Can Installing a Differential Brace on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Reduce Wheel Hop?

April 8, 2024

When it comes to performance cars, there’s nothing quite like the raw power of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. It’s an icon in the automotive world, boasting a heart-thumping 5.2L V8 engine that produces 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. However, the GT350, just like any other performance car, is not exempt from certain issues. One such concern is the phenomenon of wheel hop. It’s a universal problem, especially among the performance car community, and it’s something that will be discussed in detail in this article.

What is Wheel Hop and Why is it an Issue?

Let’s start with the basics. Wheel hop is a phenomenon that occurs when the drive wheels of a car rapidly oscillate up and down when power is applied. This is a common issue among high-performance cars, including the Mustang Shelby GT350.

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Wheel hop can be a major issue for several reasons. First, it can significantly reduce the control you have over your car. When wheel hop occurs, the tires are bouncing off the ground instead of maintaining constant contact. This can make the car more difficult to control, especially during rapid acceleration or hard cornering.

Furthermore, wheel hop can cause severe strain on the car’s suspension and drivetrain components. The repeated impacts of the wheels against the pavement can cause damage to the rear axle, driveshaft, differential, and other related parts.

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How Does the IRS Play a Role?

The Mustang Shelby GT350, like many modern sports cars, utilizes an Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) system. In IRS systems, each wheel’s movement is independent of the other. While this setup offers improved handling and ride comfort compared to a solid rear axle, it’s also more prone to wheel hop.

When power is applied to the wheels, the rear axle attempts to rotate in the opposite direction of the wheels, a reaction caused by torque. This action, known as axle wind-up, is a primary source of wheel hop.

In the Mustang, bushings are supposed to help control this motion. However, the stock bushings are not always up to the task, especially when dealing with the GT350’s monstrous power. These bushings are softer and more compliant, designed for comfort rather than performance. As such, they allow more movement, leading to increased wheel hop.

Upgrading to Steeda IRS Subframe Bushings

One common solution to reduce wheel hop in Mustangs is upgrading the IRS subframe bushings. A popular choice among the Mustang community is the Steeda IRS Subframe Bushing Support System.

Steeda’s bushings are made from high-quality billet aluminum and are designed to significantly reduce deflection in the IRS subframe. They replace the stock rubber bushings, which are known to flex under load. This additional stiffness helps to control rear axle movement, reducing the likelihood of wheel hop.

Steeda’s bushings are also easy to install, requiring no permanent modifications to the vehicle. Many Mustang owners have reported noticeable improvements after installing these bushings, especially during hard launches or aggressive driving.

The Role of a Differential Brace

While bushing upgrades can certainly help, another modification that many Mustang owners consider is the addition of a differential brace. This component helps further control the movement of the differential and IRS system, reducing the chance of wheel hop.

A differential brace, such as the ones offered by companies like BMR and Steeda, essentially adds another layer of support to the differential. It connects the differential to the car’s subframe, reducing the differential’s ability to move or rotate under load. This can effectively limit wheel hop, enhancing traction and drivability.

The Verdict

So, can installing a differential brace on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 reduce wheel hop? The answer is a resounding yes. By limiting the movement of the differential and IRS, a differential brace can help control wheel hop and improve overall performance. This, in combination with high-quality IRS subframe bushings like those from Steeda, can have a significant impact on the way your Mustang drives.

Remember, every Mustang is different. What works for one member of the Mustang community may not work for another. Always consult with a professional or do your research before making any major modifications to your vehicle. With the right upgrades and modifications, you can ensure your Mustang performs at its best while keeping wheel hop at bay.

Implementing Vertical Links and Control Arms

Another effective way to mitigate wheel hop in a Mustang Shelby GT350 is by installing vertical links and control arms. Vertical links, also referred to as control arms, play a crucial role in maintaining the alignment of the IRS system under load.

In the Mustang, the stock vertical links can sometimes flex under heavy acceleration, thus contributing to wheel hop. Upgrading to stronger, performance-oriented vertical links can help keep the IRS system stable during intense driving situations.

On the other hand, control arms connect the chassis to the suspension system and help manage the motion of the wheels. Upgrading to performance-grade control arms can improve the stiffness of the IRS system, further reducing the likelihood of wheel hop.

Companies like Steeda offer upgraded vertical links and control arms for the Mustang. These parts are often made of high-strength materials like billet aluminum and are designed to provide superior rigidity compared to the stock components. Upgrading these parts, in conjunction with a differential brace and upgraded IRS subframe bushings, can significantly enhance your car’s drivability and control.

Utilizing a Starter Join Member Thread for Expert Advice

For those considering these modifications, joining a starter join member thread in Mustang forums can be incredibly helpful. These threads are a gold mine of information, with experienced Mustang owners sharing their insights, experiences, and advice on various upgrades, including those aimed at reducing wheel hop.

You can find threads discussing the benefits of control arm upgrades, IRS subframe bushings, and differential braces. You may also find posts describing the installation process and sharing reviews of various brands like Steeda and BMR. Remember to click expand on the posts for more detailed information.

These threads can help you decide which modifications are right for your Mustang. They can also provide helpful tips for the installation process, potentially saving you time and effort.

Conclusion

To conclude, installing a differential brace on a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 can indeed help reduce wheel hop, enhancing overall performance and drivability. Upgrading components like the IRS subframe bushings, vertical links, and control arms can further mitigate wheel hop, providing a more enjoyable and controlled driving experience.

But remember that each Mustang is unique, and what works perfectly for one might not be as effective for another. Always consult with professionals or refer to a starter join member thread for personalized advice.

By thoroughly researching and making the appropriate modifications, you can maximize your Mustang’s performance and keep wheel hop in check. These upgrades not only improve your car’s performance but also contribute to its longevity, ensuring that your Mustang remains a thrilling ride for years to come.