Mercury Cougar Supercharger FAQ by (AtomicInternet)
This is a FAQ I've compiled from posts in this forum. I've noticed alot of recurring questions, so I hope this will answer them. Feel free to reply and add your 2¢.
*** UPDATE: NOW AVAILABLE AS A TUNER KIT ***
Is the Vortech Supercharger reliable?
When the kit was first introduced, there was a 100% failure rate with the jackshaft (runs from the pulley to the supercharger). Vortech has since fixed this issue and the new "pin drive" kit does not suffer the same failure rate. The kit is just as reliable as any other aftermarket part, which is to say it's designed to perform it's intended function. Those who install the kit correctly and maintain it properly have had no major issues or failures with the kit (yet).
Are electric superchargers just as good as regular superchargers?
No, electric superchargers are crap. Every kit tested by members of this board have shown to output less air than the engine sucks in on it's own. If anything, they are reducing horsepower.
Can I install a supercharger on my Cougar?
Currently, the only available kit is the Vortech kit. In order to install this kit, your Cougar must meet two criteria:
1. You must have a return fuel system. If you are unsure of what you have, your dealer can answer this.
NOTE: Kits have been successfully installed on returnless systems, but this requires significant customization
2. You must have a manual transmission.
NOTE: click here for a thread about a possible automatic supercharger.
If you do not meet these criteria you cannot install the Vortech kit. However, you can create your own custom kit (for a subsequently higher price).
How much does the Vortech kit cost?
$3000 - $4000, plus install costs estimated at 15-20 hours. A shop I called told me $2500 to install it, then said they didn't want to do it.
Information on Vortech Kit
Can I install the Vortech kit myself?
If you can't change your oil, and aren't familiar with your Cougars engine, then no. If you are fairly mechanically inclined and know your way around an engine bay, then it's an experience at minimum. here are some misleading pictures of how fun it is to install one. The instructions are straighforward, but getting it done is very frustrating. Plan at least 5 full days for the install.
Installation Manual for Vortech Kit
Will my Cougar wear out sooner with a Supercharger?
Yes. Any modification you do to your Cougar will significantly reduce projected lifetime. This means you will have to replace parts sooner than you would if you left your engine completely stock. By gaining more horsepower you increase wear on all the involved engine parts. Since these parts were not originally designed to take this new stress, expect to replace engine parts sooner than your manual indicates.
NOTE: This does not mean your Cougar will fall apart, rather that your tuneup and diagnostics may occur at 75,000 as opposed to 100,000. Once you install a supercharger you are also committing yourself to much higher costs in engine maintenance and repairs.
Why do Cougar supercharger kits only run 8-10psi? Can I increase that?
Naturally Aspirated (non-supercharged) engines are not sealed. That is to say, they are not designed to have any kind of high pressure intake that you get from forced induction. 8psi is not all that much, but it is significant enough to realize significant gains without any real damage to your motor. Going beyond that level introduces all kinds of potential issues with your engine. Some people have run 12 and higher psi with their setups, but most often it results in detonation or other nasty events that often require engine replacement. So the answer is: engine safety. If you are willing to take the risk, you can certainly go above the commonly accepted number, but realize your performance gains come at an extra price of possible permanent damage.
Should I get a supercharger?
If you have $3,000+ burning a hole in your pocket, then the answer is yes. In my opinion, it is the best bang-for-buck modification you can do.
If you have $4,000+ burning a hole in your pocket, then you might want to check out the Turbo. The turbo gives bigger gains in terms of horsepower/torque, but also cost more to purchase/install.
If, however, you don't have an abundance of cash you need to decide if it's worth it. I found various things I could buy for $3,500 (quite alot) and decided I'd rather have a supercharger. I love the Cougar, but needed more power and for me the supercharger was (and still is) my answer. Nobody can tell you what to do, but realize the cost involved and make sure it's what you really want.
What kind of oil should I run with my supercharger?
The Vortech kit has a very constrictive oil line so regardless of what oil you run, you should change it every 3,000 miles or earlier. Another good practice is to check the oil return line (runs from compressor to oil pan) after you turn your car off and verify that line is hot. A hot line means fresh oil is making it's way through the supercharger. I will always recommend Mobil 1 Synthetic oil, 5w-20 if available, 5w-30 if not. It's simply the best oil you can buy and when you've invested in a supercharger you want nothing but the best. However this is just my choice and you can use any oil that's SAE rated.
Do I need any extra gauges with my supercharger?
I recommend a vaccuum/boost gauge to anyone who owns an automobile. The gauge should read 20 vaccuum when idling, and up to 8psi at full throttle around 6200 RPM if you have a supercharger (stays at 0 if not). If these numbers are different you may have a leak, or something may be wrong with your supercharger. I also installed an air/fuel gauge to make sure I do not run lean when I'm in boost. (Vortech pumps so much fuel into your engine that you will run ultra rich unless something is wrong). Running lean on boost results in detonation, and that's a very bad thing.
My supercharger makes a loud whine, is this normal?
This is the trim on your compressor making itself known. The air passing through the metallic parts makes this noise. I would compare the sound level to my stock radio on a volume number of 8. If it sounds like grinding or gets worse then you should be concerned, and typically as the car warms up this gets quieter. If you're not sure, just record it and post it here!
Do you have pictures of an installed supercharger?
So glad you asked! I have photos and a video of me driving my supercharged Cougar. You can find both on my webpage. There are also installation pictures.