Ford Mustang 5th Generation 2005-2014 (S-197) Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used Mustang 5th Gen

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5th Generation Ford Mustang: What Owners Say

  • The cheap and cheerful 5-gen Mustang is a simple and affordable way to have fun behind the wheel. It's not sophisticated and its truck-like live rear axle is rudimentary, but it offers excellent V8 performance and plenty of tail-out fun for the skilled driver in a controlled environment.
  • It looks like a true Mustang and the pony-car vibe is unmistakable, as is its proud lineage as seen in its exterior styling. What's more, the interior is simply laid out and easy to use too.
  • The Mustang is excellent value for money and considering how much more refined it is than its predecessor and the level of performance on tap from the fast V8s compared to European rivals, it represents a package that is almost untouched at the price.
  • The 5th gen Mustang's plasticky and cheap-looking interior is repeatedly slated by owners. Hard and scratchy plastics are the order of the day. The 2010 facelift brought improved quality and plusher surfaces and materials, but the cabin could never be described as upmarket.
  • The standard seats drew criticism for offering too little lateral support when cornering.
  • While the simple and back-to-basics live-axle chassis is loved by traditionalists, the Mustang's lack of handling finesse can be seen as a shortcoming and in this respect, it cannot match more advanced contemporaries. To add insult to injury, dynamic stability control was a sorely missed safety feature that remained missing in action on 2004-2009 models, only making an appearance with the 2010 facelift.
  • The pre-facelift base V6 engine is rightly hated by owners for being gutless and rough. This went on for five years before being remedied with a new V6 engine for the 2010 model

2010 Mustang 5th Generation Facelifts

After five years on the market, the 2010 Mustang was substantially upgraded both in terms of equipment and appearance. The restyling was immediately noticeably inside and out and made for a far more modern interpretation of the original. More than just a light restyle, the 2010 update changed every single exterior body panel except for the roof. A much more subtle refresh followed for the 2013 model.

2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Front Changes

The front was made much more aggressive and sharper, gaining a brand-new bumper 1 with a three-slot lower air intake and a subtle central "spine" crease that continues into the new hood, which in turn gains a pronounced power bulge and extra creases 3. The combination front headlights/indicators 3 recalled the Mustangs of the '70s and the removal of the large indicators from the lower bumper cleaned up the front and left only small sider-marker units on the bumper's corners 4. Looking closely, you can see that the Mustang logo was subtly restyled too.

2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Front Changes

A subtle few tweaks were applied one last time to the 2013 Mustang in the form of a slightly larger front grille 1 and new headlights 2, with the round part of the headlight moving inboard, adjacent to the grille, and the turn signal moving to the outside of the headlight unit, now with two LED accent strips running through it. The headlights are all-HID from the 2013 model year as well. The revised front nose cone incorporates a slightly larger grille and restyled lower valance 3.

2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Rear Changes

The new taillights were made to taper toward the outside 1, a nod to mid-'60s Mustangs. They were updated with LEDs too. The staid old bumper was thoroughly revised for the facelift, with more pronounced creases and a contrasting lower valance that was made to reach up to intersect the license-plate holder and eradicate the old item's slabby, bulky appearance 2. The spoilers were restyled too 3 and the trunk-lid emblem made much bigger 4.

2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Rear Changes

For 2013, the taillights are restyled with three main elements, the backup lights now incorporated into the brake lights 1. A black panel on the boot lid between the taillight clusters blends them together more seamlessly 2 and a bigger black number-plate holder is used, which no longer bisects the lower valance3.

2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Side Changes

The side view shows off new wheel designs the Mustang received, as well as a new crease running through the door handles to sharpen up the profile 1. The slim-line side marker lights are easy to spot 2, side-on, as are the contrasting rocker panels 3.

2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Side Changes

Eagle-eyed onlookers might spot a few of the front 1 and rear 2 bumper changes from the side of the 2013 model.

2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Interior Changes

The interior received a major makeover too, boasting better-quality materials and a restyle. A new steering wheel was fitted 1, the center stack was completely restyled and gained a larger display screen 2, and the round theme was retained for the outside air vents only - the center ones were replaced by rectangular vents 3. The contrasting center facia panel that stretched the width of the car was made to narrow in the middle where the upper surround of the new center stack cuts into its lower half 4.

2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Interior Changes

Interior changes on the 2013 Mustang mostly center around the updated audio systems 1.

Engine, Transmission, and Drivetrain

The base engine in the 2005 Mustang 5th gen is the ancient naturally aspirated 4.0-liter Cologne V6 developing a mere 210 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. It powers the V6 Deluxe and V6 Premium trims. The GT Deluxe and GT Premium trims get the far more powerful naturally aspirated 4.6-liter Ford Modular V8, packing 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. All trims could be specified with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, naturally, via a live axle.

The 2010 facelift introduced fresh styling and a power boost for the Modular V8 to 315 hp and 325 lb-ft, but the coarse, thirsty Cologne V6 soldiered on unchanged. Ford finally realized that the situation was becoming untenable and fixed it for the 2011 model year by replacing the outdated V6 lump with a new 3.7-liter Cyclone V6 producing a vastly superior 305 hp - 5 hp more than the V8 at the Mustang's launch in 2005 - and 280 lb-ft of torque. The transmission was now a six-speed, regardless of whether you chose the manual or automatic. This move aged the 4.6-liter V8 overnight and prompted a five-liter version to replace it - developing a stonking 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, putting clear daylight between it and the V6 once again. It received the same choice of six-speed transmissions at the same time.

4.0-liter V6 Gas Engine
210 hp | 240 lb-ft
Horsepower
210 hp
Torque
240 lb-ft
Transmission
Five-speed manual or five-speed automatic

The Cologne V6 is a remnant of ancient history and first saw the light of day in 1962. It is an old and thoroughly outdated design and has always dragged the 5th generation Ford Mustang down. It's the dud in the lineup and cannot really be recommended. From the day it debuted in the 5th generation Mustang for the 2005 model year to the day it was discontinued in favor of the modern Cyclone 3.7-liter V6 for the 2011 model year, it developed just 210 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Although earlier iterations of the Cologne V6 were notorious for failing cam-chain guides and tensioners, these problems were mostly sorted out by 2002, and the version in the fifth generation Mustang is reliable, if nothing else. It's certainly not economical, with its combined consumption beating the far more powerful 4.6-liter V8 by only a mile or two per gallon on the combined cycle, depending on the year - a poor showing, considering its low power output. There isn't a good reason to choose it over the V8.

3.7-liter V6 Gas Engine
305 hp | 280 lb-ft
Horsepower
305 hp
Torque
280 lb-ft
Transmission
Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic

After an excruciating six years on the market, the old Cologne V6 was finally put out to pasture and replaced with a modern, DOHC, 24-valve 3.7-liter Cyclone V6 from the Duratech family for the 2011 model year. This vastly superior engine develops 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque and a highway consumption figure of 30 mpg - scaling new heights of efficiency for the Mustang. At the same time, it develops more power than the 2005 V8 and offers an excellent performance/economy blend. It is a durable engine that can run well beyond 200,000 miles with the proper maintenance. By the time the Mustang's version came around, earlier versions' problems, such as dodgy water pumps, had mostly been sorted out. However, variable valve timing problems do sometimes occur, resulting in the cam phasers having to be replaced.

4.6-liter V8 Gas Engine
300/315 hp | 320/325 lb-ft
Horsepower
300/315 hp
Torque
320/325 lb-ft
Transmission
Five-speed manual or five-speed automatic

At launch, the fifth-generation Mustang's V8 engine was the 300-hp/320-lb-ft 4.6-liter Ford Modular V8, coupled to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. This iteration of the V8 has three valves per cylinder and has a peculiar problem that occasionally crops up - broken spark plugs that may be very difficult to remove. The Bullit special edition uses a 315-hp/325-lb-ft version of the same engine. The 2010 facelifted Mustang turned out to be an in-between year for the GT trim. It is the only model year that the old 4.6-liter V8 engine and five-speed manual or automatic transmissions were used in the facelifted body, but with power and torque upped to match that of the earlier Bullit's - 315 hp and 325 lb-ft. A 5.0-liter V8 with a choice of six-speed transmissions replaced the 4.6 for the 2011 model year. However, this MT82 six-speed manual transmission isn't as trouble-free as the old five-speed transmission.

5.0-liter V8 Gas Engine
412/444 hp | 390/380 lb-ft
Horsepower
412/444 hp
Torque
390/380 lb-ft
Transmission
Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic

The 5.0-liter Coyote V8 debuted in the fifth generation Mustang for the 2011 model year, packing a potent 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. It is a development of the Modular V8 and significantly more powerful and advanced. It is also very reliable and this generation of Mustang is not affected by the typical problems with carbon buildup that could afflict the later, 2018+, direct-injected version of this engine. However, the manual transmission the 5.0-liter comes mated to has drawn significant criticism, and owners experienced various issues that were not present on the old five-speed transmission. A Boss 302 model was added for the 2012 and 2013 model years, using this engine with 444 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque - and was only made available with a manual transmission.

5th Gen Ford Mustang Real MPG

The EPA-estimated fuel-consumption figures for cars can often be somewhat optimistic and not always easy to match in the real world. Therefore, the EPA gathers fuel-consumption data from motorists on the cars they drive and publishes it alongside the official EPA figures, once enough data is available on a model to arrive at a reasonable average. These figures are submitted by the public and the EPA has little control over how they are obtained, but they do give an indication of what a car is capable of.

The Ford Mustang S-197 fifth generation does a reasonable job of matching its EPA figures and the base 4.0-liter V6 it launched with does seem to easily improve on its estimates in the real world, even if it's an uninspiring engine otherwise. However, so does the 4.6-liter V8 and the difference between the two is not sufficient to recommend the V6. The new V6 that came in 2011 is excellent and for less fuel than its predecessor, it offers the same performance as the first version of the V8. It's definitely the one to go for in terms of an unbeatable performance-to-economy ratio. However, the 5.0-liter V8 uses more or less the same fuel as its 4.6-liter predecessor and offers far more power too, so the improvements all around are impressive.

EPA MPGReal-World MPG *
3.7 NA V6 6-speed manual19/29/22 mpg23.6-27 combined
3.7 NA V6 6-speed automatic19/30/23 mpg25.3-28 combined
4.0 NA V6 5-speed manual18/26/21 mpg23.3-30 combined
4.0 NA V6 5-speed automatic16/24/19 mpg21.3-22.9 combined
4.6 NA V8 5-speed manual16/24/19 mpg20.3-21.9 combined
4.6 NA V8 5-speed automatic17/23/19 mpg19.4-22 combined
5.0 NA V8 6-speed manual16/25/19 mpg15.5-20.6 combined
5.0 NA V8 6-speed automatic18/25/20 mpg21.4-21.6 combined

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.

Safety

When buying second-hand cars, it always pays to remember that safety standards keep advancing and you won't be getting the same standard of protection that new cars provide. However, the 5th generation Mustang was not at all bad when it was launched and the NHTSA awarded it five stars overall according to 2005's less strict safety standards, with only the side impact getting four stars. Safety was improved and by 2008, the driver's side impact scored 5/5 and the passenger side 4/5. The convertible was tested for the first time for the 2008 model year too, getting 5/5 for everything. The 2012 Mustang's scores dropped to four stars for everything except the five-star rollover test under the new stricter NHTSA testing criteria, which is still a decent result. The convertible was never tested according to the post-2011 criteria. The IIHS started crash testing the Mustang in 2010 and it achieved "Good" scores for the moderate front overlap crash and for its headrests, but "Acceptable" for the side impact - scores that applied throughout the car's production run.

In terms of standard safety equipment, big strides were made over the years. Originally, standard safety equipment from the 2005 base model didn't even include the bare necessities, which is to say two front airbags and that's it. ABS and traction control were optional on the V6 (standard on the GT) and side airbags optional on all models. Curtain airbags and stability control weren't available at all. This remained the status quo until side airbags were finally added as standard equipment on all Mustangs for the 2008 model year. Safety was shored up again for the 2010 facelift, at which time stability control became standard on all trims. The 2011 model saw only the arrival of blind-spot mirrors to more easily keep an eye on the car's blind spots.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

Coupe post-2011
Overall Rating:
(4/5)
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:
(4/5)
Side Crash Rating:
(4/5)
Rollover Rating:
(5/5)
Convertible pre-2011
Overall Rating:
(5/5)
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:
(5/5)
Side Crash Rating:
(5/5)
Rollover Rating:
(5/5)

2005-2014 Ford Mustang Trims

The Mustang was launched as a 2005 model in four trims, available with either the coupe or convertible body style: V6 Deluxe, V6 Premium, GT Deluxe, and GT Premium. The first two use the 4.0-liter V6 engine and the GTs the 4.6-liter V8 engine. For 2006, a Standard model was added at the bottom of both the body styles' lineups and dropped again for the 2007 model year. The GT Bullitt package was new for 2008 and 2009 to pay homage to the car of the same name in the 1968 film of the same name. A 2009 45th Anniversary Edition of the GT was launched, of which over 46,000 units would be built, as well as a rare 45-unit Iacocca Silver 45th Anniversary Edition of the GT as a tribute to Lee Iacocca who helped develop and introduce the very first Mustang. For 2010, all GT convertible trims received additional body bracing to improve handling precision. The 2012 coupe-only Mustang Boss 302 arrived with more power, reviving the iconic 1969-1970 Boss 302 nameplate.

V6 Standard
2006
Engine
4.0-liter V6
Transmission
Five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain
RWD

This base trim underneath the Deluxe trim was available for 2006 only. The Standard trim comes equipped with the bare minimum, including 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, power windows, mirrors, and locks, keyless entry, manual air-conditioning, a radio with a CD player, a manually tilting steering wheel, and cruise control. It was only $100 cheaper than the Deluxe when new and the only difference is its steel wheels and covers, whereas the Deluxe has alloy wheels. The Convertible boasts a power vinyl top that might also be found in the optional cloth material.

V6 Deluxe
2005-2009
Engine
4.0-liter V6
Transmission
Five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain
RWD

The Deluxe is equipped with all the same standard features as the Standard, but wears 16-inch alloy wheels instead of the Standard's 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. The price difference between the two was only $100 when new. 2007 models boast an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players as well as various additional packages, while the 2008 model has standard front-side airbags.

V6
2010-2014
Engine
4.0-liter V6 (2010) / 3.7-liter V6 (2011-2014)
Transmission
Five-speed (2010) / six-speed manual/automatic transmission (2011-2014)
Drivetrain
RWD

The V6 Deluxe lost its "Deluxe" moniker for the 2010 model year facelift, but is a continuation of the same trim. 2010 models have standard 17-inch alloys and some might also boast the Ford Sync multimedia system that became optionally available for the first time on a Mustang. Handling is better and the front seats have side airbags. The 2011 model year introduced a brand-new 305-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine with a choice of six-speed transmissions, manual or automatic, as well as a limited-slip differential.

V6 Premium
2005-2014
Engine
4.0-liter (2005-2010) V6 / 3.7-liter V6 (2011-2014)
Transmission
Five-speed (2005-2010) / six-speed manual/automatic transmission (2011-2014)
Drivetrain
RWD

The V6 Premium is equipped with everything the Deluxe has but runs on different 16-inch alloy wheels and adds an electrically adjustable driver's seat, a 500-watt Shaker 500 audio system and, in the case of the Convertible, leather upholstery. 2009 models have an upgraded interior with satellite radio and multi-color ambient lighting. Facelifted 2010 models have 17-inch alloy wheels, an overall better quality interior trim, standard leather upholstery, and a gauge cluster with adjustable colors. The Ford Sync multimedia system is standard on 2010 models and above and the Shaker 500 audio system boasts a six-CD changer for these model years. Powering 2011 models and above is a 3.7-liter Cyclone V6 engine with 305 hp mated to either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, plus a limited-slip differential.

GT Deluxe
2005-2009
Engine
4.6-liter V8
Transmission
Five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain
RWD

It might have the same Deluxe moniker, but the GT Deluxe has more additional features than the V6 Deluxe. Of course, every Ford Mustang GT 5th generation model comes standard with the V8 engine and not the V6, and it also has ABS brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a rear spoiler, a limited-slip differential, sports front seats with six-way electric adjustment, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. The Bullitt is often listed as a separate trim but was an optional package available on the GT for the 2008 and 2009 model years. The Bullitt comes in only two colors - Black or Highland Green - and extra features include a special exhaust, 18-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension, sports brakes, and various other styling changes. The optional GT California package adds 18-inch alloys too, as well as unique fascias, side scoops, a chin spoiler, and embroidered leather upholstery. The 2009 GT 45th Anniversary Edition marked 45 years since the Mustang's 1964 launch and it has special badging - a Mustang Colt logo with a 45th Anniversary logo - and the standard Ambient Lighting package. There was also a Iacocca Silver 45th Anniversary Edition 2009.5 model, of which only 45 were made, honoring Lee Iacocca who helped to develop and introduce the original Mustang.

GT
2010-2014
Engine
4.6-liter V8 (2010) / 5.0-liter V8 (2011-2014)
Transmission
Five-speed (2010) / six-speed manual/automatic transmission (2011-2014)
Drivetrain
RWD

Dropping 'Deluxe' from its name, the GT has the same standard equipment as the normal V6 trim. The 2010 facelift GT has the 2009 Bullitt's sport suspension and 18-inch wheels as standard. Ford's Sync multimedia system and a track-tuned GT TrackPack suspension package were added to the list of optional equipment when new so you might find this on some GT models.

GT Premium
2005-2014
Engine
4.6-liter V8 (2005-2010) / 5.0-liter V8 (2011-2014)
Transmission
4.6-liter V8 (2005-2010) / 5.0-liter V8 (2011-2014)
Drivetrain
RWD

The GT Premium is based on the 2009-2014 V6 Premium, but with the V8 engine and leather upholstery. The same Bullitt and California packages available on the GT Deluxe can also be found on the GT Premium for the 2008 and 2009 model years. 2009 models have the same upgraded interior trim as the V6 Premium, as well as the multi-color ambient lighting and satellite radio. Just like the GT Deluxe, 2010 GT Premium models have the Bullitt's sport-tuned suspension.

Boss 302
2012-2013
Engine
5.0-liter V8
Transmission
Six-speed manual transmission
Drivetrain
RWD

The Boss 302 has a tuned-up version of the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 in the normal GT, with 444 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, and the GT's MT82 six-speed manual transmission; there is no automatic option. There are carbon-fiber plates in its limited-slip differential and it has a quad exhaust system, stiffened and lowered suspension, reprogrammed and track-optimized stability control, an aerodynamic package taken from the 302R race car, and 19-inch alloy wheels. As a basic sports special, the Boss 302 comes without Ford Sync, power-adjustable seats, or a premium audio system.

A Boss 302 Laguna Seca edition was introduced for 2012 and 2013 models and comes with bespoke color combinations and striping, a larger rear spoiler, and a more aggressive fronts splitter to increase downforce. Only 1,500 of these specials were built - 750 per year.

Fifth Generation Ford Mustang Coupe Features

StandardV6 Deluxe / V6V6 PremiumGT Deluxe / GTGT PremiumBoss 302
Back-Up CameraN/AN/AON/AOO
Bluetooth ConnectionOOSOSS
Leather SeatsN/AN/ASN/ASS
Apple CarPlayN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Keyless EntrySSSSSS
Keyless StartN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
HD RadioN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Alloy WheelsN/ASSSSS
SunroofN/AN/AON/AON/A

Interior, Trim And Practicality

All Ford Mustang fifth generation models are surprisingly practical for a sports car, while the instrument panel is easy to use and not spoiled by its retro styling. Interior space is decent too and there is plenty of room in front, although the seats could do with more side support in the twisties. People of smaller stature will fit in the back just fine, although the normal contortions to gain access will be necessary, there only being two doors. Access is, of course, a lot easier in the convertible when the roof is down. Trunk capacity is decent too, with 12.3 cubic inches offered in the coupe and 9.7 cubes in the convertible.

The Mustang kicked off with V6 Deluxe, V6 Premium, GT Deluxe, and GT Premium trims and although the "Deluxe" moniker was dropped in later years, the "base" V6 and GT trims continued on with the same equipment. Oddly, a Standard trim was added for 2006 and then dropped as steel wheels with plastic trims look terrible on a sports car like the Mustang. Various specialist and limited-edition trims were added over the years. The Boss 302 was essentially a more sporty V8 GT and only available for two years. The fifth generation Mustang is now an old car and items such as a backup camera (optional on some trims), and smartphone integration did not come as standard. Safety is also seriously lacking and for this reason alone, we'd avoid all pre-facelift models, because they even lack stability control.

TRIMStandardV6 Deluxe / V6V6 PremiumGT Deluxe / GTGT PremiumBoss 302
Charcoal Black, Medium Stone cloth seatsSSN/ASN/AN/A
Charcoal Black, Medium stone leather seatsN/AN/ASN/ASN/A
Charcoal, Black Recaro cloth seatsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AS

5th Generation Ford Mustang Maintenance and Cost

How reliable a second-hand fifth generation Mustang is will greatly depend on the maintenance it received from its previous owner and for the ultimate peace of mind, insist on a car that has a full service history, preferably at a Ford dealership. Oil changes are very important, not just for the engine, but for the differential and automatic transmission as well. These items' lifecycles can be greatly extended by ensuring that they always receive fresh oil on schedule. The 4.0-liter V6 Mustang's engine oil and filter are typically replaced every 8,000-10,000 miles - or once a year - and its tires rotated at the same time. For maximum life expectancy, the limited-slip differential's oil should ideally be changed every 3,000 miles. Evidence that this has been done should indicate that the previous owner took very good care of their car. We recommend that you replace the engine oil at least every 5,000 miles or six months if you use your Mustang in severe conditions, such as freezing temperatures or on dusty roads.

The cabin air filter should be changed every 15,000 miles or sooner if you notice a reduction in the air volume being produced by the ventilation system, which could happen in dusty environments. Under normal conditions, the engine's air and fuel filters should only require renewal every 30,000 miles. The PCV valve should be renewed every 100,000 miles, and the cooling system drained, flushed, and refilled. More frequent replacement of the 4.6-liter V8's spark plugs might be prudent because they tend to become stuck by the recommended 100,000-mile interval and may be difficult or impossible to remove without breaking them. Some spark-plug manufacturers such as Champion claim to have designed an enhanced spark plug for the 4.6 that uses a one-piece shell and should not break. They are more expensive but are recommended over the standard spark plugs.

2005-2014 Ford Mustang Basic Service

Engine Oil Change Including Filter (Gas)

3.7-liter V6 naturally aspirated Duratech/Cyclone gas engine: 5.7L (6 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: 5W-20 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil part number OEFQT-EA

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $56 for oil, $26 for filter

4.0-liter V6 naturally aspirated Cologne gas engine: 4.7L (5 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: 5W-30 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil part number OEFQT-EA

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $47 for oil, $21 for filter

4.6-liter V8 naturally aspirated Ford Modular V8 gas engine: 5.7L (6 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: 5W-20 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil part number OEMQT-EA

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $56 for oil, $21 for filter

5.0-liter V8 naturally aspirated Coyote V8 gas engine: 7.6L (8 quarts) or 8L (8.5 quarts) for 2012-2014 Boss 302

Recommended type and viscosity: 5W-20 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil part number OEMQT-EA

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $75-$79 for oil, $26 for filter

Sparkplugs

Naturally aspirated Duratech/Cyclone 3.7-liter V6 gas engine

NGK part code: #6509

Replacement: Every 60,000 miles

Average price: $66 for six

Naturally aspirated Cologne 4.0-liter V6 gas engine

Bosch part code: #9660

Replacement: Every 100,000 miles

Average price: $51 for six

Naturally aspirated Ford Modular 4.6-liter V8 gas engine

Champion part code: #7989 (enhanced one-piece design)

Replacement: Every 100,000 miles

Average price: $180 for eight

Naturally aspirated Coyote 5.0-liter V8 gas engine

Bosch part code: #9616

Replacement: Every 100,000 miles

Average price: $68 for eight

Air Filter

Naturally aspirated Duratech/Cyclone 3.7-liter V6 gas engine

OEM part number: FA1897 (9601)

Price: $22

Naturally aspirated Cologne 4.0-liter V6 gas engine

OEM part number: FA1773 (9601)

Price: $22

Naturally aspirated Ford Modular 4.6-liter V8 gas engine

OEM part number: FA1773 (9601)

Price: $22

Naturally aspirated Coyote 5.0-liter V8 gas engine

OEM part number: FA1897 (9601)

Price: $22

Battery

3.7-liter naturally aspirated Cyclone V6 gas engine

Type: Ford/Motorcraft 590-amp Calcium/Silver battery, part code BXT96R590 (96R)

Replacement: Every 3-5 years

Average Price: $140

4.0-liter naturally aspirated Cologne V6 gas engine

Type: Ford/Motorcraft 590-amp Calcium/Silver battery, part code BXT96R590 (96R)

Replacement: Every 3-5 years

Average Pricet: $140

4.6-liter naturally aspirated Ford Modular V8 gas engine

Type: Ford/Motorcraft BD200 battery, part code BXT96R500 (96R)

Replacement: Every 3-5 years

Average Price: $140

5.0-liter naturally aspirated Coyote V8 gas engine

Type: Ford/Motorcraft 590-amp Calcium/Silver battery, part code BXT96R590 (96R)

Replacement: Every 3-5 years

Average Price: $140

Mustang 5th Gen Tires

2005-2009 Standard, V6 Deluxe, V6, V6 Premium (Coupe & Convertible)
Tire Size:
P215/65R16
Tires:
$476-$518-$544-$600 per set
2005-2009 GT Deluxe, GT, GT Premium (Coupe & Convertible)
Tire Size:
P235/55ZR17
Tires:
$559-$659-$744 per set
2010, 2012, 2013 V6, V6 Premium (Coupe & Convertible)
Tire Size:
P215/60R17
Tires:
$552-$658-$703-$747 per set
2011 V6, V6 Premium (Coupe & Convertible)
Tire Size:
P225/60R17
Tires:
$612-$764 per set
2014 V6, V6 Premium (Coupe & Convertible)
Tire Size:
P215/65R17
Tires:
$540-$592-$708 per set
2010-2014 GT, GT Premium, GT California Special (Coupe & Convertible)
Tire Size:
P235/50WR18
Tires:
$552-$658-$703-$747 per set
2012 Boss 302 and Boss 302 Laguna Seca
Tire Size:
P255/40ZR19 (front) and P285/35ZR19 (rear)
Summer Tires:
$870-$966-$1,052-$1,214 per set

Check Before You Buy

Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:

The fifth generation Mustang makes use of relatively simple engineering principles and is generally reliable albeit with well-known and well-documented problems. Unfortunately, virtually all model years are affected by paint issues on the aluminum hood, ranging from minor flaking to major corrosion. Water leaks from the front cowl into the vehicle are commonplace and can often be prevented by keeping the cowl drain holes clear. If not, lots of problems can follow with electrical equipment becoming damaged. There were a few issues with some early cars' automatic transmissions, but the five-speed manual was tough. Not so much the MT82 six-speed manual transmission in the facelifted car, which seems to be problematic. Early cars were also regularly afflicted with a gas-tank design that makes it very difficult to fill the tank all the way up, as well as erratic dashboard gauges, and batteries that seem to drain for no reason.

Preventative maintenance can avoid a lot of problems and a Mustang that's had all its oil changes bang on schedule and that has been maintained by a Ford dealership can provide many trouble-free miles. In the interest of preserving the reliability of Ford's sometimes iffy variable valve timing systems, frequent oil changes are a must, and be sure that the limited-slip differential's oil was also frequently changed - this is a regular service item. Also make sure that all recall work has been done - of which there is a lot, not least the massive Takata airbag recall that affects every single fifth generation Mustang model year.

Here are some other less common problems to look out for:

  • Like many cars, the ignition coils and ignition leads of the 5th gen Mustang have a finite lifespan. Rough idling, misfiring, or hesitance might indicate that the coils are on their way out. Get a positive diagnosis on a vehicle that displays these symptoms or walk away, because poor running can point to worse problems. The Ford Mustang P0300 code usually indicates a misfire, with the last digit indicating which cylinder. For example, on a 2008 or 2009 Ford Mustang GT, the P0301, P0303, P0304, or P0305 code would mean that cylinders number one, three, four, and five are misfiring, respectively. A P0316 Ford Mustang code would indicate a start-up misfire.
  • 2013 seems to be a more troublesome year for water pumps. These problems often only start after 50,000 miles but can ruin your engine if it's allowed to overheat. Check for coolant leaks and make sure there is antifreeze in the radiator, not just plain water.
  • The harmonic balancer of some 2008 Mustangs had a tendency to fail, but this does not seem to be a very common problem and usually only rears its head at around 70,000 miles. A new harmonic balancer could set you back close to $700 though.
  • Some owners complain of issues with the cam drive of the 5.0-liter Coyote engine. Problems with the cam chains or tensioners are usually announced by rattling and ticking sounds. The Coyote engine has old-style indirect injectors that work quietly, so any rattling or ticking should be viewed with suspicion and the car avoided.
  • A few 2005 Ford Mustang emergency brake problems were noted by owners, notably that the emergency brake won't work in cold weather. Problems are not common, but typically start at around 40,000 miles and cost around $600 to put right.

While the pre-facelift base model is slow and uninspiring, there seems to be relatively few fifth-gen/2005 Mustang V6 problems, although the first two years were the worst in terms of the number of problems encountered by owners, as is often the case when cars are newly launched. The facelift's six-speed automatic seems to be reliable and any 2012, 2013, or 2014 Ford Mustang V6 or V8 automatic transmission problems usually have to do with a software programming fault that can cause the transmission to abruptly change down to first gear. Draining batteries affected earlier cars and caused slow cranking, but late-model 2013 and 2014 Mustang starting problems are quite rare. However, a few 2014 Mustang power steering problems were noted, although they are not common.

Here are a few useful error codes that you may encounter on a fifth gen Mustang:

  • The P1450 code on a Ford Mustang means there is excessive gas-tank vacuum, indicating a faulty fuel-filler cap.
  • The Ford Mustang V6 code P0108 indicates a bad MAP sensor.
  • Oxygen sensors going bad can happen on any car and error codes P0420 or P0430 will be displayed when this occurs in the Mustang. The Ford Mustang code P0141, on the other hand, indicates a failure of an oxygen sensor's heating element.

Common 2005-2014 Ford Mustang Problems

Paint Problems

All fifth generation Mustangs have an aluminum hood that suffers from widespread problems. Ford says iron could have contaminated the hood before it was painted, and this could cause the paint to bubble, flake, blister, and peel. There were also problems with iron-based fasteners attached to the aluminum hood causing galvanic coupling, leading to corrosion. Ford never issued a recall and today, you're unlikely to get them to foot the bill, so any repairs will be on you. Some owners got away with just having the hood repainted, but others had to have the hood and other corroded parts replaced. Costs may therefore vary widely, depending on the extent of the corrosion and the remedial action required. Carefully check out the hood on any used fifth gen Mustang.

Mileage: From 40,000-55,000 miles on average

Cost: $430-$1,750

How to spot: Visible corrosion/oxidation or bubbling, peeling, flaking, or blistering paint

Throttle Body Problems

While not overly common, 2005-2014 Ford Mustang V6 throttle body problems are too numerous not to mention - and also affects many V8s. This problem affects most model years of the 5th generation Mustang, so a dodgy throttle body is worth looking out for. The throttle body can cause various problems, from the throttle actuator getting stuck to the throttle body failing completely. Some owners even reported spontaneous acceleration, but mostly the engine will stall or run erratically and put the car in limp mode. Error code P2111 will often be produced, meaning that the powertrain control module has detected a malfunctioning throttle actuator control. However, the P0222 Ford Mustang error code may be displayed instead, indicating a failed throttle position sensor. Sometimes, the throttle body can be repaired, but it usually has to be replaced at a cost that can approach $1,000.

Mileage: 48,000-85,000 miles on average

Cost: $250-$960

How to spot: Erratic throttle response, stalling, limp mode, error code P2111

Broken Spark Plugs On 4.6-Liter V8 Engine

The spark plugs on the 2005-2010 4.6-liter V8 engine need replacing every 100,000 miles, but many owners report that they tend to become stuck so tightly that they are difficult to remove. What often happens is that excessive force causes them to break and it can take a lot of time and money for a professional to remove the broken piece of spark plug from the cylinder head. Some owners replace the spark plugs more frequently to avoid the problem, or just loosen them every few years to make sure they don't become stuck. So while new spark plugs can cost well under $100, the job could end up costing much more with the associated labor of extricating broken ones. Some spark-plug manufacturers such as Champion claim to have designed one-piece spark plugs that shouldn't break, but these specific Champions cost about $180 for eight, so it's up to you.

Mileage: 100,000 miles on average

Cost: Labor cost of extracting broken spark plugs or $180 for one-piece spark plugs

How to spot: Spark plugs are stuck and won't come loose

Automatic Transmission Failure

The pre-facelift Mustang's five-speed automatic transmission is reliable, but there was a rash of 2005 Mustang V6 automatic shifter and transmission problems that also affected the 2006 model year, as well as some of the V8s. In some cases, this required complete transmission replacements. Test drive an early Mustang to ensure that the gear shifts are smooth and that there is no slipping or clunking. A replacement transmission will cost thousands of dollars.

Mileage: 65,000-70,000 miles on average

Cost: $2,000-$3,350

How to spot: Clunking, slipping, and harsh shifts

Manual Transmission Problems

The pre-facelift Mustang's five-speed manual transmission was tough, but the Getrag-made MT82 six-speed manual Ford replaced it with for the 2011 facelift has come in for a lot of criticism; in fact, there are many 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Ford Mustang manual transmission problems. The problems start from new and some of the most common ones are being locked out of gears when shifting at high revs, as well as difficult shifts, clunking, grinding, and even popping out of gears. Ford blamed abuse and user error, but the fact remains that this transmission is a lot more troublesome than its five-speed predecessor. Cost can vary wildly, depending on whether it can be fixed or needs replacing. Sometimes replacement parts include shift forks, shift shafts, and synchronizers, often involving stripping the transmission at great cost. Carefully test drive a facelifted Mustang and be sure that the transmission behaves impeccably and shifts smoothly up and down all the gears. Replace the oil for good measure.

Mileage: From new

Cost: Can vary, depending on repairs. Around $1,695 for a remanufactured MT82 or over $4,000 for a new one, excluding installation

How to spot: Difficult shifts, grinding, balking, being locked out of gears, especially at high revs, popping out of gear

Takata Airbag Recall

The Takata airbag recall - the biggest in automotive history - affects every single year of the fifth generation Mustang. The inflators of these airbags can explosively disintegrate upon airbag deployment and rupture, sending potentially deadly shrapnel into the passenger compartment. As part of an NHTSA recall of all 2005-2014 Mustangs, all affected airbags were to be replaced free of charge. Check whether your vehicle's airbags have been replaced. If not, have it done for free at a Ford dealership as soon as possible.

Mileage: N/A

Cost: Free under the recall conditions

How to spot: All 2005-2014 Mustangs affected

Water Leaks And Possible SJB Damage

The fifth generation Mustang is notorious for water leaks with the majority of these originating from the front cowling. Most of the time, the cowling's drainage holes become blocked, allowing water to dam up and enter the vehicle via the air-conditioning system. Some 2005-2014 Mustang AC or air conditioning problems are no more than water leaks through the cowl. While this is an easy enough fix, failing to do so can cause a lot of electrical water damage and this might have already occurred by the time it's your turn to buy that used Mustang. Sadly, many 2005 Ford Mustang V6 and V8 electrical, headlight, and Smart Junction Box problems are caused by water leaks. The main problem is that water can penetrate the Smart Junction Box (SJB) and cause various electrical faults, from light bulbs dying or staying on to the loss of all electrical systems, rendering the vehicle immobile. Ford outlined these problems in service bulletin TSB 07-14-6. If you're considering a used Mustang, especially a 2005-2010 model, make sure that the cowl drains are clear and go for an extended test drive to identify any electrical issues.

Mileage: From new

Cost: Around $1,000 for a new SJB

How to spot: Electrical faults such as interior or exterior lights dying or staying on and loss of ignition power or even all electrical power, and a waterlogged floor, especially on the front passenger's side.

Battery Draining

A perpetually draining battery afflicts mostly 2005 and 2006 Mustangs and doesn't always have the same root cause. There were problems with harness connectors and the master power relay and these cost only a few hundred dollars to fix. However, there are several 2005 Ford Mustang alternator problems listed, so a duff alternator could also be the cause - and that is quite a bit more expensive to replace. Slow cranking or a flat battery could be a dead giveaway.

Mileage: 40,000-80,000 miles on average

Cost: Up to $300 for the minor electrical parts, up to $400 for a new alternator, and around $140 for a new battery

How to spot: Slow cranking, indicating a low battery, or no power, indicating a flat one

Gas Tank Difficult To Fill

Several early 2005 and 2006 Mustangs suffer from a bad gas-tank design that makes it very difficult to fill the tank up all the way. It may cause the pump to switch off before the tank is full, or the fuel may sputter and spurt out the filler opening and onto the floor, even though the tank is not full yet. There is a replacement tank of a better design, but since Ford never issued a recall for this problem, you'll have to pay for it yourself. Some owners learn to live with the problem or turn the fuel nozzle upside down to keep it from shutting off, thereby filling the tank to the top. None of these techniques are guaranteed to work.

Mileage: From new

Cost: $500-$600 for a new fuel tank

How to spot: Fuel nozzle shutting off, fuel sputtering and spurting out of filler opening, even when the tank is not full yet

Erratic Or Dead Dashboard Gauges

Quite a few 2005 Mustangs suffer from erratic dashboard gauges and these problems can take many forms. Sometimes, it's little more than an inaccurate fuel gauge, but the speedometer is also known to play up, displaying a speed reading, even at standstill, or indicating a speed higher than the true speed. Some owners reported that they fixed a malfunctioning fuel gauge by using a fuel-system cleaner, but that would indicate that the tank sensor was at fault. As for the gauges, any combination of failures can be at play, so for a 2005 Mustang with tachometer problems or other problematic gauges, you might end up spending hundreds of dollars setting it right.

Mileage: 48,000-73,000 miles on average

Cost: From $110 for repairs to over $650 for a new gauge cluster

How to spot: Erratic/inaccurate gauge readings, speedo showing more than the correct speed

Recalls

We have detailed some recalls with the problems mentioned above, but the 2005-2014 Ford Mustang recalls can be summarized as follows:

  • The Ford Mustang airbag recall for defective Takata airbags that affected all years.
  • Many 2012 Mustangs and perhaps a few 2013 cars with the six-speed automatic transmission had a problem with sudden, premature downshifts into first gear from a higher gear, often serious enough to lock the rear wheels and destabilize the vehicle. This turned out to be a software problem and calls for the reprogramming of the powertrain control module. The NHTSA issued a 2012 Mustang transmission recall for this problem, so all cars should have been fixed. Make sure the reprogramming was performed if you are considering a 2012 model. If not, you can still have it done for free.
  • Only 400 2005-2007 Mustangs were recalled for strut brackets with weak welding that may fail and damage the tires. This applies to aftermarket Eibach struts only.
  • More than 10,000 2012 and 2013 Mustangs had a problem with the backup lights not coming on when the transmission is put in Reverse. This was an NHTSA recall though, so all of these cars should have been fixed for free by now. Nevertheless, check that the backup lights are working in Reverse.

The Takata recalls dominate the Mustang's list and if those are disregarded, the Mustang was actually not recalled that many times. However, many owners are upset that certain safety problems did not prompt recalls and these include the tank-filling problems, the throttle body issues, and the incorrect gauge readings.

Which One To Avoid

While we've repeatedly slated the pre-facelift V6, it's not a bad car, as long as you're happy with the power on tap and don't work the coarse engine hard. Far better is the 4.6-liter V8 though, and it doesn't even ask for much more gas in return. However, this is a moot point, as we'd give all the pre-facelift Mustangs a miss. Safety is important and although the Mustang's structure held up pretty well in crash tests at the time, the dearth of safety equipment in the pre-facelift models makes them unfit as safe modern transport. Two front airbags are the only safety feature of the early V6s, with ABS only fitted as standard on the V8. Side airbags became standard for 2008, but not stability control. These factors would disqualify the pre-facelift fifth gen Mustang for most people.

Which One To Buy

Early Mustang 5th generation models have virtually zero safety features, while the later six-speed manual models often had a bad transmission. That leaves you with going for a late-model automatic if you think that kind of thing goes with the Mustang vibe, or opting for the sweet spot in this generation - the 2010 4.6 GT manual. It's the best of both worlds: it benefits from the numerous upgrades that accompanied the facelift, the most important one being the standard fitment of stability control. It also has four airbags, which is the bare minimum a reasonable person would require. On top of that, the V8 engine develops a healthy 315 hp - a high point for the 4.6 in the 5th gen Mustang - and the tough five-speed manual gearbox plays well with the abundant torque, giving you a reliable, rapid muscle car. And you avoid the troublesome six-speed manual in the later cars.

5th Gen Ford Mustang Verdict

The Ford Mustang's 5th generation was the last Mustang to use a live rear axle and while it doesn't have the handling sophistication of European rivals, it stays true to the affordable, high-performance pony car ethos - in V8 form, at any rate. We would avoid the slow 4.0-liter V6 and shift gears rather gingerly in a later six-speed manual if we can find a flawless one, because sadly, it seems Ford took a while to sort out the MT82's transmission problems. The hood corrosion is also an issue, and easily preventable water leaks often cause electrical damage before they are diagnosed and corrected. Still, as long as you know what to look out for, you will probably be able to find a clean one. Unfortunately, the best model was only around for one model year, so that ideal 2010 V8 five-speed manual might end up being quite hard to find today. If you don't mind an automatic, you have a lot more choice in the facelifted range. Just make sure all maintenance is up to date.

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