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Installing a Raptor shift light Kit on a 2001 Mustang GT

Knowing when to shift just got easier

Ricardo Topete - September 02, 2011 09:00 AM

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For Your Information:

 

RAPTOR PERFORMANCE

(980) 622-1628

www.raptorperformance.com

 

GTR HIGH PERFORMANCE

(909) 987-4352

www.gtrhipo.com

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1 All Raptor shift lights include a mounting stand and a shift light cover that matches the color of your selected LEDs.

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2 The hardest thing about this installation is deciding where to mount the Raptor. Here, Eli Patronas mounts the Raptor on top of the steering column. Eli routes the wires for the shift light under the instrument cluster and through the dash.

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3 The Raptor is set onto its mounting stand for a clean and secure look. Eli pulls the wires out from under the dash and routes them through the firewall.

 

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4 The wiring loom is routed on top of the driver side fuel rail. The first connection needed is a suitable ground. We find that with a fuel rail pressure sensor bolt.

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5 Next, Eli connects the red wire to a switched 12-volt source and the green wire to the negative side of an ignition coil.

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6 The dual-mode Raptor will require the white wire to be connected to the vehicle’s speed sensor, located on the driver side of the transmission. Eli routes the wire under the car and connects to the signal wire of the VSS. Single-mode Raptors will not require this connection. Now the VSS can be plugged back into the transmission.

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7 The last step is to set the launch and shift point rpm to our desired rpm. Use a small screwdriver and rotate the switches. The Raptor is so simple that even magazine writers could install them ... almost.

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To achieve the fastest lap times or quarter mile times, a car must shift gears at precisely the right moment.

Shift too early or too late and the engine will not be in the “sweet-spot” of the power band. This will cause the car to accelerate at a less-than-optimal rate. A simple way to ensure that each gearshift comes in right on cue is with the help of a shift light.

A shift light can provide benefits by warning the driver when to shift. Besides the advantages in racing conditions, a shift light can also help prevent over-revving situations, which can cause engine damage. Just because late-model cars are factory equipped with rev limiters doesn’t mean it is there for your use! The rev-limiter is the last line of defense your pony’s engine has against throwing a rod, floating a valve or some other internal calamity. Furthermore, the rev limiter should NOT be used as a shift indicator! Too much of that and you will be buying a new motor.

Our resident 2001 Mustang GT is no stranger to racetracks, of both the straight-line and twisty variety. As such, we figured having a shift light on board would make track outings safer and faster. We called on Raptor Performance for their ultra-cool mini-shift light. At about 3½ inches in length and ¾-inch in diameter, the Raptor shift light allows for many mounting possibilities. Function is not compromised by the Raptor’s diminutive size, as it is big on function but small in size and price. Raptor has a dual-mode shift light that sells for about $125, while the single-mode shift light sells for around $100. Our Mustang was the recipient of Raptor’s dual-mode light.

The Raptor features seven super-bright LED lights, which leave no doubt when it is time to shift. In addition, the adjustable switches allow the driver to select their desired shift point with a screwdriver. No pills or chips are necessary to set or change the rpm point, making it simple. Constructed from a 6061 aluminum housing, which is available in black or silver along with different LED color options, you can select the color combination that works best with your interior. We chose the black housing with the yellow LED lights.

The Raptor’s compact size allows for a stealthy installation to avoid cluttering up the interior. Installation is basic and requires only a handful of normal tools, which means that the average enthusiast should be able to tackle this in under an hour. As elementary as the installation is, GTR High Performance, an authorized Raptor dealer/installer, did the honors on our 2001 GT.

Once GTR’s Eli Patronas finished, he programmed the shift light to our desired rpm point. We used the Raptor’s “dual-mode” option and set the launch point to 3,000 rpm, while the shift point was set to 6,200 rpm. The dual-mode Raptor is well suited for drag racers, as it lets the driver focus on the starting lights instead of having to split their attention between the tachometer and Christmas tree. In drag racing, this is an invaluable feature that will surely lead to more consistent launches and faster times. Road racers and autocrossers will also find a shift light useful as they maneuver through a course. Have you ever tried heel-and-toe shifting through a late-apex turn while in traffic? If so, the last thing on your mind is looking down at your tachometer. Safety will be improved as you hustle around the track as you can keep your eyes where they belong — on the track.

If you have about a hundred bucks to spare and want to buy a new toy, the Raptor shift light will fit nicely in your favorite ride and within your budget. While it won’t add power, it will prove very useful and, if used properly, can help lower lap times or quarter mile times. After all, isn’t that what we are after?

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