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Old 11-12-2012, 05:56 PM   #1
berndt
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Question Rear end wander on icy roads

Had a bit of a little snow storm blow through the other evening, and I had to make a 40 mile trip on the highway.

On the icy patches, where the road was ice rink slick, the back end of the car kept wandering around, like someone was shoving it from side to side, or fishtailing badly. Very disconcerting above 25 or mph.

I bought the car used in August. The tires are all the same brand and model, but the front pair were in better shape. The back were worn down pretty good, but I didn't think they were completely shot. Goodyear GS-A's, I think they were.

Its been absolutely fine otherwise, rain, and dry.

I ended up putting a new set of tires on the next day, but the ice had cleared up so I couldn't confirm, was this just a bad tire problem? Or something else?

I mention it, because a co-worker says he's had the same problem in his 2003 ZTW. And he's been back and forth with the dealer, and tire shop i think.

2002 Focus SE sedan


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Old 11-12-2012, 07:03 PM   #2
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Deff need new rear tires and leave your new ones there its a lot safer
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:14 PM   #3
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Same problem with my 2002 Focus wagon. 25 or 30 max on even just a light dusting of snow. That was with all-season tires. Snow tires (Blizzaks) made the vehicle tolerable, but even so we favored our other vehicle whenever it snowed. There is actually a class-action lawsuit against Ford over the problem.


Sent from my iPhone using FF Mobile. Typos and terseness are to be expected.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:26 PM   #4
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FWIW:

http://www.topclassactions.com/lawsu...ction-lawsuit-

Grab the PDF and read the anecdotes. Also Google for "Focus fishtail". Very common problem. The best "solution" I found was to always mount good winter tires. Doing so more masked the problem than solved it, but it was enough to get me by all these winters.

Last edited by JonathanGennick; 11-12-2012 at 07:27 PM. Reason: correct typo
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
FWIW:

http://www.topclassactions.com/lawsu...ction-lawsuit-

Grab the PDF and read the anecdotes. Also Google for "Focus fishtail". Very common problem. The best "solution" I found was to always mount good winter tires. Doing so more masked the problem than solved it, but it was enough to get me by all these winters.
this applies to 2005 and up Focus, the law suit does anyway, but does that apply to me, with a 2002?
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:02 PM   #6
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the tires with good tread should always be mounted on the rear of the car. If you buy two new tires, make sure they are mounted on the rear as they should be. If you buy 4 new tires, just be sure to rotate them regularly.

I just had to explain this to someone and they just gave me a look then told me that the good tires are supposed to go on the front on a FWD car. FWD, 4WD, AWD or RWD, it doesn't matter, the tires with the best tread belong on the rear for directional stability (especially around turns)
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:25 PM   #7
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I don't find my car bad for this, but I tend to keep a bit of weight in the trunk.
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:31 PM   #8
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There's another angle here, that pertains to the original Poster for sure.

berndt has a car with noticeably more wear in the rear, so I'd guess he might have excessive toe-in in the rear. (proper specs stickied in Wheels, Tires, Brakes & suspension)

Lived with this problem on a car I had from the 70's, NORMALLY bearable with 4 snows, but treacherous at times....

What happens is one side getting traction and tracking "straight" while the other is skidding a bit - when they alternate you get the "wiggle", and it DON'T feel good.. (grin)

Extreme version is felt on wet pavement when rear suspension bushings are worn out, leading to variable and excessive toe-in when cornering. (or toe out depending on which side is loaded/worn out)

My ZTS sedan from '04 doesn't currently exhibit this behavior, but I adjusted the alignment to the specs from this site B4 it's first winter with me.

Luck!
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:50 PM   #9
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^As Stated,

Proper alignment, proper bushings and good tires are the cure for this.


I've been harping on people to replace their control blade bushings when these 'fish tail' type threads come up. I've yet to hear anyone replace them and post back. But I'm confident it will help the problem, it did on my cars.
You can't expect worn parts to function as they should.
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:13 PM   #10
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Definitely the tire ware. If you have a good set of snow tires on you shouldn't have any issues with the rear.
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