Mounting aftermarket gauges in a Mustang is a "natural" desire. OEM gauge clusters have almost
never been any more than a series of idiot lights and psuedo gauges that don't really indicate
any useful info. Even worse, they typically only indicate there's a problem AFTER the problem has
become an active vector for engine damage. You should NEVER let anyone tell you that aftermarket
gauges don't provide any discernible value when the OEM cluser already has said gauges. It's
simply not true. Besides, the gauges can also lend that "race car" aire to your otherwise non-race
street ride, and you can choose to either make the installation appear to be OEM, or shortcut it,
and intionally make it look added on for use at the track. I happen to like both ways, but the
"added-on" look is definitely a more convenient install path.
For 2010+ Mustang owners, the selection of ready-to-install dash pods is pitiful. I wanted
something that mounts in the dip on the center of the dash pad, but there isn't anything
available the fits/works. As a result, you essentially have just TWO choices:
- A-Pillar gauges - these are the gauges you see A LOT, because the dash doesn't need to be
modified, and routing wires is easier. That's all fine and dandy, but the problems I have with
them is that a) I consider these to be ricer additions to a car, and b) it demonstrates a lack
of comittment on the part of the car owner to put effort into coming up with a better solution.
The short version (for me) is, "Not only no - but FUCK no".
- Boss 302 Laguna Seca Dash Pod - It's nice that Ford racing has come up with this, but my
issue with it is that the gauges don't point at the driver. What the fuck good are gauges that
don't point at the driver? Many folks that have this pod say they can see the gauges just fine,
but I don't care for it. Besides that, you MUST drill your dash to install it.
That's it. Those are your choices if you want something that's pre-fabricated. Not impressed? Me
either. It seems like nobody wants to come up with something that will fit the 2010+ dash. Even
SpeedOfSound doesn't have anything that is suitable (see below).
Are you aware of how many analog gauge manufacturers there are?
- Auto Meter
Add to that, the fact that each manufacturer has several styles of gauge to choose from, and you
begin to realize just how staggering your choices are. When you add digital gauges to that list, as
well as the choice between electric and mechanical senders, and it becomes truly mind-blowing. How
do you choose the best gauge for you?
Mechanical or Electric?
Electric gauges will present the fewest installation issues because you're just dealing with
wires. With mechanical gauges, you're dealing with tubing and fittings, or diffcult to route sending
mechanisms (look at a mechanical water temp gauge to see what I mean), or that actually bringing
oil/fuel (via that tubing) into the cockpit. Tubing can be kinked, cut, or squeezed, thus eliminating
the usefulness of the gauge, so unless it's absolutely necessary, I avoid them. Another downside to
mechanbical temperature gauges is that the sending mechanism cannot be lengthened or shortenedm, thus
making installs a bit tougher.
Electrical gauges solve all of those problems (wires can be cut/extended to the appropriate
length, and no harmful fluids in the cockpit), but they suffer from a slight lag in reporting their
status, especially with regards to boost gauges. However, they are the easiest to install.
Full/Partial Sweep Guages
Another aspect of gauge selection is deciding how much of the gauge face is used for it's display.
This is referred to as the "sweep (how far the needle travels from one extreme to the other). There
are various types, but the most popular are partial sweep (60, 90, and 180-degree), and full-sweep
(270-degree). Most of the gauge manufacturers provide gauges in both configurations for most of
Generally speaking, there are two standard gauge sizes - 2-1/16, and 2-5/8. The larger of the two
are typicaly used in actual race cars, and most of the time, they are only available as mechanical
gauges. they are also an order of magnitude more expensive than their smaller cousins.
Most gauge manufacturers offer their gauges with a variety of gauge face, needle and bezel styles,
and once again, not all appearance styles will be available for both electric and mechanical gauges,
and your options become even more limited if you move up to the larger gauges.
What I Chose, and Why
The following describes the gauges I ended up with, the decisions I made along the way, and why
I made those decisions. YOUR decision tree will likely result in a different gauge selection.
- Analog or Digital? - I really don't think digital gauge displays are approrpiate for
a muscle car, so I chose analog. Us old guys - what are ya gonna do?
- Gauge Size? - Since this isn't a race car, and we really don't have a lot of space
do deal with in a Mustang, I chose 2-1/6 inch gauges.
- Electrical or Mechanical? - Due to the ease of routing "just wires", coupled with
status that didn't require a mechanical gauge, I elected to purchase electrical gauges.
- Partial or Full-Sweep? - I wanted full sweep gauges because I really don't like
the partial sweep nature of the OEM instrument cluster.
- Appearance - I wanted the numbers on the gauge to somewhat match the OEM cluster,
the same illumination color (blue), and a black face and bezel.
I've used all of the "big three" (Auto Meter, Steward Warner, and VDO) at one point or another
in the past, and you certainly can't argue the quality of those parts. However, none of them had
a gauge style that met all of my criteria, and even if I were to settle for "close but no cigar",
it would have cost me $500 just for the gauges. It was then that I discovered SpeedHut. They had
gauges that did or could meet ALL of my criteria, and still cost me less than $350.
The SpeedOfSound Concept2 Gauge Pod
So I ordered some SpeedHut gauges and the Speed of Sound Concept 2 dash pod. Right after
I got the order confirmation notice, I got an email from Alan, the guy that runs SOS. It seems that
their web site is WRONG, and the Concept 2 will NOT fit 2010 and up Mustangs (it says 2005+, but it
*should* read 2005-2009).
I talked to Alan at SOS, and we talked about the pod and why it doesn't "fit". After weighing
some options, I decided to have him ship me the pod anyway, and was planning on trying to make a go
of it. I couldn't believe that it couldn't be made to work. I was wrong - kinda. The problem lies in
the package tray that for inexpicable molded into the top of the dash. It's only purpose appears to
be to obsolete all existing dash pods - including the one from SpeedOfSound. The base of the pod
would have to be heavily modified in order to mitigate the presence of the dash package tray, and I
decided I don't want to go through that hassle.
So, you can take it from one who knows - the SOS Concept 2 will NOT fit your 2010+ Mustang. This
means I have 2-1/2 more options:
Click image for full size version, and more pics.
- Individual gauge pods - I'm not a fan of this idea because it looks even more like crap than
all of the other center-dash options. I really don't mind drilling the dash, but this would
probably require a dozen holes. Definitely not a good idea.
- Fabrication (from scratch) - There are two possible fabrication materials I can use -
aluminum or ABS plastic (the "half" solution is to use a combination of both). There are three
roadblocks (for lack of a better term) - a) I have to perform all fitment on my dash, b) I'm not
a master fabricator, and b) I don't want to have to pay someone else to fabricate it for me. I
wish I had a 2010+ dash to work on OUT of the car...
- A-pillar pod - I had to list this because it is an option.
I have the gauges, and still have the SpeedOfSound dash pod, so I thought I'd go ahead and post
some pictures of the trial fit.
Individual Gauge Pods
I ordered and received two different individual gauge pods, both from GlowShift. They were both
inexpensive, so it was worth it to see what's what. There's only one other gauge pod available, and
it's from Auto Meter and costs more than both of the two GlowShift pods combined.
- GlowShift GS-U01B - This is a black metal pod, and as long as you get a standard gauge
(with the two mounting screws on the back) the mounting hardware is adequate. However, if you
get SpeedHut gauges, you're going to have to come up with something else. Other than that, the
gauge fit into the pod is okay, but Speedhut's gauges will present additional issues because
their gauge bodies aren't as big as gauges the use the mounting stud style. Once mounted, the
gauge isn't easily adjustable regarding elevation or windage. Cost is $10. Of the two gauge pods
listed here, this is the most viable. SpeedHut gauges require some additional effort to secure
in the pod, but it's a better fit than the plastic pod (described below).
- GlowShift GS-U01 - This is a plastic pod that allows easy adjustment after it's
mounted. However, that's the only good thing about it. My SpeedHut gauges stand no chance at
all of snugging up into this pod. Since it's injection molded, the finish is inconsitent, and
really does require painting to make it look decent. The hole in the bottom of the pod is not
big enough for mechanical gauge temperature sensor leads, so be prepared to modify the pod if
you have these kinds of gauges. Finally, the mounting "hardware" consists of a round piece of
two-sided tape. If you don't want to use the tape, there are two holds in the base intended
for use with mounting screws. It's too bad about the fit issue, because these pods are only $7
at Amazon. Cheap, cheap, cheap.
Speed of Sound A-Pillar Pod
Even after seeing an a-pillar pod in an ultra-rare 2011 GT-350, I hate the thought of going
this way, but I'm tired of having $325 worth of gauges sitting in a box. Besides, I can always
remove it when I've come up with an acceptable dash-top pod. Yes, I'm rationalizing.
In any case, this pod completely replaces your driver's side OEM A-pillar cover, and is
already the correct color for your interior. This means two things - you don't have to modify
your exsting trim to mount it, and you don't have to paint anything.
Installing gauges can be broken down into two distinct parts - installing sending units and
installing the gauges.
Test Fit Gauges to Pod (that I won't be using)
Before we talk about the installation, I wanted to do a test-fit, more for visual affirmation
than anything else. Your first question might be the same one I had - how do you secure the gauges
to a gauge pod that doen't have anything for the gauges to actually attach to? The simple answer
is that it's a press fit. In order for the ABS plastic pd cells to retain the gauges, I merely
placed some velcro tape (the smooth hook side) on the sides of the gauges and shoved them into the
pod cells. That seems to secure them pretty well. I performed this test fit because I actually
like the pod cell design, and I wanted to see how it looked on the dash.
Installing the Sending Units
Since I'm installing water temp and oil pressure gauges, I have to install the sensors that came
with the gauges. This is typical of aftermarket gauges, so don't waste time trying to find gauges
that will work with your factory sensors. Further, your factory sensors are required to help the
computer to manage the engine's operation, so we can't just rip them off the engine. Your only
option is for the new sensors to coexist with your OEM units - speaking of which...
Neither the 3.7 V6 nor the 5.0 V8 have a water temperature sensor. Instead, a cylinder head
temperature gauge communicates with the computer which then interpolates the water temperature
based on that information. What this means is that there is NO WATER TEMP SENSOR with which to
coexist. You have two solutions - drill and tap an appropriate place on the engine to install
your sensor into, OR put a tee sleeve into the upper radiator hose that already has a fitting
welded into it. I chose the radiator hose route because I really didn't feel like drilling/tapping
anything on the motor.
You can get one of those radiator hose sleeves here, and it only costs $35 with shipping.
Click image for full size version, and more pics.
Installation requires that you partially drain your cooling system, remove the upper radiator
hose, remove about 2-inches of hose, insert the sleeve Tee, and reinstall the hose onto the car.
To mitigate the possibilities having to deal with a catstrophic fuck-up on my part, I ordered a
new hose from Tousley Ford If you go to your local Ford dealer, it'll cost you $45 for the hose.
I don't understand why Tousley can sell the same hose for $18 (which is much more reasonable IMHO).
Anyway, I used a hack saw to section the hose, and installed the Tee sleve with some new screw
clamps. I then drained about a gallon of coolant from the cooling system, installed the hose, and
returned the drained coolane to the motor.
The oil pressure sensor is MUCH easier to deal with, especially on a V6. It's located on the
drivers sideof the motor, and is positioned between the back of the alternator and the front of
the exhaust manifold. Since I have a base coupe, I don't have an oil pressure gauge on the dash,
and I didn't care if the idiot light still functioned or not. This meant more factory wiring
harness surgery was required.
The Ford oil pressure sender has two signals - on and off. The reason for this is that it
does nothing more than complete a ground to the block when there's no oil pressure, and
disconnects the ground when there *is* oil pressure (above about 5 psi). The act of completing
the ground connects the circuit and the light comes on. The oil pressure gauge in our Mustangs
works the same way. To get the needle to read halfway bewteen good and bad on the gauge, Ford
built in some resistance in the electronics that supports the gauge. The sending unit is the same
for all cars, and therefore gives the same all-or-nothing signal.
Click image for full size version.
This means that the idiot light comes on TOO LATE. If you see the oil pressure light, there is
NO oil pressure at all, and you have about 10 seconds to shut it off to avoid the possibility of
major damage. This makes it beyond useless for most of us. My choice was to remove the OEM
sender altogether, so I didn't need a Tee fitting for my installation. If you want to keep yours,
you're going to need a Tee fitting, and I've included a link to order them on the net.
So, I disconnected and removed the OEM fitting from the block, and installed the new sending
unit. I then cut about seven inches of the insulated wiring carrier away, and then cut the
original sender off. I figured there might be a reason to reinstall the sender at some point in
the future, so I put some solderless connectors on both the wire under the hood, and the wire
still hanging on the original sending unit. I then folded the original wire back on itself and
connected someadditional wire (solderless connector again) to it. I routed that wire around the
back of the motor, and attached it to the grounding screw on the passenger side strut tower.
(Remember, a grounded condition tells the idiot light - and the gauge if you have one - that
there is oil pressure, so the light will stay off, and the factory gauge will read normal
If you want to maintain a working idiot light/faux gauge on your dashboard, you're going to
need a tee-fitting that allows you to use both senders. All you need is a tee fitting that allows
you to use both senders. Go to this page, and on the top row of available fittings, you'll see "Tee", with a
series of available sizes listed underneath. You want a 1/4 tee, so click the "1/4" size, and
you'll be taken to another page that shows the available Tees in that size. I chose the
"Medium-Pressure Plated Brass Threaded Pipe Fittings" in black annodized. I received my order
two days after placing it.
Installing the Gauges
Click image for full size version, and more pics.
Installing the gauges into the pod was pretty much a no-brainer, but unfortunately,
connecting wires is kind of manufacturer-specific. The Speedhut gauges have six wires coming off of
them. The gauge face and the need are illuminated separately, and the gauge electronics need a
start/run electrical connection, and finally, the sender has it's own wire. To simplify the
under-dash wiring, I connected all of the similarly colored wires together (black-to-black,
white-to-white, and red-to-red). There was a handly ground spot on a steering column bolt for the
black wire, and I connected the white wire to the purple wire on the back of the headlight switch
so that the dash-mounted dimmer would control the new gauges along with everything else.
The only wire left to connect was the red 12-volt run/start wire. On the passenger side of
the car, behind the kick panel, you'll find a fuse panel. Select a start/run fuse position, and
install a fuse tap to supply power to the gauges. I think I used fuse position #35.
The hardest part of installing the guages was the discovery phase. Where to put the senders
and what fuse to use for gauge power. I was astounded that there's no actual water temperature
sender on the motor (even on the 5.0). All in all, the SoS A-pillar pod is the best solution
for the 2010 and up because it requires no mods to the dash, although if something does become
available that looks decent in the center of the dash, I'd be willing to consider it.
Finally, there is a problem with A-pillar gauges that only road racers would see - the pod
actually blocks your view past the A-pillar when you're turning left. THIS is why we need a
center-dash solution, and preferrably, one that resembles the pods available for 2005-2009 S-197
Let me start by saying that I don't mind the quality of the sound coming from the stock components.
It's not a Shaker system, but it's plenty loud for my old ears. The thing that REALLY bothers me about
it is that the headunit doesn't have a USB port for plugging in a thumb drive, or even a SD slot for a
memory card. C'mon Ford, it's 2012, and almost nobody even uses CDs anymore. In terms of stereos,
modernizing is a damn good idea. Besides that, the Mustang doesn't have enough space to put a crapload
of CDs (in this case, a "crapload" is just two).
One problem with upgrading he stero in your Mustang is that in order to do so, you MUST replace the
panel behind which the HVAC and OEM stereo lives. This will add at least $250 to the cost of your
upgrade, so prepare yourself mentally for that realization. Thankfully, you have a few options in that
- Scosche FD1441B - When first released, this unit was responsible for draining car
batteries overnight. A firmware upgrade has corrected the isse. I've heard that a new version of
this adapter panel is ready to be released. I don't know what (if any) features it has than the one
currently available, or even if those features are compelling enought to warrant updating mine when
it's available. When it's released, I will not hesitate to append this item with a note about it.
- Metra 99-5823 - I've seen more bad things said than good about this unit, but the most
annoying is the claim that someitmes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
- Metra 99-5826CH - This is the a new version of the 5823, and features a touchscreen HVAC
control. I haven't seen one, and I haven't heard any comments about it.
I originally went to Crutchfield to see what was available as far as speakers and head units. Since
the Mustang is way down on storage compartments, every little bit helps, so I knew I wanted a single-DIN
head unit. I'm not into fancy touch-screen stuff, and prefer to keep my gear firmly rooted in the world
of "basic but functional". As far as speakers were concerned, I wanted 3-way because I don't have
sub-woofers (and don't plan on getting them), and I think 3-way speakers are a better choice over 2-ways
in that instance.
After selecting my head unit and speakers, I started adding the stuff to my shopping cart. When I added
the head unit, the site prompted me with a choice between the Metra 5823, and the Scosche, but the
Scosche was (and always seems to be) out of stock with no ETA for being back in stock. So my only choice
was the old Mtera kit, which I wasn't really interested in. A quick call to Scosche revealed that they'll
have a nother batch of adapters ready by "late November". Bummer.
Along with the adapter panel, Crutchfield recommended a wiring harness kit, and antenna cable adapter,
and speaker wire adapters. Before I clicked order, I chatted with one of Crutchfield's "advisors", and
asked if they'd cut the price of the other gear because I was going to have to go somewhere else for the
Scosche panel, and they said no. Well, that pretty much sucked big hairy donkey testicles, so I gathered
up all the part and model numbers from my cart, and went to Amazon. Not only did Amazon have everything
(including the Scosche Panel, but not the antenna adapter cable), but I saved $50 over what it could have
cost if I had purchased from Crutchfield. On top of that, if I had purchased from Crutchfield and then
went to Amazon for the Scosche panel, I would have spent $50 more than going with Crutchfield on
everything but the panel, so in actuality, I saved $100 by going to Amazon. It's too bad Crutchfield
wasn't willing to deal, and as a result, I'll never use crutchfield for anything more thana convenient
Lastly, if you have a base car like me, and you want to change out your stereo, you MUST also change your
speakers (yes, all four of them). The OEM speakers aren't up to the task of handling the power put out by
aftermarket head units. On the flip side, if you're going to keep your OEM head unit, replacing just the
speakers is okay and according to some, more than worth it.
What I Ordered (23 Oct 2012)
- Scosche FD1441B ($242) - For the panel, I chose the Scosche because it has fewer reported quirks,
and I think it looks better than either of the Metra units and the price at Amazon wasn't too bad at
all. (received two days after placing order)
Kenwood KFC-X966 head unit ($229) - This had everything I wanted, was single-DIN, and got
reasonably good reviews. I'm going to apply an anti-glare cover on the faceplate to address that
one complaint from other owners. (received three days after placing order)
- Kenwood KFC-C6894PS speakers, 2 sets ($44/set) - these 6x6 3-way speakers fit both the
doors and the rear deck.
- PAC Wiring Harness CR2-FRD1 ($71) - You need this to adapt the head unit to the OEM
harness. If you have Sync or steering wheel controls, you'll probably need a different harness.
Just do what I did and go to Crutchfield, and add any head unit to your shopping cart that will
"fit" in your car and then see what wiring harness adapter they recommend for you.
- Metra 72-5600 Speaker Harness Adapter, 2 sets ($8/set) - You need these to avoid having
to cut into the OEM speaker wire leads.
Click image for full size version.
I started by installing the speakers. My idea was that if I installed the speakers first, I
could test them with a head uinit that was know to be fully functional (my OEM one). After verifying
that speakers were functioning correctly, I could move on to the new head unit.
Let me tell you - ANYONE can install new speakers in a Mustang. You don't even need tools for the
rear ones until you're actually ready to remove them. There are a lot of how-to's on the internet
regarding the replacement of speakers in our cars, so I won't bore you here with particulars. Further,
when you're working alone and toward a goal, it's often a royal pain in the ass to stop and take pictures
as you procede with a mod (I didn't take any pictures of thi process). The only thing I want to tell you
is that you can avoid "polarity problems" involving the Metra speaker harness adapters by replacing ALL
FOUR SPEAKERS AT THE SAME TIME. Trust me, it's the only way to do it right and with minimal hassle.
When you order a new head unit, you should also make sure that you order the appropriate adapter
harness for your car. The easiest way to see what harness is required is to go to the Crutchfield web
site, describe your car, and let them determine the appropriate harness for you. Believe me, you don't
want to order the wrong harness. After you get the part number for the harness, and if you want to order
from someone other than Crutchfield, you are at least armed with the appropriate info for your particular
If you can solder, you can wire up your harness to your radio without anyone else's help. Most
connections are made color-to-color, so this makes it a lot easier. Go to radio Shack and get some
heat-shrink tubing, and rosin-core solder, and if you need one, a cheap soldering iron. You will also do
yourself an immense favor by purchasing a set of "helping hands". It's a weighted base with a pair of
alligator clips on it, and it can fold the wires together while you solder. I went to Harbor Frieght and
paid $6 for one of these.
Once you've soldered your harness to the head unit, it's time to remove the OEM HVAC panel and OEM
head unit, and replace them with your new stuff. The head unit does NOT bolt to the panel, which makes
it easier to make sure you're not pinching any wires on the harness. It took me an hour to solder the
harness, and 15 minutes to replace the head unit.
Level of Satisfaction, and Final Comments
The only thing you have to do is take your time, and take normal observational precautions while
doing any of this work. Regarding soldering, ALWAYS visually double-check that you're soldering the
correct wires together. If you bought your stuff from Cruitchfield, they have a 24-hour help
line/online chat to help you over the rough spots. Since I have some experience in electrical
connections and stereo installs, I chose to get my stuff cheaper, foregoing the free advice available
from Crutchfield. Do what makes you comfortable.
Finally, if you're not adding something like an amp and a woofer, or unless you're totally
uncomfortable with doing the work yourself, there's absolutely NO REASON to take the car to a place
like Mothers or Best Buy to let them do the work. In fact, I saw a story about a guy that let Best
Buy install new stereo gear for him, and his brand new 2013 GT burned to the ground as a result. Your
mileage may vary, but as for me, I don't trust tonk monkeys to work on my car.
Stereo Upgrade, v2
Click image for full size version.
After eight months, the Kenwood head unit crapped out, and is apparently dead. I
tried to get a warranty replacement, but the company that sold it (via Amazon) says
they don't have a unit to give me, so they would have to send mine out for repair,
and that would take three to five months. Well, I simply refuse to go that long
without being abole to listen to my thumb drive, so I decided to go ahead and just
get another head unit. I chose the Pioneer AVH-X5500BHS Multimedia DVD Receiver
with 7" Motorized Touchscreen Display. Yes, I double-DIN'd this time.
Installation took about 15 minutes, but cutting the old stereo off the harness
adapter and mating the adapter to the new head unit's harness took about an hour.
I hate the way this head unit organizes music on a USB thumb drive. I have a
few folders with various artists in them, and these folders are placed at the
END of the folder list. Furthermore, the files inside folders are sorted by artist,
album, and then title name (it COMPLETELY ignores the name of the file). As far as
I can tell, there's no way to change the way this works. I fuckin' hate it, but at
least it works.