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 UPPER STRUT TOWER BRACE INSTALL

Written by Mustangworld.



4.6L GT Upper Strut Brace
Upper Strut Tower Brace shown as standard equipment in '96 GT 4.6L GT.

Wondering why this brace is missing in '98? Call it cost cutting, bean counting, whatever you want, but whatever the reason... it's missing in the new Mustangs including the Cobra in '98!

This upper strut tower brace came standard in the Mustang GT/Cobra from '96 - '97 but is missing in the V6 Base model Mustangs and many new '98 Mustangs.

ARE YOU PRE-DRILLED FOR THE BRACE?
If you have a base model Mustang from '94 to '97, then you're lucky and already have holes for a brace in your Mustang (if you have a GT / Cobra of those model years then you already have a brace installed). Many '98 Mustangs do not have the holes "pre-drilled". In Mustangs where the holes are pre-drilled, you will also find that many are also "pre-tapped", including a threaded nut in place to hold a bolt! This makes installation of the upper strut tower brace extremely easy, just lay it in and bolt it on
!

You'll want to look in your stang for these pre-drilled holes, if they are there, then you are in luck. You will need to get a upper brace that fits the STOCK MOUNTING LOCATION. This means buying the Ford factory brace OR an aftermarket piece that mounts in the EXACT same location as the stock brace does. This way you can take advantage of the holes already in your stang.

If you do not have any holes pre-drilled in your stang then you will need to drill holes. You will be securing the brace in your stang using supplied nuts on the back side. This will mean you'll have to reach into the fenderwell area with the nut and bolt the brace down from the top. This is the standard procedure for many '86-'93 stangs where the upper strut brace was not standard. This may also be the case in your new '98 Mustang.

WHAT DOES THIS UPPER BRACE DO?
This brace keeps the shock towers from flexing / collapsing under hard driving conditions or minor accidents. The SN95 based Mustang's chassis is very stiff up front as is, but this brace will further increase the strength
and stiffness up front. There are several manufacturers that make upper strut braces including Mac, Saleen, BBK, Steeda and more. The typical cost of this brace is $149 avg.

THE COBRA USES A DIFFERENT BRACE
The brace you use will depend on your intake system in your engine. In '96 to '98 4.6L Cobra's, you will need an upper strut tower brace that clears it's slightly larger front intake system.
The Cobra brace is slightly bent forward in the front to accommodate for this.

The SOHC GT with the optional SVO intake system COMES with a new upper strut tower brace (the cobra brace). One brace is not better than the other, they are just different to clear different intake systems under the Mustang's hood.

NO BRACE MAY FIT IN YOUR STANG AT ALL
An upper strut tower brace may not fit in your stang at all. For example, in our '89 Mustang, our supercharger induction interferes with an upper strut tower brace (the tubes hit the brace), so we can't run with one. Certain plenum spacers in the 5.0 (that raise the intake plenum up) may cause your intake system to interfere with the upper brace as well.
If this is the case, then you may not be able to run an upper strut tower brace in your stang. There is very little clearance between the upper brace and the stock hood. In these applications a new hood or custom brace may be needed.

We have a '96 GT with the brace and a '96 V6 base model without it. So we'll show you photos of each.

OK... HERE WE GO!

1. Let's first look at a brace that's already mounted. You can see that on the passenger side there are 3 bolts. ONE bolt down from the top and TWO from the side. As you can see there IS another "un-tapped" hole on top here, but it interferes with the camber/caster plate.
2. On the Driver side it's a different story! Here there are TWO bolts on the top and only ONE bolt on the side. Many folks don't notice this and think it's symmetrical on both sides, but it's not. This is why if you purchase a brace, MAKE SURE you ask for one that uses the stock mounting location (if you already have the holes pre-drilled). There IS another hole on the side here to accommodate another bolt, but it's not factory "tapped" / threaded.
3. In the rear, a metal plate extends out from the firewall area where the brace is held in place with two bolts going down (vertically). Many '86 - '93 Upper strut braces bolt into the firewall area (horizontally) which is normal for that model year stang.
4. Here's a close up of the rear bolt. You can notice how it goes through the metal. There is a threaded nut welded into place here (underneath and out of view) that holds the upper strut brace down to the metal.
5. Now Let's look at just the holes. As you can see here in our '96 V6 (Passenger side) the holes are pre-drilled AND also include threaded nuts already in place! Notice the TWO holes on the side and just the ONE threaded hole on top. The second hole on top is too close to the camber/caster plate to be used and is not threaded from the factory.

6. Moving over to the driver side, you can notice the holes exist here as well, pre drilled and pre tapped / threaded

* Some newer Mustangs may not have any of these holes we are talking about in this install pre-tapped or even pre-drilled. Check yours to see if it is.

7. Here is the metal lip extended out from the back, and you will notice the holes are pre-drilled AND pre-tapped / threaded. The hole on the right on our V6 has a wire harness plugged into the hole, so you can't see it, but there are 2 holes available.

These holes are approx. 2cm from the side of this lip to the center of the hole. Braces bolt snug up against the back of the stang's firewall.

IF YOU HAVE TO DRILL THE HOLES YOURSELF
If you find that you need to drill holes in your stang to put a brace in, then what we recommend is centering up the brace in all areas first. Like we mentioned before, the holes in the rear are approx. 2cm from the side of this metal lip in the rear to the center of the hole. BUT it would be best to center it up yourself manually after laying in the brace and measuring it for best fit.

1) Make sure you are parked on a flat level surface. Make sure you are using the correct brace for your stang (Cobra, GT, etc.) and that it won't hit the hood when it closes.
2)
Lay the upperstrut brace into the engine bay and check for clearance of all hoses and engine components.
3) Once the upper strut brace is layed in properly Mark
all the holes with a felt pen, then drill the 2 holes in the rear.
4) Next mount the brace using only the 2 holes you just drilled.
5) Now you can check the holes in the front part of the brace to see if they still line up properly. If they don't then re-mark them.
6) Remove the brace and drill the holes in the front area.
7) This can be reversed (drilling the front first etc.).

If you know what you are doing, then you can mark all the holes first then drill them all at once. Keep in mind you basically have one shot at this, once you drill a hole, that's it. You'll want the brace to be bolted down with little or no bending of the bar (due to a misalignment), which is why we recommend drilling 2 holes at a time. This is especially true if you find that the brace does not fit in your stang perfectly. That is, if you notice a gap or space between the brace after you lay it in for marking.

THE OTHER BRACE DOWN THERE...

Lower Cross member Brace or "g-load" brace (Black Bar in photo above).
.

This photo is from our muffler install, but it also shows the lower crossmember brace (the black bar in the photo above). It is another brace we think you should all have. Check to see if you have one already installed in your stang. It is named the "Lower Crossmember Brace" or "G-Load" brace. This lower brace has a more noticeable effect in "feel" to the driver. It works with the upper strut tower brace to stiffen up the front end
. This brace comes standard in most new V8 '94-'98 Mustangs.

This brace is a simple bolt on item for all Mustangs '86 - '98, no holes to drill. It mounts into two existing bolt locations. When we put one on our '89 GT, we noticed an improved steering response and tighter feel right away. The stock unit is a 2-point brace. Aftermarket makers have 4 point lower crossmember braces available. They average $30 - $80. Installation is simple, if you don't have one, just buy one, remove the two bolts currently in place down there and bolt the g-load brace to your stang.

There are several manufacturers that make lower crossmember braces including Mac, Saleen, BBK, Steeda and more.

That's It, Til next time... see ya on the street !.


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