97 Tracer- can't eliminate pulling to the right | Page 2 | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)
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97 Tracer- can't eliminate pulling to the right

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by ethangsmith, May 13, 2016.

  1. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Despite all the pulling and pushing I could never tell that a ball joint was shattered until I unbolted it from the control arm. The bottom half fell-off. o_O My only clue was the "shifty" maneuvering and driving behavior. (at times occasionally worse than others)
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  2. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Good to know. I don't think that's something I replaced on the Tracer yet. I'm wondering what new ball joints and rack bushings would do. I get a knock in the left front when going over bumps, but when we poke, pry, and prod everything nothing seems wrong. I hope it's not one of my tie rods failing again already! I even use the Motorcraft brand parts!
  3. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I could suspect a bad rack, one where the spindle valve had something clogging it or had a crack.
    If you disconnected the serpentine belt, to stop the p.s. pump and the flow of p.s. fluid, I would think it the tendency to turn would go away.
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  4. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I keep suspecting a bad rack as well. There doesn't feel like much boost sometimes.
  5. copcarguy

    copcarguy FEOA Member

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    Has the car even been put on a frame rack? Maybe it's crab walking a little bit. While you say it's never been in an accident because all the vin tags are there it doesn't mean it wasn't jumped in the air like the General Lee.
  6. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Interesting. What do you think about this test ?
    Jack the front-end up. (Chock the rear wheels.)
    Center the steering wheel.
    Start the car.
    Observe steering wheel movement, if any.
    Move the steering wheel slightly and let go.
    Observe steering wheel movement, if any.
    Recenter the steering wheel.
    Move the steering wheel slightly, this time biased in the opposite direction and let go.
    Observe steering wheel movement, if any.

    Good test or bad test ?
    In theory, if the rack is biased, would it push the wheels to the left or right ?
  7. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Anything's possible I suppose. I've been all over this car and I've yet to find any signs of abuse. It was adult-owned since day one from what I was told, and it certainly looks it. All the body gaps around panels are even side-to-side too. No tight or wide gaps anywhere and no turned bolt or nuts anywhere either.
  8. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I like the rack test idea. It should make any bias very apparent by the motion of the wheels.
  9. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the big values of these forums; when a member has a mysterious problem, and hopefully solves it - and let us know what the fix was.
    Because whatever problems your car has, mine might have them some day.
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  10. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Agreed. That's why I'm here appealing to the masses and giving detailed info about what's going on and what's been done so far. I'm going to have to think about my next steps over the next few days. Keep the ideas coming! It's helping me devise a plan of attack on the car.
  11. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I bought a pair of Motorcraft ball joints and I have a set of the polyurethane rack bushings on order. Doing more experimentation, I noticed that one of the rack bushings is moved out of position. I had my wife start the car and turn the wheel back and forth while I watched for rack movement. Well, it moves! Up, down, in, out, left, right. Not a ton, but enough.
  12. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    I know that situation. I hope your rack bushing nuts are not too rusty. Thats the only thing making it a chore to replace the bushing.
  13. bent_rod

    bent_rod FEOA Donator

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    Just throw this into the thread, not that it may apply to your car but just something to keep in mind.
    Within a four week time period the car started to pull to the left. It also was as you said above "feels like it's fighting itself as it goes down the road". The tires had no tread wear to speak of with only 7,000 miles of use but had been on the car for 5 years. The back two tires did have some slight closely spaced cuping on the insides next to the edge. Alignment was good, pressure good, new ball joints and all new tie rod ends plus new quick struts on front. Starting at 70 mph the car felt like it had square wheels. At low speeds all was normal.
    A new set of tires fixed everything. Old tires were Wally World Douglas. Had many Douglas tires before and never a problem.
  14. buzzyj

    buzzyj FEOA Member

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    My 2002 Escort SE was bothering me for a long time; because it was drifting to the left all the time. A smart mechanic finally rotated the front tires, and it's been going straight ahead fine, ever since!
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  15. buzzyj

    buzzyj FEOA Member

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    Oops! I should have said the mechanic rotated the front wheels with the tires on them. Sorry about that.
  16. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Don't know about you, but I rotate my tires every time I go for a drive. {drum-smash!} ;)

    Yeah we know watcha meant Buzz. :)
  17. scotsho

    scotsho FEOA Member

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    bent_rod, rbailin and denisond3 like this.
  18. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Update:
    I still didn't get the rack bushings or the ball joints in. However, I cracked ANOTHER rear sway bar end link. These are the heavy duty MOOG "problem solver" links too. I called MOOG and they told me that it was due to improper torquing by the garage. They had them so tight the rear could not flex properly and it was causing issues. I bought some cheaper generic rubber end links and had them put on and then I hand torqued them perfectly evenly. Going down the road the car seems much more "planted" and firm. But it still pulls right. On inspection, we found a torn and damaged rack bushing, so I think that's going to be at least part of the issue. I also ordered new front complete struts. I am starting to get an occasional clunk from the strut bearings at the tops of the strut assemblies. It's time. So in the next few weeks, the rack bushings, ball joints, and complete struts will be put on the car.
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  19. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

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    if your numbers are green on the screen, and it pulls while driving, that means you have something moving as the suspension is loaded... look for squishy rack bushing, ball joints, control arm bushings, wheel bearings, sticking brakes, and even a bad tire will cause a pull.

    start by taking the right tires and putting them on the left of the car. if there is no change then you need to get under it and start prying on shit to find whats loose.
  20. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I've done the tire rotations already. No change. Even tried different brands of tires. No change. We've pried around at the shop and no dice. But this morning the car should be getting new front complete struts, new rack bushings, and new ball joints.

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