Whether you’re planning on taking your Mustang to shows or just thinking about your next major modification, you’ve considered popping your hood open.
Mustangs come from the factory with what’s called a prop rod, a fairly simple piece of metal that is functional, but that stands out like a sore thumb. For most enthusiasts, upgrading to a hood strut is a no-brainer. In addition to being one of the simplest modifications, it also has the most immediate payoffs. Anytime you open your hood, you’ll immediately feel and see the benefits of hood struts.
What Are Hood Struts?
Hood struts replace the factory prop rod. A hood strut aids in the opening of your hood and holds the hood open once unlatched. While the prop rod is just a piece of metal that props the hood open, struts are a gas spring that open the hood. A good hood strut has an extending rate that makes lifting the hood a fluid, painless process.
It also looks significantly more impressive than fumbling for the prop rod and securing it.
There are many benefits to replacing the manual hood prop rod that lays across the top of your radiator cover with hood struts. While a prop rod cuts a diagonal across the engine bay, forcing you to work around it while doing maintenance, hood struts stay out of the way and are secure. This makes sure that your attention is where you want it: On the task at hand.
A must for car shows, hood struts are more attractive and more functional. There’s also a wide selection of Mustang hood struts that you can pick out, allowing you to customize your car’s appearance.
- Cleans up the underhood area.
- Is more secure when you’re working under the hood.
- Significantly more attractive.
- Preserves more working space to make future modifications easier.
Hood Strut Installation
One of the reasons that hood struts are such popular modifications is that they’re easy to install and can reduce the difficulty of all future installs. As long as you can use a tape measure, a drill, and a wrench, you’ll be able to comfortably ditch your factory prop rod for a nice set of struts.
Different hood struts and different models of Mustang will have precise measurement instructions and you should follow that exactly. These instructions are for Redline’s Quicklift Hood Strut Kit, and while many of the steps followed will be similar for other manufacturers’ hood strut kits, it’s unlikely they’ll be identical.
- Quarter-inch Ratchet
- 10mm Socket
- 13 mm Socket
- Center Punch
- Since your new hood struts haven’t been installed yet, you’ll need to use your factory prop rod to keep your hood lifted during the installation process.
First, remove the washer hose bracket if you’re installing on the passenger’s side. The driver’s side should not have a washer hose. If you grab and shake it gently it should pop right off.
- Next, you’ll remove the nut that is located right beside the washer hose bracket.
- Then, you’ll want to install the bracket that came with your hood strut kit. Usually the one for the passenger side will have a hole for the washer hose bracket.
Line up the lower bracket-hole over the factory stud from the nut you just removed. Reinstall the factory nut over the bracket.
- Route the washer hose on the side of the ball stud closest to the hood and then reinsert the washer hose bracket through the hood strut bracket.
- Your Mustang’s battery is covered by a plastic battery cover. This cover will need to be modified in order to accommodate the hood struts. First, remove the thumb screw that you’ll find securing the battery cover.
- Take the drill guide that came with the hood strut kit. There should be a hole for the battery cover thumbscrew. Put the guide in place and then screw the thumbscrew down.
- Take the drill guide and use the seam of the battery cover to guide it into place. You’ll see a hole on the drill guide indicating where you should drill a hole. Line up the drill guide and use a center punch to mark the hole on the battery cover.
- Remove the battery cover. There’s an included drill bit that you’ll use to make a full-sized hole in the location that you marked with the center punch.
- The hole you’ve drilled is for the lower ball stud for the hood strut. Make sure it fits easily through.
Tech Tip: With the hood struts, you won’t be able to remove your battery cover. To avoid this problem, cut a slit in the plastic that leads to the lower ball stud. This will allow you to guide the cover off without removing your hood struts.
- The fender bracket is going to sink into a small hole that you’ll see once the battery cover is removed. Insert and then tighten. As you tighten, the insert will pull into place so that it won’t come loose.
- Now that you’ve installed the upper and lower bracket, it’s time to reinstall your battery cover. Place the battery cover into location and replace the thumbscrews.
- Now it’s time to insert the gas strut itself. Make sure that the body is facing upwards before installation. Simply line up with the lower ball stud and insert and then bring the hood down to meet the top of the hood strut.
These steps are for the passenger’s side, so the driver’s side will be even easier. In this video, Bill installs hood struts onto an S550 Mustang.
When Hood Struts Fail
There are almost no downsides to hood struts, and they tend to work extraordinarily well with very little maintenance required. That said, sometimes hood struts do fail.
Over time, the pressurized gas that creates the lift can start to leak. This will result in your hood opening very slowly, and sometimes not even opening all of the way. The cause of this is typically a leaky seal on the gas spring and is one of the reasons that cheap hood struts are a poor choice. Good seals make a huge difference in terms of the lifespan of hood struts.
If you notice that your cylinders are becoming weak though, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible. Faulty lift supports can be a huge safety hazard, as they can cause the hood to suddenly slam shut. This is more likely to happen after a sudden temperature drop, or if the struts are low quality to begin with. On average, good hood struts should be fully operational and maintenance-free for several years.
If you need to work on your Mustang but suspect that your hood strut may be failing, some auto techs have devised a clever solution. You can use vice grips on the hood struts to make sure they stay open and don’t close unexpectedly. This is a good stop-gap measure, but eventually, the hood struts will need to be replaced.
Should You Install Hood Struts?
If you’re buying high-quality hood struts, the odds of sudden failure are remarkably low, and it’ll be years before you need to think about replacing them. Hood struts are a great first modification, but they’re also a great final modification for when your build is complete and it’s time to show off your hard work.
Hood strut installation is simple, and you’ll get to enjoy the ease of opening your hood at every show and during every maintenance procedure. Even when you show it to non-car people they’ll likely be impressed, and it makes many other mods easier by making it simple to open your hood and keeping your pathway clear and free of unsightly metal rods.
There are many pros and very few cons, which makes it hard to think of a reason that you wouldn’t want to install hood struts on your Mustang.