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Old 07-23-2007, 10:07 AM   #1
thriceanangel
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Exclamation Burning through Tires and Loose Rear end

Forgive me, I am new to the forum and I was hoping to find some help here. My 2001 Focus SE Wagon has gone through 6 tires in the last 10-15K miles. The problem started when I got 4 new tires, and after a short amount of time the two rear started to get worn. I rotated them, and then they were all worn. Replaced all 4 again, this time I haven't rotated them but after only about 7-9K miles the are worn to the belt. I have had it aligned twice, and had the suspension checked and that revealed no problems.

I am an experienced driver, so please don't tell me that this is in my head, but every time I hit a small bump, manhole, rough spot etc., the rear end gets loose. It happens on wet pavement too, (epsecially now since the rears are bald) it seems to swing back and forth. I have tried to break the rear loose by increasing the lateral force on it, even on snow, and the car understeers, or the front breaks loose before I can get the back end to slide. So the rear tires (when new) are holding traction. It just seems to move what feels like 6"-8" when a bump is hit.

If this is a topic that has been discussed, a link there would be great. Thanks to anybody who can help. I am getting very frustrated, and I have always loved fords, but I am losing faith on this one.


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Old 07-23-2007, 10:40 AM   #2
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Assuming the alignment was done correctly (and that's a big assumption) you must have some really worn out bushings or bad wheel bearings that are allowing your wheel to move. But I'd think your alignment shop would catch that too.
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Old 07-23-2007, 11:05 AM   #3
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Unless I am mistaken, the book specs for your rear alignment call for a small amount of toe out. The incredibly aggressive tire wear suggests to me you have too much toe out, maybe combined with a worn bushing or bearing that is allowing exaggerated wheel play. Toe out promotes oversteer, and you said you have trouble getting the tail to come out on you, but these are naturally understeery cars. Now, if you'd said the tail flies all over the place hammering down an exit ramp, then yeah, I'd say you have a ton of toe out.

Did you get a print off of your alignment specs? You could probably request a small amount of toe in in the rear, or ask them to seat it at a dead 0* maybe...
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Old 07-23-2007, 12:49 PM   #4
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I do have a failing bearing in the rear, do you think it could be that? But it was happening before I noticed it beginning to growl. I have read about this problem in other places, but nobody offers a reasonable solution. I have read about shims to stop the tire wear, and read about other people having the rear end get loose, and nobody has offered a solution for that. In fact some people even stated that they thought it wasn't really happening despite many different people reporting it.
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Old 07-23-2007, 12:51 PM   #5
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I didn't get the printout of the alignment, but it was done at Monroe Muffler the last time, and a "ford guy" mechanic before that.
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Old 07-23-2007, 03:45 PM   #6
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Well, I'm a million miles from being a mechanic, or even particularly qualified to give an opinion on this in any way - but, a bad wheel bearing should allow extra slop at the knuckle. Unless I miss my guess, that slop, by the nature of the bearing, should allow changes in camber and toe - I mean, it's supposed to keep the relative position of the wheel with the chassis locked into the alignment. A small amount of slop, a degree or 2, could inflict big changes on what the tire is doing. My alignment after I did suspension work was toed out all over the place, something like 3.3* in the front and rear. 2 or 3 degrees might not seem like too much play, but suddenly gaining 2* of rear toe could radically change how the car is behaving, and it makes sense to me that hitting a pothole could allow a sloppy bearing to flop the wheel all over the place.

But this is armchair engineering at this point - if you know you have a bad wheel bearing, maybe you should fix it on principle and see if the problem goes away?
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:57 PM   #7
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Replaced the bearing, and rear tires. Still the slightest drift, but it's not as evident as before. So now it feels like that whatever was causing it, is still causing it, but the brand new rubber might be grabbing the pavement better so it doesn't get as far off track as it did with the bald tire. I suspect that I am going to buying new tires again real soon though... Any other ideas would be helpful!! Thanks for your input already!
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:28 PM   #8
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new rear sub-frame? might be easier than replacing all the individual parts.
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:08 AM   #9
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yikes!
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Old 07-24-2007, 02:18 PM   #10
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Play with the rear tire pressure a little. Reduce it in two pound increments using the existing settings as the starting point. Too high of pressure can cause strange handling traits (looseness) as well.
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