The Bolt-On Performance Mods for the Ford Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote. The 5.0 Coyote engine in the Ford Mustang GT has a reputation for being a strong factory motor that responds well to modest bolt-on upgrades. In this tutorial, we’ll go through some of the most popular power mods for the 5.0 Coyote. Without the addition of forced induction, these modifications alone are capable of pushing the 5.0 engine into the 500RWHP range. Continue reading to find out how to upgrade your Mustang GT with these basic bolt-on performance items.
Generations of the Coyote 5.0 Engine
To begin with, the performance upgrades for the various generations of Ford Coyote engines are comparable. Certain generations, however, may respond better to certain tweaks. Furthermore, we’re concentrating on the Coyote engines featured in the Mustang GT; while the F150 employs a variation of the Coyote, performance tweaks and power improvements may differ. Let’s take a look at the 5.0 Coyote’s three generations.
Coyote Engine Generation 1 (2011-2014)
The first generation Coyote 5.0 had a decent 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. This is already a significant increase over the previous 4.6L Mustang GT’s 300 horsepower. Ford achieved this by employing an 11.0:1 compression ratio, an aluminum block, variable cam timing, and high flowing heads. The 2013 and 2014 Mustang GTs received an 8 horsepower boost as well as coated pistons and piston rings from the Boss 302.
Coyote Engine Generation 2 (2015-2017)
2015 versions were replaced by the sixth generation Mustang, marketed as the S550. Along with the new generation and chassis, the second generation Coyote 5.0 received a few upgrades. Among the 5.0 gen 2 updates are:
- increased the size of the intake and exhaust valves
- Camshafts for the intake and exhaust have been revised.
- Forged sinter rods
- Forged crank that has been rebalanced
- Intake manifold replacement
This is only one of several improvements to the gen 2 Coyote 5.0. These enhancements contribute to the 2015 Mustang GT’s 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The upgrades, however, go beyond the power figures on paper. Better flowing valves assist the engine in producing more power at the top; they also assist in producing slightly more power mod for mod when compared to the first generation Coyote. Finally, the stiffer rods and crank are unlikely to be significant for Mustang owners who want to keep their GTs naturally aspirated. The stronger internals, on the other hand, are appealing to individuals willing to take things to the next level with forced induction.
Coyote Engine Generation 3 (2018+)
The gen 2 Coyote is a fantastic engine, but it was rapidly eclipsed by the arrival of the gen 3 in 2018. Ford’s third generation Coyote upgrade increases power and torque to 460 and 420, respectively. This accomplishment may be attributable to the following Coyote 5.0 gen 3 updates:
- Larger bore (5.035L vs. 4.951L for generations 1 and 2)
- Improved head, valves, and cams.
- 7,500 RPM is the redline.
- compression ratio of 12.0:1 (increased from 11.0:1)
- Injection through direct and port
Again, these are just a handful of the many upgrades for the 3rd generation 5L Coyote. Notably, the engine has a bigger diameter, increasing the engine size from 4.951L to 5.035L. This allows for larger valves, which improves engine efficiency and air flow, especially at higher RPMs. As a result, the redline on the gen 3 Coyote 5.0 has been increased to 7,500 revs. In addition to port injection, high-pressure direct injection is used, allowing the compression ratio to be increased to 12.0:1.
We could go on and on about how fantastic these improvements are for the 2018+ S550 Mustang GTs. It’s a fantastic engine in every way. Simple performance tweaks also work nicely on the gen 3. That’s not to suggest the prior generation Coyotes aren’t good or don’t respond well to tweaks. However, performance and power enthusiasts will find the 3rd generation engine to be the most enjoyable and capable.
Mustang GT Coyote 5.0 Bolt-On Modifications
The bolt-on performance upgrades listed below are among the best for naturally aspirated 5L Coyote engines:
- Tune (& E85)
- Fresh Air Intake
- Headers made of long tubes
The following bolt-on changes for the Mustang GT will be discussed in length throughout the rest of the article, with E85 getting its own section. It’s not actually a bolt-on because it’s merely a different type of fuel available at some gas stations. However, the enormous performance improvements provided by E85 make the debate worthwhile.
1) Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote Tunes
When it comes to unleashing more horsepower, tunes are frequently at the center of conversation. The 5.0 Coyote engine is no different. Tunes do provide horsepower boosts on their own. However, more crucially, tunes enable you to fully utilize the capabilities of additional bolt-on mods.
There are numerous ways to tune your Mustang GT 5.0 depending on the mods and your personal goals. We’ll go over some of the fundamentals below, as well as mention a few popular 5.0 Coyote tuning options.
Tuning Devices for the Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote
The first step is to purchase a device, such as the SCT X4, that allows you to load tunes into the Mustang GT’s ECU/PCM. The SCT X4 and nGauge performance programmers are also popular options. These tuning devices connect to the OBDII connector and allow you to load flash tunes to the computer. They also include capabilities such as data logging, displays, user-adjustable parameters, and so on.
Depending on the tuning device you select, it may or may not come pre-loaded with a tune. These are commonly known as canned or off-the-shelf (OTS) tracks. Expect to pay around $300-500 for a good tuning device, with base maps offering 5-15 horsepower improvements.
OTS tunes are excellent beginning points for basic bolt-ons and those unfamiliar with tuning complexities. However, because they are base tunes, they frequently lack the precision of true custom songs. On the 5.0 Coyote, they often cannot handle mods such as E85 fuelling, fuel injector upgrades, manifold improvements, or forced induction. This is where the 5.0 Coyote’s special tuning comes into play.
Cost of Tuning Device: $300-500
Gains in OTS HP: 5-15hp
Custom 5.0 Coyote Tuning
Custom tuning options should be considered by anyone wishing to take their Mustang GT 5.0 to the next level. To be clear, you will still require a separate tuning device to load unique flash tunes. These tunes are tailored to your vehicle rather than base maps designed for use on a wide range of GTs. Even with a 5.0 Coyote tune, this precision allows for more power. Power improvements of 10-20hp are to be expected.
A custom tune, on the other hand, will most likely cost you an additional $300 on top of the tuning device. For $629, Lund Racing includes a bespoke tune as well as the nGauge tuning equipment. However, the tiny advantages may not be worth it for individuals who only want a tune and no further alterations.
For those wishing to fully push their Mustang GT to the next level, the real benefits of bespoke tuning begin. We’ll go over E85 in more detail later, but the Coyote 5.0 exhibits tremendous increases with just an E85 tune. Those who have pre-2018 gen 1 and gen 2 Coyote engines may want to consider upgrading their intake manifolds. Some will also look to increase power through forced induction. Along with those upgrades, a custom tune for the 5.0 Coyote is required. Even if you don’t want to go overboard, there are numerous advantages to custom tuning. Notably, custom tunes will maximize the performance of other simple bolt-ons such as intakes, headers, exhaust, and so on.
Cost of custom tuning: $300+
HP Gains: 10-20hp (pump gas and tune alone)
E85 Fuel 1.5) 5.0 Coyote Mustang GT
E85 Fuel Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote
Ethanol fuel, often known as E85 or flex fuel, is a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. It’s long been regarded as one of the greatest fuels for forced induction engines, if not the best. E85, on the other hand, is becoming more popular for normally aspirated engines. This is especially true since the introduction of the third-generation Coyote with direct and port injection. The advantages of E85 are quite astounding.
- E85 Fuel Advantages
- Suppression of knocks
- Internal cylinder temperatures that are lower
- Burning more efficiently at lower lambda
- octane rating of 108+
Because of E85’s knock mitigation, the 5.0 Coyote may be modified for more aggressive ignition timing. The faster you can safely ignite the air/fuel mixture, the more torque and power you’ll produce. E85 also has a higher latent heat of evaporation than gasoline. In layman’s words, as E85 converts from a liquid to a gas, it absorbs heat more efficiently in the combustion chamber. Furthermore, ethanol burns much more efficiently at lower lambda (higher AFRs). We could go into more detail about each of these perks, but we’ll end it with one final benefit note. When properly tuned, E85 not only produces more power, but it also produces power that is much safer than gasoline.
What’s the snag?
One thing we said before is that E85 has less energy potential per unit than gasoline. That means you’ll have to burn more fuel to compensate for the energy loss per unit. 100% E85 has a stoichiometric ratio of 9.8:1 compared to 14.7:1 for gasoline. In essence, E85 requires 1 part fuel for every 9.8 parts air, whereas gasoline requires only 1 part fuel for every 14.7 parts air.
E85 requires approximately 30% higher fuel flow for the same amount of air. As a result, you should observe a 30% decrease in fuel economy. Most significantly, your gasoline system must be capable of meeting the demand. As a result, a proper tune is required to fully utilize E85 without drastically leaning over.
Because of the outstanding direct and port injection system, the demanding fuel flow isn’t an issue on the 2018+ gen 3 Coyote 5.0. However, previous generation Coyotes will almost certainly require new injectors to meet up with the fuel demands. Finally, there is the issue of E85 availability. It may be difficult to locate in some towns and states across the United States.
E85 costs the same as lesser grade fuels (but has a poorer fuel economy).
HP Gains on E85: 30-50hp (E85 tune only)
2) Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote Cold Air Intake
Another popular power addition for the 5.0 Coyote is “cold air” performance intakes. This is really basic stuff, and most people are probably familiar with performance intakes. There are other alternatives available for the 5.0L Mustang GT, but for the purposes of this post, we will concentrate on the JLT cold air intake. It’s an excellent intake in every way and one of the most popular alternatives for the 5.0 Coyote.
- Advantages of Mustang GT Performance Intake
- increased airflow
- Increase in Horsepower
To begin with, the “cold air” element of the intake does not do anything. The enhanced airflow, particularly at the high end, is a major advantage of performance intakes. The OEM 5.0 Coyote intake is efficient in the mid-range but restricts airflow at the top. The huge performance intake on the JLT enables the engine to breathe significantly better at the top of the power curve. Finally, this permits the engine to transport torque more effectively and increases horsepower.
Furthermore, the open intake design will undoubtedly free up some engine noises that have been muffled by the enclosed stock airbox. It’s fairly uncommon for vendors to claim improvements of 20+ horsepower. It is important to note, however, that they are generally obtaining baseline numbers and then adding a tune along with the intake. Expect 5-10 horsepower improvements from the intake alone. Larger improvements are certainly conceivable with more and more changes, particularly forced induction.
Cost of 5.0 Coyote Cold Air Intake: $319-349
HP Gains with 5.0 Coyote Intake: 5-10hp
3) Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote Long Tube Headers
For good reason, we’re talking about headers before the rest of the exhaust. A set of high-flow or catless headers will provide significantly higher performance than a cat-back or axle-back setup. Furthermore, we’ll go over this in more detail later, but headers and an exhaust may be too noisy for some. If power is your primary goal, you should probably consider headers before anything else exhaust related. This will be one of the best power upgrades for a NA 5.0 Coyote after an E85 tune.
- Advantages of Long Tube Headers
- Enhanced power
- Back-pressure relief
- improved audio
5.0 Coyote headers increase horsepower and performance for a variety of reasons. To begin, most aftermarket headers use high-flow catalytic converters (cats) instead of the bulky, restrictive catalytic converters (cats). Some people even remove the cats entirely. The greater diameter minimizes back pressure and aids in the efficient removal of air from the cylinders. We won’t get too technical in order to keep things flowing. However, it’s worth noting that the headers aid in reducing exhaust reversion. This is a phenomena that occurs when exhaust gases travel backwards due to low pressure in the intake manifold and excessive backpressure in the exhaust manifold.
We’ll leave the technical stuff there. What matters is that headers assist the engine move air out more effectively, which is essential for horsepower. NA 5.0 Coyotes may expect to gain between 20 and 30 horsepower from headers alone. Of course, tuning is essential to realizing that full potential. Furthermore, when a supercharger is added, power gains become much more remarkable. Finally, headers will undoubtedly add some enticing sounds. Those who want to keep the sound as quiet as possible should avoid any additional exhaust changes.
Cost of 5.0 Coyote Long Tube Headers: $500-2000
HP Gains: 20-30hp with 5.0 Coyote Long Tube Headers
4) Mustang GT 5.0 Coyote Exhaust Mods
With a nice sounding, loud exhaust, an American muscle vehicle just isn’t the same. Even with the basic exhaust, the stock 5.0 Mustang GT produces some remarkable sounds. Many people, though, go to cat-backs or axle-backs to improve acoustics and obtain a little more bark. The one disadvantage is that the horsepower gains are quite minor for the expense. We’ll keep this brief and build on it in a future exhaust-only article.
Exhaust with a Catalytic Converter
As the name implies, a 5.0 Coyote cat-back exhaust system replaces the factory exhaust from the catalytic converter (cat) back. Power improvements from a cat-back exhaust range from 3-5 horsepower. That, too, could be optimistic. As previously noted, it’s a really minor benefit for a rather pricey exhaust. This is one of the reasons we want to keep this section brief. We wouldn’t recommend an exhaust solely for performance increases. Rather, it’s a lovely side effect of unleashing the 5.0 Coyote’s sound. Choose your favorite exhaust sound and run with it.
However, we should emphasize briefly that a cat-back will help the GT lose weight. The resonator and mufflers are somewhat substantial. Cat-back exhaust systems can help you lose 20-30 pounds. Not a bad thing for performance, but it’s almost as insignificant as the power increases. The weight is also quite low to the ground, thus it will not much help handling.
Exhaust Exhaust Axle-back
For the Coyote 5.0, an axle-back exhaust replaces the mufflers and exhaust tips. It replaces the exhaust after the back axle, as the name implies. This implies that the factory resonator and mid-pipe remain. It’s essentially an alternative to the cat-back that provides some other sounds at a slightly lower price (depending on brand).
Price of 5.0 Coyote Exhaust: $500-$2000+
HP Gains with 5.0 Coyote Exhaust: 3-5hp
Additional Bolt-Ons – Honorable Mentions
This post omitted a few additional excellent bolt-ons. We’ll create more detailed guidelines for each basic bolt-on for the 5.0 Coyote engines in the future. Other popular mods include:
- Manifold for Intake
- Superchargers and turbochargers are examples of forced induction.
For the 2011-2014 S197 Mustang GT and 2015-2017 S550 GT, an intake manifold is a superb mod. Because the 2018+ versions have a much better flowing intake manifold, this isn’t a very frequent update. However, there are numerous intake manifold alternatives. Again, we’ll return to this in a separate piece in the future.
While forced induction may appear to be an afterthought, it is clearly a serious commitment. Supercharger and turbo kits can cost $10,000 or more only for the basic parts and installation. With the additional essential supporting changes thrown in, there’s far too much to cover in this piece. Separate guides will be available soon.
Summary of Mustang GT Performance Mods
Not to beat a dead horse, but we’ll go over each individual mod in its own article in the near future. We wanted to highlight the four key basic changes that are consistent throughout all three versions of the 5.0 Coyote in this post. The most frequent bolt-on upgrades for the S197 and S550 Mustang GTs are tunes, intakes, headers, and exhaust. Each of these tweaks has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should evaluate before proceeding.
Tunes are an excellent method to gain a little extra oomph in otherwise stock shape. Most significantly, they allow other bolt-on mods to reach their full potential. Cold air intakes improve the top-end flow of the Coyote, resulting in decent gains for the price. Headers provide tremendous sound and performance advantages, but at the expense of potential emissions issues. Finally, while cat-backs and axle-backs make great noises, they don’t provide enough performance improvements to warrant the cost.
Nonetheless, these straightforward bolt-on tweaks have the potential to push the 5.0 Coyote into the 400-500+ wheel horsepower range. Gains on the 2018+ 3rd generation Coyote are a little simpler to come by. That’s not to dismiss the elder generation Coyotes. Full bolt-on gen 1 Coyotes, on the other hand, are likely to be closer to 400whp and 450whp for gen 2 versions. With these modest changes, the gen 3 Coyote may easily reach into the 480-500whp range.