97 Tracer- can't eliminate pulling to the right | Page 3 | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

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. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Ok guys. Now I'm stumped. Completely. Rack bushings are in. Ball joints are in. Complete struts are in. I even had calipers done in case one was dragging. With the steering wheel straight when the car is aligned, it still turns right. And not by a little! We still have to set the wheel off center to make it track somewhat straight. My mechanic and I are both completely stumped. We even put the wheels up off the ground to see if the rack was the culprit, but the wheel stays centered and does not turn on its own. Could the power steering be not giving enough boost and allowing the car to drift???? The steering does seem heavier than what my 99 was, but it's hard to remember exactly what that one was like.
  2. copcarguy

    copcarguy FEOA Member

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    Put it on a frame rack to see if it's crab walking.
  3. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    If there was frame twist, wouldn't it show up in the thrust angle measurement on the alignment?
  4. scotsho

    scotsho FEOA Member

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    I think you have a bad spot in the rack & pinion where is it pushing the rack once power steering pressure is applied. Can you check the alignment with the car running?
  5. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    With the front end off the ground, no matter when I turn the wheel, it does not return to center. I can turn it completely to the left or right lock and it just stays there. It may try to creep towards center a little bit, but that's it. If I turn the wheel only a few degrees left or right, it just stays there and does not try to center itself at all.
  6. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Rear end alignment.

    Had a Peterbilt pulling to the right REALLY hard and it ended up being the rear axles were out of alignment, pushing it off the road.
  7. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    We were suspicious of the rear alignment. It's strange. The rear toe was in the red when we aligned it the first time and it did nothing. So when we put it on the rack the second time, the rear was already back in the red! We adjusted it in again and it made no difference. We pried around with pry bars and checked all the arms and bushings and everything looks great. Only thing we noticed was the left trailing arm sits a little weird at the rear knuckle. But it doesn't affect the alignment and we aren't sure if it's supposed to be the way it looks or not. And I have no idea where to get a new knuckle or trailing arm. I wouldn't do used just for fear of getting one that's bent. I would figure if there was an actual problem with the knuckle and arm, it would show up consistently in the alignment and we wouldn't be able to align the car. But then again, it may be why every time we align it and drive it and then put it back on the rack, the number is back in the red? Now this has me thinking. I forgot until dchawk81 mentioned it that that arm looked weird in comparison to the other side.
  8. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Rust really screwed with my rear alignment. Rear strut towers, strut mounts. There only appeared to be superficial damage to the rear bumper, but backing into a utility pole (DOH!) didn't help either. (Driveway entrance curved around it to reach the street and I wasn't paying attention.)
  9. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    This one, thankfully, is completely rust free. It was garage kept its entire life. So when I bought it, I had the entire underside cleaned and painted in epoxy primer.
  10. escortrio

    escortrio FEOA Donator

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    I had a pull to the right on a 91 4dr hatch I used to have. It started after replacing a bunch of things like front control arms/bushing, both sides of struts, wheel bearings , inner and outer tie rod ends, both sides of sway bar bushings, rear trailing arms/bushings assembly. I also had strut bars and tie bars on the top and bottom of both sides and new bf Goodrich tires like I always use. though I did work like 70 hrs a week at the time I did go back to the alignment shop many times since it is free and unlimited but he did mention about torque steer being the cause and of the cause many times but I always thought i'v owned many and I never had the problem before. also I remember one side on the rear was in the red mark by maybe 1 degree or 2 max but they were unable to adjust it which I understand after trying to turn any junkyard one, things don't move. anyways at my 70-80 speed on the highway if I accelerated it would push to the right and if I let go it would want to go to the left, not sure if me pulling to the right to stay straight or with the lane to cause it to do the opposite on deceleration but it did. I did many things but that kinda always stayed, never inspected or did anything with the rack-n-pinion but the rear strut towers were both rusty and were held in tact by the upper strut bar since I drove 2 months with the front mount of one side not even connected before I figured it out and replaced it. there were like two holes on both sides where the upper rear struts were attached and always kinda thought that was the cause. I don't have it anymore but I remember a tie rod end being bad that helped a lot to replace since I checked for play with only one side up instead of both but it always kept a pull to the right no matter what I did - the rack-n-pinion never messed with that. it just wasn't near as bad afterword and was caused from hitting so the one side of rear alignment that was off might have been the cause but that's what I think of when I think of torque steer, since thats the only experience i'v had on it. it did have an spi engine and zx2 tranny in it so that might have something to do with it or made it slightly worse. I don't remember it actually starting to do it until after replacing the front control arms with the front sway bar bushings. It might have been the same time I replaced the front strut assemblies to match the rear but since then i'v stayed away from it unless there actually bad, rears are always replaced 1st bad or not, still better afterword. then again that could give a harder pull . . . and counter pull. it had new front wheel bearings also never felt play on the rears and had them replaced while doing the ball joints. car ended up getting rear ended but the strut towers stayed in tact and no difference in pull afterwords that I recall but didn't drive it for long
  11. escortrio

    escortrio FEOA Donator

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    I replaced the front strut assemblies on the 3rd gen I drive now for the threads on one side of both struts spinning with the nut from the strut bar that was put on (had to drill it to enlarge the hole in the strut bar), didn't cause the pull afterword but i refuse to replace the front sway bar bushings just incase, thinking i'll regret it. but all of the alignment is in spec so it probably won't have that effect
  12. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    Well, I've got a reman. rack and pump in and we aligned it to 1999 Escort specs (For some reason 1997 has its own alignment specs!). For about 2 days it ran nicely. The steering was smooth and it didn't pull. Well, today as I was driving it, I could feel the steering getting heavier and heavier and now it pulls right again. And, on top of it, since I have a reman. pump, it's noisy now too! Another $700 down the drain. Not only am I going to start looking for another car, this will be my last Escort/Tracer/ZX2. I'm done with the quirks of these cars.
  13. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    What are you using for power steering fluid? It should be Dexron III/Mercon, or whatever they call it now. The 97 manual originally called for Type F (maybe a typo), which is much thicker, but I remember adding about a pint to stop occasional pump squealing on my 97 years ago when fresh D-III didn't fix it.

    If reman. steering pumps and racks are the same quality as alternators and starters, you might have to try a few to get a good one, or buy a known good aftermarket brand like NAPA.
    copcarguy likes this.
  14. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    Time to buy new/nearly new.

    Payments ain't so bad. Set up automatic and you won't even notice. ;)
  15. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    We used the Dex/Merc fluid since it seems that's the consensus as the best fluid to use. The pump is quite noisy, which doesn't surprise me. Unfortunately, I'd have to pay to have another rack and pump in, which isn't in the budget. Plus, I've already spent the value of the car on all these parts I've been replacing. It's time to say enough is enough and concede that the car just likes to pull right.
  16. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    I talked with my mechanic this afternoon and we went of the a test drive. He observed the odd behavior of the steering and he's going to tear everything down again to find out what's going on. He's going to mess with the caster adjustments this time too when he checks the alignment in hopes of isolating the pulling. He may have the car for a few days while he does everything, so I'll keep the thread updated. In the meantime, I'll be test driving other Fords this week......
  17. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    You need a new alignment shop. Shouldn't be "messing" in what sounds to be like trial and error.
  18. ethangsmith

    ethangsmith FEOA Member

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    It's been to alignment shops. It's well past that and it's time to experiment! We did find that for some reason Ford has separate alignment specs for a 97 versus the 98-02 cars. We are using the 98-02 numbers as a base now and working off that. We want to find a concrete solution, and once we do, I will post in on here in case others have pulling/drifting issues.
  19. copcarguy

    copcarguy FEOA Member

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    I wonder why 97 would be different, theres so many different things that they changed for 98+.
  20. dchawk81

    dchawk81 FEOA Member

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    I can't think of anything in the steering & suspension that's different.

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