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Old 07-15-2014, 07:01 PM   #1
mattvrablik
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Problems with handling...looking for advice on alignment

Hi All,

I was (unfortunately) in an accident with my 2013 focus (SE Hatchback, Appearance Package, 5-speed manual) about 7 weeks ago. It's now out of the shop, all repaired, and ready to drive. It's driving "ok", but imho, it just isn't going around the corners like it used to. It's not handling "badly" per se, but before this accident, especially at high speed, the rear end had this beautiful way of just "rotating" around behind me...and this isn't even the ST!

I've done a little research and apparently from the factory, these cars have adjustable toe on all 4 wheels? I'm wondering if the camber was thrown off by any subtle frame bends that can't be cured, or by the installation of new tie rods and one new ball socket.

I also wonder if because this car essentially has what I'd describe as the "sport/toruing package" (appearance package) if the factory alignment was done more aggressively (camber?) than more basic focii....?

I'm thinking of taking this car to a speciality alignment shop which usually works on racing cars, due to their skill and experience...but I'm not sure if they can do anything about it, nor would they necessarily know how it was set at the factory vs. the more generic specs provided to the alignment shops by ford.

I guess I'm wondering if anyone can give any advice on what aspects of the alignment I could adjust: Are there camber adjustable bolts or parts for this model? Could the handling simply be related to the toe being just a hair off? Could the camber have been thrown off by the accident, but still be "within spec"?

My car, during the 20k miles before the accident, did appear to wear the inner edge of the rear tires faster, due to negative camber ,but I loved the way it cornered, btw....

I'm not willing to spend a fortune, but I'd be happy to spend a few hundred dollars on parts and alignment(s) if it would help get my car back to that sweet spot where it had a bit of "Magic" in the way it rotated around the turns :)

Thanks for any advice!

Matt


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Old 07-15-2014, 07:26 PM   #2
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I think wear exclusive to an edge is toe related, not camber (experts can correct me here), and, I think that inner edge is toe out, which for a given condition would make the rear rotate a little easier.

And, it seems to me that with the torsional stiffness and strenth of the newer cars, "crumple zones" etc, that it would be unlikely you'd have frame damage, but, I don't know how hard the car was hit etc....

I know after I put springs on my car, I did need an alignment, I had a bit of toe out. At alighment, I went zero toe all the way around, and transitional response was well improved as a result.

Post up with what the alignment shop says. I'd be surprised if it's not soley due to alignment.
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:21 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback....from what you're saying, it sounds as if i might just need a really good 4 wheel alignment (ie, toe).

I'm unsure if it would be worth the money to visit the specialty shop, because even though they are good, they charge an arm and a leg (120 per axle)...i guess people with racetrack quality cars are not going to wince at a pricey alignment.

My car was hit on the front left corner (bumper) at about 30mph by a large dodge ram van. I was probably travelling at about 10mph? at about 45-90 degrees from his travelling angle. The front end supports (for bumper, engine, tranny) were bent pretty bad, but the wheel assemblies and the general car looked okay...yet I was assuming that this kind of accident might send a 'shock wave' through the car which might alter everything by one millimetere here or there, one degree here or there...hard to say...

I'm leaning towards the theory that maybe the aligment guy just did a quick/dirty job? Maybe I can get the shop which did the alignment to provide me with a printout so I can see where everything is currenly "at".

Thanks for your comments. Any others are appreciated!

M
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:38 PM   #4
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You might try a "regular" alignment shop of really good reputation, first.

If that doesn't get you where you want to be, then $250 to make it right for the long term is probably worth it (unless even that doesn't work, but, you'll know exactly where you're at with the car, and then maybe you trade in a little sooner than usual to get in to something "right").

I suppose frame movement/bend is a possibility, but all the crumple stuff would give me hope.

Keep us posted!
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:43 PM   #5
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And, may or may not have been "quick and dirty" coming out of the shop, but maybe the difference of "sport" vs. "Vanilla"?

I would think a really good independent shop would be helpful; sometimes I question the dealerships consistency. They would under fill my oil by half a quart. FSM days that's "acceptable", but it really bugged me.
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Old 07-15-2014, 09:28 PM   #6
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Thanks again for the tips.

...and I agree wholehartedly, that the car basically drives "fine"... and many owners who were not enthusiasts might not notice the difference (heck, my former girlfriend drove my car a couple of times instead of her prius, and she actually didn't notice the significant difference in handling between the two cars...I was like "wha?????"). So, maybe what I need is an aligment shop that will work with me on the adjustments...and doesn't mind putting it back on the machine a couple of times to 'tweak' the toe a bit...

...and it is ashame that the dealer fills the oil a bit too shallow...although when I change my oil, I just put 4 quarts in, and add about half a quart maybe 5-6k in, just as a bit of a 'refresher'...i don't know what the spec is, but 4 quarts looks fine to me...

M
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:39 PM   #7
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Moved to Brakes, Suspension & Chassis for more looks & advice.

Rear is normally toed in slightly, too much leads to the inner edge wear. Front is normally at zero, most cars in the past were toed in at the front and if someone set it that way it would affect wear & handling. Any difference at the front should be to minimal "out", not in.
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Old 07-18-2014, 06:18 PM   #8
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Update

Got car alignment checked out today...nothing was terribly off, but front left wheel was toed about .11 degrees too far out...and steering wheel was off a few mm. Once that was adjusted, the car has been turning better at high speed...I can now feel the front and rear end working together better...funny how such a small adjustment can make a significant difference.

Also worth noting, the rear toe (right side) was too far in by about .16, but tech stated that the overall combined rear toe was within spec and he didn't want to touch it...not sure if this guy is wise, or if he just wanted to save time and trouble...but since the front toe adjustment made a significant difference, I can't help but wonder if getting these guys or someone else to adjust that rear right toe would have any further impact.

Of note: many people on this forum stated that front toe on focus is neutral to slightly out...this guy has a nice machine, and he claimed (several times) that ford spec is very slightly "in" on the front wheels...not sure who's right, but he was the guy with the machine and wrench, so I wasn't arguing.....

M
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:46 AM   #9
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Glad to know it feels better. If have had the guy spec it out, he's there and you're paying for it,, but, in any case, sounds like problem solved.
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Old 07-21-2014, 08:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattvrablik View Post
Got car alignment checked out today...nothing was terribly off, but front left wheel was toed about .11 degrees too far out...and steering wheel was off a few mm. Once that was adjusted, the car has been turning better at high speed...I can now feel the front and rear end working together better...funny how such a small adjustment can make a significant difference.

Also worth noting, the rear toe (right side) was too far in by about .16, but tech stated that the overall combined rear toe was within spec and he didn't want to touch it...not sure if this guy is wise, or if he just wanted to save time and trouble...but since the front toe adjustment made a significant difference, I can't help but wonder if getting these guys or someone else to adjust that rear right toe would have any further impact.

Of note: many people on this forum stated that front toe on focus is neutral to slightly out...this guy has a nice machine, and he claimed (several times) that ford spec is very slightly "in" on the front wheels...not sure who's right, but he was the guy with the machine and wrench, so I wasn't arguing.....

M
There is a big gap on the spec's on alignment programs. Look at the gap of the toe settings of whats in the green all the way up to 0.035, thats a lot + it really helps to have a tech to take the little extra time to do it right vs its in the green ship it way. I always set the front toe at zero & the rear w/ 0.010 toe per side for the rear. FWD car & what type of bushings would tell you what to set the alignment at.
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