKING.

04-01-02 BODY - INTERIOR TRIM - HEADLINER SAGGING IN REAR

04-5-3 CLIMATE CONTROL (RATTLE NOISE FROM INSTRUMENT PANEL VENTS)- DIFFICULT TO ADJUST

03-25-05 PAINT - PIN HOLES AND/OR PAINT DE-LAMINATION ON VEHICLE HOOD - VEHICLES BUILT 6/1/2001 THROUGH 3/1/2003 ONLY

03-15-01 ELECTRICAL - REAR WINDOW DEFROSTER GRID DIAGNOSIS AND REPAIR

03-14-04 DRIVEABILITY - ENGINE MISFIRE OR ROUGH RUNNING - COIL ON PLUG (COP) IGNITION SYSTEMS - WDS COIL ON PLUG (COP) KIT DIAGNOSTIC TIPS

03-11-4 ENGINE - MUSTANG COBRA - TICK NOISE FROM ENGINE - COBRA VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH ENGINES BUILT BEFORE 11/1/2002 ONLY*
ISSUE:
Some 2003 Mustang Cobra vehicles with engines built before 11/1/2002 may exhibit an unusual engine tick noise that is present at all temperatures during idle. This noise may be due to valve guide wear in the left bank cylinder head. Guide wear manifests itself as a tick noise which can be heard at the rear of LH head, through LH catalyst, at the LH front wheel well and may not be heard with the hood open. CLICK HERE to listen to what the tick issue sounds like. And be aware that although any 2003-2004 Cobra engine without the latest heads or a cooling mod are susceptible to develop this issue, only a very small percentage of these engines have actually been affected to date.  HERE is a link to the actual Technical Service Bulletin in PDF format.

ACTION:
Use the diagnostic Service Procedure listed below to evaluate the vehicle condition and replace the cylinder head if applicable.
SERVICE PROCEDURE
In order to diagnose noise, the following items must be checked:
- Verify noise by placing a stethoscope on the back of the left head near the exhaust ports.
- Verify that the noise is heard in the left side exhaust system (left side wheel well or catalytic converter, from underneath the vehicle).
- Try to isolate the noise by cancelling the cylinders, by unplugging the injectors one at a time (start with #8 cylinder).
- Verify that there are no exhaust manifold leaks.
- Check to make sure that the camshaft spacers are in place. If not, install cam spacers (per Workshop Manual Section 303-01C) and retest vehicle.
- Check for proper cam sprocket bolt torque, re-torque to spec listed in the Workshop Manual Section 303-01C.
- Check for spongy lash adjusters (refer to Section 303-00 in the corresponding Workshop Manual).
- Verify that the timing chain tensioner pin has been removed.

* Please note that this issue was NOT confined to 2003 Cobras built before 11/1/2002 as was originally believed.  It has happened on both 2003 and 2004 Cobras.  Even on Mach 1s.  Also note that the actual percentage of affected Cobras is very small.  Also note that the original TSB stated that the then available replacement head was to be used if the driver's side head was confirmed to have the issue.  However, it did not solve the problem as some cars with this early replacement head again developed the tick issue.  ONLY the replacement head released in 01/2005 (and later) effectively solve the problem as the coolant passages were redesigned on this head.  Lastly, this issue has affected a very small percentage of 2003-2004 Cobras.  So the odds of any one Cobra developing the issue is minimal.

03-09-05 SUSPENSION - CLUNK OR POP NOISE FROM REAR SUSPENSION - MUSTANG COBRA ONLY - SERVICE TIPS
NOISE - CLUNK OR POP NOISE FROM REAR SUSPENSION - MUSTANG COBRA ONLY - SERVICE TIPS

03-08-03 ENGINE-ENGINE OIL LEVEL INDICATOR MARKINGS-REPORTS OF LOW OIL LEVELS ISSUE
Reports from the field indicate incorrect or low engine oil levels are being found at Pre-Delivery Inspection on new vehicles received in dealer inventory. In most cases, the level is being misinterpreted because the fluid fill mark on the stick is not touching the top hash mark at the upper limit (or MAX mark), or is partway down the crosshatch area.

SERVICE INFORMATION
Ensure the vehicle is sitting on level ground. Set the park brake and ensure the transmission selector lever is in PARK position, or in FIRST gear on manuals. The engine must be OFF.

The best time for determining oil level is before the engine is started and the oil has had sufficient drain back time to the sump. If the engine has been running, allow it to sit for a few minutes turned off. An oil drain back period is required before taking an initial reading.

If the level falls below the lower hole, fill with one quart of oil. If one quart is insufficient to raise the level above the mark, add oil until it records within the crosshatch area. Use caution during this procedure as some time is needed for oil to drain down through the drain back passages in the cylinder head, to the oil pan. Adding oil a quart at a time repeatedly without sufficient drain back may overfill the sump.

ACTION
Ford is in the process of standardizing the markings across all vehicle lines. Current markings shown will be upgraded to a refined marking, shown in Figure 1. Both markings will be used in production over the next few years. Oil levels will still be recorded in the crosshatched area of the blade, between the upper and lower limit holes. Vehicles shipped with engine oil levels falling within this area are acceptable and do not require topping off. Oil fill quantities are precisely measured at the plants and account for slight variations that may occur in oil pan volumes, indicator length, and pressed-in locations of the indicator tube into the block. For customer use, the markings continue to serve as a guide to refilling the engine to the correct initial fill volume with filter or, to top off the engine when it is determined the level is below the lower hole.

If the oil level falls between the upper and lower hole do not add more oil. Adding an extra quart could cause overfilling and may result in aeration (foaming) causing eventual damage to vital bearing surfaces and moving parts inside. Overfilling will require some oil to be drained out until the indicator shows the level between the upper and lower holes of the blade. DO NOT expect the engine to “consume” the extra oil back down to the upper oil fill level hole, or consider it as extra lubrication protection for the engine.

NOTE: The information in Technical Service Bulletins is intended for use by trained, professional technicians with the knowledge, tools, and equipment to do the job properly and safely. It informs these technicians of conditions that may occur on some vehicles, or provides information that could assist in proper vehicle service. The procedures should not be performed by “do-it-yourselfers”. Do not assume that a condition described affects your car or truck. Contact a Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury dealership to determine whether the Bulletin applies to your vehicle.

03-01-05 TRIM - PASSENGER SEAT RUBS AGAINST DOOR PANEL

02-17-08 NOISE - WIND NOISE FROM THE "A" PILLAR AREA

04-13-4  TRANSMISSION  - Transmission Rattle Noise or Difficult to Shift (Tremec T-56 Transmission) - Some 2003-2004 Mustang Cobra vehicles equipped with the T-56 transmission may a rattle noise or a difficult to shift condition.  This is due to a cracked or broken release bearing guide tube.
Action:  To service, install a revised transmission adapter cover plate.  The revised adapter cover has release bearing guide tube already installed.

Ford Announces Recall of All 2003-2004 Cobras for Carpet Fix/Sticking Gas Pedal (May, 2006)

The NHTSA concluded its investigation into reports that the gas pedal on 2003-2004 Mustang Cobras could become snagged on the carpet trim under the pedal.  As a result of the investigation, Ford has issued a recall on all 2003 and 2004 Cobras for a fix.  Details of the fix are below.

Make : FORD Model : MUSTANG Year : 2003
Manufacturer : FORD MOTOR COMPANY
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 06V108000 Recall Date : APR 03, 2006
Component: VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL:ACCELERATOR PEDAL
Potential Number Of Units Affected : 19140
Summary:
ON CERTAIN MUSTANG COBRA PASSENGER VEHICLES, THE REAR SURFACE OF THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL MAY COME INTO CONTACT WITH FLOOR CARPETING DURING HEAVY THROTTLE APPLICATION. THE UNIQUE SURFACE PROFILE OF THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL MAY CATCH IN THE CUTOUT ON THE FLOOR CARPETING BEHIND THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL.
Consequence:
THIS COULD INTERFERE WITH THE PEDAL'S ABILITY TO RETURN TO AN IDLE POSITION. UNEXPECTED, CONTINUED THROTTLE APPLICATION AND/OR INCREASED STOPPING DISTANCES MAY OCCUR WHICH COULD RESULT IN A CRASH.
Remedy:
DEALERS WILL INSTALL A SHIELD OVER THE CUTOUT IN THE CARPET BEHIND THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON APRIL 26, 2006. OWNERS MAY CONTACT FORD AT 1-800-392-3673.
Notes:
FORD RECALL NO. 06S43. CUSTOMERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.

Here is a picture of the plate installed.  Click to enlarge.


Click Here for a complete list of Ford TSBs from 1996-2004. 
 

2.2.7.     

What is heat soak?

Heat soak is when the engine's generation of internal heat exceeds the cooling system capacity to dissipate the heat being generated. The surrounding metal surfaces literally becomes "soaked" in heat which will rob the engine of its ability to generate full power since the air and coolant is literally being heated from the surrounding "heat soaked" metal parts. It isn't so much a matter of high coolant temps causing power loss, but rather the effect it has on the efficiency of the intercooler. It isn't a problem unless you are racing and concerned about an above mentioned power loss after repeat runs. It is worse in hot weather.  It is more an inconvenience. When heat soak occurs, it pulls timing based on post-intercooler air temps. That is where some power loss will occur. 

A larger heat exchanger is a good mod, as is a larger coolant reservoir. Replacement intercoolers aren’t available. The real issue with heat soak is that the engine's cooling mechanisms aren't able to keep up with the heat buildup and therefore everything metal in the engine begins to retain the heat going into them from the blower plenum on down to all the metal ducts, block, heads, etc.

2.2.8.     

How does the supercharger work?  And do all Eaton snouts say SVT on the front?  How do I paint my Eaton a custom color?

THIS LINK has a great explanation of the operation of a roots supercharger.

Occasionally someone points out that their blower snout says EATON on the front instead of SVT.  All 2003-2004 Cobras got blower snouts that say SVT on the front.  However, the Lightning blower snout is interchangeable with the Cobra's.  For Lightning model years 1999-2000, their snouts said EATON.  So if your snout says EATON on the front, it likely got a swap by a previous owner for any number of reasons.

Painting your supercharger a custom color is difficult.  The key is prepping the surface.  I recommend you use PPG Shop Line's Wax & Grease Remover JX101 (or similar).  Then scuff all surfaces to be painted with a gray Scotch Brite 3M #7448 pad until the factory shine is gone off powder coat. Then use the wax & grease remover again for a final cleaning.  You can then use masking tape to mask off any areas that you want unpainted.  I recommend that you give the blower surfaces one more cleaning with the wax & grease remover before painting, to remove any contaminants or oils from your hands.  You might consider using a pair of disposable surgical gloves when doing the 2nd and 3rd cleaning, to prevent oils from your hands from coming into contact with the blower surfaces.  Again, prep is critical to the paint properly adhering to the blower.

2.2.9.     

What transmission does the Cobra use?

The 03 Cobra uses a Tremec T-56 6-Speed transmission. While this is fundamentally the same transmission used the the Viper, C5 Corvette, and F-Body (Camaro/Firebird), the torque specifications and gearing for the Cobra may be different than from these other models (our T-56 is rated to 450 Ft/Lbs of torque).

I have a PDF file for the T-56 Service Manual.  If contains detailed service information on the T-56 transmission.  CLICK HERE.

2.2.10. 

What are the specifications for the Cobra’s IRS and suspension components?

Rear Suspension- Multi-link independent system, cast iron upper control arm, aluminum lower control arm, fixed toe-control tie rod, aluminum spindle, gas-charged Bilstein™ monotube shock absorber, 600 lb/in (470 lb/in on convertible) coil spring, 26mm tubular stabilizer bar.
Coupe Shock Part# 2R3Z-18125-AA
Vert Shock Part# 2R3Z-18125-BA

Front Suspension- Modified MacPherson strut system with gas-charged Bilstein™ monotube dampeners and separate 600 lb/in (500 lb/in on convertible) spring on lower arm, 29mm tubular stabilizer bar. Coupe Strut Part# 2R3Z-18124-AA Vert Strut Part# 2R3Z-18124-BA Rear Suspension- Multi-link independent system, cast iron upper control arm, aluminum lower control arm, fixed toe-control tie rod, aluminum spindle, gas-charged Bilstein™ monotube shock absorber, 600 lb/in (470 lb/in on convertible) coil spring, 26mm tubular stabilizer bar. Coupe Shock Part# 2R3Z-18125-AA Vert Shock Part# 2R3Z-18125-BA

2.2.11. 

My Cobra shakes at speeds over 100mph.  What could be the problem?

These tips come from Tony (Blueline) on SVTPerformance.com. 

If you're feeling a shaking in the steering wheel while doing 100mph, put the car in neutral and let it coast. Don't touch the brakes, clutch or anything else. If it still shakes, its probably something in the front end (tires, wheels out balance, wheel hubs, etc.). If it's shaking and you put the clutch in and it stops, the issue may be in the driveline, transmission, etc. If you're feeling the shaking in the seat of your pants and it feels like a rear tire issue, it could be the drive shaft, u-joints, rear wheel hubs, etc. If your feeling the vibration when you apply the brakes, check your front rotors and wheel hubs.

2.2.12. 

What are the specifications of the Cobra’s brakes?

Front Brakes- 13.0 in. (330mm) vented Brembo™ disc, PBR™ twin-piston caliper.
Rear Brakes- 11.65 in. (296mm) vented disc, single-piston caliper.
ABS- Four-channel, four sensor system.

2.2.13. 

What fluids should I use in my Cobra?

 

2.2.13.1.    

What engine oil should I use in my Cobra, and what filters are recommended?

Based on Cobra’03’s extensive research on this subject, here are some suggested lubricants:
”Amsoil 0w30 Series 2000, Amsoil 5w30, and Red Line 5w30 or 5w20 (it's lubricating qualities make it a safer bet than a mineral 5w20 for the Nervous Nancy’s out there). Lesser but still high quality are Mobil 1, Valvoline, and Pennzoil synoils. I do not think much of Syntec or Castrol domestically but their Euro-spec oils are very good. If you drive your car on nice days, and never at temps much below 20 degrees F, 10w30 spec oils, esp. synoils, have even greater shear stability than 5w30. If you are at the borderline of sunny day only use, go for the 5w to be on the safe side.”

It is not recommended that you use oil additives such as Slick 50, Prolong, etc. If you're looking for a lot of motor oil information, check out BobIsTheOilGuy.

As far as oil filters, there are a number of excellent choices, and some to stay clear of.  Here is an excellent write-up from a guy who dissected a number of oil filters and his finding should help you decide which filter is best for your Mustang.  CLICK HERE

If you have a UPR K-member you'll need to either relocate your oil filter with a relocation kit or use a shorter filter. A regular size filter can't be easily removed without jacking up the engine a tad. The most common and easiest solution is to use a shorter filter. Choices include the Mobil 1 (M1-210), Super Tech ST2 (WalMart), and Amsoil EAO11. Here are two photos that illustrate the size differences between a stock height filter and shorter filters.

     
Thanks to Dwight (IronTerp) for this photo
 

2.2.13.2.     

What supercharger oil should I use?

The Eaton M-112 Supercharger on the Cobra has it’s own oil, separate from the engine oil. It is used to lubricate the internals in the blower snout. To change it, remove the oil from the snout through the fill plug, and then refill with approximately 8-10 ounces of Ford E9SZ-19577-A or GM 1234-5982.  Some have used Mobil 10W30 but IMO use a real supercharger oil.  GO HERE for detailed instructions on how to change your blower oil. Ford says the factory fill is good for 100,000 miles but changing it at 60M miles is better. If you're using a smaller upper pulley to increase boost you are over-spinning the blower and should change the oil more often.  I would recommend 30M miles max.

2.2.13.3.     

What transmission lubricant should I use?

Tremec recommends the following lubricants for their transmissions, including the T-56. Many Terminator owners recommend changing the transmission fluid once a year.  Others do it every 24,000 or 30,000 miles.  Or follow Ford's recommended maintenance found in your Owners Manual.

●  TR-3550/TKO - GM Synchromesh or Dexron III
●  TR-3650/T-45/T-5 - Dexron III
●  T-56 (Ford and GM) - Dexron III
●  T-56 (Viper only) - Castrol Synctorque

The following transmission fluids are widely used as well.
●  Red Line D4 ATF; Red Line MTL
●  Valvoline Durablend ATF
●  Royal Purple Syncromax
●  Amsoil ATF
●  Mobil 1 ATF
●  GM Synchromesh or Quaker State Synchromesh
●  Stock Ford Fluid

Transmission Draining and Filling
DEXRON III® (ATF) Transmission Fluid (XT-2-QDX)

1.  Position a suitable drain pan under the transmission, remove the drain plug, and drain the transmission fluid.

2.  Clean the area around the filler plug and then clean and install the drain plug.

3.  Remove the filler plug.

 

4.  Using a suitable oil suction gun, fill the transmission to the correct level with your new transmission lubricant. The transmission capacity is 3.9 liters (4.1 quarts).

 

5.  Install the filler plug.

You can also add new transmission fluid from the top, from inside the car.
     * Remove the shift knob.
     * Remove the shifter boot and unplug the cigarette lighter.
     * Remove this metal cover (4 bolts).
     * Remove the shifter (4 bolts).
     * From under the car, remove the fill plug from the transmission and place a container under the
       hole to catch the fluid that's going to pour out once the transmission is full.

6.  Pour the new transmission fluid in from inside the car as shown.



7.  When the transmission fluid starts to come out of the transmission fill plug hole, it is correctly filled.
8.  Replace the fill plug and re-install your shifter (reversing steps 1-4 above).

Here is an excellent write-up from the True Street Cars forum for changing the fluid on a 2003-2004 Cobra, complete with photos.

2.2.13.4.     

What primary coolant should I use?

Early 2003 Cobras came with green color ethylene glycol coolant.  Second run 2003 Cobras and all 2004 Cobras came with the gold color ethylene glycol coolant.  The gold colored coolant is Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant.  It is recommended that you use the gold Ford Premium coolant.

PART NUMBER/PART NAME

VC-7-A Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant - For Use In U.S. (Except For California and Oregon) - (6) U.S. 1 Gallon Containers  

VC-7-B Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant with Bittering Agent - For Use Only In California and Oregon - (6) U.S. 1 Gallon Containers
The bittering agent renders the coolant or antifreeze unpalatable.  

A new, extended-life engine coolant, yellow-colored Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant, meeting Ford Specification WSS-M97B51-A1, service part numbers VC-7-A and VC-7-C (for use in the U.S., except California and Oregon) and VC-7-B (for use only in California and Oregon as it contains a bittering agent), has been equipped in all of the vehicles noted above. The initial-fill life for this coolant is 100,000 miles/5 years. Due to variations in water quality, the replacement interval is 50,000 miles/3 years. 

Some claim that you can mix the Green coolant (initial run 2003 Cobras) with the Gold coolant (2nd run 2003 and all 2004 Cobras) because they are both ethylene glycol type. However, Ford specifically states that you shouldn't mix the two, so do so at your own risk. If you are flushing and refilling your cooling system go with the Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant noted above. Here is some info direct from Ford/Motorcraft. Specifically they state the following.  Do not use this product in systems originally equipped with any green-colored, conventional engine coolant such as Motorcraft® Premium Engine Coolant, meeting Ford Specification ESE-M97B44-A (see usage chart for exceptions), or with any orange-colored, extended-life engine coolant such as Motorcraft® Specialty Orange Engine Coolant, meeting Ford Specification WSS-M97B44-D.  CLICK HERE to read the entire page. 

Note that Motorcraft Premium Gold Engine Coolant (ethylene glycol type) is not compatible with any orange-colored, extended-life engine coolants (propylene glycol type) such as Motorcraft Specialty Orange Engine Coolant, service part numbers VC-2 and VC-3. DO NOT MIX COOLANT TYPES. USE ONLY THE TYPE OF COOLANT WITH WHICH THE VEHICLE WAS EQUIPPED. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in degradation of corrosion protection and potential engine damage. You can find more info on this subject here: SVTPerformance.com Discussion

2.2.13.5.     

What intercooler coolant should I use, and what is the procedure for burping air out of the system?

The intercooler takes the same type of coolant as the engine.  Refer to the notes above under Primary Coolant as they apply to the intercooler coolant. 

Many ask what kind of water to use in your system. It depends on your system. Be aware that de-ionized water is one of the most corrosive forms of pure water there is, followed closely by distilled water. If you have a normal 50/50 mix system (water/coolant) then the type of water you use is less critical. Use either distilled or bottled filtered drinking water. Some use tap water but I don't recommend it. If you do use tap (city water), soft water is better than hard water, so know the hardness of your tap water and decide accordingly. Again, distilled or bottled filtered drinking water is recommended. JimmySideCarr (SVTPerformance.com) notes, "I recommend bottled filtered drinking water since it is a more pacified form of water and therefore less corrosive. It contains a small amount of minerals which tends to calm down the otherwise 'hungry nature' of a water form that has zero minerals, such as de-ionized and distilled water. At the same time, it has less minerals than typical well water and city water and as such is not a significant contributor to mineral scaling."

If you have a straight water or high water percentage system then the type of water you use is critical. It's recommended that you use bottled filtered drinking water rather than distilled water. Avoid tap water, which contains varying amounts of minerals which can promote mineral scaling.

How do you add water or water/coolant?  As long as are are just topping off and don't open the system at all, you will fill at the reservoir. There is no need to burp the system in this case.  Again, for a normal system the normal mix is 50/50 distilled or bottled filtered drinking water and coolant. I recommend adding a little Water Wetter. If you are just adding a small amount of coolant, you can add straight distilled or bottled filtered drinking water. Start the car and let it run and get up to normal temperature. Then start adding coolant after the thermostat opens. 

Jimmysidecarr (SVTPerformance.com) points out the following.  Due to the age of these cars at this point it has become important to watch for the following.
1. If the intercooler pump stops working it is possible for some coolant to boil out and drop the level, so check your pump.
2. If the heat exchanger has gotten nicked by a stone, it can seep out coolant and drop the level. A pressure test will show where it is leaking if it is.
3. A high percentage of water in the coolant mix can promote more electrolysis action than 50-50 mixes unless sufficient water wetter additives and the like are used. Even correct mixes can see electrolytic action over time. This can effect both the H/E and the intercooler, so be aware of this.
4. A leaking intercooler in the intake can be catastrophic. The only early warning you will get is low coolant. If you find low coolant make sure you find out WHY!!! So that if it is internal in the intake from the intercooler you can fix it before you hydro lock the engine and bend a bunch of rods, thereby trashing the engine.

Note:  If you have air in your system, usually identified by signs of coolant on/around the engine or steam, you need to bleed the air out of the system.  Here is the system burping procedure

2.2.13.6.     

What brake fluid should I use?

The stock brake fluid, listed in the Owner’s Manual, is sufficient for most needs.

2.2.14.

Where are the jacking points for jacking up the car?

It is very important to jack up the car using the correct jacking points to avoid damaging the undercarriage.  Here are the proper jacking points.  Please note in the rear jacking points diagram that the points illustrated at the rear axle and X'd out.  That is because the illustration is of a straight axle GT and not an IRS Cobra.  All of the other jacking points are fine.  Ford recommends that you DO NOT jack the rear from the rear differential to avoid damage to the undercarriage.  Instead, to lift the rear use the two other rectangular jacking points noted (the pad about 10-12" inboard just in front of the wheel well).
    

I highly recommend that you install a good quality set of full-length (NOT mid-length) sub-frame connectors.  Then you can jack the car pretty much anywhere along the welded-in side rail.  If you choose to jack from the welded in side rails be sure to put the jack squarely under the rail to avoid damaging the undercarriage.

Steeda and UPR sell a neat set of jacking rails which give a more solid lifting point.  Kenny Brown Performance sells both a set of jacking rails and an Extreme Matrix Subframe System (with built-in jacking rails) that provides a full frame under your Cobra.

Click thumbnails to enlarge. 

              
           Steeda Jacking Rails           UPR Jacking Rails
    

   
Kenny Brown Jacking Rails                                                      Kenny Brown Jacking Rails Installed

                      
Kenny Brown Extreme Matrix Subframe System  

2.2.15. 

How do I change the inner serpentine belt?

The inner serpentine belt drives the accessories noted in the table below.  Check the belt at every oil change for cracks and replace when necessary.  Note that this is NOT the belt that drives the supercharger. The part number for the Motorcraft serpentine belt is 2R3V-8620-AC.

Changing this serpentine belt takes more time than changing the blower belt.  If you have a stock lower pulley you have to remove the pulley cage.  Some remove the lower crank pulley as well, although that should not be necessary.  Use a pry bar to help rotate the belt sideways to position the belt as needed. Refer to the graphic below for proper belt routing.  Just remember that if the pulley is grooved then the grooved part of the belt should be touching it.  If the pulley is smooth then the smooth part of the belt should be touching it.

2.2.16. 

How do I change the fuel filter?

Click on this PDF for instructions on how to change the fuel filter on a 2003-2004 Cobra. Thanks to Airmanb2b on SVTPerformance.com for the instructions and photos. 
 

2.2.17

How do I adjust my clutch?

With the car OFF, put it in first gear. Reach down and with your hands, pull UP on the clutch pedal. You may or may not hear a click. With your foot press the clutch down to the floor. This works much like an auto brake cable adjuster.

2.2.18

What is the FRPS and where is it located?  And what causes it to fail?

The FRPS is the Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor.  It reports the pressure inside the fuel rail to the PCM. The PCM responds to inputs from the fuel pressure sensor and other sensors, then adjusts the fuel pressure by changing a pulse width modulated voltage supply to the fuel pump. The fuel pump either speeds up or slows down, based on what the PCM believes the engine's fuel needs happen to be at any given time. In this way, fuel pressure across the injectors is maintained at the correct pressure.  When the FRPS starts to fail (not uncommon) the result can be stalling and rough idling.

Here is a photo showing its location. Click to enlarge.      

 

 

 

Many ask why the FRPS fails.  Some mistakenly believe that high fuel pressure causes the failure.  But it actually is caused by the rate of pressure rise.  The following explanation comes from Jerry Wroblewski who helped design the SCT tuning software.  He also worked for Ford, Roush and others.  Special thanks to Jerry for this excellent information.

"First let me address your statement about the sensors breaking. The Ford spec for the returnless fuel sensor is a burst pressure of at least 200 psi. Have you seen 200 psi in the fuel system?  I bet  not. In fact I bet no one has. The sensor fails because of the rate of pressure rise, or a square wave. When I say square wave, I mean that it’s basically seeing a huge pressure rise like it’s being hit with a hammer. Here’s a story for you. The case wall in the 4R70W transmission was failing (in about 1995 or 1996). It would break from the line pressure passage to the reverse passage. We blocked off the passages and ran pressure up to 1000 psi and the wall didn’t fail. But on a spin stand, with no oil in the main regulator signal land, as the input shaft spun up, pressure would spike until the main regulator valve moved, so the pressure was a square wave, to about 180 psi and you could actually hear the wall break. So it had nothing to do with how much pressure it was seeing, it has to do with the rate of pressure rise. Now, the Kenne Bell disc helps because it slows down the rate of pressure rise that the sensor sees, but not of the actual fuel system. So the sensor doesn’t get hit with the square wave quite as hard. Does it work, yes.  Does it address root cause, no. The bottom line is this is why the sensors fail, not absolute pressure, but rate of pressure rise."

3.  

Modifications

Some new Cobra owners make the mistake of immediately buying mods without considering their needs and goals.  Some of it comes from the excitement of knowing that for a nominal sum of money you can just about instantly make this car a 450rwhp beast.  But my advise is don't do a thing until you establish your goals. You first need to answer some basic questions.

How will you be using your Cobra?
    ●  Street only?
    ●  Street & occasional drag racing?
    ●  Any road racing?
What power level are you shooting for?
    ●  A bit more than stock?
    ●  450rwhp or so?
    ●  500rwhp or so?
    ●  More than 500rwhp?
Do you want a very conservative and safe tune, or an aggressive race tune?
What type of fuel will you be using?
    ●  Torco enhance?
    ●  E-85?
    ●  93 octane?
    ●  91 octane?
What is your budget?
What is your timeline for your mods?

IMO these are all very important questions any new Cobra owner has to answer before throwing their money down on mods. With so many options and offerings, it is too easy to waste money and time on a package that is less than perfect. A great source for information are the SVTPerformance.com Terminator sub-forums.  You can spend some time browsing there and using the great Search function to gather info. There is so much info, though, that you might get overwhelmed. So I would also recommend that you talk to a few folks there who can help you do it right. There are also a number of good vendors who can give you great advice, including Lethal Performance and Amazon Tuning Solutions. Take care time and do it right and you'll have a lot more fun and fewer headaches.

3.1.       

What are the common “bolt-on” mods?  Is porting my Eaton worth it, and where can I get the porting done?

The most common bolt-ons are CAI/RAI (cold air intake and ram air intake), exhaust (midpipe and catback), smaller upper pulley, larger lower crank pulley, ported blower, long tube headers, lowering springs, suspension mods, aftermarket wheels, and drag radials. These mods are typically enough to get the Cobra to around 445-475 RWHP (stock Eaton) and 475-520 RWTQ (ported Eaton), and should be capable of propelling a good driver to low 11’s.  Other more radical mods include twin-screw blowers (Whipple and Kenne Bell), VMP TPS blower, and turbos.  E-85 fuel has become a popular mod with these aftermarket power adders as it provides a significant boost in power. 

Many ask if it's worth porting the Eaton. The simple answer is YES, if you intend to stick with the Eaton for awhile. If you're thinking about upgrading your supercharger, you might want to save your money and use it on the new power adder. Porting the Eaton is popular and can net you over 50rwhp. Porting increases the efficiency of the blower. There are a couple of companies that port blowers. Check with your Mustang forum for recommendations.  Whoever you choose, be sure to check their reputation as far as quality of work, price, warranty and customer service.

3.2.       

What does a Cobra with “XYZ” mods dyno at?

This is a difficult question. Every car is different, and will respond differently to modifications. Your best advice is to get your car chassis dynoed after each modification to chart your the power/torque changes. Start with a base pull, of course. A chassis dyno session should run you around $100 for three pulls, unless you find a local club/vendor sponsored 'dyno day' that offers a better deal.

3.3.       

Do mods void the warranty?

This is also a difficult question. The short answer is “maybe”. The sure-fire warranty busters seem to be chip and pulley mods, but that is debatable. According to the law, the manufacturer has to prove that the modification caused the damage in order to deny the warranty. While this sounds good in theory, the truth is that you will most likely have to take the matter to court in order to get the law upheld. In general, it is usually better to call around to several dealerships before you modify your car and find one that is “mod friendly”. Since warranty repair determination is usually left up to the individual dealer, having a good relationship with your service writer is somewhat vital. However, if you do have warranty troubles for damage that was not caused by the mod, and the dealer refuses to work on the vehicle, you can attempt to fight the decision (you can also try another dealer, but sometimes the dealer enters the denied repair into the system for all other dealers to see). Fighting a denied claim may involve getting the regional Ford warranty rep involved, and/or getting a good attorney involved.

3.4.       

Is a custom tune needed with a pulley swap?

Usually, yes. For an upper pulley swap, with a pulley smaller than 3.2” you will need a tune if you're going from the stock 3.65" pulley. If you're going from one smaller pulley to another, you need to check your air/fuel on a dyno or with a wide-band and adjust the tune as needed. In general, you want the A/F ratio to be below 12.0 (12 parts air to 1 part fuel), with the "ideal" A/F ratio in the 11.5-11.7 range. It is recommended that any time you install a motor mod, get your A/F checked.

3.5.       

What is the difference between upper and lower blower pulleys?

The factory upper blower pulley attaches to the supercharger snout and is pressed on, and must be pulled off. To swap this pulley, a specialized pulley-puller tool is recommended. The stock upper pulley is 3.65”. For more boost and more power/torque, you reduce the size of the pulley. Smaller pulleys, however, have less belt wrap, making belt slippage a strong possibility. Adding an auxiliary idler is highly recommended with any pulley less than 3.00". Lower crank pulleys, on the other hand, are bolted on. Lower pulleys are the opposite of upper pulleys in that the larger the pulley the higher the boost. Lower pulleys, however, are more difficult to install.  The stock lower pulley is 7 5/8”.

3.6.       

 How much boost will a Cobra make with the various upper/lower pulley combinations?

 

3.6.1.     

Upper and Lower Pulleys

One of the easiest modifications for a significant performance gain is to swap the stock 3.65" upper pulley for a smaller pulley and a custom tune. Two of the most common sizes are the 2.93/2.90 and the 2.80/2.76. For example, a 2003/2004 Cobra with only intake and exhaust mods can make in the neighborhood of 450rwhp and 470rwtq with the addition of a 2.93 upper pulley and a good, safe custom tune (93 octane). Some prefer to keep the stock upper (for the stealth factor) and install a larger lower crank pulley. The larger the lower pulley, the higher the boost/power. Many prefer to combine a larger lower pulley with a smaller upper pulley, especially with a ported blower. Be aware that replacing the lower pulley is more labor intensive than replacing the upper pulley, which is why an upper pulley swap is so popular. You can also buy an upper pulley kit which consists of a press-on hub and interchangeable rings which produce more or less boost. These rings are easy swapped by simply unbolting them from the hub. Billetflow makes an excellent interchangeable kit.  Metco Autosports' pulleys and double-bearing idlers are highly recommended.

Please be aware that the faster you spin the blower, the less efficient it becomes.  Go HERE for more info about the effects of overspinning the blower.

The chart below shows the approximate boost from various upper and lower pulley combinations.  Note that it is recommended that a stock, non-ported Eaton blower be kept in the 15 lb. max boost area.  A 2.76 or 2.93 is a popular choice.  A ported blower is more efficient and can handle 16-17 lbs. of boost nicely.  A 2.93 or 2.76 upper with a 4 lb. lower is a  popular choice with a ported blower setup, while some prefer the 2.93 upper with a 6 lb. lower.  Discuss your options with your tuner and, if applicable, the shop that ported your blower.

NOTE:  Estimated Peak Boost in the table below is just that...an estimate.  Boost will vary from setup to setup. Note that a 2003-2004 Cobra making 450rwhp and 12 lbs. of boost is more efficient that another Terminator making the same power with 14 lbs. of boost. Use the information in the chart only for general comparisons. The chart doesn't take into account the varying combinations of intake and exhaust mods or weather conditions. The Lower Pulley Sizes shown in the chart are all measured "from the top of the tooth" according to the Metco Motorsports website.  

 Pulley
 Combination
 Lower
 Pulley Size
in Inches
 Upper
 Pulley Size
in Inches
 RPM (% 
 over stock)
 Est. Boost
 (psi)
 Blower
 RPM @
 6500rpm
 Stock 7.60 3.65 0.00% 8.6 13,534
 2 lb. 8.00 3.65 5.26% 10.7 14,247
3.40 7.60 3.40 7.35% 11.0 14,529
2 lb./3.40 8.00 3.40 13.00% 12.0 15,294
4 lb. 8.60 3.65 13.16% 12.0 15,315
3.20 7.60 3.20 14.06% 12.1 15,438
3.10 7.60 3.10 17.74% 12.6 15,935
6 lb. 9.10 3.65 19.74% 12.9 16,205
2 lb./3.20 8.00 3.20 20.07% 13.0 16,250
4 lb./3.40 8.60 3.40 21.48% 13.2 16,441
2 lb./3.10 8.00 3.10 23.94% 13.5 16,774
2.93 7.60 2.93 24.57% 13.5 16,860
8 lb. 9.55 3.65 25.66% 13.7 17,007
6 lb./3.40 9.10 3.40 28.54% 14.0 17,397
4 lb./3.20 8.60 3.20 29.07% 14.1 17,469
2.80 7.60 2.80 30.36% 14.2 17,643
2 lb./2.93 8.00 2.93 31.13% 14.3 17,747
10 lb. 10.00 3.65 31.50% 14.4 17,794
2.76 7.60 2.76 32.25% 14.4 17,899
4 lb./3.10 8.60 3.10 33.23% 14.5 18,032
8 lb./3.40 9.55 3.40 34.90% 14.7 18,257
6 lb./3.20 9.10 3.20 36.57% 14.9 18,484
2 lb./2.80 8.00 2.80 37.22% 15.0 18,571
2 lb./2.76 8.00 2.76 39.21% 15.2 18,841
4 lb./2.93 8.60 2.93 40.96% 15.3 19,078
6 lb./3.10 9.10 3.10 40.96% 15.3 19,081
8 lb./3.20 9.55 3.20 43.33% 15.6 19,398
4 lb./2.80 8.60 2.80 47.51% 16.0 19,964
8 lb./3.10 9.55 3.10 47.95% 16.0 20,024
6 lb./2.93 9.10 2.93 49.16% 16.1 20,188
4 lb./2.76 8.60 2.76 49.65% 16.2 20,254
6 lb./2.80 9.10 2.80 56.09% 16.7 21,125
8 lb./2.93 9.55 2.93 56.54% 16.7 21,186
6 lb./2.76 9.10 2.76 58.35% 16.9 21,431
8 lb./2.80 9.55 2.80 63.80% 17.3 22,170
8 lb./2.76 9.55 2.76 66.18% 17.5 22,491


Special note concerning idlers.  It is't uncommon for those who install a smaller upper pulley to stick with one or more of the stock idlers.  It is important to point out that increased blower boost, and subsequent belt rpm, from smaller upper pulleys will add more tensional torque than the stock idlers are designed to handle.  Therefore it is important to swap out all of the stock idlers with quality aftermarket idlers.  There have been many reports from owners who have had stock (stamped steel) idlers come apart or seize up, resulting in broken blower belts and loss of blower function.

3.6.2.     

Is it not good to do WOT runs to 140+ mph?  I've heard that the motor could be damaged as a result.

Over the years, we've heard of numerous cases of '03-'04 motors being severely damaged from wide open throttle highway runs to 130+ mph, usually from a 40-50mph roll.  The question is always, why does this happen.  Also note that not every WOT high gear run to these high speeds will result in an engine failure.  The thing to remember is that the motor and drivetrain was not designed for this. 

Here is some helpful information from Thomas91169 from SVTPerformance.com.
5th and 6th gears are Overdriven, which puts a lot more strain and load on the motor, which gets enough strain as it is from the Eaton blower.  The 2003-2004 Cobra motors are designed with tight PTW (piston to wall) clearance, and just "eh" pistons. The main issue is when you hit 5th, you have already been WOT for some time, so your motor is already heated. Lets not forget that the Eaton isn't exactly the epitome of efficiency, and the heat exchanging system can only pull out so much heat. So after being in the throttle for a easy 30 seconds (with a stock or near stock motor), you are now hitting your OD gear.  Load on the motor is increased by XX%, which just pours on the heat. Heat causes the piston to expand into a cavity it doesn't have room for, the piston meets the wall, and you are now on the path to a rebuild.  Not to mention your tuner doesn't compensate for a 5th gear pull.  If he did, you would get maybe 15* of timing and you would have a 10.5:1 AFR to keep cylinder temperatures and pressures down.


Cooling mods help but you are talking about Russian Roulette when hitting 5th and 6th gear and still laying into it. The best flowing coolant can't keep the cylinders cool enough under these extremes to keep the pistons from making contact with your cylinder walls. The ultimate way to have a motor withstand the stresses of boost and the heat involved with a Roots/twin screw boost source, and to live at those conditions, is to build it properly. This means forged and coated pistons that better withstand heat and don't expand, proper PTW clearance to compensate for piston expansion, etc.

3.7.       

What size belt should I use with a pulley mod?

The correct belt for a stock Terminator with a stock 3.65 upper pulley is a Gates K080751 or a Goodyear Gatorback 4080750.  The belts are 8-rib. Please refer to my Belt Length Chart for non-stock applications. 

3.8.       

What is the difference between dyno tuning and road tuning?

Are mail order tunes safe?

Dyno tuning approximates driving on the road by placing a load (provided by the dyno rollers) on the vehicle. In general, this load is somewhere around 3000 lbs., so it does not accurately simulate the actual load (street weight of a Cobra coupe is around 3,900 lbs with driver). In addition, rolling friction is not accurately simulated (the front tires are not rolling), and aerodynamic drag is not taken into account. In general, you will run a bit leaner (A/F ratio) on the road than on the dyno. However, road tuning is not employed by all tuners, and may cost more than dyno tuning.

Hermann, owner of HorsePowerByHermann and an excellent tuner, said it best.  "The best way to get the tune nailed is to drive and log it the way you use it, on the road. A dyno will never accurately duplicate those conditions found while actually driving the car. The difference is HUGE. Never have I seen a car that was dyno tuned only (and not road tuned) log well on the street. They are always off in one way or another. The dyno is a great tool to compare parts with and to see gains and losses while comparing (mods). It is also useful to getting a calibration done quicker. It seems that this has been lost with the majority of tuners deciding to just set a car up on a dyno and not drive it after to assure perfection. That just isn't the way I have done it, or will do it, in the future!"

As far as mail order tunes, the general consensus is that a dyno or road tune is better. However, if you do purchase a mail-order tune, you are advised to:
●  Purchase from a tuner who has a great reputation for 2003-2004 Cobras.
●  Ensure the tuner does the tune for your specific mods and for the fuel you'll be using.
●  Dyno the car as soon as possible after the tune is installed to ensure correct A/F ratios.

3.9.       

What is the proper way to break in a new (crate) Terminator engine?

Here are some general question you might ask if you were installing a new Terminator engine (crated with zero miles).  The answers come from Jimmy Morrissey, a highly knowledgeable Royal Purple tech rep.

1.  What weight/brand oil is recommended for the initial start-up?  Just the factory fill of 5w20 synthetic blend, which is not the best choice. I drained mine out and ran Motorcraft 5w30 conventional till 200 mile. I know a little more about this now and recommended a special break-in oil, conventional 10w30, Royal Purple Break-In-Oil. 

2.  Should oil be squirted into each cylinder before start-up?  No.

3.  What is the recommended break-in of this new engine?  This is my recommendation not Fords. Drive it normal but use a generous amount of brief 1st through 2nd gear WOT pulls followed immediately by an in gear coast down in 3rd.  WOT gives high cylinder pressure which pushes the rings out onto the walls hard, so they quickly wear to the shape they need to be for a superior cylinder seal. The in gear coast down creates high vacuum and washes and cools the rings and cylinders with oil after each pull. It is important to not do sustained WOT runs this early, but it is equally important that a generous amount of brief 1st through 2nd gear WOT pulls be done within the first 50 miles.  Be sure to follow the brief WOT pulls with the in gear coast down in 3rd.

4.  How many miles should he drive during the break-in before changing the oil/filter?  Change the original filter and oil at 500 miles, and refill with the recommended Royal Purple Break-In-Oil and drive it to 1000 miles.  The change the filter again and change to Royal Purple HPS 5W-30 (part #31530, quart bottle).  You may choose to use another high quality synthetic oil at this point.  But I recommend Royal Purple.

5.  Should the engine speeds be varied during the break-in, and should the RPMs be kept under 5000 during the break-in?  No, that's for new flat tappet cams, these are roller followers so that's not needed.

6.  How many miles should the break-in be?  1000 miles

3.10.  

What spark plugs came from the factory, and what are best with a pulley mod?  And what is the best way to gap Iridium plugs?

Their were three plugs that came from the factory for the '03/'04 Cobra.  They were the AGSF12FM1, AGSF22FM1 & AGSF32FM1. The '12s' were installed on first run 2003 Cobras.  The '22s' were installed on mid run 2003s.  And the '32s' were installed on latter run 2003 and on 2004s'.  The first run AGSF12FM1 Motorcraft plugs are one heat range colder than the latter two. NGK TR6 plugs are hotter than the 12FM1’s. However, these plugs as well as the NGK TR6 IX and Denso Iridium plugs seem to work well for tuned cars with a smaller upper pulley. The NGK TR6 plugs are very popular. Note that a spark plug's heat range has nothing to do with how hot the plug burns.  The heat range refers to the plug's ability to transfer heat out of the combustion chamber.  A TR6 is a hotter plug than a TR7.  Here is a link to a very good article which explains it pretty well. 

A gap of .032 is good for for up to 15psi. boost, and .028 is recommended for over 15psi. boost.  Here's a good  SVTPerformance thread for additional information.  

If you're using iridium plugs (ie Denso), here's the recommended way to adjust the electrode gap.
1. To widen the gap, take a pair of needle nose pliers and gently PULL the ground electrode outwards. Just a little bit at a time. Then check the gap, being careful to not touch the center electrode which is thin and fragile. By PULLING on the ground electrode vs. pushing it out, you have no chance to contact the fragile center electrode as you would with the cheap flat tool that PUSHES the electrode out. 
2. To lessen the gap, gently tap the ground electrode against a hard surface. Then very carefully check the gap. Again, DO NOT touch the center electrode.

Here are detailed instructions from the Denso website for gapping iridium (also applies to NGK iridium plugs). While iridium plugs are an excellent technology, they're not widely used due to their increased susceptibility to breakage.  The NGK TR6 copper plug is still the most widely used.

3.11.  

What exhaust mods are available for the Terminator?  Are there any sites that have sound clips?

This is a huge topic since there are so many good and varied offerings. I will cover only the most popular systems. You can get other information from your favorite Mustang forums.  If you're looking to hear what some of the setups sound like, GO HERE.

Catback
The 2.5" catback is the most popular. Stainless steel is preferred for longer life, although it is more expensive than aluminized steel. Stainless steel can also be polished, with polished catbacks done by the car owner becoming a popular albeit time consuming mod. The most popular choices include:
●  Bassani (both 2.5" and 3")
●  Magnaflow (2.5")
●  Steeda - made by Borla (2.5")
●  Borla (2.5")
●  Borla Stinger (2.5")
●  Flowmaster (2.5" and 3")
●  Mac (2.5" and 3")
●  SLP Loudmouth 1 (2.5" and SLP Loudmouth 2 (2.5")

Midpipes (X and H)
The most popular midpipe is the 'X' type, although some prefer the 'H' type because it retains what I call the classic Mustang muscle sound. X pipes have a more exotic sound. Again, stainless steel is preferred. Midpipe come with either catalytic converters or without cats (called "off road" midpipes). Check with your local laws before you install a catless midpipe. Also, a catless midpipe will be louder than a catted midpipe. The popular choices include:
●  Bassani (X)
●  Magnaflow (X)
●  Kooks (X)
●  Mac (H)
●  Steeda (X)
●  MRT (H)
●  SLP (X)

Catless midpipes provide more performance due the reduced backpressure. They provide a louder exhaust tone. If you choose to go catless you will need MIL (Multi Indicator Light) eliminators to keep the check engine light off.

Headers
Headers for the 2003-2004 Cobra are offered in shorty, mid-length and long-tube configuration. Generally, shorty and mid-length headers are 100% legal. Long tubes may not be. Check with the manufacturer of choice. Shorty headers provide a slightly different exhaust sound with minimal power gains. Mid-length headers also provide a slightly louder and different exhaust note but offer mild power gains. Long tube headers are the loudest, most difficult to install and have the most power increase potential. Here again, stainless steel offers the highest quality and longest life. Popular choices include:
●  Mac long-tubes - these are a good bang for the buck header, and can be purchased with ceramic or chrome coating.
●  Kooks long-tubes - one of the most popular stainless steel headers, these come unassembled.
●  Stainless Works long-tubes - a very high quality stainless steel long-tube header.
●  SLP long-tubes - ceramic coated stainless steel.
●  JBA mid-length - stainless steel and ceramic coated stainless steel.
●  Bassani mid-length - stainless steel; bolt directly to the Bassani mid-pipes.
●  JBA shorty - ceramic coated stainless steel.

3.12.  

Should I get a “catted” X pipe?

It depends. If you want to remain street legal (especially if emissions testing is performed in your area), then yes, you most likely do want cats. However, if you are looking for the most performance, cat-less designs will provide less backpressure. They will also provide a louder exhaust tone. If you choose to go cat-less, you will need MIL (Multi Indicator Light) eliminators to keep the check engine light off.

3.14.  

What's the difference between a Ram Air Intake and a Cold Air Intake?  Which is best? 

A RAI (Ram Air Intake) places the air filter in the engine compartment. A CAI (Cold Air Intake) normally places the air filter in the fender-well area and draws cooler air from the outside. 

As far which RAI/CAI is best, there is very little difference between the various manufacturers. It boils down to personal preference of design, filter type/size, and perceived higher quality. JLT, Steeda and K&N are all very popular. RAIs are easier to install and maintain due to their location, and you don't have to worry about picking up water because the CAI filter is closer to the ground.

3.15.  

What are the “free” mods?

A list of free and low cost mods for the Terminator can be found in this link. Browse down to the section entitled 'Cheap Or Free How-To Threads'.

3.15.1. 

What's the hood mod? Is it okay to remove the hood blanket?
Are aftermarket hood vents safe when driving in the rain?

This mod involves either removing the hood blanket entirely and cutting/bending the flaps to allow more airflow, or cutting larger holes in the blanket and then sealing the edges by removing/bending the flaps to allow for more airflow. Note that the hood blanket has a foil backing which is connected to a ground strap to help eliminate radio static (and likely also suppresses coil RF noise). Removing the ground strap without also removing the hood blanket might result in some radio static or RF noise. Therefore it is recommended that if you remove the hood blanket that you also remove the ground strap, as it is not needed if the blanket is removed.

Some people install aftermarket hood vents which have larger slots for improved air flow. They work extremely well. The larger slots/openings sometimes make people question whether or not water from a rain storm could pour onto the engine and cause an issue. Any water from rain (or from washing your Cobra) actually falls in front of the alternator. There is no need to be concerned about these aftermarket vents allowing water to fall onto the engine. 

3.15.3.1

How do I clean my K&N FIPK filter?

CLICK HERE to read how to clean a K&N filter. 

FYI, the Gen 1 FIPK was not CARB approved.  The Gen 2 is.  There are no real visible differences between the Gen 1 and Gen 2 kits.

3.15.4. 

Are they any modifications I can make to my shifter for an improved reach?  Where can I buy a new shifter ball?

Some have tried things like extending the shifter handle so that it is closer to the driver, or making a custom plate to move the shifter handle closer to the driver, but quite honestly it is better to buy an aftermarket billet shifter.  Here are two threads, however, that show you how to modify the position of your shifter handle for an improved reach.  Thread #1  Thread #2  There are a number of aftermarket billet shifters that have a shorter throw, and some have either adjustable handles or offer handle size options (like the MGW). Or you can buy an aftermarket adjustable handle. Other excellent aftermarket billet shifters include the Steeda TriAx, Hurst, and the Pro 5.0.

If you install an aftermarket billet shifter on your Mustang, I highly recommend installing one of my shifter gasket kits. They really work well, and also eliminate the need for using messy silicone sealer. Cost is only $15.00. The item number for the 2003-2004 Cobra kit is CB-1P.

If you're looking for a new shifter ball, you have a lot of options.  If you want a larger round ball, I suggest looking HERE first.  MGW sells a few shifter balls that area uniquely designed.

3.15.4.2.     

How can I shorten my  antenna? It's too tall.

The stock antenna height is quite high.  Shortening the antenna will not in most cases affect radio reception.  Unless you go extremely short.  You can buy a shortened antenna (called a shorty antenna), or you can easily modify the height of your stock antenna.  Here's how to do it.
1.  Mark the antenna at the height you prefer (roof height or shorter).
2.  Remove the antenna.
3.  Put the antenna in a vise. Use a locking or regular pliers to twist off ball at top of the antenna.
4.  Cut the antenna at the mark you made using a mini-pipe cutter.  You can use a hack saw with a fine blade but the mini-pipe cutter makes the smoothest cut.
5.  File down about 1/8" of the top to a small enough diameter where the ball will slip over it. Test fit the ball and clean up the antenna metal where needed to make it look factory.
6.  Put a drop of super glue into the ball's hole and slip it onto the filed down antenna top.  Let the glue dry.
7.  If the antenna is black, use a spray black paint that matches the antenna, or spray the entire antenna. I recommend a matte/satin black. If the antenna is silver, use fine steel wool to dress up any areas that were scratched.
8.  Reinstall the antenna.

3.15.4.4.     

How can I quiet my noisy shifter?

Actually this is gear noise that is transmitted through the shifter. Early on a few folks added a piece silicone rubber material between the 2-piece shifter handle.  A better solution is to use my shifter gasket set which includes both a shifter handle and base gasket. At only $15.00 a set, it is a very inexpensive mod.  Sets for other Mustangs are available as well.

3.15.5. 

Weight Reduction

To reduce the amount of weight on the Cobra, this PDF file explains what items may be removed.  Thanks to Dwight (IronTerp) on SVTPerformance.
 

3.15.6. 

What is the boost gauge mod?

If you installed a smaller upper pulley or a larger lower crank pulley, you will need to either buy an aftermarket boost gauge or Ray Hilton's boost gauge overlay. Ray's overlay maintains the factory look and it's a less costly choice over the two. Be careful that you do not buy a cheap copy of Ray's overlay from a vendor who stole his idea. Visit Ray Hilton's website for more information.

3.15.7. 

How do I remove the Pony on the grill?

To remove the emblem on the grill, you will need a T-25 tamper-proof Torx bit. Simply remove the screws, and lift up until the tab comes loose.

3.15.8. 

What is the boost bypass mod?

The boost bypass valve is integrated into the supercharging system, and when low engine power is required, it allows air to enter the engine without passing through the supercharger. Under normal engine operating condition vacuum is supplied to the bypass valve. The valve opens, diverting excess airflow back into the air plenum. This prevents the supercharger from “cavitating.”  Cavitating causes reduced performance, increased temperature, and poor fuel economy. At high engine demands, vacuum is removed from the bypass valve causing it to close. This directs all airflow from the supercharger to the intake manifold. The supercharger boost (SCB) solenoid is used to control intake manifold vacuum to the vacuum bypass actuator. The PCM transmits an output signal to the SCB solenoid, which activates the solenoid to bypass vacuum when the engine is under maximum boost, reducing the boost pressure by up to 3 PSI. 

The purpose of a "boost bypass mod" is to supply continuous boost from your supercharger when the engine is under maximum boost limits. It disables the “abuse” valve in the blower which will bleed boost between shifts if an over boost condition is detected. This mod will NOT provide an increase in performance with the stock pulley. With the boost bypass modification, you can keep your boost at the maximum level when under WOT (Wide Open Throttle) usage. The term “boost bypass” is a bit misleading. It should really be called a WOT Bypass Mod. It doesn't effect normal engine operation and is designed for modifying boost bypass at WOT only. There is one recommended way to perform this mod, and three common but not recommended ways to perform this mod.  

Recommended
The only way I, and many others, recommend you do the boost bypass is in your tune.  Your tuner can assist you.  JB on SVTPerformance.com stated the reason very clearly.  "Turning it off in the tune in the proper way to do it because it only eliminates the torque management aspects.  Mechanically bypassing by disconnecting wiring or re-routing vacuum is NOT the right way because you are eliminating the PCM's ability to pull boost in case of high heat, sensor failures, etc.  This is a FAIL-SAFE feature and is something that is foolish to ignore." 

Not Recommended
1.  Buy a boost bypass kit (ie. from Steeda or UPR).  This is a popular and inexpensive method due to claims that it adds more power.  The amount of increased power varies, depending on the amount of boost that is being bled under WOT.  Unfortunately vendors who market these bypass kits do not explain the negative side of it. 
2.  Buy a few parts and install the mod yourself for about $3.
3.  Disconnect the wire to the boost dump solenoid, but this may cause your check engine light to come on.

3.15.9. 

What is the fan mod?

This mod enables you to use a toggle switch to cut the high-speed fan on at will in order to aid cooling. Full directions for this mod can be found HERE:

3.16.  

Is there an  aftermarket aluminum radiator available?

Yes, aluminum higher capacity radiators, such as Fluidyne and Mishimoto, are available from many Mustang parts vendors. The stock Terminator radiator is highly rated, though. The stock radiator is part #3R3Z-8005-BA.

3.17.  

What size wheels and tires will fit in the rear without rubbing/scraping?

It appears that up to 11” wide wheels (which will support a 315/35 tire without problems) will fit the rear, as long as the offset is modified. The primary area of concern is an IRS bolt that is only about 1.5” from the stock wheel/tire. Any custom wheel will need to keep this clearance. Some shave the IRS bolt for clearance.  In addition, without suspension modifications, adding wider wheels may not improve grip. However, most have had good results from 315/35 Nitto tires on the stock rim. They appear to fit without issue, and provide a large improvement in traction. Be aware, however, that the Nitto tires appear to be unique in this aspect. Other brands do not appear to fit properly at the 315 size on the stock rim.

3.18.  

How do I get rid of wheel hop?

There are several options for reducing wheel hop. Billetflow has an IRS kit for the Terminator designed to specifically reduce wheel hop. In addition, some improvement can be made by stiffening the suspension and frame. This can be accomplished using sub-frame connectors (full-length, weld on are best, as there is no “bolt walk”) and improved IRS bushings (such as the Full Tilt Boogie Racing bushing kit.

3.19.  

Is anyone using nitrous with an '03/'04  Cobra? What about using E-85 as a fuel?

Yes, nitrous setups are pretty common.  Here are some very good forum discussions on this subject (both wet and dry systems).
Nitrous Discussion 1
Nitrous Discussion 2

E-85 fuel has become very popular primarily because it increases power.  E-85 has an octane rating of 105. With the higher octane rating, you will be able to go with a more aggressive tune before reaching the fuel's detonation level. That means running more timing while making safer power. Many say it is cheaper to use because the cost per gallon is less than regular unleaded fuel. However, it burns faster so in the end your fuel mileage drops. To use E-85 in your '03-'04 Cobra you will need to increase the capacity of your fuel system. HERE IS an excellent article written by Paul Yaw  (Injector Dynamics) on E-85 fuel and worthwhile reading. You can also find many excellent forum threads on SVTPerformance.com (Terminator sub-forum). Just use the search feature to find them.

One word of caution with E-85 fuel. The percentage of ethanol can vary widely from one station to another. So I highly recommend you check the level at your own station. The article above discusses this in more detail. You can also buy E-85 by the barrel. 

3.20.  

Can the T-56 be replaced with an automatic?

Yes.  A number of people have swapped for a 4r70w automatic. It is actually a good swap, especially for racing.  Hermann (Horsepower By Herman in Tampa, FL) has done swaps.  Give him a call at 813-241-2783 for more information. Here is an excellent link on SVTPerformance.com that explains what is required for the conversion.  How To Install An Automatic In A Terminator.    

3.21.  

Can a live axle be installed in a 2003 Cobra?  And is a live axle better for racing?

Yes; it is common. The swap isn't hard if you're mechanically inclined, otherwise have a suspension shop do it. The advantage of a solid axle is better launches due to no wheel-hop, which can quickly snap the stock 10-spline input shaft, especially with a heavy duty clutch. I recommend that if you've modified the motor with higher boost and you're using a HD clutch, replace the stock 10-spline input shaft with a 26-spline shaft. A trade-off to going to a solid rear setup is that you lose the ability of the IRS to react more predictably on uneven surfaces. Contrary to popular belief, an IRS doesn’t necessarily provide more grip. It's simply easier to drive in most cases over some  surfaces. 

Many ask if a live axle setup is better for drag racing. Many racers prefer a live axle setup, but a properly built IRS system can work very well. Some want a simple but strong rear setup and choose a live rear at the expense of slightly compromised ride and handling.  Others choose to build up the IRS. I recommend the Full Tilt Boogie Racing IRS bushing kit if you're sticking with the factory IRS. 

Click on the Blue Pill below for info on how to properly do a live rear axle swap, or the Red Pill to learn how to properly build up your IRS. Special thanks to Dave Franey (Postban on SVTPerformace.com) for his great research and documentation.

         

3.22.  

Are there any aftermarket superchargers for the '03-'04 Cobra?

Yes, Whipple and Kenne Bell both have an excellent line of twin-screw supercharger upgrades for the 2003-2004 Cobra. The ProCharger has seen limited success due to it lack of low end torque on the street. Single and twin turbo setups are also popular. In addition, porting the factory Eaton has seen great success, with some seeing as much as 550rwhp (SAE). Be aware that these power adders, including porting the Eaton, require fuel supporting mods.

A new entry into the '03-'04 Cobra supercharger lineup is the VMP 2.3L TVS Supercharger, a direct replacement for the factory Eaton M112 Supercharger. It was designed from OEM CAD data to fit perfectly and clear the stock hood. It is a one piece housing with a side inlet like the factory supercharger. The one piece design makes for a very rigid housing, allows for a larger rear inlet, decreases the chance of vacuum leaks, and makes installation easier. The Twin-Vortices-Series (TVS) compressor has proven itself to be highly efficient over a wide operating range of 10-22+psi.  It is a high twist symetrical 4-lobe rotor design with excellent adiabatic effiency.  TVS technology is used on the 2013 GT500, ZR1 Corvette, and ZL1 Camaro.  

3.23.  

Are you over spinning the Eaton blower with a smaller pulley?

The Eaton is rated at 14,000 rpms for the maximum speed. Any upper pulley smaller than the stock 3.65" pulley will spin the rotors above the rated limit of 14,000.  This is called overspinning the blower. With a 2.93 upper pulley the blower will be spinning at around 16,800 rpms at redline. A 2.76 upper pulley will be spinning at around 17,900 rpms at redline. However, the general thought is that the blower is not rated at 14,000 rpms for reliability reasons, but for efficiency reasons, as an overspinning blower heats the intake too much at higher rpms. Porting the Eaton makes it more efficient, so it can better handle higher RPMs with smaller upper pulleys.

3.24.  

How much boost can the Cobra’s internals take?

I have read reports of the internals having been tested with up to 25 lbs. of boost. However, on premium gas, the common limit is probably around 16 Lbs. without detonation.

3.25.  

How do I check for detonation, and does using higher octane fuel help?

There are several methods. If the detonation is severe, you may hear a "knocking" or "pinging" sound, like marbles in a can. You can also check the plugs for detonation. However, the best method for detecting a lean condition that can cause detonation is to use a wideband or do a dyno pull to check your A/F. You want to be in the 11.3-11.8 area.

Higher octane fuel can sometimes help. The advantage of higher octane fuel is that the flash point of the fuel is moved up, meaning it requires more heat to prematurely ignite the charge, which can help if your car is detonating. Even if you have very slight detonation, higher octane gas may help, as the knock sensors on the car will register slight detonation, causing the computer to cut timing. Without detonation, the computer may return to normal timing, causing a gain in power. However, if your car is not detonating at all, higher octane gas will not improve your performance.

3.26.  

What lowering spring kits are available? Or should I cut my springs?

The factory ride height, as with most SN95 and S-197 Mustangs, is very high, giving the car a 4X4 look. It is very common for Cobra owners to install lowering springs or coil-overs (for adjustability) to drop the stance. Some prefer to cut their factory springs, but this can affect ride quality and handling. I recommend going with lowering springs or a coil-over kit. There are kits available for a minimal drop, and others for a more radical drop. Consider your locale and driveway restrictions before deciding. The lower you drop your car, the more likely you will encounter obstacles that could restrict your car. Your ride height will also be affected by the number ISOs you retain.  Many use both the top and bottom ISOs on the rear, and one ISO on the front. Maximum Motorsports ISOs are thicker than the stock ISO.

H&R has Sport and Race spring kits for the Terminator. Their Race springs are popular and will lower your front and rear .75"-1.5" depending on which ISOs you install and how many (1 or 2).  Eibach has a Sportline and a Pro Kit. Steeda has lowering springs as well.  H&R Sport springs will give your Cobra a bigger drop, and their Race springs will give your Cobra a more mild drop. The Race springs also have more spring tension. Caster/camber plates are recommended, as is a bumpsteer kit.

Cutting the factory springs is a popular method of lowering the stance, but you have to know in advance how much you need to cut. Cutting 3/4 of a coil at all four corners is popular. My best advice is to search for Cobras that have the height you're looking for and find out how many coils were cut on both the front and rear springs. The number of ISOs you use affects the height as well.

Here is an excellent SVTPerformance thread discussing various lowering options, with photos.

3.27.  

Are there any intercooler upgrades?

There are a few larger capacity intercooler reservoir tanks available from many Mustang parts vendors.

3.28.  

Are there any suspension and handling upgrades?

Yes, several vendors sell improved suspension components, including braces, shocks, and springs. The most popular suspension kit available is from Full Tilt Boogie Racing. They say their bushing kit is the best on the market today, and those who buy the kit concur that fact. For a detailed discussion of Full Tilt Boggie Racing vs. Maximum Motorsports suspension kits, I recommend reading this thread on SVTPerformance.com. Specifically, start reading on page 2 where Bruce from FTBR disputes MM's claims that their kits are better and cheaper than FTBR's. My personal recommendation is the FTBR kit. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Your IRS suspension will perform night and day better. Be sure to read the FTBR FAQs on their website. Most of your questions will be answered.

3.29.  

Are there any braking upgrades?

Brake upgrades, including kits from Brembo and Baer, are widely available..

3.30.  

How do I change the pulley belt?

It is very easy to change the pulley belt.  Refer to this PDF file for instructions and information.

3.31.  

What is the right way to check my oil level?

Here is a useful PDF file that explains the proper way to check your oil level.  ENGINE OIL LEVEL INDICATOR MARKINGS .pdf

3.32.  

How do I get the traction control to stay off?

A few options exist to cut the traction control off by default. First, you may be able to get your tuner to set your custom tune to default the TC to off. Second, if you are decent at electronics, you may be able to create your own circuit to default the TC to off. Information about this mod is detailed HEREOr you can buy a completed circuit for this mod HERE.

3.33.  

What are the differences in dynos?

All dynos differ slightly in reported output, due to differences in software revisions and calibration. For this reason it is recommended that you stick to one dyno shop when measuring performance differences between various motor mods installed. In general, Dynojet dyno numbers are a bit higher than Mustang Dynos. And even Mustang Dynos can vary high and low due to operator setup.

3.34.  

What correction factor should I use for my dyno reports?

SAE correction is generally preferred to STD correction. However, be aware that many magazines (including MM&FF) routinely use STD correction, as STD numbers are generally higher.

3.35.  

How do I change the stock shift indicator RPM, and what is the maximum safe RPM with the stock internals?

A tune change is the only way I am aware of to change the stock shift indicator RPM.  If you raise the rev limiter with a custom tune, the tested limit with the stock internals that I'm aware of is 7,000 rpms.  Many have confirmed that when racing at the track optimum performance is obtained by shifting at 6,000 rpms, so raising the limit with the stock internals doesn't seem to make sense.

3.36.  

If I install long tube headers how much power will I gain?

For setups making in the neighborhood of 600rwhp and under, there is little or no power gains, and in some cases you might see a loss of power.  Hissman (SVTPerformance.com) sums it up this way.  "You get the aid of sound, and in theory more heat is moved away from the engine compartment with greater efficiency. You see a greater gain from an NA car because you gain nothing in the induction side because the cylinder pressure is relatively fixed, however you see a benefit because it is taking less torque to push the piston back to TDC due to the exhaust gas being driven out more easily. There does come a point where this ratio begins to flip flop, but it is closer to around the 700 hp mark, and the amount of air needed to be pumped in and out of the cylinders. Cam profiles and the amount of overlap that they give you will also have a large effect on everything. At least this is my understanding of it."

JMProductions (also from SVTPerformance.com) adds, "Headers and most importantly the pipe diameters used throughout the system are all players in the "tuning" of the entire system. Too much diameter on the piping without enough air flowing through it will not allow the exhaust pulses to do their job effectively and creates less scavenging effect. If you lose at lot of boost then that could indicate that you need to move more air through the system in order for it to work properly and see any gains or the system is just too large for your application. Not to mention the tuning of a shorty header may be too low in the power curve to see peak horsepower gains but you should see power lower in the curve. I think people losing power after a header install is a good indicator that the stock manifolds flow pretty well and allow good scavenging effect for most of the power levels we're running. Backpressure is always bad but using those exhaust pulses to your benefit is a delicate balance of pressures and piping."

3.37.  

What are the limits of the Cobra’s stock fuel system?

The practical limits of the stock fuel system is 490-510rwhp. Each car is different. At that level you usually max out both the MAF and the fuel pump. So a Boost-A-Pump or higher capacity pump (ie. Ford GT) is required, along with either a MAFia, MAFXtender or BA2400 meter upgrade. The stock fuel injectors will reach the upper end of the duty cycle usually around 510-525rwhp. Also consider upgrading the injectors when they near the maximum recommended 75-80% duty cycle.  While the stock injectors might be fine for a setup making 505rwhp (with ported blower), going with larger injectors allows the fuel system to work more easily and produce less heat. It's recommended that you keep the injector duty cycle at a maximum of 75-80%, insuring less heat and longer injector life. It really doesn't make sense to push your injector duty cycle to near max, even though they will handle the fuel sufficiently. The same logic and recommendations apply to the fuel pumps. Upgrade when the duty cycle eclipses 80% rather than wait until they're maxxed out and you run out of fuel. 

3.38.  

Why does my boost fluctuate with the pulley mod?

There are a few theories on this. In some cases belt slippage is an obvious culprit. Idler pulley kits are available from vendors such as Metco and Reichard Racing, to improve belt wrap and reduce slip. Other cases are not so clear-cut. It appears that even when no belt slip occurs, at high boost levels boost may drop off at high RPMs. Based on what I know of the process, my own belief is that the intake of the Cobra (TB, MAF, tubing, filter/CAI/RAI) is too restrictive to provide enough air to sustain high RPM, high boost scenarios. This is just a theory. Regardless, it appears the current sustainable boost limit through the RPM range is around 14psi. It's important to point out that increased blower boost (and subsequent belt rpm) from smaller upper pulleys will add more tensional torque than the stock idlers are designed to handle. It's important then to swap out all of the stock idlers with quality aftermarket idlers. There have been many reports from owners who have had stock idlers come apart or seize up, resulting in broken blower belts and loss of blower function.

3.39.  

What wheels are available for the Terminator?

There are so many wheel designs/finishes now available for the Terminator that it wouldn't be practical to list them. Check with manufacturers and vendors such as True Forged, Lethal Performance and American Muscle for a variety of choices. Note that True Forged wheels are proudly made in the United States. Also browse through Mustang/Cobra forums such as SVTPerformance for recommendations and photos of owner cars.

3.40.  

What drag radials are best?

It depends on your intended use of drag radials. Nitto 555 DRs are very good for all-around driving, while BFG DRs seem to grip better for pure track use. There are other DRs available as well. One of the newer ones is the Toyo 888. Be careful to check the clearance near the IRS bolt. Here is an excellent resource for picking tire and wheels sizes, titled 'The Tire/Wheel Bible'. Generally speaking, drag radials aren't recommended for use in wet weather due to their limited water channels. Several highway accidents have been reported due to Cobras losing road contact even at normal speeds.

3.41.  

What is the difference between DRs and slicks?

DRs have a stronger sidewall and a smaller aspect ratio than pure slicks. In addition, DRs have some (if minimal) tread for water dispersion. Slicks will grip better than DRs on a track, but may also cause more breakage.  Neither should be used on wet roads or in wet weather.

3.42.  

Do you recommend any 160 or 170 degree thermostats?

The stock thermostat is 180 degrees which is usually sufficient. Many who spend considerable time at the track opt for a cooler thermostat. The 160 degree thermostat has been popular over the years (ie. Stant) but more recently there was interest in a 170 degree thermostat. Joe Miller, owner of Reische Performance Products, designed a high performance 170 degree thermostat that is very popular. It's the ONLY replacement thermostat specifically designed for higher performance, providing optimal coolant temps and heat dissipation along with reduced warm up times.

3.43.  

Are there any “beyond bolt-on” mods available for the Cobra?

It has become more and more common to see built motors and cam swaps mostly because the 2003-2004 Cobra responds so well to performance mods and they are raced so well competitively at the drag strip. Browse the Terminator related SVTPerformance forums for more info.

3.44.  

What gauges match the factory gauges?

The discontinued Autometer Lunar series is a close match for the Terminator's EL gauges, being a bit brighter than the stock gauges (but you can wire them to utilize the car's dimmer feature).

Speed Of Sound sells a very popular set of gauges, and their A-pillar pod is a unique design.

If you would prefer to use the factory boost gauge and just want to increase its range, Hilton Boost Gauge Overlays are available to increase the range to 16 or 24 lbs. of boost.

3.45.  

Are there any gauge pods available?

Autometer has A-pillar and dash pods available. The A-pillars for coupes and convertibles are different. If go with an AutoMeter A-pillar pod and want to match the stock color, spray the pod with Ford part number M4JZ-19M547-1074H, if you can find it. Ford discontinued this paint spray back in 2005. Otherwise you will have to search out a spray paint that matches the trim as closely as possible. Here are a couple of forum thread links that might help.
Paint Match Link 1 
Paint Match Link 2
Paint Match Link 3

For the dash, the Autometer instrument bezel seems to fit well, but it does have an additional “hole” near the light stalk that will need to be covered. You can find these products here: http://www.autometer.com

Speed of Sound (http://www.speedofsoundllc.com/) has a neat gauge pod, too.  Different design than Autometer's, but very popular.

3.46.  

Is an Air/Fuel gauge useful?

Opinions vary, but for critical monitoring or tuning the Autometer A/F gauge, at least when used with the stock O2 sensors, isn't very useful. But for basic monitoring it performs adequately. A wideband gauge, like the Aeroforce Interceptor with their Wideband Air/Fuel Sensor Kit, is an excellent choice for monitoring air/fuel data. Another option is the AEM wideband gauge.

3.47.  

What does a pyrometer do?

A pyrometer measures the exhaust gas temperature. To many, this is more useful for detecting detonation than an A/F gauge, as detonation will show up as a “spike” in temperature.

3.48.  

How do I install an aftermarket tachometer or shift light?

The short answer to this question is that you will need a tach adapter, which needs to be wired into the coil packs. You can find more information (including part #’s and instructions) HERE, thanks to Silver03Snake. In addition, if you are just looking for a shift light, there is one available that works without a tach adapter. Information on this product can be found HERE, thanks to Rbz.

3.49.  

What clutch components should be upgraded to handle more horsepower?

In general, it seems that for high horsepower applications (which applies to stock Cobra’s as well), upgrading the clutch quadrant, firewall adjuster, clutch cable, flywheel, and clutch assembly allows for faster, more direct shifts, more adjustment, and less slip.

3.50.  

Where can I find a list of ECU diagnostic codes?

The 2003 Ford Mustang Service Manual/CD contains all of the diagnostic codes, along with a description of each.  Information might also be found on the Mustang forums.

3.52.

Does a smaller upper pulley or larger crank pulley require a larger alternator pulley to under drive my alternator?

You need to understand that the upper pulley is a driven pulley and the lower crank pulley is a drive pulley.  The only accessory driven by the blower belt is the alternator. Changing the upper pulley has no affect whatsoever on the alternator's driven speed. The only time you have to worry about that is when you change the drive speed when you change the lower crank pulley. So if you change to a larger lower crank pulley it is recommended that you install a larger alternator pulley to offset the increase in speed from the larger lower crank pulley.

The stock alternator pulley is 2.6".  The most common upgrades are a 3.2" for a 4 lb. lower and a 3.5" for a 6 lb. lower. 

4.  

When drag racing, what RPM is best to launch at?

Launching is dependent on variable conditions, such as track prep, temperature, clutch condition, tires, etc. In general, on street tires, there are 2 schools of thought on how to get the best times. The first is to use a standard street launch (off idle or slightly above) while simultaneously “rolling” on the throttle and slipping the clutch once traction is obtained. I have seen a best time of around 1.9 with this method. The second method is to rev to 3,000-3,500 RPM and quickly but carefully slip the clutch while rolling on the throttle in a controlled manner. Times as low as 1.6 on the stock Goodyear F1’s have been reported using this method. Be aware, however, that this method may cause premature clutch failure. On DR’s, a bit harder launch method can be used, though dumping the clutch will typically result in wheelspin/hop. With slicks, a dump at higher RPM (5,000 or so) might actually hook, but the chance of breakage is more severe. Practice is the key.

4.2.       

What should I do if I have wheel hop?

Let off the throttle, and quickly. Wheel hop is the major cause of rear end component failure, and is much harder on the components than spinning. This is due to the rapid loading/unloading of the rear during a hop.  It is highly recommended that you buy the Billetflow IRS Brace and IRS Bracket.  Cheap insurance to help prevent breakage.

4.3.       

What “tricks” will get me better times?

Practice. The first 60’ is, in many cases, where your ET will be primarily decided. The faster you can get through the first 60’ of track, the lower your ET. Other than improving your launch, shifting quickly (speed shifting) or performing full throttle shifts (power shifting) can also improve your ET, but they take extensive practice and can harm your transmission components.

4.4.       

What do stock Terminators run in the 1/4 mile?

Stock Terminator time slips vary, due to the difficult nature of launching the car.  A good driver should see the 1/4 times as reported in the book 'Iron First Lead Foot'.  Coupe:  12.67 @ 110   Convertible:  12.99 @ 109

0-60 times average 4.5 seconds for the coupe and 4.6 seconds for the convertible.

4.5.       

Should I do a burnout?  How do I do a burnout?

The general consensus on this is that with DR or slicks, yes, but on stock tires, no. For stock tires, skip the water box and simply spin the tires long enough to clear any debris or water from the tires and expose fresh tread.

One technique is to dump the clutch and very quickly hit the brakes. The other technique is to "heel and toe" the brakes and gas with the right foot, modulating the clutch with the left. Either way, the trick to a good, non-damaging burnout is to keep the RPMs constant throughout the burnout. Many install a "line lock" setup that allows them to more easily do a burnout. Two recommended products are the Hurst Roll Control System and the SLP Line Lock Brake Control Kit. Installation instructions for installing the SLP Line Lock kit can be found HERE.

4.6.       

How Do I Plasti-Dip my wheels?

A lot of Cobra owners Plasti-Dip their wheels for a new look.  It is a very inexpensive mod that can transform your wheels.  Here is an excellent video done by Romans @ Mrs. McNastys Body & Paint. It provides easy to understand and follow instructions.  Go HERE to view the video.

4.7.       

What is a good 60’ time?

A good 60’ time on street tires is anything below 2.0 seconds. With DRs, 1.8’s and lower should be attainable. With slicks and suspension modifications, short times as low as 1.5 seconds can be obtained with an excellent driver.

4.8.       

Should I power-shift?

If you know how, and can get traction, power-shifting can reduce your ET’s by up to .3 seconds. But, the tradeoff is accelerated component wear and tear, and the possibility of frying your clutch.

4.9.       

Why do I keep missing gears?

The stock shifter can be difficult to get used to due to its placement and the difficulty of finding gears. 3rd and 5th are commonly missed gears. However, your clutch may also be to blame, especially if you miss the 1-2 shift. Ensure you have the clutch properly adjusted by following the procedure outlined HERE. If this procedure doesn't work, you may need to invest in an adjustable clutch quadrant and firewall adjuster. Both Steeda and Fiore make excellent products, and they work well. Upgrading to a good billet shifter, like the Steeda TriAx, Pro 5.0, and MGW is highly recommended. The MGW shifter is considered by many to be the best on the market.

4.10.  

What is the best 1/4-mile time and trap speed  for a modded Terminator?

There are a number of 2003-2004 Cobras in the 9s and 10s with a twin-screw supercharger, single turbo, twin turbo, and/or with nitrous.

5.  

TSBs and Quality Issues

For a list of TSBs, click on this link.  Or go to to the information posted ABOVE.

5.1.       

The “pull” issue

The “pull” is typified by a constant pull to one side or the other, commonly caused by misalignment.

5.2.       

The “vibe” issue

The “vibe” can be caused by a bad driveshaft, which can eventually affect the rest of the rear end. The bad components cause a vibration in the car that cannot be felt, but makes the rear view mirror impossible to see out of at speeds of over 80 MPH. Occasionally, this may also be concurrent with a high-pitched “whine”. More information on this problem can be found HERE.

5.3.       

The “clunk” issue

The “clunk” is a moderate volume sound which typically occurs after depressing the accelerator following a coast. It is very noticeable in 6th gear in most cases and is caused by play in the driveline (fairly normal in Mustangs).  Here is the official Ford directive about this issue.

Special Service Message 17510 (1999-2004 Mustang 4.6l - Driveline Clunk During Gear Changes And/or Quick Acceleration After Coast (tip-in Clunk)
Some 1999-2004 Mustangs equipped with a 4.6 Liter engine may exhibit a 'clunk' noise from the driveline during gear changes and/or a quick acceleration just after a coast (tip-in clunk). The clunk may be present in multiple gears and is considered normal. This is caused by driveline lash reacting to the rapid response of the engine when the throttle is suddenly opened. The clunk noise has no effect on the performance or durability of the vehicle. Inspect and check the driveshaft attaching bolts, axle mounts, transmission mounts and sub-frame mounting bolts for proper torque. No other service should be performed.
Effective Date: 01/26/2004

For many years Terminator owners pretty much had to live with this annoying issue.  However, Full Tilt Boogie Racing offers component kits that should eliminate the problem once and for all.  Here is some info from their FAQs.

5.4.       

The “stall” issue

Stalling is a fairly common/potentially dangerous issue with the '03-'04 Cobra. There's a TSB on this issue. It's easily fixed with an ECU re-flash. For cars without the ECU re-flash the stall can occur at any time on deceleration, usually when the clutch is depressed. The motor does not always return to a normal idle speed but drops too low and stalls.  See the TSB list for more fix information. Custom tunes normally have the anti-stall code included. Check with your tuner if you aren't sure.

5.5.       

The “tick” issue

Here is a great explanation from Ike (WDW MAKER) on SVTPeformance.com.  "The sound is simply a worn valve guide allowing the valve stem to move. This is caused by overheating of the area due to poor coolant flow in the part of the left bank cylinder head. The lack of bronze valve guides in our heads makes them even more susceptible. The Jan05 heads come with revised coolant passages keep the exhaust valve guides cooler. This may also help to keep #7 and #8 cylinders running a bit cooler. Will running a car with the tick result in some sort of catastrophic failure? Highly doubtful. It's mostly an annoying sound that you have to live with. I'm sure the worn valve guide causes a bit of inefficiency due to blow-by around the seals. I doubt it's enough to notice until it has been run like that for quite a while. I personally wouldn't and didn't want to live with it. Others chose to leave well enough alone and have yet to see any significant issues."

The tick issue sounds like a light ticking coming from the driver’s side valve cover, most noticeable when the car is warm. Use a stethoscope to better pinpoint the ticking sound source. CLICK HERE to listen to what the tick issue sounds like. If you can hear the noise inside the car while idling, you most likely have the problem, otherwise, the ticking you hear is likely normal injector noise. It could also be an exhaust leak. The only permanent fix for this issue is installing the latest factory heads, released on or after January, 2005.  The part numbers are:
Left side head - Part # 2C5Z-6049-BAB
Right side head - Part # 2C5Z-6049-CAB

Note that on rare occasion an oil filter can cause a ticking noise. In one case, a Cobra owner had a CarQuest filter installed and immediately heard a ticking noise. He thought if might be the "tick" issue but since it started right after installing the CarQuest filter he thought it may be related to that. Using a stethoscope he pinpointed the noise to coming from the oil filter, and changed to a Mobil 1 filter. The noise disappeared. He reinstalled the CarQuest filter and it came back. I myself had this issue after I installed a Fram oil filter on my '03 Cobra. I replaced it with a quality filter and the ticking disappeared. I bring this up only as another area to check IF you hear a ticking, before you assume it is the tick issue. Many ask if they can help prevent the head tick issue from developing in the first place, other than replacing the head(s).  Fortunately a couple of companies offer an inexpensive mod which improves coolant flow to the head. Both the Gen2 Even Flow and LDC cooling mod kits improve coolant flow, which then helps to prevent this issue from occurring. Here is some information on how to upgrade your Even Flow kit with AN fittings and stainless steel braided hose

5.6.       

Paint problems

Various problems have been reported concerning the quality of the Cobra’s paint. It seems that the paint was poorly/thinly applied in some cases, and light impacts seem to cause considerable chipping to the paint. Others have reported cracking after only a short period of time. Many people are resorting to protection products such as 3M Scotchcal film.

5.7.       

Fitment problems

Some have reported poor fit & finish in the Cobra body panels. This can be easily seen in most cases by examining the seams of the body parts. In particular, the fitment of the rear quarter panels seem to be a tad off fairly commonly (you can see the panels rise above the surrounding bodywork).

5.8.       

How many threads do the heads have for the spark plugs?

There's been much discussion over this.  It was believed that all '03 and all '04 Cobras had 4 threads from the factory, and that only the latest heads (01/05) had 9 threads.  New information indicates that all 2003 Cobra have 4 threads, early '04 Cobras have 4 threads, and '04 Cobras built after some date in 11/03 have 9 threads.  However, even these revised '04 heads don't have the revised coolant passages found on the heads released in 01/2005. This is interesting information because there have been reports of spark plugs blowing out of the heads possibly in part due to the lack of sufficient threads and possibly also due in part to an improper installation of the plugs. I don't believe there is any substantial proof that 4 threads is a potential issue since the reported cases of blown out plugs is so few, but obviously having 9 threads is better than 4. I find it interesting that Ford changed the number of threads at some point in the 2004 production run. The question is why they would do that if they weren't concerned about the heads only having 4 threads.

Here is a picture of a stock head from a 2004 Cobra with a build date of 11/03.  Note that there are 9 threads for the spark plug.
       Click Each Thumbnail To Enlarge

The latest heads (with revised coolant passages) which fixed the tick issue are the following part numbers through Ford dealership parts. These numbers are different from the actual casting numbers, as explained HERE. Tousley Ford is an authorized vendor on many Mustang forums and offers a discount on many of these forums.  Contact Steve or Mike M. at 1-800-328-9552.
Left side head - Part # 2C5Z-6049-BAB 
Right side head - Part # 2C5Z-6049-CAB

Ford Racing sells these same heads under these part numbers.
Left side head - Part # M-6049-464V 
Right side head - Part # M-6050-464V

5.9.       

Window squeal

Some owners have reported a high-pitched squeal from the window seals when raising or lowering the windows. This seems to be caused by insufficient lubrication, and can be fixed using the procedures in this forum thread.

5.10.  

Hard to Shift

A very common complaint is hard shifting at higher RPMs, typically from 2nd to 3rd gear and from 1st to 2nd.  Downshifting at higher RPMs can be an issue as well.  This can sometimes be caused by a clutch out of adjustment, or a worn clutch.  Sometimes installing an aftermarket (Fiore, Steeda) shift quadrant and firewall adjuster can help.  But some have complained that even after adjusting the clutch (or replacing it) and/or installing the aftermarket shift quadrant and firewall adjuster that the issue still remains, although there was an improvement. Back in May of 2007 Joel Miller of Reische Performance started a thread on SVTPerformance.com which discusses the necessary mods to help eliminate hard shifting for those still using the stock adjuster/quadrant.  This thread is complete with photos and really works.  It has helped a lot of people eliminate the frustrating hard to shift issue.  I highly recommend that you browse this thread for a fool-proof implementation. 

ZXMustang (Brian) on SVTPerformance.com used the above thread to cure his shifter problem for good. Basically he had TSB 04-13-4 done by his dealer as a start. He then did the mod as described in Joel's thread. Here is what Brian had to say about the recommended mods. "Bob, this TSB fixed my problem only part way. The other issue I was having was the stock quadrant adjuster under the steering wheel was adjusted all the way out, causing my pedal to only engage like an inch or two from the floor. Which means my clutch cable had maximum slack and wasn't disengaging the clutch properly, causing the hard to shift condition. This paired with the broken guide tube (fixed with the TSB) that guides the clutch cable from the transmission, was causing me to have even MORE slack in the cable. The way they tell you to adjust your clutch by pulling the pedal up is the OPPOSITE of what needs to be done and will make this WORSE. I never have issues with the stock setup now. I ran an 11.93 on street tires with my Cobra with my limited mods because I was able to power shift now. Before I did this mod, my best was a 13.1 even with the pulley because I could barely get the car into 2nd or 3rd gears without grinding. I actually read about this here a long time ago."

If after performing the above clutch adjustment you still have 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd shift issues, read about this transmission mod that has help hundreds of Terminator owners (T-56 Vette owners as well). Here is the LINK to the thread.

5.11.  

Clogged Cats

Some cars have experienced a melting of the honeycomb inside the cats due to a rich fuel mixture, requiring the replacement of the cats. The following thread has more information on this problem.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Clogged Catalytic Converter?

1. Reduced power - The catalytic converter is a component of the exhaust system, and therefore must be kept free-flowing to allow the easy passage of exhaust. When the converter becomes clogged with debris or is broken, the engine has to work much harder to accelerate and idle because the exhaust pressure is backing up in the pipe. This will cause a highly erratic idle and/or stalling, and reduced power on acceleration, as well as higher engine temperatures. If your Cobra suddenly seems to lose much of its power, the catalytic converter could be the culprit.

2. Reduced fuel economy - Since we understand that a clogged catalytic converter makes the engine work much harder, we can understand how our gas mileage might decrease substantially. With that much backpressure in the exhaust, it is like the difference between blowing out of a drinking straw or a 2" pipe. It is much harder to blow through a drinking straw because it cannot contain or flow the same volume that a larger-diameter pipe can. When the catalytic converter is clogged, the engine is trying to force all the exhaust out of a much smaller hole, in essence, which adversely affects the miles per gallon the vehicle will achieve.

3. Noises - Many times a clogged cat is actually a broken one. Inside the unit, there is a honeycomb-like structure that aids the converter in superheating the exhaust fumes, which cuts down significantly on emissions. Over time, this honeycomb structure can get brittle and crack or chunk off inside the unit, which will impeded the flow of exhaust. For this reason, many times a clogged catalytic converter will rattle or make vibrating noises when the engine is given gas.

5.12.  

Pedals Cracking

Some Cobra drivers have broken the stock gas pedal, seemingly caused by the weak material the pedals are made out of (plastic with a metal insert) combined with a lead foot. Ford has replaced these under warranty. However, better all-metal pedals can be bought from several vendors.

5.13.  

Grinding gears

Many owners have trouble properly shifting their Cobras, due to a combination of the shifter position/travel and in some cases poor clutch adjustment. Aftermarket clutch quadrants and firewall adjusters are a good idea and will help.  For more info on resolving these problems, see 4.9.

5.14.  

Noisy shifter

Many owners have complained of noise coming from the shifter and transmission. Some noise seems to be normal, and is attributable to the nature of the T-56 and the shift linkage. Replacing the stock shifter, however, usually makes the noise issue worse due to their billet construction.  An excellent solution is to purchase a set of my shifter gaskets.  This mod will dramatically reduce the noise. 

5.15.  

Clutch pedal vibration

This problem seems to be due to poor clutch adjustment in most cases. See 4.9 for more information on resolving this problem.

5.16.  

Dirty rear brakes

Many owners have reported a considerable amount of brake dust from the rear brakes. This seems to be normal with the high performance pads used on the rear.

5.17.  

The paint on the underside of my hood isn't finished. Is it hard to re-paint it? And what material is the hood made of?

First, many think the hood is made of fiberglass.  It is actually made of a similar composite called SMC (sheet molding compound).  It is mainly glass fiber in a polyester resin matrix. The polyester matrix is more resilient than the typical plastic/styrene based matrix with your average run of the mill fiberglass. (Thanks to Nick (TORCH3D on SVTPerformance.com for this info.)

Many of the hood undersides on 2003-2004 Cobras are not finished from the factory, giving them a matte finish look.  Some owners have re-painted the underside, which is not difficult if done properly.  Here is a link to an excellent how-to thread which explains the process of removing the hood and prepping/painting the underside. Be very careful when unbolting the hood so that you don't snap a stud. How-To-Paint-The-Underside-Of-Your-Hood

5.18.  

Where can I buy spray touch-up paint? Is it possible to have a custom color in a spray can? Is it difficult to use spray touch-up paint?

You can go to many paint supply stores and have a spray can of custom paint done for around $20.00.  One recommended source for spray touch-up paint is Levine Auto Parts, located in  Norwalk, CT. All you need is your car's year, make, and paint code and they can make a can of spray touch-up paint to match. The cost is only $22.95 for a 12 ounce can. Or order their paint spray can kit. You can order online and have your paint spray can order shipped by ground.

Here are instructions from their website for using spray touch-up paint.

Directions for use:
Start by washing the area that you are painting with soap and water. Then wipe the area down with wax and grease remover. You should then lightly scuff the area that you are painting with a gray scotch brite pad; this will give the paint something to stick to. If using primer use a red scotch brite pad before applying primer. After applying primer wait 1 hour (or until fully dried), and then sand with 600 grit sandpaper.

First test the spray can on something besides your car. Do this to get used to how the can sprays. Then spray the area that you are repairing with 2 to 3 coats of color (or until full coverage is achieved). Wait 5 minutes between coats. If you are using clearcoat wait 30 minutes before starting to apply the clearcoat. Apply 2 to 3 coats waiting 5 minutes between coats.

Flexible Bumpers
Our paints are extremely flexible and can used over metal or plastic. You will not need an additional flex additive for flexible bumpers.

Basecoat vs. Single Stage
Basecoat colors tend to match cars better. Most cars produced since 1985 are painted in basecoat. You can use Single Stage Paint on these cars for inconspicuous spots, but you will recieve a better color match in basecoat. Solid colors usually match well in both single stage and basecoat. Metallic and pearl colors match better in basecoat.

5.19.  

Poor clutch adjustment

This is a common, reoccurring problem, with the most common symptom involving the clutch “grabbing” very close to the floor. The solution is to use the adjustment procedure outlined in Section 4.9 above fairly regularly. If the procedure does not resolve the problem, then the only lasting solution is to upgrade the clutch quadrant, cable, and firewall adjuster.  Both Steeda and Fiore make excellent products.

5.20.  

“Skunk” smell

Many owners report an occasional “skunk” smell in the car.  This can be caused by unburned fuel.  A regular skunk smell, however, can be caused by clogged cats, as listed in 5.11.

5.21.  

Pop in the rear of the car while turning

This problem typically occurs when turning the car sharply up or down an uneven slope, such as when entering a raised driveway. It sounds like a loud “pop” in the suspension. It can be corrected under warranty with TSB 03-09-05.

5.22.  

Double sided tape showing from under spoiler

Some owners have sections of the 3M double-sided tape used to mount the rear spoiler peeking out from the edges. The only known solution is to trim off the excess tape or remove/re-apply with new tape.

     

 

 

 

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