lightnings and problems


possibly lightning
May 13, 2007
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Hey guys my name is chris i live in lake in the hills i own a srt-4 and am getting rid of it and im looking to get a lightning. IM trying to get away from the srt breaking to much money how are the lightinings and problems?


Molon Labe - come and take them!
Aug 18, 2005
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Holiday Inn
ex-srt4 said:
Hey guys my name is chris i live in lake in the hills i own a srt-4 and am getting rid of it and im looking to get a lightning. IM trying to get away from the srt breaking to much money how are the lightinings and problems?
Gen 1's or Gen 2's?
Jul 7, 2006
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1) I just got my Lightning, how do I get the build # info?

Call 1-800-FORD SVT and give them your VIN# and they can tell you.

2) This truck is stock, where do I start with the mods?

The basics:
CAI=Cold Air Induction Kit
This will give you about another pound of boost.

Oil Separator Mod:
Oil in the intake is a known problem and easily corrected. There are several solutions, search and you will find. The easiest and most basic is the oil separator unit that plugs right into the pcv system. Oil ingress will eventually clog the intercooler and coat the rotors of the supercharger and have to be cleaned. Not only does this rob power by insulating the intercooler from removing heat but will also accelerate the coating on the rotors of the s/c eroding whick will also clog the inlet of the intercooler and further rob power and performance.

Stock is 185*
Majority change to a 170* and some to 160* to help with the heat. These are cheap and easy but must be adjusted for in the tune or you will get a CEL (check engine light). Some in really cold climates can have issues with the 160* also so keep this in mind when choosing.

FTVB=Factory Tech Valve Body
This is the "shift kit" we all use and the absolute best mod for the dollar there is in many's opinion. They will make your shifts better and save your transmission in the long run.

Boost Bypass:
This can either be done in your new tune or by buying $5 worth of vacuum fittings. It prevents the computer from dumping boost on the 1-2 gear shift which adds a little performance and stops the weird farting noise you hear.


A 2,3,4,5,6,8 and 10 # lower and also several upper pulleys are available. For most street driven L's a 4 or 6# lower pulley will get you off to a great start. A dynotune is highly adviseable when adding this much boost over stock to recalibrate the air fuel mixture which is crucial to keep the engine from detonating and destroying itself.

When increasing boost above stock, even 2#'s more new spark plugs need to be installed. More boost causes the air charge to be heated more and also makes more heat inside the engine. A spark plug at least one heat range colder should be used up to about 6#'s over stock and from there two ranges colder to prevent detonation and engine damage. There is normally no gains/losses from plug to plug. As always consult your tuner as to which would be best suited to your mods/conditions as all motors will be slightly different. This is very important: When changing plugs make sure you do it on a cold engine to prevent damaging the threads and always torque them to factory specs for your year. This will help prevent the plugs from being blown out of the cylinder heads as many have done.

Cat Back Exhaust:
There are many from which to choose, most use bassani or magnaflow, both sound awesome. These will not really add power but will make it sound like it should have.

Handheld Tuner:
The day of the "chip" is all but gone. Diablosport Predator or SCT Excal. are the two most used, they plug in and reflash the computer or PCM with your new tune and off you go. Again personal choice of tuners or vendor will dictate which one you get but both do the same basic function.

The tunes that come in the predator, the latest revision-r9 are safe to use out of the box and produce good results until you can get dynoed. Just follow the contained instructions and enjoy. The SCT I am unsure of but I think it has to have tunes loaded into it by the vendor before sale and does not come with "generic" tunes. Someone please correct me on this if I am wrong.

3) My mods are installed, now what?

Once you have the basics make an appointment with your local dyno shop or drive to where your tuner is for a dynotune with a/f reading. This is a MUST DO when modding or your engine will lean out and destroy itself. When done you should have an air fuel ratio of 11.5 to 12.0 at Wide Open Throttle or WOT. 11.7-11.8 is the average goal for safe street duty. At this time you can speak with your tuner about making addtional tunes for hot, cold weather or a race only tune or whatever you want but the base tune is critical so do your homework and find someone that YOU are comfortable/confident with to take care of your investment.

These are the basics and when done will net the average owner between 380-400 Rear Wheel Horsepower or RWHP and 460-500 Rear Wheel Torque or RWT. This will vary depending on condtions at time of dyno and other factors that your tuner can enlighten you on.

Base #'s for a stock L are usually 330-350 RWHP and 440-460 RWT, again depending on vehicle year, conditions and so on.

4) What is the difference between 99-00 and 01-up L's?
They came with a smaller intercooler than the 01+ which was prone to leak, if the owner took advantage of it they were replaced with newer 01+ intercoolers under factory recall warranty so check into yours if unsure.
They had an 80mm Mass Air Flow Meter or MAF.
5x135mm wheel bolt pattern and 12mm studs up till 11/99.
Rated at 360 hp and 440 ft.lbs.trq. from the factory-engine not at the rear wheels. There are some other cosmetic differences also but that can be found later.

99 to late 02 have 3-4 threads in the cylinder heads for the spark plugs, 02+ have 8-9 threads and are less prone to spark plug blow out.

Rear gear ratio 99-00=3.55
Rear gear ratio 01-04=3.73

The driveshaft difference. 99-00 3" steel. 01-up 5" aluminum.

Bigger/upgraded intercooler.
90mm MAF
5x135 wheel bolt pattern with 14mm wheel studs.
Rated at 380 hp and 450 ft.lbs.trq from the factory-engine not at the rear wheels.

03-04 have the updated impeller on the water pumps and are more efficient than 99-02.

The only real difference was they come with heavier rated rear leaf springs in the back and thus have about 1" additional ride height from previous years, this was done only to increase the payload. Again some cosmetic differences are present but will be found later.

5) What oil do I use?

Use either the Motorcraft 5w-20 or synthetic blend or full synthetic. Try to avoid using higher viscosity oils. I have seen firsthand that the top end on mod motors can starve for oil and were designed to use 5w-20 and nothing thicker. Some use 5w-30 but I will not. Most important is to change it along with the filter every 3-5000 miles and you'll be good to go.

6) When should I change the fuel filter?

This should be changed every 5-8,000 miles, every three oil changes can be a good guide. These filters can and do clog easily and can result in fuel starvation to the engine and thus a catastrophic failure. Plus the only cost $12 and take 15 minutes to change-cheap insurance.

7) My L is all jacked up in the back, how much to level it out?

For 99-02 a 2" rear shackle will level it right out, isn't expensive and only takes an hour to install.
For 03-04 a 2" shackle will get it close but not quite level. You can get a 2" shackle for a C1500 chevy which is longer than the one for the L by about an inch, will bolt right up and level you out.

8) Are headers worth it?

Yes and No:
For the money shorty headers are a waste of time all the way. Long tube equal length headers will only show real gains when you are pushing a lot of boost and have greatly modded your L. They sound awesome but are expensive for the dollar to hp you get.
A high flow two cat or no cat midpipe setup is much better for power when starting out. The stock manifolds are good up to around 500 RWHP, the only drawback is that a midpipe that bolts up to stock manifolds won't work unless modified when switching to L/T's so keep this in mind.

9) SBTB, how much hp?

Single Blade Throttle Bodies=SBTB:
They will only get you about 5-10 RWHP but will improve throttle response and are a must when planning future mods. One of these will flow up to 1600 cfm of air which will never need upgrading-EVER. Some use a twin 65mm BBK throttle body, don't know what it flows but I don't think it can ultimately match the SBTB.

10) What can I do about the upper plenum?

C & L makes a good plenum that is much larger than stock and is a direct bolt on, I installed one and saw a pound of boost increase over the stock one so it was worth it to me.

Johnny Lightning makes a sheet metal plenum that is awesome and expensive but not really needed unless running massive amounts of boost and high hp.

11) Will an Electric Fan kit give me better gas mileage and more hp?

They are worth much quicker throttle response in our L's but not much hp and expect zero gas mileage increase. There are single fan units and the flexolite dual fan unit that moves 5500 cfm of air and with two fans you have redundancy in case of failure. They are pretty easy to install also and remove about 15 pounds of rotating mass off the engine.

12) Are aftermarket heat exchangers helpfull?

Yes and No:
For everyday lightly modded L's the stock system is very efficient. When doing many runs at the dragstrip or on a roadcoarse it will however show it limitations. A larger one will hold more coolant and also more quickly dissipate heat generated while under boost and thereby lower temps back to nominal more quickly.

13) Is water wetter any good?

Yes it is:
After draining my intercoolant system's contents and adding distilled water and a bottle of water wetter I saw an average temperature drop of 10*F, costs less than $10 and only takes 30 minutes to do. Recommended.

14) Where do I buy my go fast parts from?

There are several site supporting vendors on here that have great prices, customer service and thorough knowledge on what they sell. Maybe we can also get a vendor section on here for us to look through?

The markeplace section and this forum is always a good place to pick up good used parts from others looking to sell for really good deals also so keep this in mind and check often, things go quick.

15) Ported supercharger? What up with that?

Porting the stock eaton is a relatively cheap and easy way to gain up to 35 RWHP. It can be done by some of the vendors on here and has been done by several memebers including myself with great success.
By porting the eaton you gain efficiency which is lost when going 6# or more over stock boost. The air becomes so heated that any additional boost made is useless because of the extra heat generated. By porting and polishing it enables the eaton to operate at lower temperatures at higher boost levels thereby lowering the air charge temperature and gaining HP. A gain of 2# of boost is also common when porting also with the same pulley combo useed previously. Your ported eaton will now make upwards of 16# of boost and be efficient while doing so when the stock one would be ready to overheat and die. This is a good bang for the buck mod also, recommended.

16) How much power can the stock motor handle?

Rule of thumb is 450 RWHP. The stock injectors and fuel pumps will not safely support any more. With a really good tune the internals will hold out above and beyond that but is usually considered not if but when they will fail. Most, including me run upwards of 450-470 with no real issues on a stock engine. This is with a good dynotune and safe timing and a/f. A street tune will typically have 15-16* of timing while a race tune will have 18-19* and higher if tuned with race gas.

Boost should be kept under 16# unless provisions are made in tuning to accomodate more. 12-14#'s is most common for daily driving and is plenty. Keep in mind when the temps go down the boost will go up due to the more dense, colder and dryer air so change pulleys as needed to compensate for it or you will get a nasty suprise.

The stock short block has the following:
Cast iron block good for as much power as anyone has made to date.
Forged steel 8 bolt crank good for 1000 hp-stock.
"Forged" powdered metal rods good for throwing away first chance you get. They are the weakest link in the chain are always the part that fails first, many examples to date.

Supposed forged pistons, don't really know what they can take because when you change the rods pistons go with it logically. No one that I know of has tested the limits of stock pistons.

Can I put a Kenne Bell or Whipple on an otherwise stock engine?

Yes you can and it's a great investment. The higher efficiency and lower discharge air temperature charictaristics of a twin screw make them a great choice when adding power. They move more air at lower boost levels than the Eaton and aren't as prone to cause detonation due to the lower air temps they discharge. You can run a 2.3 KB or Whipple up to 15-16 PSI on a bone stock motor without danger of breakage.

In order to do so you MUST do the following:

1) Find a reputable tuner who can dyno tune you.

2) Spark plugs with a colder range must be used with the increased boost as well, there are many choices and info can be found by searching.

3) It is HIGHLY recommended to get a Mafia, SCT 2400, 2800 or some other type of MAF upgrade. When elevated boost levels are involved the stock Mass Air Meter is the first component that will reach it's limit, they are cheap insurance. You will require a tuning adjustment when using a larger MAF so keep this in mind. Even when running low boost with the larger blowers this prevents pegging the stock MAF, leaning out the air fuel mix and causing severe damage to the internals.

4) If you plan to go above 12-13 PSI you will need to upgrade the fuel system along with the MAF. The stock fuel system (pumps and injectors) can only support up to @ 500 RWHP. You have several options here but here are the most common:

Replace the stock 130 lph pumps with 255 lph Walbro pump which will support more power than we can ever hope to make.

Replace the stock 42 lb/hr injectors with Siemens Deka 60 lb/hr ones. (You can use 50 or 55 as well but the 60's are most used and said to be easier to tune with.) They will also support as much power as you can stand.

That should help you...

Wiked L

Wiked03's Bitch
Apr 1, 2004
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TSI_SVT said:
Ok Larry. Who wrote that? :p
Some one at NLOC did :p I read that article a couple years ago before I even got the lightning.

ex-srt4, The best information sites for the lightnings are or (the lightning section). I would definatly read both thoroughly before purchasing. Just like the article tells you the '01's and have a few fixes from the '00's and below. One of the 2nd gens biggest problems are the rods, they suck! So, you will read a lot of people needing replacement engines or rods. The lightning can't take the amount of power the cobras can and the L's are very sensitive to temperature changes. As long as your tune is good and you're not doing consistant high speeds runs I wouldn't be too worried.

A lot of people get a lightning and then a couple months later you hear "I wish I got a cobra instead". I don't know, everyone's different, but I know I LOVE my L!


Get Blown!
Jul 9, 2006
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I wouldn't have anything but a Lightning. I think it is the best all around vehicle ever made. Power, looks functional, decent tow rating. I would have something in addition to one. I just hope in a few years there is something comparable.


possibly lightning
May 13, 2007
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Yea i dont plan on doing anything major to it right away i had the srt4 and went threw to motors thats what im trying to get a way from maybe in a year or so ill do some stuff i spent to much on the neon

imported_04 cobra

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2006
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we got an 02 red one at wickstrom ford with low miles! their fun trucks. my bro had one for a while and it was a 12.60 at the track with a 6lb pulley,high flow y pipe, jdm cat back,filter and jdm tune.


Aug 18, 2007
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Just picked up my 2000L and that was the best summary I've come across



Well-known member
Apr 3, 2007
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So have you test drove any yet? your gonna fall in love?

[email protected]

Well-known member
Sep 26, 2007
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let me tell you story, I was in your position a few months ago be4 i bought my Lightning. I was always an import guy, i had a 240sx, then a 91 supra, and a 300z, and finally last year i bought a STI, but i wasn't happy for some reason maybe cuz i always wanted a truck. So i went to a dealer test drove the L and fell in love. I went home and for the next couple weeks i didn nothing but read and learn anythign and everythign I could about that truck. I pourchased my Lightning about a month later and wouldn't give it back for the world. going from an allwheel drive STI to a Lightning is a big change, but one i can never regret.

SO my words of wisdom are do your research look at picturs as much as you can, that way you know what things look like, where they are supposed to be, and how they work....

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