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
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
● 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.
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.
computer codes were different between the two model years.
Where did the "Terminator" name come from?
And where can I find more background info about the '03-'04
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.
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.
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
Metal Surface Cleaner -
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
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.
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.
are the general specifications for each model year,
including standard and optional equipment?
Front engine, rwd
Supercharged 90 Degree V-8 with
fully counterweighted forged crankshaft, cast-iron
Chain driven DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x stroke, in/mm
3.55x3.54 / 90.2x90.0
280.7 / 4601
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
3.65" Upper supercharger pulley
Upper supercharge pulley
Sequential electronic fuel
39 lb. (blue)
Stainless steel, dual 2.25" / 3" polished
Max horsepower @ rpm
390 @ 6000
Max torque @ rpm
390 @ 3500
Power to weight,
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
3.55:1 / 2.24:1
Aluminum case rear axle: 8.8" 3.55:1
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
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
Rack and pinion, power assist
4 channel/4 sensor system
Front: 13.0" vented Brembo discs
with 2-piston calipers, ABS
11.65" discs with single-piston
17x9.0; 17x9.0, 5-spoke cast aluminum
(optional chrome plating)
275/40ZR17; 275/40ZR17, Goodyear
Eagle F1 (spare tire is
a Goodyear 155/70R17)
Track, f;r, in
Curb weight, lb; f/r
3665 lbs; 57/43 - Coupe
3780 lbs. -Convertible
Fuel capacity, gal
Price as tested
EPA mpg, city/hwy
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
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
● The 10th Anniversary model was built in June/July of
Production ends for 2004 builds: March 31, 2004
numbers for both the 2003 and 2004 models are available by
What are the differences in the
2003 Cobra production runs?
What are the differences between
the 2001 and 2003 Cobra?
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.
The 2003 Cobra has several mechanical
visual differences from the '01 Cobra.
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.
changes were made on the 2003 SVT
10th Anniversary Edition?
Anniv. Edition is mechanically the same as the standard
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
● Red and black leather seating
● Red door inserts
● Red painted brake calipers
● Multi-spoke anthracite wheels with polished lip.
All exterior colors for
both model years can be found
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. Here is a good Mystichrome video done by
Danny Johnson. It contains some interesting info on this
special paint color.
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.
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
What options are available?
Did floor mats come standard?
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
Front floors mats came standard. They were
plain charcoal gray with no logo. Here
is a photo of the OEM
Does the stereo play MP3’s?
Is the Mach 460 system different between model years 2003
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.
Richard Trachtenberg (aka Cobra Esq) from SVTPerformance
provided the following
information regarding the 2003 and 2004 Mach 460 sound
All 2003 Mach 460 systems are the same for
all vehicle models, although the coupe and convertibles have
different part numbers. Same thing applies to the 2004
model year, although the 2004
units use different harness connectors than the 2003s
(and have SAT).
2003 Coupe - 3R3T-18C815-KA and
2003 Convertible - 3R3T-18C815-CA and
Coupe - 3R3T-18C815-TE
2004 Convertible -
How can I get a replacement Owners Manual & SVT Supplement?
Is a dealer brochure available?
Helm Inc. has
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
Guide that came with the Mustang Owner's Manual, click
for a PDF file. For a
PDF copy of the
Mustang Owner's Manual,
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
for a PDF version.
I get a copy of my original window sticker?
How can I order
a copy of my Build Certificate?
Where can I find the build documentation in my Cobra?
Many who buy used
Terminators ask how they can get a copy of the original
window sticker. Window
sticker reprints were once available from Jeff Brown,
a member of STVPerformance.com forum. His
member ID is JBROWN1238.
For many years Jeff provided high quality window
sticker reprints. Unfortunately, Ford requested that
he cease printing the window stickers.
I would like to personally
thank Jeff for offering his reproduction window stickers for
so many years. Countless '03-'04 Cobra owners
undoubtedly thank him as well. So unless you
can find your own source, reproduction window stickers are
no longer available.
(different from the Build Sheet) were printed and sent out at the
end of the model runs. It contains exact build
information and detail the production number and date,
vehicle identification number and where the vehicle was
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.
Unfortunately, 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.
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.
And again, I give a shout-out to Jeff Brown for making these
as long as he did.
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).
You'll need the last 6 digits of your VIN. Or contact the Ford Performance Info Center directly at:
1-800-FORD-SVT • Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
You can also order a Build Certificate directly on the
Performance Group/Ford Show Parts website for the same
$40.00. Note that you can get your Build Number by
called 1-800-FORD-SVT, but you cannot get Build Date or
Color info 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.
How do I de-code my VIN and where are
the VIN plates located?
........ Ford Motor Co.
........... Restraint System (F-air bags & active belts)
........... Passenger Car
......... 2dr Coupe Cobra (or 49 for 2dr Convertible Cobra)
Engine Code (4.6L DOHC Supercharged V8)
........... Check Digit (varies)
........... Year (3 - 2003)
........... Plant (F - Dearborn)
... 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.
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.
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
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
The 2C5E-6C064-DC head was the final
2005 revision and also
the FRPP head.
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
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,
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
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
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
dot in the middle of the shaft, it has probably had
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.
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,
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.
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
Check for catalytic converter damage: Rap
on cats and mufflers looking for rattles.
Check for system leaks
Valve covers and engine
Rear end and differential
Power Steering and ABS
Check wheels for damage from encounters with curbs.
Check that all lug nuts are tight.
Check the air pressure in the
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
Check for passenger seat
rubbing against passenger door. There's a TSB to fix this: 03-01-05.
Check the Engine for the following:
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
Do the doors lock on startup?
Check for rough idle: Idle should be about
at driver's front wheel for tick issue.
Don't confuse with fuel injector noise.
to hear what the tick issue sounds like.
Check for any drivetrain vibrations,
especially at higher speeds.
Check alignment. Does the Vehicle pull to
● 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
Stalling on deceleration? There is a TSB for this - 17-54-2.
Clunk noise from the suspension while
Driveline clunk during acceleration after
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
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. All cylinders should be within about 15% of each
other, and the closer they all are to each other the better. If one
or more cylinders are reading abnormally low, you'll want to delve
deeper for answers.
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.
What is the best way to handle buying a used 2003/2004 Cobra long distance? Is personally inspecting it a must? I'm just not sure what to do?
People looking to buy a '03-'04 Cobra that is located in
another state often ask how handle the purchase without
having to travel to the seller's location. Many also ask if
it is important to personally inspect the car. First off,
let's remember that these Cobras are now 14-15 years old and
they are routinely modded and driven rather hard. Sure, the
engine is stout and can take a lot of abuse, but long term
hard driving can impact engine reliability at some point. So
after reading dozens of comments from Terminator owners I
thought I'd share some advice if you're in the process of,
or thinking of, buying a used Terminator far enough away to
make a personal inspection difficult.
prefer to buy a Terminator through a dealer whom they hope
will thoroughly check it out. But some dealers are not
thorough at all, and many are not familiar with the '03-'04
Cobra, what is factory equipment, and what are aftermarket
mods. The ONLY dealer that I feel comfortable to recommend
Hi-End Auto in Appomattox, VA. They usually
have a nice selection of '03-'04 Cobras, and they are always
eager to provide the buyer with any info/photos/video that
will help the buyer. They can also help the buyer with
Before you go any further,
read through my "buying a used Terminator" recommondations
above in the previous topic.
* The first thing
you'll want to do is gather as much information about the
Cobra you're looking at as is possible. That means reviewing
the ad itself and looking closely at the photos. If you feel
the provided information is insufficient, or you would like
to get more info, contact the seller and request that
additional information and/or photos. Talk to the seller on
the phone, asking questions from a list you've compiled. If
you're not comfortable with the info/photos, be prepared to
walk away from the sale. If you're feeling comfortable at
this point, you can proceed with negotiators, but always
give yourself an out if you're suddenly not feeling positive
about the transaction. Remember that the more you know about
the vehicle or owner, the more confident you'll usually be
if you decide to proceed.
* Take your time as you
negotiate with the seller. Don't rush your decision because
you will want to gather as much info as possible. If the
seller is rushing you to make a decision, that can be a red
* Request the VIN if you don't already have it,
and get a CarFax vehicle report. Just be mindful that only
incidents/repairs will show up.
* If necessary,
request a photo that includes a card with the seller's name,
phone number and address. A photo taken with this info in
front of the seller's home showing the street number would
be best. Photos should be highly detailed, with sufficient
light, and be high quality. All photos should be current.
Older photos may be should current changes/defects.
Remember, you're gathering all of this info to ensure you
getting what you are expecting. Sellers who balk or complain
about providing additional info should start to raise a red
flag. In the end, you must feel positive and confident to
* A walk-around video is recommended. It
should be high quality with good lighting, and cover the
engine bay, body, open trunk and interior. Or do Facetime
with the seller. You can instruct the seller what you'd like
to see and carry on a conversation, asking any questions you
might have. Have him start the car and listen to the engine
from the tailpipes and engine bay. Listen for
ticking/knocking sounds or anything abnormal.
in-car video with good audio is helpful in listening for any
possible issues (missing, knocking, etc.)
* Do you
know the seller through a Mustang/Cobra forum you regular
visit? If so, do a search on threads that will confirm
specifics about the car, its modifications, how it's been
driven/raced, and even if it was involved in any accidents.
If you don't know the seller through the forums, ask if he
is a member of any forums. Keep it light and don't reveal
that you are going to search out posts that might provide
you additional info. Do your due diligence here as you'd be
surprised at how much information you might glean. Finding a
forum post like "engine is making noises after hitting the
rev limiter" should raise a red flag or warrant questions to
* If the seller requires a deposit to
hold the car, be sure you have IN WRITING the option to back
out of the deal up until transferring ownership if you find
anything not disclosed that would impact the sale. If things
aren't in writing, you stand the possibility of losing your
deposit if you back out.
* If you can't drive to or
fly to the seller's location to inspect the car, consider
asking someone you might know in that area or ask a forum
member to inspect it. A small compensation for his time will
be well worth it. Even better, ask the seller to have the
car inspected at a local shop. Or have a friend take it to a
local shop for an inspection. Include both a compression
check and leak-down test. There are even 3rd party inspector
services available in many areas which are usually very
good. Just be sure they are familiar with the '03-'04 Cobra.
And be aware that many/most people who might do the
inspection for you have different standards. The more the
inspecting person knows about Terminators and the more
mechanical they are, the more likely you'll get the
inspection you're looking for.
* If the car is
advertised as being "stock", have the seller state in
writing that the car has never been modded. Find out when
the seller purchased the car and get the previous owner's
contact info. If you are only wanting a "stock" Terminator,
you must ensure that it was never modded, and the more
previous owners there are the more difficult it is going to
be to verify the "stock" status.
* Ask for receipts
and the modifications disclosed by the seller, if he paid
for them. Include installation receipts, if applicable.
Again, if mods were purchased/installed by a previous owner,
try to get the name and contact info of the previous owner.
If previous owner(s) were known to frequent Mustang forum,
getting their forum ID might help you locate value info
about the car's history.
* If the car is modded, be
sure you are comfortable with the mods. Get a list of all of
the mods (especially engine mods) and find out who did the
work, and when. You must be comfortable with the mods. If a
shop performed the mods, call the shop and try to get as
much information as possible relative to the mods. If the
owner installed the mods, do any research necessary to help
ensure everything was done properly. Recently installed mods
should be especially checked as they might not have been
tested sufficiently. You absolutely want to avoid any
surprises if you go through with the purchase.
the car is modded and is advertising a special
horsepower/torque numbers, ask for a dyno report that is
dated and contains the owner's name and dyno shop's
* I would only consider driving
to/flying to the seller's location if you are (1) very
serious about the purchase, (2) feel very comfortable with
the information you've gathered, and (3) willing to risk the
cost of the trip if you then discover something negative
about the car. Many potential buyers only feel comfortable
closing the deal if they, and they alone, inspect it.
Negotiating The Final Price & Closing The Deal
If there are issues that will need to be addressed (missing
or broken pieces, damage, etc.) be sure that they are
discussed with the seller and you receive (if applicable) in
writing who will pay for those. If the seller is
responsible, be sure the revised price is agreed upon and is
put in writing. Agree on who will purchase the needed parts
and who will install them. In some cases the seller might
purchase parts and request that the buyer install them.
Whatever is negotiated, be sure it's all in writing.
Remember that email/texts form a paper trail, to the
advantage of both parties.
* Review the bill of sale
and be sure everything is covered to the satisfaction of
both the buyer and seller.
* Your bank or credit
union can help you with title work and payment. If there is
a loan on the vehicle, there will be a delay in getting the
* Consider carefully how you will ship the
car. If the seller is arranging for/paying for the shipping,
be sure the shipping carrier is reputable and you're
comfortable with the choice. In most cases the buyer will be
responsible, so chose your carrier carefully. Do you want an
enclosed trailer, or is an open trailer acceptable. If it's
an open trailer, I recommend putting on some protective tape
and covering for the front end, hood and windshield. Get
quotes from 2-3 reputable carriers before deciding. Be sure
the one you choose is insured. Check the carrier's reviews
and ask for references if possible. Be aware that it
sometimes takes a couple of weeks for the car to be picked
up, and usually the carrier will make multiple stops along
the way to deliver vehicles and pick up others.
U-Ship is a service that connects buyers with
shippers (open and closed trailers). I only know of one
transaction that was positive. Unfortunately there are a
good number of negative Yelp reviews, and so I cannot
personally recommend this service. If you want to check into
it on your own, do so with due diligence and check their
reviews carefully. IMO, you are better off paying a
reputable shipper a bit more. And you won't likely be hit
with additional fees payable directly to U-Ship.
I heard that a Terminator ID
Tag/Plate can be purchased for my engine bay and/or interior
console. Where can I get one?
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
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.
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
HERE. This is
an example of their Mystichrome plate.
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
What are some good web sites for '03-'04 Cobra information?
The best focused '03-'04 Cobra forum site around
However, the 2003-2004 Cobra
shares many components with earlier Mustangs, so many general
mustang forum sites can be helpful as well.
For detailed info on '03-'04 Cobra components and pretty
much anything Terminator related, visit
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 &
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.
How do you clean the
Alcantera (imitation suede) seats? Where
can I buy this material to re-upholster my seats?
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,
Alcantara website for
specific cleaning instructions and recommended cleaning
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.
to go to their website, then click on
the Alcantara link, and then click on Colors.
do I remove the gray coating on the inside of 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.
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
Bucket of hot/warm water
Car wash soap
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.
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
NOTE: Be careful that you
don't let it sit for too long, as the gray finish will begin to set
Repeat this procedure around the rim.
Be sure to keep away from the center caps.
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.
What is the
part number for the Ford factory battery?
battery part number is BXT59.
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. The
that all 2003 Cobra got 4 thread
may have gotten 4 thread heads left over from MY2003, and '2004 Cobras built after some date in 11/2003
9 thread heads. It's safe
to say that the vast majority of 2004 Cobras got the 9
thread heads. However, even these revised
2004 heads don't have the revised coolant passages found on the heads
released in 01/2005. This is interesting information because there have been
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
for the 2004
Cobra. The question is why they would do that
if they weren't concerned about the heads only having 4
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 to Enlarge
Click 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.
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
upgrade to the latest revised heads for my Terminator?
it worth it to get the new heads ported and give them a quality
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."
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
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
Disconnect the negative battery cable.
Many prefer to use a
battery tender. I highly recommend that you invest in
a good battery tender to trickle charge your battery and
keep it in pristine condition. The CTEK (56-158)
battery charger/tender (fully
automatic) is a good choice. Amazon sells it for under
Place a few moisture absorber packs (desiccants) on the interior
floors and trunk to
absorb moisture. Large packs are usually available at
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
floor and one on the front floor. This will prevent any
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,
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
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
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.
are a number of good ones out there. I highly recommend
Big Sky Car Covers.
California Car Cover.
Is it safe to
spray wash my engine? Will it cause any drivability
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
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
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.
What do 2003-2004 Cobra’s typically dyno at stock?
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
● motor break-in period before first dyno run
● manufacturing tolerances
● factory tune
● dyno variances
● weather conditions when dynoed
Are there any
"how to" videos available for owners who prefer to do
maintenance in their own garage?
Check out Scrun Johnson's videos on YouTube. He has
quite a few posted, included a 3-part series on removing
your engine. All of his videos are well done and his
instructions are easy to follow and pretty complete. Click
HERE to go to Scrun's YouTube page where you
can check out his videos and Subscribe to his YouTube
channel. Trust me, his videos are well worth viewing.
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
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
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
I change the fuel filter?
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.
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
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
1 small bowl or cup (to put old oil in)
Approx. 6 inches of clear fish tank hose (any pet
First step is to locate the oil drain/fill
a 3/16 Allen wrench and unscrew
the plug. The plug might be
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
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.
Check out this excellent
video done by a good friend of mine, Danny Johnson (xsellr8 on SVTPerformance.com)
that explains in detail how to change the Eaton supercharger
oil. Check out his YouTube Channel
HERE for more "how-to" videos.
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.
How does the Traction Control
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
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.
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
HERE. Or you can buy a completed circuit for this mod
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
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.
How does the supercharger work?
And do all Eaton snouts say SVT on the front?
How do I
paint my Eaton
a custom color?
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
What transmission does the Cobra use,
and is there a maintenance guide for the transmission?
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.
lubricant should I use?
Tremec recommends the
following lubricants for their transmissions, including the
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
Mobil 1 ATF
GM Synchromesh or Quaker State Synchromesh
Stock Ford Fluid
Transmission Draining and Filling
DEXRON III® (ATF) Transmission Fluid (XT-2-QDX)
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
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).
the filler plug.
also add new transmission fluid from the top, from inside
* 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
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
Even better, here is another
exception video from Danny Johnson (AKA xsellr8 on
SVTPerformance.com). Danny is a good friend of mine
and a great car guy. Check out his other excellent
"how-to" videos on his YouTube Channel
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
My Cobra shakes at speeds over 100mph. What could be
These tips come from Tony (Blueline)
"If you are 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, it's 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 you are feeling the vibration when you apply the brakes,
check your front rotors and wheel hubs."
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.
What fluids should I use in my Cobra?
What engine oil should I use in my Cobra, and what filters
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
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.
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
Thanks to Dwight (IronTerp) for this photo
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
What supercharger oil should I
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
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
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 60,000 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 30,000 miles max).
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
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
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
CLICK HERE to read the entire
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:
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
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
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.
Ford 4.6L DOHC
Refill/Burp Procedure (courtesy of Joel Miller @ Reische
This refill/burp procedure is based on a collaboration of
information from the Ford forums, the Ford TSB and Joel's
personal experience. Joel has only included what he feels is
relevant in order to refill the coolant system properly and
as quickly as possible. The general concept here is that air
will accumulate at the highest point in the coolant system,
which is the crossover tube.
Car must be parked level or on a slight incline; with the
front higher is even better.
Remove the radiator reservoir cap and crossover plug.
(The crossover plug is normally removed with a
¼” socket drive but is frequently found to be seized. You
can damage your ratchet if you apply too much force to
remove it. It may be necessary to use a pair of vice grips
around the edge of the plug and, in extreme cases, heat it
with a torch. I recommend the use of anti-seize or grease on
the crossover plug threads upon reinstallation. It is never
necessary to tighten the crossover plug much, just snug it,
there is an O-ring to seal the system.)
3) Fill the reservoir just past the
full line. It is best to add antifreeze (3/4 gallon is about
20% concentration) or any additives at this time. Cap the
reservoir and you should not need to open the reservoir
again. In fact, always check and fill the system at
the crossover plug after verifying that the
reservoir is full. (Warning:
Do not rely on the reservoir bottle to degas the system or
indicate coolant level. The reservoir may show a normal
level even when there is a large amount of air in the
system. There have been those who have lost engines due to
not adding coolant at the crossover plug.
4) Get a funnel and wrap some tape around
the tip in order to make a seal with the crossover tube
opening. Screw the funnel down into the crossover threads
until the funnel seats in firmly.
5) With the reservoir capped, continue
adding coolant at the funnel until the funnel fills up an
inch or two. Squeeze the upper radiator hose a few times to
force air pockets out of the piping.
6) Turn the heater temperature control
to hot. Start the engine and let it idle but occasionally
rev the engine a bit to dislodge any trapped air. Add
coolant to keep the funnel full if necessary. You will
notice many large air pockets escaping at first but
eventually the level will rise in the funnel as the
temperature goes up, expanding the coolant. Keep the engine
running just until the thermostat starts to open a bit
with a recommended
Reische Performance Products thermostat). When this happens,
the upper radiator inlet will be warm to the touch. Note
that it is normal for tiny air bubbles to still be escaping
out of the funnel - this happens because the system is open
7) Shut off the engine, but be ready to add
coolant because the level in the funnel may drop as soon as
you do so. Quickly unscrew and remove the funnel, top off
the coolant, and reinstall the crossover plug (snug only).
This is done to keep coolant from being expelled because
stagnant coolant in the engine becomes heated and starts
expanding again. A common mistake is to run the engine
too long which creates excessive heat and, instead of
dropping, the coolant level rises in the funnel when the
engine is shut off. If this happens, just reinstall the plug
as quickly as possible to minimize coolant loss.
8) After 40 minutes to an hour the engine
will still be warm. Slowly remove the crossover plug but use
caution because there may still be a little pressure in the
system. Top off the coolant again, but this time do not
reinstall the plug.
9) After 3 to 5 more hours, the engine will
be completely cooled down and you will need to top off the
crossover once more. Reinstall the crossover plug and then
verify that the reservoir is full.
Do Not open
the reservoir cap with the crossover plug removed!
10) You may
drive the vehicle normally at this time. Make sure the
engine reaches full operating temperature. It is best to do
some highway cruising and/or the engine should see some
mid-RPM speeds at minimum.
11) Later, or
the next day when the engine is completely cold again, do
the following. Do
not start the car and
open the reservoir.
Just top off the coolant at the crossover again. If you have
to add more than an ounce or two of coolant then repeat this
step again after another heat cycle. For those who want
to get ever bit of air out of the system, you can repeat
this step a few times until you can add only a capful of
What brake fluid should I use?
The stock brake fluid,
listed in the Owner’s Manual, is sufficient for most needs.
are the jacking points for jacking up the car? Are
full-length sub-frame connectors recommended?
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).
Are full-length sub-frame connectors recommended?
The '03-'04 Cobra has a good deal of body flex. Convertibles
come with (inadequate) mid-length frame rails from the
factory. Due to this body flex, jacking up the front end (or
rear) can cause the door to not open while the body is
I highly recommend that you install a good quality set of
full-length (NOT mid-length) sub-frame connectors. They
not bolted on. Then you can jack the car pretty much anywhere along the
welded-in side rail. And you will pretty much
eliminate body flex. 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
Extreme Matrix Subframe System (with
built-in jacking rails) that provides a full frame under
Click thumbnails to enlarge.
Steeda Jacking Rails Steeda
Jacking Rails Installed UPR Jacking Rails
Kenny Brown Jacking Rails
Kenny Brown Kenny
Jacking Rails Installed
Matrix Subframe System
What is the FRPS and where is it located? And what
causes it to fail?
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
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
"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."
Kenne Bell Fuel Rail Pressure Disc can be
D'Agostino Racing for $17.95.
are the TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) issued for the
Service Bulletins (TSBs) and Recalls for 2003/2004 Mustang
04-24-8 STEERING RACK NOISE
Some 2002-2004 Mustang vehicles may exhibit a squeak or creak type noise
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
PART NUMBER PART NAME -
DRIVEABILITY (Stall Issue),
referred to as 'Lack of Power on Decel".
SOME 2003 COBRAS
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.
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
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
Some 2003 Mustang Cobra vehicles with
engines built before 11/1/2002 may
exhibit an unusual engine
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
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.
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
Use the diagnostic Service Procedure listed
below to evaluate the vehicle
condition and replace the cylinder head
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
- 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
- Verify that there are no exhaust
- 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
- 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
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 -
03-08-03 ENGINE-ENGINE OIL LEVEL
INDICATOR MARKINGS-REPORTS OF LOW OIL
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
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
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.
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
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"
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
Action: To service, install a
revised transmission adapter cover
plate. The revised adapter cover
has release bearing guide tube already
Recall of All 2003-2004 Cobras for Carpet Fix/Sticking Gas Pedal (May,
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
Potential Number Of Units Affected :
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.
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.
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
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
Here is a picture of the plate installed.
for a complete list
of Ford TSBs from 1996-2004.
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 & 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?
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
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,
Take your time and do it right and you'll have a lot more
fun and fewer headaches.
What are the
list of free and low cost mods for the Terminator can be
this link. Browse down
to the section entitled 'Cheap Or Free How-To Threads'.
What are the common “bolt-on” mods?
Is porting my Eaton worth it, and where can I get the
The most common bolt-ons are CAI/RAI
(cold air intake and ram air intake), exhaust (midpipe and
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
forum for recommendations. Whoever you choose, be sure
to check their reputation as far as quality of work, price,
warranty and customer service.
Are there any “beyond bolt-on” mods available for the
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
forums for more info.
What is the fan mod?
This mod enables you to use a toggle switch to
turn the high-speed fan on
and off at will in order to aid cooling. Full
directions for this mod can be found
Are there any aftermarket superchargers for the
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
What is the difference between dyno tuning and road
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
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
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 with 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.
What is the difference between
an upper blower pulley and a lower crank
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”.
much boost will a Cobra make with the various upper/lower
replace my factory idler pulleys?
What size are the factory upper pulley and idler 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
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
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.
The factory upper supercharger pulley is 3.65". The factory
stamped steel idler pulleys (3) are 90mm. When
switching to an aftermarket 4-piece idler kit (Metco
which adds an auxiliary idler to reduce belt slippage, you
will note that often two kits are available.
One with a single 100mm
idler and 3-90mm idlers, or a single 90mm idler and 3-100mm
idlers. Which one you choose depends on the size of your
upper supercharger pulley. To prevent interference,
if you have a smaller upper supercharger pulley (ie. 2.90"
or 2.76"), go with the kit that has a single
100mm (auxiliary) idler
and three 90mm idler
pullies. If you have a larger upper supercharger pulley like
the factory 3.65" or maybe a 3.40", go with the kit that has
a single 90mm (auxiliary) idler and three 100mm idler
pullies. The auxiliary idler pulley is the one that will be
closest to the upper supercharger pulley, as shown in this
Special note concerning
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. Here's a video
done by Andrew (MrAjsTech on SVTPerformance.com) after he
experienced a factory idler failure. He pretty much explains
why it is so important to replace the factory stamped steel
idlers when installing a smaller upper pulley.
Why does my boost fluctuate with the pulley mod?
a few theories on this. In some cases belt slippage is an
obvious culprit. Idler pulley kits are available from vendors
Metco Motorsports (recommended)
to improve belt wrap and reduce slip.
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
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
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.
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
by the blower belt is the alternator. Changing the upper
has no affect whatsoever on the alternator's
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
to offset the increase in speed from the larger lower crank
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.
Here is a useful Alternator Pulley Chart that illustrates
where a larger alternator pulley is recommended. Green
indicates the safe range of an alternator pulley.
Yellow indicates a cautionary range. Pink indicates
the unsafe range where a larger alternator pulley is
What is the boost bypass mod?
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
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
recommended ways to perform this mod.
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
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.
Are you over spinning the Eaton blower with a smaller
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.
What size belt should I use with a pulley mod?
How do I measure the size of my upper pulley
if I don't know the size?
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
If you are not sure what size upper pulley you have, you
measure across the top of the grooves, not the outer edge,
as shown in the Pulley Boys photo below.
How do I change the pulley
belt? And how can I reduce or eliminate belt slip?
It is very easy to change
the pulley belt. Refer to
this PDF file for
instructions and information.
Belt slip is normally a result of using an oversized blower
belt or using a smaller upper pulley (2.93 and smaller)
without adding an auxiliary idler. However, it can also be
caused by the factory tensioner flexing with a high
power/torque motor. Metco Motorsports has the fix for high
power motors with their
CNC machined tensioner brace. For pulley related belt
slip (ie. a 2.80 or 2.75 pulley), opt for at least an
auxiliary idler. Even better, go with a 4-piece idler set.
Here is a great choice from Metco -
Idler Pulley Set with Auxiliary Idler Bracket
Be sure to check your
belt tensioner after installing a new belt. You want to see
the tensioner tab
near the center of the
left and right ranges. This ensures proper tension. Here is
a photo of the belt tensioner; check the highlighted area
for proper location of the tensioner tab.
If you find that your factory tensioner is damaged or bent
(which usually will shred or
fray one of the belt ribs), I recommend a
Thump Racing billet aluminum belt tensioner.
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.
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
"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
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.
What is the proper way to break in a new (crate)
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
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
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?
There were three plugs that came from the factory for the '03/'04
Cobra. 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
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
detailed instructions from the Denso website
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.
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.
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.
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
Bassani (both 2.5" and 3")
Steeda - made by 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:
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 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:
long-tubes - these are a good bang for the buck header, and
can be purchased with ceramic or chrome coating.
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.
long-tubes - ceramic coated stainless steel.
mid-length - stainless steel and ceramic coated stainless
mid-length - stainless steel; bolt directly to the Bassani
shorty - ceramic coated stainless steel.
Here's an excellent video done
by Danny Johnson that explains the differences between
long-tube, midlength and shorty headers, exhaust
differences between X-pipes and H-pipes, and more. Danny has
You Tube Channel
that with a number of well done
videos directly related to the '03-'04 Cobra. I highly
recommend watching this one if you're looking for more info
on headers. It's very
informative and should help you decide which header type and
mid-pipe is best for your application.
If you're looking to hear what some of the setups sound
like, I recommend that you go to YouTube and do a
search on '2003 Cobra Exhaust', or similar. There are
quite a few videos of the various types and brands.
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
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
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."
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. I personally recommend JLT intakes and believe
their intakes are the highest quality and highest performing
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.
I clean my K&N FIPK filter?
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.
Is it okay to remove the hood blanket?
Are aftermarket hood vents safe when driving in the rain?
Can I modify my factory hood vents to expell more heat from
the engine bay?
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. You can also modify
your factory plastic hood vents by removing every other
slat, or removing two slats every two slats.
CLICK HERE to read more about how to do it yourself.
Here are two photos of a factory hood vent modified by
Real2000CobraR on SVTPerformance.com. He did a great
job and more heat can now be expelled from the engine bay.
Finished Hood Vent
Finished Hood Vent Installed
I'd like to
replace my factory hood prop with an aftermarket hood strut
kit. Which hood struts do you recommend? Can I use a hood strut kit
with a lighter aftermarket hood?
Replacing the factory hood prop with a hood strut kit (one
strut on each side of the hood) is a common mod. The hood
struts provide far better protection from the hood falling.
And, they look so much better.
I recommend the MRT hood strut kit for two reasons. First,
there is no drilling involved, and second, by letting MRT
know the weight of your hood (or material type), they can provide
a lighter piston if the hood is
made of carbon fiber or fiberglass.
Another recommended hood strut kit comes from Redline. They
don't offer lighter pistons, but those who have installed
Redline hood struts have not reported any issues with
lighter hoods. The Redline struts require drilling, so be
very careful not to drill through the outer layer.
How can I shorten my antenna?
It's too tall.
How can I plug the 4 holes in my front bumper that hold my
front license plate frame? I don't use the front plate any
The stock antenna
height is quite high. Shortening the antenna will not
in most cases affect radio reception. Unless you go
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
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
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
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
8. Reinstall the antenna.
A lot of people ask how they can fill the front bumper
license plate cover holes when they decide to not use the
front license plate any longer. The easiest way, other
than having a body shop fill the holes and repaint the
bumper, is to buy a set of bumper plugs from
BumperPlugs.com. The plugs are pre-painted and are
available in just about any late model Mustang paint color.
HERE to go to the BumperPlugs.com Mustang application
page. Just pick your color!
Before & After (Lexus illustrated)
Are they any modifications I can make to my shifter for an
Where can I buy a new shifter ball?
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 #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
If you install an aftermarket billet shifter on your Mustang,
recommend using one of my
They really work well, and also eliminate the need for using
messy silicone sealer. Cost is only $16.99. 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
HERE first. MGW sells a few shifter balls that
area uniquely designed.
American Muscle offers a large selection of larger round
shifter balls as well.
How can I quiet
my shifter? It's too noisy?
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
one of my Shifter Gasket Kits which includes a base gasket,
and a shifter handle gasket
(unless otherwise noted on ordering page). At only $15.99 a set
it is a very inexpensive mod.
Sets for other Mustangs are available as well.
My MGW shifter
doesn't return to center from the 1-2 position, causing me
to shift back to 1st gear when I try to shift to 3rd gear.
MGW shifter has internal springs that return the shifter to
center, which are good for about 50K miles according
to MGW. They can wear or break, and when this happens you
will experience mis-shifts. For example, shifting from 2nd
to 3rd might cause the shifter to go back into 1st. Depending on which spring is bad, you might experience
a mis-shift going into another gear. To test,
have your car parked with the engine off. Put your shifter
handle in the neutral position. It should be between 3-4. Put your handle back into the neutral position.
It should be between 3-4. If in either case your shifter
keeps going into the 1-2 or 5-6 position rather than 3-4, you
likely have a bad spring. If you need new
springs, call MGW and order their spring kit which retails
for around $10.00. Here is a video done by Italo Frigoli that covers the issue and
how to fix it with new springs.
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
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,
Pro 5.0, and
is highly recommended. The MGW shifter
is considered by many to be the best on the market.
Are there any
weight reductions recommended?
To reduce the amount of weight on the 2003-2004 Cobra,
this PDF file explains
what items may be removed. Thanks to Dwight (IronTerp)
What is the Hilton Boost
Gauge mod? Do you have an installation video?
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. There are
two different gauge faces available. The standard face reads up to
16 lbs. boost. The High Boost Overlay face reads up to 24
lbs. boost and is intended for higher boost applications. Visit
Ray Hilton's website
for more information.
Standard 16 lb. Boost
High Boost Overlay
Installation of the Hilton Boost
Gauge Overlay is fairly easy. But now installation is even
easier because Scrun Johnson has made an incredibly
detailed, easy to follow video showing the entire process
from start to finish. Scrun's videos are always superb.
Watch it and you'll quickly understand why I give his videos
so much praise.
Click Here to open the installation video.
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
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.
Are there any gauge pods available?
Autometer has A-pillar and dash pods available.
The A-pillars for coupes and convertibles are different. If
you 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
Paint Match Link 2
Paint Match Link
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
Speed of Sound (http://www.speedofsoundllc.com/)
has a neat gauge pod, too. Different design than
Autometer's, but very popular.
Is an Air/Fuel gauge useful?
Do you have any Aeroforce Interceptor gauge setup
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
with their Wideband Air/Fuel Sensor Kit, is an excellent
choice for monitoring air/fuel data. Another option is the
AEM wideband gauge.
Here are some excellent Aeroforce Interceptor gauge setup
videos. Special thanks to Scrun
on SVTPerformance.com) for authoring these videos.
How To Setup Aeroforce Interceptor Gauge
How To Setup Aeroforce Interceptor Shift Light
Check out his other excellent videos on his YouTube Channel
What does a pyrometer do?
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.
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
HERE, thanks to
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.
How do I remove the pony emblem on the grill?
Is there a cobra/snake emblem available I can replace it
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.
Many Cobra owners buy an
aftermarket cobra snake emblem to replace the OEM
pony emblem. They are
available from retailers such as
American Muscle and
Late Model Restoration. Custom pony emblems are
available as well (such as red/white/blue striped).
Is there an
aftermarket aluminum radiator available?
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
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. Joel Miller, owner of
Reische Performance Products, designed a high
performance 170 degree thermostat that
the ONLY replacement thermostat
specifically designed for higher performance, providing
temps and heat dissipation along with reduced
warm up times.
Are there any intercooler upgrades?
There are a few
larger capacity intercooler
tanks available from
many Mustang parts
What size wheels and tires will fit in the rear without
What wheels are available?
It appears that up to 11”
(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.
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
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
for recommendations and photos of owner cars.
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
How To Install An Automatic In A Terminator.
Can a live axle be installed in a 2003 Cobra?
Is a live axle better for racing?
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
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
Full Tilt Boogie Racing IRS
bushing kit if you're
with the factory IRS.
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.
Here is an excellent YouTube video done by Danny Johnson.
Danny explains the differences between the IRS and solid
rear, pros and cons, costs, etc. I highly recommend taking
the time to watch it if you're contemplating switching to a
solid rear, or if you'd just like to learn more about each.
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
I want to lower my Cobra to get rid of the 4X4 look.
What lowering spring kits are available?
Or should I cut my
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.
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
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
Are there any
suspension and handling upgrades available?
Are there any
brake upgrades available?
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 seem to concur that fact. For a
detailed discussion of Full Tilt Boggie Racing vs. Maximum
Motorsports suspension kits, I highly 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
Brake upgrades, including kits from Brembo
and Baer, are widely available. Remember that when you
increase your Cobra's track speed capabilities, you also
need to increase its stopping capability.
How can I eliminate or reduce wheel hop?
What should I do at the track if I experience 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
If you experience wheel hop at the
track, 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
Bracket. Cheap insurance to help prevent breakage.
What are the differences in dynos?
What correction factor should I use for my dyno sheets?
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
(typically 6-13%) than Mustang Dynos. And even Mustang Dynos can vary high and
low due to operator setup.
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.
Is it hard to
replace my alternator? Should I also upgrade my wiring? Do
you have an alternator replacement how-to video?
It is not uncommon for the
2003-2004 factory alternator to fail, in part due to it's
location, make it succeptable to heat. It isn't very
difficult to replace the alternator. Even easier when
you use a super detailed "how to" video. I've got you
covered. Here are three
excellent, easy to follow,
videos that show you step by step how to do
an alternator replacement, with
or without the 'Big 3' alternator wiring upgrade kit. You
might ask "what is a Big 3 wiring upgrade kit? The Big 3
upgrade, simply put, is upgrading the main three electrical
charging wires in your Cobra's electrical system. These
wires are the power wire from the alternator to the battery
positive, the engine block to a ground, and the battery
negative to a ground. The stock Big 3 wires are often
inadequate to handle the extra electrical draw of anything
other than a stock electrical system, such as aftermarket
stereo upgrades that include an amplifier. Upgrading the Big
3 often solves many people's electrical shortcomings by
decreasing the resistance to the flow of electrical current
in your Cobra's electrical system. This upgrade should
always be the first step in attempting to solve electrical
shortcomings (such as dimming headlights, your voltage meter
reading 12v on the dash, etc.). It's the cheapest upgrade
you can make for your Cobra's electrical system. It really
should be a must if you're installing a higher output
The alternator that is being used
as a replacement alternator in the video is a
MechMan alternator, an excellent choice and my personal
recommendation. Mechman offers both 170 and 240 amp
versions. The recommended
'Big 3' wiring upgrade kit is available from MechMan as
All three YouTube videos were produced by
Scrun Johnson. His narration and steps detail is
spectacular. You won't find an easier "how to" alternator
replacement video anywhere.
Alternator Replacement & 'Big 3' Wiring Upgrade Kit
Alternator Replacement Only Video
'Big 3' Wiring Upgrade Kit Installation Only Video
How do I change the stock shift
and what is the maximum safe RPM with the stock internals?
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.
What are the limits of the Cobra’s stock fuel system?
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
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.
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. There is an excellent video done by Romans
@ Mrs. McNastys Body & Paint. It provides easy to understand
and follow instructions. Go
to view the video.
What drag radials are best?
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
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.
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.
What clutch components should be upgraded to handle more
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.
Where can I find a list of ECU diagnostic
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. You can buy the CD (email me
for more info) or
download it HERE as a PDF file. Be aware, though, that
if you download the PDF version it is quite large.
When drag racing, what RPM is best to launch at?
dependent on variable conditions, such as track prep,
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.
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
What do stock
Terminators run in the 1/4 mile?
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
average 4.5 seconds for the coupe and 4.6 seconds for the convertible.
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.
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
SLP Line Lock Brake Control Kit.
Installation instructions for installing the SLP Line Lock
kit can be found
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.
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.
TSBs and Quality Issue Questions
For a list of TSBs in a PDF file, click
on this link. Or go to to the
The “pull” issue
The “pull” is typified by a constant pull to
one side or the other, commonly caused by
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
January, 2005. The part
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
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
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
cooling mod kits
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.
is a photo of the Modular Racing cooling mod kit.
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
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.
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
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.
instructions from their website for using spray touch-up
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.
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
Our paints are
extremely flexible and can used over metal or plastic. You
will not need an additional flex additive for flexible
Basecoat vs. Single Stage
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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 one of my Shifter
Gasket Kits. This mod will
dramatically reduce the noise.
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
has more information on this problem.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Clogged Catalytic
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Near Center Console (3 Buttons At Bottom)
Many owners have reported an annoying buzzing noise around
the lower center console
area, specifically where the three buttons
(Defrost, Taction Control, Fog Lights) are located. After
much trial and error troubleshooting, Jay (jpk
on SVTPerformance.com) found the problem and resolved it.
Here is what Jay did in
his own words.
Photo Courtesy Of Latemodel
Restoration Supply, Inc.
"A while ago now I purchased the upgraded AC vents that
supposedly don't buzz. I installed them and the buzzing went
away for a little while, but then came back! Buzzing was
reduced probably by 50% with new vents.
I pulled off the bezel and I put the RTV sealant around the
AC vent cluster where it snaps into the bezel as shown in
some of the pictures on the other thread. Put the bezel back
on and again at first it seemed fix. But after a few miles
of driving and hitting bumps and rough road, the buzzing was
back! It was again a bit reduced, but still there. Listening
carefully, it sure sounded like the buzzing was not coming
from the AC vent area at all, but was coming from the three
buttons at the bottom of the center console (defrost,
traction control, fog lights). If I just put my finger
lightly on the defrost button, the buzzing would stop.
Now I was determined! I tapped all over the console and it
sure seemed like tapping on the buttons made the buzzing
noise. I pulled the bezel off and sat in my garage tapping
all over the bezel to see if I could make the buttons buzz
when the bezel was off. Nope, I couldn't. So I figured that
it must be the buttons making the noise when the bezel was
in place and rubbing on something behind the bezel that
holds it in place. I started applying Dynomat to everywhere
I thought the bezel made contact with the dash behind it.
I'd put a piece on something, pop the bezel on, tap around,
and see if it buzzed. I must have put Dynomat on 8 different
places on the bezel and dash before I found it.
It's the spiked prongs on the bezel! When the bezel is
popped on, they vibrate on the plastic holes in the dash
that hold them in place, creating an annoying plastic buzz.
I covered each spike on the bezel in a thin piece of
Dynomat, and popped the bezel on. It was slightly snug but
still could get the prongs to pop into place. Silent!
Phew! For those who have tried the recommended AC vent fixes
and still have noise, try this. I am so happy to have a much
quieter interior, it's like I got a new car!"
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
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.
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.