In 2015, the S550 launched as the first Mustang generation to include independent rear suspension on every model. There are a lot of pros and cons to IRS systems, but one of the cons is definitely wheel hop.
What Is Wheel Hop?
Wheel hop is basically a gain and then loss of traction. Repeated in quick succession. This creates a little “hop” that’s not only a little bit violent but also costs you precious acceleration.
It might help to think of a record skipping. It’s playing, then it’s not, then it’s playing again. But now you’re so annoyed about the skipping, you can’t enjoy the song.
Is Wheel Hop Bad For Your Mustang?
Unfortunately, just like a record skipping, wheel hop isn’t good for your Mustang. It puts a lot of strain on the suspension to go from spinning to not spinning and back again. So, you definitely want to address wheel hop.
The good news is that wheel hop won’t immediately break your car.
Is Wheel Hop Specific to the Mustang?
Not at all. Actually, any powerful vehicle with IRS can suffer from wheel hop. Even FWD vehicles.
Can You Get Wheel Hop with a Solid Axle?
Sort of. A lot of people say they experience something like wheel hop caused by wheel slippage and a lack of grip. It’s not actually the same phenomenon though. If you’re getting “wheel hop” with a solid axle, you may want to look at upgrading your lower control arms.
Wheel hop is one of the reasons a lot of drag builds lean towards solid axles. But there are actually ways to keep the benefits of independent rear suspension and lose the hop.
IRS Upgrades that Fix Wheel Hop
Over the years, several solutions have been developed to help manage wheel hop. Most of them are small customizations to the suspension. As an added bonus, many of these fixes have other performance benefits.
Bushings are thin tubes designed to reduce vibration and improve efficiency. They’re also the first suspension component to receive the torque. When your bushings are too soft or worn out, they can cause deflection, which makes the chassis move too much. This means less power going to the wheels.
All bushings need to have a little deflection built in. Otherwise, cars would be very uncomfortable, and you’d have to deal with significant noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Since your average driver cares a lot about comfort and NVH, most manufacturers use rubber bushings.
But if you’re researching wheel hop, it’s safe to assume you’re not the average driver. So, swapping out your rubber bushings might be a good solution for you.
Stiffer bushings won’t be as comfortable, and you’ll get more noise, but you’ll also get more power on the pavement and less deflection. Polyurethane (poly) bushings are one of the go-to solutions.
A subframe bushing support system is another option. These install on top of your factory rubber bushings and provide support against deflection. Because they still use your factory rubber bushings, you won’t notice an increase in NVH.
Bushing lockout kits are designed to eliminate wheel hop by preventing cradle bushing deflection. These keep bushings from moving. They also don’t increase NVH.
Rear Vertical Links
Vertical links are designed to keep your rear wheels planted. If you’re used to a solid axle suspension, vertical links basically act like lower control arms. The factory vertical links can also flex, which is another cause of wheel hop. So, upgrading them is a good idea.
Aftermarket rear vertical links are made out of tougher materials that’ll keep the rear suspension geometry in check. They also usually come with polyurethane, urethane, or delrin bushings. All three bushing styles are significantly stiffer than the rubber stock ones.
Adjustable Rear Toe Links
Toe links keep your Mustang’s rear end stable and the tires planted. Factory toe links are rarely amazing, but Ford’s run into issues with theirs before.
Replacing your factory toe links with adjustable ones is another way to prevent wheel hop. This also will let you adjust your Mustang’s suspension so that it matches your driving style. Someone who likes road course driving may prefer an aggressive camber setting.
If your GT Mustang was made after 2018, it likely already has the upgraded adjustable toe links from the Ford Performance Package. They were also used on Performance Package Mustangs prior to 2018.
IRS Subframe: Support Braces and Alignment Kit
Adding more support to the Mustang’s subframe has been a popular mod for decades. The S550 benefits from all the usual pros of subframe support braces, like less body roll and more traction, plus a reduction in wheel hop.
By giving your Mustang two extra support points, you’re strengthening the connection between the subframe and the rest of the car. You'll just have to adjust your alignment to prevent asymmetrical suspension geometry.
More Wheel Hop Fixes
Some other wheel hop fixes are a little more universal. While these mods can improve wheel hop, they’re less targeted solutions and are more for improved driving in general.
Soft, sticky tires that grip the road are a must for drivers who want to perform on the drag strip. Wider tires will also improve traction by creating a larger contact patch. With better traction, you should see less wheel hop and better ¼ mile times.
Even though performance is important, if you drive to the track, make sure you pick up a set of tires that’s also street legal.
Having a lower center of gravity can reduce wheel hop as well. And lowering springs are one of the ways you can lower your Mustang. The different suspension geometry and change in weight dynamics help to keep your rear planted. Lowering also helps with handling and reducing body roll.
Of course, this isn’t a viable solution if you’re not interested in lowering your Mustang. But if you already like the look, it’s good to know there’s a performance benefit to it as well.
Preparing Your Mustang for the Drag Strip
Eliminating wheel hop is important for all drivers, but it definitely comes up more frequently with drivers who want to take their Mustang to the strip. Fortunately, a lot of the mods that eliminate wheel hop also make your Mustang drag-ready. Check out our guide on building a drag Mustang to see other mods you may want to consider.
Source: Wheel Hop Explained, Working With a Professional Auto Mechanic
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