As we’ve said in the past, adding forced induction to the equation in most cases yields lots of smiles, poor gas mileage from a lead foot and the occasional broken part or two. Fortunately for our supercharged ’05 Mustang GT, we haven’t left anything to chance.
The advantages with aluminum construction is a lighter weight with excellent strength, and an enthusiast-friendly price point. — Scott Boda, Steeda Autosports
Case in point, we’re working hard both day and night to finish buttoning up our Three-Valve Mustang for battle at the local drag strip for testing, which is why we hit up our friends atSteeda Autosportsfor a formidable driveshaft and safety loop solution. The two main reasons necessitating these upgrades are the durability offered by a one-piece driveshaft and the ability to race legally at our local drag strip offered by a driveshaft safety loop.
Enthusiasts who are familiar with the 2005-and-newer S197 Mustangs will know that the factory two-piece driveshaft is quite the underperforming solution. For starters, the factory unit has a center carrier bearing connected by two yokes on each end, which means its heavy and has multiple failure points.
That center bearing has a certain amount of play from the factory, and that amount of play increased dramatically with time and wear. While the factory two-piece unit serves its purpose on a non-modified Mustang quite well, it doesn’t quite add up for our modified Three-Valve. For those reasons, Steeda has recommended its aluminum one-piece driveshaft solution for all 2005-2010 Mustang GT models.
Once forced induction joins the equation, it’s not uncommon or unheard for these Mustangs to chuck a factory driveshaft. In fact, some enthusiasts have even argued that, after reaching high speeds, the factory driveshaft will dramatically toss itself off of the car. While we haven’t seen it or experienced that phenomenon firsthand, we weren’t going to take any chances once the car was ready to make its first pass with forced induction.
Our new driveshaft features a 3.5-inch all aluminum construction, and is balanced specifically for all 2005-2010 Mustang GTs with a manual or an automatic transmission. The driveshaft bolts directly to the OEM flange assembly and requires no adapter or modification, and carries a 750 horsepower/2,450 lb-ft of torque rating from Steeda.
Now that we’ve covered the disadvantages of the factory unit, what are the advantages of our new Steeda One-Piece Aluminum Driveshaft (PN 238 STEEDA 1766 K; $699.95)?
“The advantages with aluminum construction is a lighter weight with excellent strength, and an enthusiast-friendly price point,” Scott Boda of Steeda told us. “Steel is too heavy, albeit it can be strong. Carbon fiber is strong and lightweight, but can be extremely expensive. Aluminum is lighter than steel, so that’s how it saves weight. It’s also rotating mass; so in theory, it will allow the engine to accelerate quicker, and give the ability to apply additional power to the rear tires.”
We also opted for Steeda’s Double Driveshaft Safety Loop (PN 555 5076; $241.95) at the time of the install, as it’s a necessary component when running drag slicks per the NHRA rulebook. As noted by Steeda, this unit reduces the chance of cockpit entry in the event of a driveshaft breakage.
Installing The Duo
Installing our new unit took place at our local Mustang performance shop Sweitzer Performance our of Murrieta, California. This shop takes on jobs far more complicated than a simple driveshaft and safety loop install, but they were able to knockout this duo in the better half of an hour.
“Believe it or not, installing the new one-piece aluminum driveshaft was even easier than removing the old one,” Lee Sweitzer laughed when asked the level of difficulty of the installation.
After safely securing our Mustang on their lift, the guys at Sweitzer began removing the factory exhaust to gain access to the factory driveshaft. Take extra care when unplugging those O2 sensor connecters – you don't want to damage those, or else you'll find yourself having to replace them!
There are four 12mm bolts securing the factory driveshaft to the transmission flange. Take extra care removing them, as you’ll need to reuse them for the new driveshaft. For the axle side of the flange, you will not need to reuse the six 10mm bolts you remove, as Steeda includes new hardware.
See that center carrier bearing we mentioned earlier? Imagine every time you launched the vehicle, or got on the throttle hard, how much power you'd be losing just from the flex of that bearing alone. Did we mention that the new Steeda aluminum piece weighs 25 pounds less than the factory unit?
Sweitzer Performance opted to use blue Loctite threadlocker on all of the new hardware, as it’s a good, cheap insurance for the new driveshaft.
If you're performing this install on a two-post lift (we highly, highly recommend that you do), you might think that driveshaft doesn't clear the loop initially if you don't have the rear end supported. Don't panic, as once the car is on the ground (simulated by supporting the rear end), you'll notice that it has plenty of clearance.
The beauty of our new double safety loop from Steeda is that it will clear a 4-inch driveshaft and will not require you to drop the driveshaft to install it. It also mounts to the existing hardware, so there is no drilling or permanent modification required for the installation.
“A note for enthusiasts using this loop with a stock exhaust system – you’ll need to modify the left exhaust hanger in order to get the factory H-pipe to clear the new driveshaft safety loop.” Lee said.
While Scott Boda told us the double loop wasn’t exactly necessary for the one-piece driveshaft, it is still beneficial for either design.
“In drag racing, you’re typically talking about cars making a lot of horsepower with sticky tires,” he said. “This puts a lot of stress on the driveshaft on the initial launch, and as the car makes more power going down track. In the case where you have a driveshaft failure at speed, the driveshaft loop keeps the driveshaft contained, limiting its contact with the under body of the car and hitting the ground. When a driveshaft breaks in the front half and falls to the ground, it will act as a pole-vault and launch the car into the air – creating an unfavorable situation.”
If you’re on the hunt for a one-piece driveshaft solution, a driveshaft safety loop, or both for your Mustang, Steeda Autosports carries a line of its in-house aluminum driveshaft and safety loops for nearly every generation of Mustang available online.