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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Vehicle: 1995 Mercury Tracer
Engine: 1.9L SEFI
Transmission: 5 speed

Recent work done: front brakes, wheel bearings, rotated / rebalanced tires, cv's, new transmission / clutch, 2 alignments.

Ok, the problem is that the car pulls extremely hard to the right when I let go of the steering wheel, doesn't seem to matter whether I'm going 30 or 60, it pulls about the same. Rougher roads make it a little less noticeable. I've had it aligned twice, both times they said it was just about perfect, along with all the other work I've done up above. I am thinking I may need a new steering rack, but also awhile back, I busted up my steering column abit, trying to change the steering wheel. Since I don't have a steering gearbox, the column is directly linked to the rack and pinion, I was wondering if the steering column could be causing that? Or could it be both the steering rack and column? Which should I replace first to check? Or is there a way to check? I have thought about the tires being the problem, but they are perfectly balanced and rotated, I had this problem before all that, before my alignments, and before I replaced the trans (for those thinking this is a differential problem). Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Other symtoms:
Under acceleration will sometimes pull hard straight, hard right, or hard left. Same for braking. Steeing has mild play, not too bad.

Since I changed the steering wheel, the problem the column has had is that the wheel moves forward and back about 1.5-2 inches, it telescopes....didn't do that before, obviously. Other than that, there is no other apparent damage to the column, and I don't recall the problem starting then. (The column doesn't move, just the steering wheel)
 

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A way to test your rack....
To check a rack for a pulling problem;
Lift car up evenly,wheels of the ground.Center wheel(steering)
Start car.look at steering wheel see if it turns all by itself.If it does you might have a bad rack.Your steering column would create more of a binding condition,not a pull if anything.


But honestly it doesn't sound like a problem directy related to
the rack.Sounds more like a worn or bent component (strut,tie rod,lower control arm) Do you have the alingnment results?I would like to see the numbers.How is Camber,Caster,and SAI?
I forgot...
Binding brakes can also cause hard pull.Check your Calipers.
When does the pull occur?Acceleration,deceleration,cruise or all of the above? Does it pull less once the car has been driving for a while?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The wheels are aftermarket 14's with factory offset/widt/h (6.5 i think). Tires are 185 60 14's, pretty cheap ones too. As for the steering, it's all of the above. It pulls under acceleration, braking, and cruising, whether it's cold or warm, wet or dry, regardless of driving time. I'd think if the calipers were the problem (them sticking is the only thing they could do, correct?) that I would be able to tell from the brakes, they'd stick or something, or not work so well due to the pads being heated up from rubbing. I will try jacking it up and seeing if the wheel moves. I'm pretty sure it doesn't, as I've had it idling in the air recently for a length of time, and would have noticed. I unfortunately do NOT have the alignment results, it's been awhile, but the problem remains.

It is at 150k miles on the factory struts, and I haven't been particularly nice to them, and the thought had crossed my mind that they could be the problem, but decided that it would probably only behave weirdly on uneven road, not on flat straightaways. But if it's bent, I see how that could do that.... I was planning on installing new springs/stuts in feb/march.
 

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I'd say tie rod.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Perhaps I should just invest in a new rack to get the tie rod, if that's the problem. It's only about $130 or so, and it's a snap to put it. I could install my new springs/struts and that at the same time, and then take the whole shebang in for an alignment. driving on ice, how does the tie rod create a problem? Are you saying it's bent or what? It sure doesn't look bent to me. If you're saying it's adjusted wrong, don't the tie rods determine left/right alignment? The alignment is correct, so how could it be a problem from that perspective?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just got back from a good local front end shop the other day. They said they tried to align it, but the car would pop right out alignment as soon as they test drove it, explaining just about everything. Upon closer examination, they determined that both my NEW tie rod ends and NEW lower balls joints were bad. Hooray for NAPA parts! Don't go there. Long story short - the alignment walking itself all over is what was making the car sometimes walk left, sometimes right, and in general drive like crap. They tightened stuff up for me, helped out quite abit and only cost me $38. Told me to replace that stuff and come back for a real alignment ASAP.
 
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