1988 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 HO from North America


Good Car, But beware before you buy


Everything. This car was a nightmare, I had to replace every piece of equipment under the hood. The previous owner put in a Ford Motorsports F303 cam and didn't change anything else. It took 1300 just to replace all the sensors, if the car wasn't free it wouldn't of been worth it.

General Comments:

After all the repairs the car was a dream I sold the F303 cams and put stock ones back in. Sold the car for 2200 so I was happy about that.

But if you buy a GT or any 5.0L I suggest you do a thorough inspection of the engine.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th November, 2003

1988 Ford Mustang LX 2.3 Litre from North America


I love this car


Blown transmission.

Fuel Pump seized.

No stereo.

General Comments:

This car handles really great, and is really easy on gas.

I'm planning on putting a a big stereo system in it with one, maybe two sub-woofers.

Also a GT body kit.

I may put in Euro tails and Projector headlights

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2003

1988 Ford Mustang LX 2.3L Inline 4 Cylinder from North America


This model exemplifies both low quality and poor design


Front Wheel Rotors warped and had apparently been previously turned for similar problem requiring replacement at only 60K miles.

Front Wheel Bearings also needed to be replaced, apparently somewhat prematurely (and I examined the burnt bearings) at the same time as the rotors. Unfortunately, the spindles had also been damaged and required replacement.

The car repeatedly destroyed it's battery. In each case, the failure was catastrophic (sudden, complete failure), and each time I purchased relatively expensive, high-quality batteries which exceeded the required specifications. Each time, a different mechanic worked on the electrical system, replaced various parts (to be mentioned next) and corrected the problem insofar as diagnostic tests could show.

The voltage regulator failed and was replaced three times. Twice the failure occurred with a battery failure and once with no other symptoms. When it fails, the vehicle is completely disabled.

The alternator failed twice, at the same time as both a battery failure and a voltage regulator failure. It was likely to an overload or surge related to the voltage regulator failures. This seems reasonable as on one of the occasions of failure, the battery cables more or less melted down.

The AM/FM Cassette Stereo began to work intermittently and finally went dead. On replacement, two of the five speakers were found to have been damaged as well.

The radiator sprang a leak which was in such a location as to require a new radiator. A couple of years passed and the beautiful, robust new (now relatively new) radiator suffered a very similar fate, and was replaced (again).

The starter failed and was replaced.

The automatic transmission failed utterly. The repair, a complete rebuild which included numerous Ford factory replacements and required improvements, failed 13 months later, just one month after the new warranty expired. Thus, another complete rebuild (the internal damage was extensive). If that wasn't enough, after another year and two months passed the third, and final, transmission failure occurred (believe me, I'd been being ever so gentle on it). At that point, I just gave up and scrapped the vehicle (I could take no more).

General Comments:

Overall, the car was a comfortable one. The seats and environmental controls (heating and A/C) worked well. However, road noise was annoying a highway speeds (well, in this case the car was a convertible). The ride was slightly firm, but smooth and well controlled.

Well, while it's true that I thought the car did a good job with regard to it's ride qualities, there were some distantly related problems. Foremost among them was that the car had a problem with "shimmying" (or wobble) at highway speed. I invested in a comprehensive alignment, a set of quality, high-performance tires and also had the tires computer balanced. This helped, but only a little. I guess I'll always wonder why it did that.

While the car felt like it handled well and was reasonably pleasing to drive, the major lack of power constantly left me disappointed. Indeed, the lack of acceleration resulted in some interesting changes in my driving habits/skills in that I would always have to plan well ahead when considering passing someone or pulling onto a roadway.

The lack of power might have been easier to tolerate had it translated into greater fuel economy. I simply didn't. I went to considerable expense having a major tune up (including filters, wires, plugs, cleaned injectors and who knows what else) only to discover that it made not the slightest difference whatsoever, either in the performance or the fuel economy.

That reminds me of something similar. I thought that I might be able to enhance the handling and ride qualities by investing in some expensive after-market gas shocks and struts. It made not the slightest difference (how odd).

While the engine wasn't the smoothest (never quite would idle flawlessly), quietest (it would growl and groan considerably), and as already pointed out, not the strongest engine I've known, one thing stands out. When there wasn't an electrical problem, it seemed nothing would stop that engine. It ran so hot (despite having the cooling system serviced, cleaned, the thermostat replaced and proper fluid added regularly) I thought it would melt. Indeed, it would regularly need coolant added (did it just evaporate? there were no leaks other than the points at which the radiators would fail). I used synthetic oil for durability because inside of 6000 miles, even the oil would begin to appear burnt. Nevertheless, the engine temperature gauge would always rise to a proper point within the operating zone. The engine even burned a quart of oil off every two or three months, but it never smoked and always passed emissions testing. Never had the slightest problem with the engine itself.

I would recommend to everyone to avoid this car, particularly the four cylinder automatic.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th June, 2003

20th Jun 2003, 18:21

Yes these ARE good engines. (Reliability wise). Performance sucks, and I dunno why they'd put this engine in a Mustang (its the same engine they put in the Tempos!!) But they'll run and run forever..

24th Dec 2008, 15:29

You sure put a lot of effort into a car you like to complain about, maybe the car had some redeeming qualities that kept you committed to keeping it running. A 2.3L convertible is just meant to be a fun car to cruise in, I have one and enjoy driving it for the sake of fun. If you want a fast Mustang with a mean engine there are millions to choose from. Accept the car for what it is and roll on! m3

30th Dec 2008, 15:13

Yes, the 2.3 engines ARE slow. But they are reliable, VERY easy to work on and provide at least adequate performance. I'm a mechanic and I've owned 4-cylinder, 6 cylinder and V-8 Mustangs over the years. The 4-cylinder models have been the most reliable and the V-8's the least (though still VERY good).

I currently own a 2007 4.0 V-6 and I'm very pleased with it. It is faster than my previous 5.0 V-8 and gets twice the mileage. My insurance is also 40% less.

I'm looking for a Fox (1983 thru 1993) 4-cylinder convertible as a project car if the economy improves. I want to restore and fix up a 4-cylinder for good mileage and as a nice, fun car to drive around town.

9th Sep 2009, 21:43

At June 20th 2003:

Actually, the 2.3L in the Mustang is not the same 2.3L as in the Tempo...

The 2.3L in the mustang is the "Pinto" engine, which was in the Pinto, and the Ford Ranger.

The 2.3L engine in the Tempo is the same displacement, but is a different engine.

10th Sep 2009, 21:17

That's correct. The 2.3 in the Mustangs was the old Pinto/Ranger 2.3. These engines were dog-slow, but VERY reliable. I've seen several with over 300,000 miles on them. My family's two companies used the base Ranger XL's with the 2.3 starting in 1991. Some of these easily ran for 300,000 miles with just routine maintenance.

29th Mar 2010, 19:32

I love my 2.3 1988 LX Sport. It may not be super fast, but it will smoke the tires off if you want it to.