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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I hope this is the right place to put this question. I've had some trouble since I got a used pair of tires put on the front end of my 98 LX. shortly after getting the tires on, she began to lightly swerve right and left, at random. (I'll explain the swerve in detail below.) I figured that the wheels looked a little off center, so I straightened them out with the tie-rods. after doing that she began to swerve more severely and more often. I replaced the ball joints (they needed it), and now I'm back to the original problem. The wheels look REALLY close on alignment, and the ball joints are new, the tie-rods are solid, and the rack doesn't seem loose(I pushed and pulled on both sides really hard, with no movement at all. No amount of pushing/pulling/shaking of the wheels/car, jacked-up/on the ground makes the wheels move at all.

The swerve I'm getting is : I'll be driving straight and she lurches left or right, forcing the steering wheel to move as well. think if there was a really strong gremlin sitting in your steering column, and he's twisting your steering column 10-15 degrees at random when you're going straight. At this point(after the ball joints) I'm just barely not able to over power the jerking when it happens.

Anyone have any Ideas what could be causing this?

(Side note: Don't know if this helps, but my break rotors are wearing quite unevenly. My passenger side rotor is worn a lot more than my driver, and the inside of the passenger side is worn way more than the outside of the passenger side.)

Thanks for any help!
 

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you need to lube the sliders for the calipers.

also, did you try swapping the tires front to back?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, well the rear tires are crap, and I don't have the money to put a new set on. is there anything I can do to get them to wear down to match my car?
 

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He meant to swap the new tires to the back just to see if they are the source of the problem. You can always swap them back later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That sounds like a plan, but then:

If it is the tires, do I just have to drive her till they "Wear in", or is there something I can do to wear them in faster?

If it is not the tires, What else could be causing the problem?

I've got a Manual 98 Ford Escort LX 2.0L SOHC, and a 97 Pontiac Grand Am SE 3.1L V6, and I'm on forums for both. I have received a faster response here. Thank you so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No, I don't have an alignment rack, but the alignment is only controlled by the tie rods. The toe should be: with the steering wheel dead nuts center, the wheels should be almost perfectly straight, with a slight, very slight toe-in. I've had the toe off by 5+ degrees before and never had this swerve.
 

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a little toe out, and your car can easily be caused to swerve by the crown in the road or by bumps.

just so you know, 5* of toe on an escort isnt a really huge amount, to look at that is, to the car it is quite a bit. You need fairly precise measurements to get within 5 degrees. 5 degrees of camber would mean that on a new tire on a factory rim, the leading edge of your tire would be 1.0279 inches off the centerline. (yes I did the trig, I am a math nerd) Using a standard tape measure, it would be very hard to measure it, given the way the tires are tucked into the body, weight of the tires, irregularities in the rubber.... blah blah blah. Especially since you are using used tires on the front, and bad tires on the rear.

to be honest with you, your entire problem could be to much toe. Replacing ball joints can change your alignment, and eyeballing alignment can lead to REALLY REALLY far off alignment numbers. Perspective alone would cause a car to appear toed to far in or out depending on where you are looking at it from. If you were closer by, I could set it pretty close to stock, but I dont have an alignment rack anymore, so I wouldnt be able to get much closer than probably a couple degrees.

Though lube the sliders on the caliper as long as you are taking things apart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Regardless of anything, seeing how tomorrow is X-mas eve, and the massive storm hitting right now, nothing will happen to her probably till close to the new year. I only have 35 miles to drive in the next week, so I'm not too concerned. I'll try swapping the fronts and backs, and see how she acts. I have plans of getting a pair of rotors and replacing them, the pads should be good for a long while, at least a half inch of pad. When I do that, I'll lube the pins up really nice. If our GA was working, I'd consider a cleaning and overhaul of the calipers, or look in to buying new ones.
 

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Could that severe of a swerve be something inside the CV joints beginning to sieze up? Have a look at the CV joint boots. If they are torn, it could be ice inside the joint causing swerving.
Definitely the slider pins should be looked at or replaced, but I wouldnt think they would cause a sudden swerve. A piece of fractured steel inside a CV joint will do it.

Is your car making clicking noises when you go around right angle turns?
 

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denisond3 said:
Could that severe of a swerve be something inside the CV joints beginning to sieze up? Have a look at the CV joint boots. If they are torn, it could be ice inside the joint causing swerving.
Definitely the slider pins should be looked at or replaced, but I wouldnt think they would cause a sudden swerve. A piece of fractured steel inside a CV joint will do it.

Is your car making clicking noises when you go around right angle turns?
just so you know, CV joints will make that clicking noise turning either direction, depending on which axle is bad.

Generally CV axles wouldnt cause that condition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Agreed with restorer, there is no way for the CV joints to cause a random swerve, if they were to cause a swerve of any kind it would have to be a consistent swerve, or actually more of a wobble. that wouldn't last long though, the joints are not that strong. They are really not meant to move much. I blew one of those out once too, and that was no fun. Anyone else noticed the front ends of these cars not being all that strong? Maybe it's just this one, she did blow the trannie about 5 minutes off the lot when my brother bought her new. 3 trannies since, and only one clutch plate. Countless ball joints, most under warranty, all on good alignment. two wheel bearing replacements, new struts(That's ok for the age, probably should get new ones soon), and snapped a tie rod. After doing everything right and putting close to 5 grand into a 10 grand car, I just stopped caring, and have pieced her back togeather since. Her engine runs great though.
 

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i agree you need to have someone do a real allignment on it. as for the random grabs... not only do you need to lube the caliper pins but you might look into bleeding the brakes.. pressure build-up in the lines could be causing the calipers to grab at random depending on which side the pressure accumilates on. that means there could be some air in there somewhere.
 

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This sounds exactly like what i'm going thru. However it only happens in the rain or snow. It is so bad in that weather that it can not be driven safely any more and has pretty much sat all winter now, go figure, I bought it for a winter car....

Anyways, I have newer tires on the front, nothing at all loose, that I can find. The alignment has been off since I bought her last summer, pulls to the right. Mileage is 54,000 and it is a 97 LX wagon.

I had a 96 base two door last with double the mileage and it was a awesome winter car.

In the rain, you are asking for a casket at anything above 50 MPH, just running into the tire grooves only visible when it rains on the highway is enough to send you in the ditch within seconds.

Also with the right bump it will yank the steering wheel out of your hand left or right, but normally right.

Now, I drive a full size sedan (hence the screenname) and an alignment would never cause this in that land yacht, is this a common thing for these smaller vehicles with bad alignments?
 
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