Ford Mustang

Car Review: Ford Mustang (2005-2014)

Code-named the ‘S-197’, the new retro-designed fifth generation Ford Mustang has amazingly more than 140 special edition models between 2005 and 2014 to choose from. The popularity of this generation sold more than the previous couple of generations thanks to Sid Ramnarance’s innovative muscle-car design and the much improved body. So what can you expect from the S-197 Mustang? Read my cheat-sheet summary to find out.  

Ford Mustang

The Good

1. There are multiple editions and configurations to choose from as well as after-market accessories

2. The updated 2011-2014 models had more efficient and more powerful engine output

3. Cool retro-styling and simple, user-friendly interior layout

4. The 5-speed manual transmissions on early 2005-2009 models are virtually indestructible

5. A classic American sports car with plenty of grunt and smooth acceleration

6. Engines are solid and should last many years and thousands of miles

7. Rear seats in the coupe fold down in a 50/50 split (the pull-out tabs are hidden behind the rear seat belts) 

8. Rear seat bottoms easily come out by pressing the two tabs either end of the seat so you can easily clean or change out seats

9. Five-star safety rating for driver and front passenger from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Ford Mustang

The Bad

1. The convertibles do not have the folding rear seat option

2. Recalls for driver and passenger airbags as they tend to rupture and/or explode

3. The gauges on the instrument panel for the 2005-2009 models have been known to malfunction and eventually stop working completely

4. A common problem with the trim around the door-cards is sagging, fraying and the door-cards coming loose. An easy fix but make sure it is done properly

5. Recall on the 2010 Shelby GT 500 for failure to conform to the tire-loading requirements and incorrect tire size information

6. Some 2005 models had a throttle position sensor fault problem on the 4.6 V8 engine

7. 2005-2007 convertibles suffered from the closing latches not securely closing and also uneven retraction

8. The 6-speed manual transmission on or after 2010 were known for poor build quality and notorious problems

9. These cars are not made for fuel economy, so you will fork out more money at the gas pump

The Essentials

Essential if you are buying a Mustang is that any or all recalls have been addressed and replaced. Check the paintwork (especially around the bonnet) for any bubbling and peeling. Check the gauges and all instrument panels are working correctly. The alternator has been known to fail before reaching 100,000 miles, so again check this has been done if you are buying an example around this mileage or above. If you are looking to buy a convertible, check the smooth operation of the folding top and that it latches easily. When test-driving, listen for noises from the front end when driving over bumps as they could be related to defective lower control arm bushes. Ensure the suspension is thoroughly checked as this can be an expensive exercise to fix. Spark plugs are another must-check item in the pre-sale inspection. Under the bonnet you will find two gutters that have drain plugs underneath that help drain away water from entering the cabin of the car. Make sure you regularly check these and empty them as they get clogged up with various leaves, twigs, dirt, dust etc. If you are looking under the bonnet for the first time before buying, then you will want to confirm the VIN (Vehicle Inspection Number) matches the number listed on the engine brace and all paperwork. You will also notice that when you open the car door, the window comes down just a little bit. Sometimes when you close the door it doesn’t go back up to secure the seal. An easy fix for this is to put your window down and hold your finger down for two seconds once it’s at the bottom. Then put your window back up all the way and hold again for another two seconds. This will reset the window so that when you close your door again it will go up to its fully sealed position. If you encounter musty or moldy smells when inspecting the convertible models, or any signs of moisture residue, then steer clear. Many examples on the market have some after-market modifications done to them, so you will need a full list of these and how they have affected the life of the engine in some cases, and the body in others. Another tip is to change over the battery when you purchase your Mustang. This will reduce a lot of potential niggling problems and put your mind at ease for a few years.

The Alternatives

Chevrolet Camaro (Zeta Platform 2010-2015), Dodge Challenger (2009-2015)

The Verdict

8 out of 10

The good news is you will easily find some really low mileage examples between 30,000 and 55,000 for under $15,000. You can even find models between 58,000 and 90,000 miles for under $10,000. Granted the cars at these prices will only have the 4.0 liter V6 engine but if it’s what you want, then grab yourself a bargain. If you really desire a V8 example, you can expect to pay more unless they have high mileage which is not what you want. Parts are relatively easy to source, and if all recalls have been fixed, the bad points suddenly fade away. An absolute eye-turner on the road, these beasts will last you years to come if you take care of them, so why wouldn’t you?

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