One of the first things I did when I took delivery of my new Mustang was pop the hood and look through the engine bay. I was excited to have so much power at my disposal, and couldn’t wait to lay eyes on the 5.0 Coyote engine under there. Knowing that the 2015 Mustang was going to be a global car and targeting the likes of BMW, I expected nothing short of quality and luxury. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed with what I saw.
I WAS, however, disappointed in the fact that I had to pop the hood and hold it up with a chintzy prop rod. Let me put it this way; BMW and Audi would never be caught dead with a cheap prop rod holding up the hoods in the M3 or A5. Yet, Ford’s first global Mustang and M3 competitor has this cheap, thin, and ugly piece of metal holding up the hood…something that gets in the way if you’re ever working on your car. Looks like it’s easier said than done to shake the image of the cheap, plasticky American car that can’t hold a torch to the levels of Euro refinement, right?
I haven’t done anything major under the hood as of yet, but even something like cleaning out the engine bay becomes a major pain with a prop rod right in the middle of your working area. Toss in the fact that I’ve always been paranoid about the strength of prop rods (and jack stands for that matter), and I found myself wanting to get rid of that thing as quickly as possible.
Luckily, as with my shifter assembly, Steeda Autosports came to the rescue with their Steeda S550 Mustang Hood Strut Kit. Installing this kit allows you to remove the prop rod and enables your hood to function similar to how the trunk of your car functions. The gas struts will lift the hood for you, and when lowering the hood is also assisted until the end. Basically, this kit allows you to not only have the rod out of your way, but opening the hood gives you a nice “KSSSSHHHHHH” sound that just screams awesomeness.
Installation of the hood struts took me probably fifteen minutes at the most. It was extremely easy to do, and I only needed a socket wrench and a drill. I simply unclipped the battery cover, drilled a hole in the plastic cover using the included template, bolted on the brackets and tightened them with a socket, popped the battery cover back on, and snapped the struts into place. In fact, it was so easy to do, I was able to install them even while keeping an eye on my 4 year old and 2 year old from trying to bolt into the street from my driveway (they didn’t, for the record).
Now, what makes the Steeda hood struts better than the prop rod, or more importantly, what makes the Steeda struts better than the other hood strut options out there? Essentially, it comes down to weight distribution. With other brands that I have researched (like Ford Racing, for instance), the upper portion of the strut that bolts into the hood is small and narrow, probably somewhere around the neighborhood of 1”-1.5” around. The standard 2015 Mustang hood weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 30ish lbs; fairly heavy in its own right. For all that weight to rest upon two tiny points is not ideal; any accidental additional weight could potentially result in bowed hood.
The brackets from Steeda eliminate this problem by providing 3 times the surface area to disperse the force of the hood struts over a much larger area. Not only that, but each bracket comes with a neoprene backing to prevent metal on metal contact. Having the backing does make fixing the washer fluid line in place a bit more difficult, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of jiggling around. Because the Steeda brackets utilize the existing hood setup without the need to modify, there’s no need to remove any of the bolts that may affect the hood alignment. One person is all that’s necessary for installation.
Each of the mounting brackets are covered in a black powder coating. Each strut itself is an OEM quality gas powered strut, complete with a one year warranty (hardware comes with a lifetime warranty). The design, quality, and ease of installation make this one of the easier mods I have done to my car so far. But yes, there is one aspect of the installation that might turn some people off, even though it’s not as scary as it may sound.
Drilling. My goodness, I don’t think there is one thing with any mod that’s as scary as reading the word “drill.” I don’t think anyone is comfortable taking a power drill to their brand new car, and I certainly wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to drilling a hole into anything on the car. However, it turns out that the only thing that needs to be drilled is a ⅞” hole in the battery cover. The battery cover doesn’t really serve any purpose other than covering the battery so you’re not staring it when you have the hood open. The cover itself is a relatively thin piece of black plastic held in place by three clips. All you need to do is drill the hole in the cover, which allows the bottom passenger side mounting bracket to poke through. That’s it. No major damage, and no drilling into any of the bodywork.
The Steeda hood struts are a pretty low key mod that may not be as sexy as popping on a new exhaust or shoving a supercharger into your engine bay, but if you’re someone that shows their car a lot or does a lot of their own work, then these are a must. The prop rod is simply a head scratcher; I can’t think of any reason other than cost for why Ford decided to go with the rod…especially since this is supposed to be the Mustang that finally can stand toe to toe with the German industry giants. I have heard some people claim that Ford included a prop rod in order to save weight. The Steeda struts add, what…maybe an additional pound to the 3,736 lbs of the car? Maybe two at most? Unless you drag race and are looking to shave that additional ten-tenths of a second off your quarter mile time, I can’t imagine the “additional weight” of the hood struts making one shred of difference. Hell, it may not even make any difference to ¼ mile times for all I know.
What I DO know is that for $134.95, you can not only improve the overall quality of the appearance of your engine bay, but also the functionality. The space that’s freed up by not having a rod of metal right in the middle of everything is insane. I no longer have to worry about accidentally bumping the prop rod and decapitating myself under the hood. I am free to move about from side mirror to side mirror without anything being in my way. When I take pictures of my car with the hood open, I no longer have this eyesore right in the middle of the shot. And like I mentioned earlier, the sound of the hood opening with a nice “KSSSSHHHHH” is oh, so sweet.