5.0 Mustang fishtailing in a straight line

I have a 2013 mustang 5.0 coyote (auto) that fishtails (rear end breaks loose) when I accelerate hard from either a dead stop or even sometimes in second gear while coasting at 40 MPH. If I give it anything more than 2/3 throttle in either scenario it will fish tail like crazy and will feel like it will go sideways unless I immediately ease off the throttle and correct the steering accordingly. However if I do a normal acceleration (less than 50% throttle in any gear) the car doesn’t fishtail and stays planted.

Already checked the obvious and the tire pressure and tread are both fine…but the car does have the abs and traction control lights on the dashboard and a service advancetrac message. Basically it has no traction control whatsoever likely because of the disabled abs.

Might be a dumb question but if I fix the abs/advancetrac would I be able to do WOT pulls (with advancetrac turned on) and not have the car fishtail? I’m asking cause having no Advancetrac or ABS doesn’t cause any real regular daily drivability issues, only causes issues when I’m trying to have fun with the car and do hard pulls in a straight line. So I don’t want to go fixing these (at the moment anyways) if the fishtailing is likely being caused by another issue.

On another note I always did WOT straight line pulls in my previous 3v mustang and it never fishtailed even with TCS off which is why I’m questioning if no Advancetrac is even the cause for the 5.0 fishtailing when doing straight line pulls. Could it be the extra 120 hp? (420 hp vs 300 hp)

Could it possibly be a bent rear axle or frame? Car has 90k miles, one owner (before me) and a clean title and no accidents reported on carfax. Again the car drives and handles fine otherwise with regular driving. Any input appreciated as always.

Car makers these days like to set the throttle to be sensitive, to add the feeling of power.
Type and age of tires? Depending on climate, about 5 y.o. marks the end of high traction performance.
Yes, fixing traction control will improve things.

I believe they’re 265/35/20 and not sure how old they are but they pass the penny test. I’d say they have 60-65% of their tread. Thanks for the input though I figured fixing the ABS/TCS would help the fishtailing for sure I just wanted to check in first to see if there could be any other obvious cause

A simple web search will show you how to read the sidewall to find out when the tires were made .

Penney test is outdated .

20 inch wheel , why ? Me thinks I am glad I am not sharing the road with J162 .

If your going in a straight line you’re not “fish tailing” you’re just doing a burn out.


Yes, get your traction control fixed.
Yes, the Penney test is worthless. Tread depth is not your problem, age of tire and quality of the tire make a difference. Your existing tire may have lower dry traction than others on the market. TireRack will provide that information.
You might have a suspension issue, that can be inspected while the abs/traction control are being fixed.
Yes, the Coyote has significantly more power.

I think 255/40 19, were the widest, loswesr profile offered by Fordon your 2013, Mustangman can correct me if I am wrong,

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Have a look here (it’s not just about horsepower):

Find out how old the tires are and fix whatever is causing the warning lights.

Even with new tires, with the traction control disabled you should be able to spin the tires, this is normal for a car with that much power.

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Not having ABS will be an issue if you’re trying to avoid a crash. I strongly suggest that you get this fixed.

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I don’t think what you’re describing is unusual. That’s a powerful engine in a RWD configuration in a relatively light car.

Back in my younger years when we were building 60’s and 70’s cars for the track, once you saw the green light and floored it, it was a constant see-saw back and forth with the steering wheel to keep it between the lines. It took some learning on how to modulate the throttle to keep from going nose-first into the guardrail.


Tires make a difference.

Ford’s traction control is not very aggressive and you WILL be able to spin the tires with a full throttle stomp from 40 mph even if the systems all work with sub-standard tires.

My 2013 spins the rears at 40 mph right now and my ABS/TCS/Autotrac all work. I am using 275/40/18 tires on the car. Plus I have the 3.15 rearend gear.

There are little sets of numbers and letters on the side of the tire that tell you if they will spin, or not. Treadwear XXX and the date codes being most important. My current tires are Treadwear 240 and they were made in 2017. When they were fresh and new, they didn’t fishtail. They do now. And they still have a legal amount of tread. And I am planning to replace them in the next couple of weeks.

If you want traction, look for tires with treadwear ratings 250 and below. There are a number of 200 treadwear tires that are very good. The downside is they will wear out pretty quickly and they cannot be used below 40 degrees F. 15,000 miles with the way you drive might be about all you can get… but they’ll stick.

The width helps a little, but not as much as the softer rubber used in 200 TW tires. I think the largest rear tire that came on the S197 Mustangs are 295’s (Shelby models). All the cars came with 27 inch tall tires and yours are 27.3. With some fiddling and the right offset and width wheel you can stuff 305s in the rear. A 295 will fit more easily but you’ll need at least a 10.5 inch wide wheel for a tire that wide.


Just to add something to what Mustangman said.
just realize that with a low treadwear tire in the 200’s it will be a summer only tire. so, if you live up north do not use them in the snow.


No hot rod experience myself. This could be normal for your car’s configuration and nothing can be done other than to limit the amount of throttle applied. But if I had that problem on my own ford truck first thing I’d check is to make sure the brakes at all four wheels are working correctly, and not locking up, and that there’s nothing being hauled that’s making the car’s weight unequally distributed.

A Russian commercial airplane accident was caused b/c the pilots were inadvertently stepping on the plane’s brakes during an attempted take-off. Didn’t go well.

I have 20x10’s on my Mustang. Stock wheels were 19x8.5 (front) and 19x9.5 (rear) with 20x9 also being a factory size. My mom’s new Highlander has 22 inch wheels from the factory. 20 inch wheels are pretty normal these days.

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You could add some sand bags to the trunk.

Not having ABS probably helps in this situation. Locking the brakes will make the car keep moving in the same direction after a real wheel spin out points the front where it shouldn’t go.

ABS is what allows this incident with the red car to happen: EPIC BURNOUT FAILS and BURNOUT CRASH COMPILATION 2022 - YouTube Then go to 4m35 to see an even better example.

If your 130 horsepower truck were performing 50 foot burnouts, you would be dreaming.

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Whereas my truck has the Coyote, will easily chirp the tires in 2WD, will easily fishtail on dirt. Just replaced the tires as they aged out, plenty of tread but loss of dry traction. The truck stays outside in Florida.


ABS has little to no effect when the car is completely sideways.

No… ABS has no effect in this incident with the red car. Again, sideways where ABS has no effect.

Have you ever DONE any of this in a car? With OR without ABS? Or with/without Stability Control Systems?

I have (in a safe controlled environment) both in a racing and testing situations. Stability control can help until the physical limit is exceeded but ABS does nothing once the car is sideways.

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