Fiesta ST: First Canyon Run – What I Learned

I’ve been daily driving my 2015 Fiesta ST for a couple of months now, and have a few canyon runs under my belt. My first canyon run was days after buying the car so I didn’t really push the car or myself that hard. My second canyon run was on the 89A in northern Arizona, but my girlfriend was in the passenger seat so I once again didn’t push the car or myself that hard. Just recently I had an opportunity to really push the car on a canyon road, here’s what I learned.

Initial Impressions

Ford really designed the Fiesta ST with one goal in mind: make it handle amazing. I’ve hit corners pretty darn hard before, but man does this little car handle great on a canyon road. The only thing that I didn’t like on the run to the bottom of the canyon was transitioning from left to right very quickly. I could feel the body roll a lot on those quick transitions and I really didn’t like how it felt behind the wheel.

I was able to keep up with all the other cars which were mostly Focus ST and one Mustang GT with the track package. I really like how I could modulate the throttle mid-corner to get the car to rotate. At no point did I experience any understeer or unsafe amounts of oversteer. The Fiesta ST is just really planted feeling and it inspires a ton of confidence behind the wheel.

Tires/Brakes

I know a lot of “sporty” cars come with “meh” tires from the factory. In the case of the BRZ/FRS/86, they literally come with the same tires that the Prius uses. Ford, however, put pretty decent rubber under the Fiesta ST. The factory tires are 205/40 R17 Bridgestone RE050A. I knew before the canyon run that they were decent tires, by I didn’t realize the insane amount of grip they actually have.

Straight away the tires were really grippy and didn’t make any squealing noise no matter how hard I pushed. After I warmed them up on the first run down the canyon they had, even more, grip on the first uphill run. I’m sure some of this has to do with the fact the Fiesta ST is super lightweight at 2,700lbs, but I was thoroughly impressed with the stock rubber.

Although the factory brakes look small they are extremely powerful. This is mostly due to the super aggressive factory pads that subsequently will cover your wheels in brake dust. They brakes were amazing the entire canyon run, except for the last turn on the last run. I was wide open throttle up to about 90mph and hit the brakes a little late. I had to push the brake pedal pretty hard to slow down to a sufficient cornering speed. Part of me thinks the brakes faded a tiny bit since I pushed super hard on that downhill run, but I’m still not sure if it actually was brake fade.

Heat Soak

Unfortunately, the canyon run wasn’t without its issues. I knew beforehand that the stock intercooler and the Arizona heat didn’t mix very well. But it was only 80* at the time of the canyon run so I assumed the heat wouldn’t affect my car. The second uphill run was me trying to catch up to the group leader after the back half of the group pulled off the road. I caught up right as I reached the summit of the canyon. We all stopped and hung out for a couple of minutes.

Once we decided it was time to go back down the canyon to meet with the rest of the group I was the first to take off. I immediately went full throttle, but my car completely cut out at 4k RPM. I shifted into second and went full throttle again, only to have it cut out again at 4k RPM. I figured the intake temps were too high so I only went part throttle in third gear. After the first corner, I went full throttle again and the car revved all the way out as it is should.

I’m not quite sure what caused this issue, but I have to assume it was heat soak. I was wide open throttle most of the time going uphill, and then the car just sat still for a few minutes. I assume the stock intercooler became super hot, and that’s why after driving for a tiny bit it was fine again.

Seats

I remember the first time I sat in a Fiesta ST. It was at the 2014 or 2015 Phoenix International Auto Show. I fit into the Recaro seats amazing, which surprised me since I’m pretty skinny. When I went to look at my 2015 Fiesta ST at the dealership I was a little upset that it didn’t have the Recaro seats. However, after my test drive I decided to I could live without the Recaro seats. I was mostly fine with my seats up until I went on this canyon run.

During this canyon run, I felt like I was flying around in my seat through every corner. Although I wasn’t hanging onto the steering wheel to hold myself in place, I had to use my knees to help hold me in place. This made it somewhat difficult to keep full pedal and wheel control which isn’t very bad. I will definitely be investing in some seats in the near future. I’m sure if I’ll try to score some factory Recaro seats, or just get some actual Recaro bucket seats.

Summary

Overall I am extremely impressed with how the little Fiesta ST performed. It didn’t even feel like a front wheel drive car even if I went full throttle exiting a corner. I am actually willing to say the Fiesta ST is one of the best handling FWD cars to ever be produced. However, I found out that the stock intercooler is struggling to keep up with the heat, and the stock non Recaro seats suck.

Ford Alphabet Cams: Everything You Need to Know About 303 Cams

If you are building up a Fox Body Mustang, chances are that you’ve heard of the Ford Racing cams (E303, B303, ETC.), commonly referred to as the “alphabet cams”. Each camshaft has it’s own pros and cons, and each will perform best at different things. Before I tell you about the alphabet cams, you should know that these cams were all designed over 20 years ago, and designed for the masses. They are also known for poor quality control and are lacking in power output compared to modern aftermarket cams.

Modern age technology has allowed companies like Anderson Motorsports to develop camshafts strictly using computer programs to figure out what performs and what doesn’t.

With that said, Alphabet cams are still good cams, especially if you’re on a budget. However, they are technologically inferior to modern camshafts.

Ford Racing Cams

E303 Camshaft

The E303 camshaft is the mildest of the ford racing cams as you might be able to tell from the specifications. It’s known for its excellent street ability and decent track performance.

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The E303 camshaft provides plenty of torque way down low for great driveability but at the cost of absolute top end power. I personally love this cam for a daily driven Fox Body Mustang. However, the lack of sheer top end power makes it less desirable if you plan on doing any racing.

  • Street

B303 Camshaft

The B303 camshaft is a nice step up from the E303 cam. It retains the excellent street ability but moves the peak power up a couple thousand RPMs. This helps improve top-end power, but it loses a small amount of torque down low. Personally, I think te B303 is the best street cam, especially if you plan on doing any sort of street racing.

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The B303 camshaft is often used in various motorsports, because of its mid-high rpm power. If you plan on doing absolutely zero racing whatsoever, this camshaft might not be the best fit. However, most of us have the occasional street race where that extra horsepower up top is necessary.

  • Street/Track

RELATED: Top Cheap 5 Mods for Your Fox Body Mustang

F303 Camshaft

The F303 camshaft is loosely referred to as the “boost” cam because the F303 cam makes the best power under forced induction when compared to all the other alphabet cams. There’s a whole host of reasons why it makes good power under boost, but that’s not something we’ll dive into in this article.

F303 Cam

Unless you’re planning on boosting your Fox Body don’t even bother with the F303 cam. Although it’ll make way more power than the stock camshaft, it won’t make the same naturally aspirated horsepower as the other alphabet cams.

  • Forced Induction

X303 Camshaft

The X303 camshaft is basically a dedicated track cam. It has less duration than the F303 cam, but it has the most lift out of all the alphabet cams. The X303 camshaft is not very street friendly and makes most of its power way up high in the RPMs.

X303

This cam won’t perform all that well without a set of high flowing aluminum heads.

  • Drag Strip

Z303 Camshaft

The Z303 cam is a lot like the X303 in the sense that it’s really designed for off-road track use. It has the longest duration and highest lift out of every 303 cam at 228 intake/228 exhaust and 0.552 intake/0.552 exhaust. Just like the X303, the Z303 isn’t very street friendly.

As with all big cams, the Z303 really won’t perform as you might expect without a set of aftermarket heads. With the smaller cams such as the E303 stock heads will work okay, but with big cams, you really need to upgrade the heads.

  • Drag Strip

The Down Side

Like I mentioned earlier, these cams are very outdated. They were designed with single plane technology and were built for the masses. Modern technology has allowed speed part companies to develop camshafts that make more power, more torque, and are more drivable.

The alphabet cams are also notorious for their terrible quality control which results in cam lobes that are all slightly different than each other. I had an E303 cam in my Fox Body, but if I were to do it again I would go with a modern camshaft.

The Importance of Cylinder Heads

If you just install an alphabet camshaft and nothing else, expect to be disappointed. The stock cylinder heads on the 5.0L are terrible. Even if you port and polish them, they still suck. To get the most of out an alphabet cam, especially an X303, you need to install a set of aftermarket cylinder heads.

RELATED: 7 Reasons the Fox Body is The Ultimate Muscle Car

The common upgrade is GT-40 heads. They are better than the factory Fox Body heads, but they aren’t all that good either. A set of aftermarket aluminum cylinder heads will do wonders for your 5.0L.

My Fox Body has a set of Edelbrock E-Series street heads. Combined with the E303 camshaft it made a ton of horsepower and a ton of torque. Although it was never dynoed, I would guess that it made 300whp.

Conclusion

The E303 is an awesome street cam, making power down low. The B303 is a good motorsports cam, making power in the middle. The F303 is an awesome cam for sub-600hp forced induction engines. The X303 is a great drag strip cam, making lots of power up high.

The reason all of these cams are popular is because they’re dirt cheap, ranging from $100-200, and make decent power especially when paired up with a set of high flowing aluminum cylinder heads.

However, I personally recommend spending the extra money and getting a modern camshaft that has a dual-plane lobe design. Or better yet, a custom made cam to match your driving needs and cylinder head flow.

Fiesta ST: Our Full Review – The World’s Hottest Hatch?

Ford took the US hatchback market by storm when they released the Focus ST, and Fiesta ST. Enthusiasts overseas have enjoyed the Fiesta ST since 2008, but in America, we had to wait until 2013 to get the Fiesta ST. The Fiesta is meant to be the perfect blend of performance and practicality. But, does it really live up to all the hype?

Powertrain

Luckily Ford didn’t use the standard little engine in the ST model. Ford equipped the Fiesta ST with a 1.6L EcoBoost that outputs 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. But, these numbers are pretty conservative. Many dyno tests show the Fiesta ST making around 180 whp and 220 wtq (210 hp and 250 lb-ft). However, the important part here is that the Fiesta ST makes peak torque at 2,500 RPM.

This is enough to propel the ST from 0 to 60 in about 7 seconds. I know what you’re thinking, 7 seconds in slow as hell. The BRZ/GT86 does the same 0 to 60 and it feels slow, but the Fiesta ST feels really fast from the driver’s seat. You can punch the throttle in almost any gear at any RPM and the torque will kick in immediately. That’s what makes the little Fiesta feel so incredibly fast.

The Fiesta really does feel like a fast car from the driver’s seat, and it pulls crazy hard out of a corner. It’s the perfect power level that you can drive really hard, but as long as you don’t go crazy you probably won’t get into trouble with the law. Getting on the gas in the Fiesta ST will make any occupants grin because of how fast it feels.

Of course, as car guys we always want more, so a “Stage 3” kit will be in the future for our Fiesta ST. But, for the average Joe, the stock power level on the Fiesta ST is more than enough to have a great time with. We feel the Fiesta deserves a 9/10 in the powertrain division.

Suspension/Handling

Ford’s ST team did an excellent job making the Fiesta handle like a real sports car. It handles better than many rear-wheel drive sports cars on the market today. Most of this is due to their suspension tuning, but Ford also added a powerful high-end performance technology to make the Fiesta ST handle like a dream.

Often times to make a front-wheel drive car handle well you need to have a super stiff rear sway bar and a not-so-stiff front sway bar. You can tell that Ford used this design philosophy because the Fiesta ST loves to lift the inside rear wheel mid-corner.

The problem is that the spring rates and/or dampers aren’t tuned properly for city usage. The Fiesta is just far too stiff for the street. Seriously sometimes it feels like my 1985 Suburban on a 4″ lift would’ve ridden better. Many suspension companies are claiming to get better ride quality with no sacrifice in handling on the Fiesta with coil overs or lowering springs.

Ford didn’t just use suspension tuning to make the Fiesta ST go fast. Expensive AWD sports cars like the Mitsubishi EVO use a highly advanced torque vectoring system. Torque vectoring send power to the outside wheels to help to car rotate in the direction you’re turning. The only problem is that a torque vectoring system is very expensive. The cheaper alternative is to brake the inside wheels, instead of powering the outside wheels. That’s all brake vectoring really is.

This system allows the Fiesta ST to out corner most high-end sports cars at the cost of wearing your brakes very fast. If you plan on going to the track don’t expect much more than 15k miles out of your brakes pads. This doesn’t bother me a huge amount just because of the massive performance benefits, but for some, this could be a deal breaker.

All of these things combined make the Fiesta ST a great little canyon carver or weekend track toy. Mid-corner rotation is determined by throttle input, making it very easy for beginners to absolutely shred a mountain road in it. If you’re brave enough you can begin to master 4-wheel drifting the ST throughout a corner. The over-steer is very predictable and requires no steering input to correct, just throttle input. We think the Fiesta ST deserves a solid 9/10 in this category.

Practicality

Ford advertises the Fiesta ST to get 26 MPG city and 33 MPG highway. I’ve found that quite a few people are complaining that the ST actually gets horrible gas mileage. I think it’s fair to attribute this to the ST’s fun to drive nature, which makes it hard to keep your foot out of the throttle.

Initially, when I bought the Fiesta ST I was averaging 25 MPG combined, which is in line with many claims that Ford lied about its fuel economy. But, after driving it for a week I’ve begun to drive it like a normal human would and my fuel economy jumped up to 30 MPG. Keep in mind that I rarely drive on the highway. If you keep your foot out of the throttle the little Fiesta will seriously impress you with its fuel mileage.

The trunk is pretty small, but for what I put in there it’s just fine. The only things I put back there are tools, a backpack, and occasionally random Jeep parts that I need to deliver. If you need space for2 large amounts of groceries or something you might want to look at a Focus ST. We rate the practicality 9/10.

Exterior Styling

The standard Ford Fiesta is what most people wouldn’t consider a good looking car. It just looks like another small car designed for commuting and nothing else. This is especially true with the Fiesta sedan which, quite frankly, is a really ugly car. Ford solved this issue with a simple body kit, which completely transforms the outside of the Fiesta.

The body kit of the ST uses a new front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper, and wing. The front bumper uses a giant fish-like grill to help with cooling, and the lower redesign helps it cool the intercooler. The side skirts make it looks lower and more aggressive, as does the rear bumper. The rear wing makes it look like a proper little rally car, and it’s also functional at providing downforce!

I’ve heard a few automotive journalists complain that the styling of the Fiesta ST makes it look larger than it actually is. I have to agree with them because the ST does look like a big car. It’s not until you look directly at the front that you realize the Fiesta ST is very narrow and very small. I think Ford hit an absolute home run with the styling of the Fiesta ST, for this reason, we give it 10/10 in the looks department.

Interior

The interior on the Fiesta ST is pretty basic. Ford has seriously increased the quality of their interiors in the last five years. But, the Fiesta ST is still based off of the cheapest car that Ford makes. There are a lot of cheap plastics everywhere, but that parts that you touch feel pretty decent. Our Fiesta ST isn’t equipped with the optional Recaro seats, but the standard seats are somewhat decent. Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will be upgrading to the Recaro seats because they are truly awesome.

My only real problem with the interior is the seating position. I cannot seem to find a position where the wheel is near me, but my legs aren’t scrunched up. Rear seat room is better than I expected, but it’s still pretty small. I can fit behind myself, but my legs have to be on the sides on the seat because they can’t fit directly behind it.

The interior accent lighting is a really nice feature, and honestly, I think all cars should come with accent lighting. It really makes the car feel alive at night, looks awesome, and is functional. Overall the interior of the Fiesta ST is pretty darn good for a $20k car, but it’s still a cheap car interior at the end of the day. The Fiesta ST earns 9/10 for its interior.

Build Quality

Build quality is pretty decent for a $20k car. There aren’t any interior squeaks or rattles and our Fiesta is all the way up to 24k miles now. But the fact that the Fiesta is the cheapest car Ford makes is starting to show itself. The grab handle trim on the door panel moves a tiny bit, and it makes it feel super cheap.

The transmission makes a slightly audible noise when shifting gears, but I figured that could possibly be normal. The gas peddle hasn’t worn out so well, but that’s sort of expected once you start racking up miles. The paint, however, is probably the worst part on the build quality. The paint seriously seems to chip from anything, which is really frustrating.

Other than those few small issues, the build quality of the Fiesta is pretty darn good considering it’s the cheapest car Ford makes. If they could up the paint quality in the coming years I would probably consider the Fiesta to be a pretty high-quality car. But, with the paint issues, I would consider the Fiesta’s build quality to be pretty average. Build quality is 7/10.

The Things I Don’t Like

The Fiesta isn’t absolutely perfect, and there are a few things about it that bug me. The lumbar support adjuster is on the right side of the driver’s seat. I have heard of a few people hitting their arm on it when the shift, but I don’t seem to have that problem. The seating position is also a little goofy; in order for me to have the wheel close to me, my legs have to be a little scrunched up.

I wish there was a little more interior storage, but that’s a little hard to ask for with a car this small. The center console isn’t very big, just tall. Plus a big chunk of it is dedicated to the USB/Aux/SD Card slots. The front storage compartment in front of the shifter is basically useless. Not only is it small, but anytime you accelerate whatever you put in there will slide out.

Another thing I really don’t like is how small the entertainment display is, and I don’t like where it’s positioned. Once again it’s a little hard to complain about this considering the Fiesta is the cheapest car that Ford makes. But, I wish the entertainment/info display was larger, and a little closer to the driver.

The ST’s suspension allows it to handle awesome, but it rides like a dump truck. Interestingly enough many ST owners are reporting better ride quality when switching to coil overs or lowering springs. I understand why the ST is so stiff, but I feel like Ford could’ve tuned it a little bit better.

Why A Fiesta ST Could Be Right For You

The Fiesta ST could be right for you if you need one car that can do it all. Something that gets amazing fuel economy, can out handle most rear-wheel drive sports cars and is practical for everyday usage. But if you have children you may want to look at the Focus ST for the rear leg room. Since I don’t have any children it made sense for me to buy the Fiesta ST.

Summary

Overall I really enjoy the little Fiesta ST. It’s the perfect blend of a practical city car and a high-performance sports car. Although there are a few minor let downs in the quality, you need to remember that it’s based on the cheapest car that Ford makes. But the slight quality issues aside the Fiesta ST is serious fun to drive and is pretty darn quick when the road gets twisty thanks to its suspension tuning and brake vectoring. One day in the future I’ll probably upgrade to a Focus RS, but for now, the Fiesta ST is the perfect car for me, and it could be the perfect car for you.

One day in the future I’ll probably upgrade to a Focus RS, but for now, the Fiesta ST is the perfect car for me, and it could be the perfect car for you. All things considered, we give the little Fiesta ST 8.6/10 stars.

Edit – Summer 2017

Temperatures in Phoenix are reaching 100* now, and the stock intercooler is showing its limits. What sucks is that it’s only going to get even hotter. Temperatures can easily reach 115* during summer time. The stock intercooler is getting heat soaked pretty bad and the car is noticeably much slower. The blow-off valve is also quieter, probably because it’s running less boost because the air is just so insanely hot. An upgraded intercooler is definitely coming this summer.

Are Jeeps Actually Reliable?

So you are interested in buying a Jeep. Maybe you’ve never owned one and don’t know if a Jeep will be reliable enough for you? Well, the Jeep brand has changed a lot over the years, and are now owned by FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).

But, are they still reliable as the old Jeeps?

Older Jeep Reliability

When I say “older” jeeps I’m talking late 80s and 90s. I could dive into the reliability of Jeeps made before the 80s, but it’ll take up to much time. Plus, you should be mechanically inclined if you buy an old Jeep.

What’s the most likely thing to break in any given automobile? An engine component of course and I don’t mean engine internals, but everything that makes the engine run the way it does; (vacuum lines, O2 sensors, MAP/MAF sensors, etc.).

Renix 4.0L

Jeep’s in the 80s came with either a 2.5L 4-cylinder or a 4.0L renix inline-6. The Renix 4.0L was a little iffy with its reliability. The main problem comes from the wiring harness and sensors. The Renix is pretty hard to diagnose but is easy to repair if you know what the actual problem is. However, it was very reliable mechanically, but the poor electrical system ultimately held it back.

High Output 4.0L

What awesome engine did Jeep make it the 90s? The 4.0L H.O.! The updated version of the AMC 4.0L ditched the Renix components in favor of new components. This new rendition of the 4.0L was known as the High Output. The High Output had a much tidier wiring harness and was much easier to diagnose than the previous Renix 4.0L. The AMC 4.0L was one of four engines that continued to be produced after Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987.

The Jeep 4.0L H.O. has been praised by countless automotive journalists for its insane reliability. It could have a rod knock and still get you all the way home. It could be running 90* under the proper operating temperature, with vacuum leaks, a bad fuel injector, and still get you home (ask me how I know).

Seriously, Jeeps equipped with the 4.0L H.O. will do 300,000 miles easy. My last one was at 215k miles, and I took it wheeling nearly every weekend, and it kept chugging along just fine!

My Personal Jeep’s Reliability

Like I mentioned above, I take my current Jeep wheeling all the time, as well as drive it every single day. It has only left me stranded once, and that was from me going to hard off-road. There have been times where I needed to drive it upwards of 200 miles in one day and it was perfectly up to the task. Pretty good for a vehicle that only cost $1,000.

I have owned a total of 13 vehicles, which includes a few motorcycles. Out of those 13 vehicles, most of them broke something major. Ninja 250 engine exploded, SC400 engine exploded, Suburban transmission exploded, Land Rover engine exploded, you get my point. Why am I telling you this?

Because the two Jeeps I’ve ever owned are the only vehicles that have lasted over a year without exploding. My first vehicle was a 93 Cherokee, and my last vehicle was a 92 Cherokee. Literally, everything else I ever owned had some sort of detrimental issue that forced me to get rid of it. Of course, my current vehicle is super reliable, but that’s because it has 25k miles and a warranty.

My $1,000 Jeeps seemed to take literally everything I could throw at them. From daily driving to road trips, to light prerunning, to trail riding. The current owner of my last Jeep takes it out wheeling almost every weekend and it’s been super reliable for him too.

Newer Jeep Reliability

This is where the whole conversation takes a massive turn. Jeeps of today are built much differently than Jeeps of the past. All models except the Wrangler have gone to fully independent suspension. What does that have to do with anything? Well IFS is arguably weaker, especially when you’re out on some rough trails. This leaves IFS Jeeps more vulnerable to breaking, and therefore being less reliable. However, with modern IFS systems, this is hardly the case anymore.

The 3.6L and 3.8L Pentastar engine are good little engines. But, from the information I’ve gathered on Forums, the 3.6L is leaps and bounds better in both reliability and performance. Also in my experience as a lube technician, I have found that the 3.6L Pentastar engine is pretty darn reliable. That engine comes in a massive variety of automobiles and they almost always seem to be running in tip-top shape regardless of mileage. The 3.8L Jeeps, on the other hand, aren’t always running tip-top.

But, not all modern Jeeps are reliable. The current Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are the least reliable vehicles in Jeep’s entire history. Seriously, poke around on any Cherokee/Grand Cherokee forum and you’ll find thousands of threads regarding issues with those SUVs. Many shops won’t even work on them anymore because they’re so riddled with insane issues.

JD Power Associates

The 2013 Wrangler has an overall dependability rating of 2/5, whilst the 2013 Grand Cherokee has a dependability rating of 3/5. So, while the reliability of the Grand Cherokee is actually average. Which is really interesting considering customers are reporting horrid reliability with the Grand Cherokee.

The Wrangler is slightly below average, but is it as bad as something like a Land Rover? Well yes actually, it is nearly as unreliable as a Land Rover according to J.D. Power’s dependability study. Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler are all in the top 10 least reliable vehicles in the US.

Honestly when I saw that 2/5 rating for the Wrangler I was fairly surprised. I have never heard anything bad about them personally. Maybe JK Wrangler owners won’t admit they bought an unreliable $40k Jeep? Maybe I don’t have enough friends with newer Jeeps? After all, most of my friends drive XJ Cherokees.

Reliability rating source: USNEWS

So Are They Reliable?

As you might have figured out by now, the answer yes and no. Older Jeeps are incredibly reliable vehicles. But, it’s nearly impossible for Jeep to match the reliability of the 4.0L. It’s literally based off of a tractor motor, and its designed to run forever in any conditions.

The newer Jeeps, on the other hand, aren’t so reliable. Strangely enough, you’ll never hear a Jeep owner complaining about the reliability. Alteast I’ve never met a Jeep owner in person who openly complained about its reliability. But, Jeep forums are full of people dealing with poor reliability.

Are Jeeps Reliable?

According to this chart, the Jeep brand on average is 1 problem less per 100 cars than Land Rover. That’s surprisingly bad. Time will tell whether or not Fiat will increase or decrease the brand’s reliability. But, I feel pretty confident when I say that Fiat won’t screw up the Jeep brand.

So, if you were looking to buy a brand new Jeep, don’t. As a Jeep enthusiast and owner, it pains me to say this, but don’t buy a new Jeep unless you are willing to deal with the unreliability.

Are Range Rover and Land Rover Actually Reliable?

So, you’re thinking about purchasing a Range Rover or Land Rover. Maybe you just want to know if they are reliable but wouldn’t actually own one. Either way, you’ve probably heard tons of horror stories about their reliability. Are they actually as unreliable as people claim? What if people actually took care of them? What about the older Land Rovers, you know, the safari type ones? Well, first let’s look at Range Rovers and Land Rovers of old.

The “Older” Models

Ah, the golden ages of off-roading. Back when Range Rovers and Land Rovers built their vehicles like absolute tanks, as were most off-road vehicles. Land Rover based the Defender on the original “Series” Land Rover. They built the Defender for off-road exploration and utility usage. Wanted to go to the middle of the desert and camp-out? The Defender was always up to the task. But, was it reliable? Well, if it breaks down when you’re out on a crazy excursion you’d be screwed. For this reason, Land Rover built the defender to withstand the harshest of conditions, and maintain its reliability for the long term. So yes, it was fairly reliable. Was it a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla it terms of long-term reliability? No, but neither was its main competitor the Jeep. However, it’s other competitor the Toyota Land Cruiser is arguably the most reliable of them all.

LR2

RELATED: Jeep vs Land Rover: Which One is Better?

Fast forwards in time and Land Rover is producing the Discovery I. You can literally watch any safari type of movie ever, and you’ll probably see either a Defender or a Discovery I somewhere in the film. Much like the Defender, Land Rover built the Discovery I around the off-road lifestyle. It was tough, it was spacious, and it could go nearly anywhere. But, was it reliable? Just like Defender, it was pretty reliable, especially the diesel models. This is also around the time that Land Rover really start to shift their focus on creating luxurious vehicles.

LR3

Fast forwards even more and you have the Discovery II and the Range Rover P38. Just like the vehicles before them, Land Rover built them for rough off-roading and utilitarian usage. But, Land Rover realized its customer base was looking for more than just an off-road vehicle. They wanted something more. They wanted better on-road handling and more luxury features. Land Rover started to implement features such as air suspension and active anti-roll bars. While these features made for excellent road manners, they can cause major issues later down the road.

Our Personal Experiences

Well, both myself, and Kristoffer Smith write for this website. We have both have owned a Discovery II at some point in our lives. So, how was our experience in regards to our personal Land Rovers?

Bryce’s Land Rover: Well, let me start this off by saying my 1999 Discovery II cost me $1,500 and hadn’t moved in over 3 years. The fellow who owned it before me took the fan off of it and put it on his other Land Rover because it broke on his other one. He never replaced the fan he took off, and let this Land Rover sit for years.

LR4

I purchased it, drove it around for a while until I realized it was eating coolant. I assumed it was head gaskets, so we rebuilt the entire top end of the engine. It seemed fine until a month later it was out of coolant again. Come to find out, the engine had a slipped cylinder sleeve and basically needed a new block. A slipped sleeve can happen if the engine overheats badly. I decided doing a block swap was to much work, and sold it a few weeks later to a Land Rover enthusiast for $2,200.

RELATED: Land Rover vs Range Rover: What’s the Difference?

So my personal Land Rover wasn’t very reliable, but that was because the previous owner had let it overheat pretty badly.

Kristoffer’s Land Rover: My 2000 Land Rover Discovery II has had more issues that I can count. It has minor leaks on everything, the window gear will eventually break on most of the windows including the sunroof, and there are factory flaws in many of the electrical systems.

While I could go on for days about how broken this truck gets every year; at the same time, I have always trusted that it will pull through on an adventure. The solidly built ladder frame and beefy front and rear axles make this truck a tank at heart. I have taken my Discovery through the desert, across frozen forests, and up the summits of dormant volcanos. It did off of this while being my daily driver to work and back every day for the last 5 years.

When you treat these vehicles right, they will be good to you for many years to come. My Land Rover has just under 200k miles now and is in the process of getting some well-deserved upgrades to the suspension after the many years of abuse.

What About The New Models?

The Discovery II and the Range Rover P38 were the pivotal points for Land Rover’s mission. They still had off-roading in mind when designing them, but definitely focused more than ever on how they performed on the street. After all, most Range Rover and Land Rover owners will never actually take them off-road. So it would make sense to make sure the vehicles that they are building perform well on the street because that’s where the vehicle will be for most of its life. The P38 is nearly as off-road ready as the Discovery II, but it featured more luxury features. Basically, Land Rover designed the P38 Range Rover for street use.

RELATED: 8 Reasons to Buy a Discovery II Today

LR6

Essentially, Land Rover designed every Range Rover after the P38 focused more and more on road manners. Can you off-road a newer Land Rover or Range Rover? Of course, but they don’t do as well as they used to. Big rims, super low profile tires, independent suspension, heavy curb weight, terrible approach and departure angles, these are all things that make newer Land Rover and Range Rover bad off-road.

LR5

What does its off-road ability have to with its reliability? Well, if you know anything about off road racing, then you’d know that the vehicles are built extremely tough. When you are off-roading, the vehicle can go under some major stress. If it’s not prepared to be driven through super rough terrain, in remote locations, then it will end up breaking really easily. When you are in the middle of the 110* desert, 50+ miles away from civilization, the last thing you want is your vehicle to break. Basically, off-road ready vehicles will be more tank-like than standard road-ready vehicles.

So Are They Reliable?

So are they actually reliable vehicles? Well, yes and no. The older ones are much more reliable than the newer ones, but that is true with nearly all automotive brands. The older Land Rovers were known for their off-road ability and could be seen in nearly any Safari movie or video. So, what happened that made them less reliable? Well, a change of course in the Land Rover company.

LR7

RELATED: Is The Discovery II The Last Real Land Rover?

After the P38 Range Rover, they focused less on making their vehicles bomb proof off-road and more on making it comfortable on the road. How do you make something more comfortable on the road? Electronic gadgets and gizmos to make it smoother, quieter, and more convenient. All of these things add up to the vehicle essentially being less tank-like, and less reliable.

Something I hate to bring up, but the British have been known to make fairly unreliable vehicles. (Lotus, Jaguar, McLaren, ETC.). Maybe it’s just a British thing, but the new Land Rovers and Range Rovers are not reliable at all.

Is There Real Proof?

Well, I wouldn’t just tell you that the new Range Rovers and Land Rovers are unreliable without backing it up. From 2007 to 2016 the Range Rover’s best score from JD Power Associates regarding reliability was a 3/5, or 6/10. Out of those 9 years of ratings, 8 of them were 2.5/5 or less than that. So basically for 8 out of the last 9 years, it has scored below average in terms of reliability.

JeepReliable2

Further investigation will show that the Land Rover brand has around 179 problems per 100 vehicles. The only companies worse than that are Dodge and Mini. Funny enough its off-road competitor Jeep is basically just as bad at 178 problems per 100 vehicles.

Are They Worth It?

Whether or not they are worth it is a very difficult question to answer. This is because everybody views the Land Rover brand differently. Some people look at them as a “status” symbol and will pay whatever the cost is to look rich, even if they can barely afford it, some people actually have money and just want a really nice vehicle regardless of cost, and some people are just loyal to the Land Rover brand, and always will be.

LR1

In my opinion, the older Land Rovers are absolutely worth it. They are nicer than most modern cars, but are still solid-axle and can take a beating off-road. I loved my Discovery II before the engine exploded, it was hands down the nicest vehicle I’ve ever owned.

Newer Land Rover and Range Rovers aren’t worth it. You might get a ton of cool luxury features, but those features aren’t worth the cost of maintenance and repairs of a newer Land Rover.

As you might have figured out with our personal experiences, previous owners are very important when purchasing a Land Rover or Range Rover. Make sure you buy from someone with service records and a meticulous attitude towards their Land Rover. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a horribly unreliable Land Rover and think that they are all that way. When in fact, they can be reliable.

Why Land Rover Doesn’t Care

In 2014 a customer satisfaction study was done by the folks over at J.D. Power. What they found is rather amusing, but somewhat alarming. They found that all luxury brands had an excellent customer service experience. Those types of dealers will exceed your expectations and make sure you’re always happy. All luxury brands scored a way higher customer satisfaction rating than standard automotive brands, expect for Land Rover.

Land Rover was dead last in the luxury brand study and was actually so bad that it’s comparable to Chevrolet. That’s right, you go in to buy a $130k Range Rover, and you’ll get the same treatment as some guy buying a $15k Chevy Spark. So, not only are modern Land Rovers incredibly unreliable, Land Rover doesn’t even offer good customer service to make up for it. Somehow people are still buying their cars.

Fiesta ST: Three Features You Didn’t Know About

After about a week of owning my Fiesta ST I have found some things that I never knew about it. I thought I knew this car inside and out from all the reviews I’ve read, but I was wrong. Here are the three things I’ve found that you probably also didn’t know about.

Interior Lights

I’m not completely positive that every Fiesta has this feature, but mine has some pretty nifty interior lighting. I was cruising down the road and decided to see what this random button did, and it turned the foot area on the floor red! You can cycle through and choose from eight different colors, but favorite is red. It illuminates driver, passenger, and rear passenger foot wells, as well as the cup holders and little slot above the glove box.

Hill Start Assist

Right as I left the dealership in my Fiesta ST I was immediately confronted with a hill I had to stop on. I am comfortable hill starting in most manual transmission cars. But I still wasn’t very familiar with the car so I was pretty nervous. Right as I let off the brake and began to let the clutch out I noticed it didn’t roll backward. I thought maybe the hill was less steep than I initially thought, but upon further investigation I found that to be incorrect.

I scrolled through the setting menu and found a little setting called “hill start assist”. As you might’ve already figured out, hill start assist will temporarily hold the foot brake while you release the clutch. The result is you not rolling backward at all when you have to start on a hill. Not sure if this is a common feature on new manual transmission cars but its very new to me!

Rev Hang/Matching

Occasionally I will hear people complain about “rev hang”. You know when you rev your engine up and it decides to hold itself at that RPM for longer than you’d like. In the case of the Fiesta ST the whole rev hang issue isn’t much of a problem. But, it seems like the Fiesta ST helps you smooth out your shifts. Shifting from third to fourth, you’ll find that once you put the clutch in, the revs hang at the correct RPM for fourth gear before you actually let out the clutch.

It’s a little hard to explain, but basically, the Fiesta ST helps you smooth out your upshifts. Downshifts, however, are completely dependent on you being smooth.

Summary

So, those are the three weird and somewhat hidden features of the Fiesta ST that I didn’t know about. The interior has some pretty cool boy racer lighting, hill start assist will save you on those steep hills, and the engine computer helps smooth out your upshifts. As I find more weird things about the Fiesta I will continue to update this article.

Ford Fiesta ST: Our Initial Thoughts

As you may know, I just recently purchased a 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. My whole life I’ve been driving very cheap automobiles. My most recent vehicle was a 1992 Jeep XJ Cherokee, which I drove for the last year. Coming from cheap crappy vehicles, the Fiesta ST is very foreign to me.

The Fiesta ST has been praised by automotive journalists for being fun to drive since it came out. It’s lightweight chassis and torquey engine were major selling points. It’s been hyped up to be this amazing benchmark for hot hatch performance. But does it live up to its own legacy?

Interior

Initially getting into the interior of the Fiesta ST I noticed one thing, nothing was broken. Everything worked, including heat and A/C! The seats were incredibly comfortable, and the factory Sony sound system sounded great. The Ford entertainment system took some getting used to, although I was familiar with Mercedes’ entertainment system so I wasn’t completely lost.

Interior quality is pretty good, but it’s not something like a Mercedes. The seats are pretty comfortable, but the one we tested wasn’t optioned with the Recaro bucket seats. Once you start looking around you’ll notice almost everything is made of plastic. The touch points all feel good, but the non-touch points are where Ford saved money on this car.

Interestingly enough the Fiesta has more interior space than you might expect. I’m 6’2 and I can comfortably fit in the front, and fit in the rear. Although the rear is slightly cramped, I could definitely sit back there for quite a while. Overall the interior of the Fiesta felt like a very nice place to be. Especially coming from old Jeep interiors.

Exterior

The exterior styling feels like a small WRC hatchback. It’s the same feeling you get when you look at a WRX hatch. It just looks like a pissed off little rally car. It shares the same sea creature looking front fascia with the Focus. The body lines are also pretty similar to the Focus, but the Fiesta just looks anger.

What’s interesting is that standard Fiesta hatchbacks really don’t look that good at all. Ford did a really good job making the ST stand apart from its base counterpart. The front grill looks much more aggressive, and the body kit screams rally car. I’m not sure if the rear wing actually provides any real downforce, but it sure looks cool.

Practicality

The Fiesta is also very practical. It gets pretty good fuel mileage, can seat four adults and has a decent sized trunk. Like I mentioned above, I’m 6’2 and I can fit behind myself in the Fiesta. But it wouldn’t be very comfortable for longer drives.

In the first couple days of driving the Fiesta ST I was averaging about 25 mpg. I couldn’t keep my foot out of the throttle and ultimately my mpg suffered. After I reset my average mpg and driving a little less crazy everywhere I was able to manage an impressive 30 mpg combined. That 30 mpg also includes the canyon driving featured in the video below.

Performance

The whole reason anyone buys this car is for its performance. Although I’ve driven faster cars, I’ve never driven a car so frantic and fun. Everywhere you go the subtle turbo noises egg you on the go faster. When boost comes on you can’t help but put your foot into the throttle farther.

You can fling the little Fiesta into a corner at ridiculous speeds and it just loves it. The Fiesta is like a little puppy that just wants to keep playing. It always wants to go fast, it always wants you to push harder and harder. At my absolute personal limits I could tell the Fiesta was nowhere near its limits. It will definitely take a few Autocross events to find the Fiesta’s limit.

Summary

This car had a lot to live up to after all the good things I’ve heard about it online. Quite frankly it’s even better than I expected. I never knew you could have so much driving a front wheel drive hatchback. The tiny turbo provides tons of torque way down low in the RPMs, and the amazing suspension setup allows it to corner like a dream. I liked it so much that I actually ended buying it.

First Time I Bought New Car: Here’s What Happened

If you’ve read some of my personal automotive stories, you may have noticed I tend to own super cheap cars. But, that all changed yesterday (Jan. 19) when I got my first nice car.

Why Did I Get a New Car?

Before we dive further, I would like to tell you on why I needed a new car. I love my Jeep to death, but in a few weeks, I will begin attending school for web development. The school is about 30 minutes from my house, and work is about 20 minutes from my house. I don’t really mind spending extended periods of time in my Jeep, but my wallet does.

My Jeep average about 10 mpg. Plus it breaks all the time, it’s loud, doesn’t have heat or a/c, and is basically a POS. Like I said, I love my Jeep to death, but it’s time for me to be a responsible adult and purchasing something practical and (sort of) grown up.

Finding The Right Car

There were a few things that this new car needed. It needed to get good gas mileage, be around $17k after all taxes and fees, it needed to be fun to drive, and it needed to be decently fast. My options were pretty much narrowed down to Fiesta ST, Subaru BRZ, and Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

Picture I took of a Fiesta ST at the Phoenix International Auto Show in 2014

I already knew the BRZ would feel too slow for me, so I ended up ruling that out. I went and test drove a 2013 Genesis Coupe 2.0T, but it felt horribly slow to me. Plus finding a 3.8L Genisis R-Spec with low miles in my price range was impossible. I’ve been interested in the Fiesta ST ever since it came out, and I’ve sat in a few at the Phoenix International Auto Show. I was browsing through Auto Trader and found a silver 2015 Fiesta ST with 16k miles, and at a pretty good price.

Test Driving The Car

I showed up at the dealership and there wasn’t a silver ST anywhere that I could see. I walked in and asked for the salesman I had talked to on the phone and he took me out to the car. SUPRISE! The car was actually Molten Orange. I was totally okay with this surprise because I really like the Molten Orange color.

We spoke for a second, and he took a copy of my driver’s license and insurance. He gave me the key fob and told me to be back by 9 pm. I drove it around for a bit, dropped my mom back off at home, and picked up my buddy to show him the car. He didn’t believe me that the car felt way faster than it actually was. So, he jumped on his motorcycle and we raced. I then picked my mother back up, showed my girlfriend while she was at work, and headed back to the dealership.

At this point, I was in love with almost everything about the car and was ready to take it home. But, I was ready to walk away if they tried to jerk me around.

Purchasing The Car

I came back from the test drive and began the paperwork process. They took a quick look at my credit score, which is very good for a 21-year-old, and said I’ll qualify for it. Signed a huge amount of papers, put $3k down, and also got an extended warranty. The purchasing process was smooth as butter, and they didn’t at any point try to push anything on me. Now here I am typing this article, and I’m about five minutes away from going to pick the car up!

Summary

I’m so used to my $1k – $2k cars that purchasing a near $20k car was absolutely terrifying for me. I’m still scared and the deal is done. But, the process of purchasing my first new(ish) vehicle went surprisingly smooth! I brought my mother along for the whole thing, but I ended up not needing her for anything. Look for future articles on my long term review for my Fiesta ST.

Fox Body Mustang Buying Guide

Are you in the market to purchase a Fox Body Mustang? Here’s everything you should keep an eye out for, and possibly use to your bargaining advantage.
Before we get into the things to look out for we will quickly cover what changes happened in what years:

  • 1979 – Fox Body mustangs hit the dealership floors.
  • 1980 – 5.0L V8 was replaced with a 4.2L V8.
  • 1981 – Hatchback outsold the coupe, which continued throughout the Fox Body’s lifetime
  • 1982 – 5.0L V8 returns due to popular demand.
  • 1983 – Convertible Fox Body was added to the line-up, and front suspension was improved.
  • 1984 – The SVO (2.3L turbocharged Inline-4) was introduced.
  • 1985 – Slightly revised front facia. Last year for the carburetor.
  • 1986 – Third brake light added, last year for the SVO Fox Body, electronic fuel injection was added.
  • 1987 – Major front end redesign
  • 1988 – GT was named in “Ten Best Cars in the World”
  • 1989 – Speed density induction replaced with mass air induction
  • 1990 – Airbag added to the steering wheel
  • 1991 – Foxbody price rises, sales decline
  • 1992 – Color coated side moldings on the body
  • 1993 – Limited edition, SVT Cobra, and SVT Cobra R were released, last year for the Fox Body mustang

Frame

Making sure the frame is good applies to nearly every vehicle purchase you’ll ever make.

  • Look at the windshield pillars for denting, as well as the rear windows for bulges or cracking. This is a sign of a twisted frame.
  • Look at the unibody frame rails for dents, creasing, and rust.
  • Take a look at the shock towers, they are notorious for rusting and cracking.
  • Look at the suspension mounting points from and rear. Occasionally the mounts crack.
  • If it was previously a drag car it may drive a little crooked/sideways down the road.

It’s very common for a Fox Body mustang frame to be twisted, due to the torque monster 5.0L V8 and a weak unibody design. This is especially common for drag cars, so make sure it drives straight down the road before you purchase it.

Fox Body

Engine

The 5.0L is an excellent engine, but like all engines, it has its common problems.

RELATED: The Story of my 1991 Fox Body Mustang

  • Leaky rear main seal, look at the back of the engine/front of the transmission for oil. This is a sign of a leaky rear main.
  • Water pump failure, see if the water pump pulley has any play in it, that’s a sign of a failing water pump.
  • Oil pan leak, look at the bottom of the engine for oil.
  • Low oil pressure at high RPMs. Wind the engine out to redline and see if the oil pressure gauge drops, sometimes the factory oil pump is inadequate at high RPMs.
  • If the engine has aftermarket parts on it ask if it has been tuned by a professional.
  • Ask for receipts for aftermarket parts.

Fox body Mustang

Transmission

If the Fox Body mustang you’re looking to purchase has a manual transmission, there’s a few thing to look for.

RELATED: Top 5 Must Have Fox Body Modifications

  • Make sure it doesn’t pop out of any gears.
  • The clutch should engage about halfway through the pedal travel, if not the cable may be stretched.
  • Broken clutch cable, which is common especially on a Fox Body with aftermarket long tube headers.
  • Broken clutch quadrant, which is also common and a pain in the rear to fix.

If it has an automatic transmission, there are less thing to look for.

  • Abrupt/Harsh shifting. Either the transmission is going bad or it has an aftermarket shift kit
  • Check the fluid, it should be red, it might be a little dark if the fluid hasn’t been changed in a while

Foxbody Mustang

Drivetrain

Drivetrain parts are generally a pain in the butt to fix so make sure that everything is in order.

  • Make sure the rear end doesn’t make any strange noises such as howling.
  • Ask the owner if it has stock gearing in the rear end.
  • Is the driveshaft stock or aftermarket?
  • Make sure the u-joints good, having those explode on the road is not fun.
  • If you have the opportunity, make sure it spins both tires. If not the LSD is old and worn out.
  • Knocking when you get on and off the throttle may be a bad transmission/motor mounts.

Interior

This is arguably the least important part because the interior has no real affect on how it drives. But, if you can score a Fox Body with a clean interior that is always a major plus

RELATED: 7 Reasons the Fox Body Mustang is the best Muscle Car

  • Cracks in the dash are normal. If you find a non-cracked dash you’re in luck.
  • Make sure all the buttons work.
  • Make sure the A/C unit works.
  • Are all the interior panels there?
  • Tears in the seat can always be fixed so don’t be worried about those.
  • If it’s a convertible make sure the top goes up and down properly.

Modifications

Unfortunately, in the automotive industry, the money you put into your car is almost always lost. This sucks when you go to sell your Fox Body that you dumped $10k into, but it can be awesome if you’re the one purchasing it. A Fox Body with $2k worth of go fast parts will probably only sell for $500 more than a Fox Body without those parts.

This does not mean to go after any Fox Body with aftermarket stuff on it. Many times owners will cheap out and put crappy parts on their Fox Body. This can result in major headaches down the road if you decide to purchase said Fox Body. If there are any modifications done to the Fox Body you’re looking at, make sure they’re quality parts. A cobbled together Fox Body is worse off than a completely stock Fox Body.

If it has engine work done to it find out what heads, camshaft, and intake manifold it has. This will give you a rough estimate of what kind of power you can expect it to make. If it has any suspension modifcations ask what brand/model the comonents are. If it has a tubular k-member find out how it changed the suspension geometry.

Conclusion

In all, Fox Body Mustangs are generally problem free, but sometimes things happen. Look for strange body panel gaps, rust, oil leaks, and make sure the transmission shifts properly. None of these problems are deal-breakers, but you should try and use these problems to your bargaining advantage.

Top 5 Must Have Fox Body Mustang Modifications

Unhappy with how your Fox Body performs? Maybe you’re looking at picking up a Fox Body and what to know what you should do to it? Well, as an avid Foxbody enthusiast I knew this question needed answering. So, I have come up with a list of the top 5 mods to do to your Fox Body.

1. Intake

I can tell you from experience, a “cold air intake” isn’t going to gain you any power without modifying the rest of your 5.0’s intake system. The 302 that comes in the Fox Body is quite frankly pretty weak, especially at higher RPMs. An upper and lower intake manifold will yield very impressive gains, especially at the top end of the RPMs.

foxbody intake

A common intake is the Cobra intake manifold, but these are getting hard to find and don’t perform quite as well as modern designed intakes. I prefer Trick Flow, their intake manifolds seems to yield the best power overall. However, to see the greatest gains you’ll need an aftermarket camshaft and aftermarket heads.

  • Hp gain: 30+ rwhp
  • Price: $500- $1,000
  • Install: Easy

2. Heads

The key to making more power with any engine is in the heads. The stock heads on the 5.0 flow air very poorly, and are made of heavy cast-iron. Swapping your heads might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty easy and will transform your Fox Body. Much like the intake manifold the most common swap is Cobra (GT-40) heads. The GT40 heads flow better than stock, but are still made of heavy cast-iron.

RELATED: Ford Coyote vs Chevy LS: Which One is Better and Why?

foxbodymods2

An aftermarket head is most definitely the way to go, with modern technology companies like Edelbrock are able to blow the factory Fox Body heads out of the water. Edelbrock E-Street heads are made of lightweight aluminum and flow better than stock, I love these heads because they’re pretty cheap.

  • Hp gain: 30+  rwhp
  • Price: $850+
  • Install: Advanced

3. Camshaft

The cherry on the cake is an aftermarket camshaft. The intake manifold and the heads perform best when complimented with a new camshaft. The most popular 5.0 cam is the Ford Racing E303 cam, providing excellent low-end torque, decent top end power, and an incredible sound at idle.

foxbodymods3

The E303 is a street cam and won’t provide maximum power at the track. Other popular cams include Ford Racing B303, F303, and Anderson N41. I should mention that if you are really serious about your Fox Body, then stay away from the 303 camshafts. Ford designed the 303 cams 20+ years ago and they don’t have the best quality control. The 303 cams also won’t make as much power as a modern design camshaft. You can read more about this in our 303 Cams article.

  • HP gain: 25+ rwhp
  • Price: $200
  • Install: Advanced

I should mention that the first three modifications should be done at the same time since all three of them heavily compliment each other. Seriously, just save up and do all three mods at the same time.

4. Suspension

Unfortunately, the Fox Body chassis doesn’t handle very well in stock form. Plus stock Fox Body suspension sits WAY to high. Most Fox Body owners swap the front suspension to coil-over and put lowering springs in the rear. This generally makes the fox chassis much more balanced, helping eliminate most of the understeer and the tail happy rear end.

RELATED: 7 Reasons why the Fox Body is the Ultimate Muscle Car

foxbodymods1

Raceland makes a nice set of coil overs that are very budget friendly, and really help your Fox Body handle less like a boat. An aftermarket K-member is also an excellent modification. It essentially changed your suspension geometry to a much more desirable setup.

RELATED: How to Choose the Right Fox Body K-Member

If you plan on going to a coil-over setup I would strongly recommend also getting a tubular k-member. Not only will it improve your suspension geometry, it will also save you a ton of weight, and improve chassis rigidity a ton.

  • Price: $500 – $2000
  • Install: Easy

5. 5-Lug Swap

This last modification is something I wouldn’t consider necessary, but if you have the time and the budget then do it. Going 5-lug makes your rear axle MUCH stronger, and gives you a larger selection of wheels to choose from.

foxbodymods4

The most common swap is a rear axle from the newer SN95 Mustang, which has rear disc brakes which are a massive upgrade over the Fox Body rear drum brakes. Going 5-lug also makes your choice of wheels larger, which is always a plus.

  • Price: $400+
  • Install: Advanced

Bonus Mod – Chassis:

Of course, there are a few modifications I really wanted to mention but didn’t fit into the list of five modifications. If you really want to get serious about your Fox Body, you need to stiffen the chassis. The weak Fox Body chassis can make proper suspension setups very hard to obtain.

RELATED: The Story of my 1991 Fox Body Mustang

Subframe connectors are a popular modification that really helps the chassis, as well as the ever popular strut tower brace. Do not cheap out of these parts. Cheap chassis parts will not help your chassis whatsoever and will be a waste of time/money.

A roll cage is also a good idea. Let’s be honest, you’re reading this article because you want your Fox Body to go faster. Nobody is a perfect driver, even professionals crash. If you crash whilst racing without a roll cage you may be rolling the dice on your life. Even a simple bolt in half cage may save you and your occupants lives, plus it’s great for chassis stiffness.

Conclusion

Whether you own a Fox Body, or you are looking to buy one, we would definitely recommend doing these modifications. The head/cam/intake can gain you 100+ hp. The suspension and chassis modifications will add to the handling performance while giving it a mean, aggressive stance.