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Old 07-15-2005, 09:38 PM   #1
romano2
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Question Not able to align rear....HELP

I have a 2001 Focus Wagon with 80k miles on it. It is automatic with the 2.0 ztec. I bought it used 2 years ago, and put about 15k miles on it.

6 months ago i took it in for an alignment because it was pulling some to the right. Prior, to this, i had never been able to get the rear wheels off (even using an 6 ft. extension pipe didn't work). I was getting a 4 wheel alignment, i don't know if its necessary to take off the wheels for an alignment or not, but I asked the mechanic to see if he could get the rear lug-nuts loose in case i ever had to change it if it got flat. He seemed in a bad mood that day, but told me that he "busted off that rear wheel." not exactly sure what that means...
he also told me that something in the rear suspension (either the wheel or something else...not exactly sure) was bent, and that it couldn't be aligned correctly and that the tires would have to be rotated more often. Well, 6 months later (never rotated the tires), i took off the rear left tire and noticed that it was wearing very badly on the inside edge...steel belts were showing through. The other tires were fine, and have about 75% tread left. I check the air in them about once a week and none of them leak. This week, I took it back to the same place that did the alignment before, and showed them the computer print-out from last time. They said they didn't know why the final readings were off on the print out (and the guy who did the alignment before no longer worked there), so they gave me a discount on 2 new tires and said they would do a free alignment for me (there was nothing written on the recepit about anything being bent).

After attempting the alignment this time, they said the same thing as before, that something in the rear suspension was off, and the tires would need to be rotated every 2k miles. They said the only way to fix it would be to replace the entire rear supsension ($2,000), and the front would probably have to be replaced too so that it would sit level (or so they said).

I never had any problems like this before 6 months ago, and the tires always wore fine. The car's never been wrecked, and I can't think of anything I did that would have messed up the rear supsension like that.

The place I took it to is a local chain. It has a good reputation, and I know a lot of other people that say good things about them. They sell tires, as well as do suspension, brakes, etc.

I am thinking about taking it to the ford dealer, but i'm borrowing money to pay for college right now, so i don't have much extra to waste on this car, and if it has something seriously wrong with it than i'd just as soon get rid of it.

If anyone can help me or have any advice I REALLY NEED IT! THANKS!


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Old 07-15-2005, 11:50 PM   #2
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Well, I used to do suspension and alignment work a while back. 20 years back, thats a while, right?

The Focus rear suspension is normally only adjustable for toe (from the service manual). You seem to be describing camber wear (click here to see a picture of camber wear), which would result from a damaged component such as a control arm.

( Alignment FAQ from the Tire Rack (click for page!) )

I find it unlikely that the "entire rear suspension" needs replacing. If this is true, your car had an accident while you weren't looking.

You need to find a good body shop and have them measure the components to determine what is "bent". They won't do this for free....

If it's a bolt-on part, you may be able to fix it yourself, but certainly you'll need an alignment after.

Whereabouts do you live? Maybe someone local can help out. Someone familiar with the Focus rear end might be able to eyeball the problem (though the wagon rear suspension is slightly different from that of the sedan and hatchback).

If you find out you just need a part or two, or even a whole suspension, I'd ask Dan over at SVT Salvage (click for link!) for a quote. He has hooked up members of this board (myself included) with parts at reasonable prices, I myself found him through these boards.

EDIT: Snipped my lame alignment definitions out and replaced with a proper link from The Tire Rack)
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Old 07-16-2005, 08:26 PM   #3
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^-^Yeah, what HE said. Whenever somebody tells you that the whole ANYTHING needs replacement, it's best to get a second opinion. I'm thinking maybe a bushing problem or something fairly simple.
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Old 07-16-2005, 10:57 PM   #4
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It took me ~15 minutes to create and post the image below. If it's helpful, romano2 owes me a beer.

One thing I overlooked - if the spring is broken or sagging, that will cause camber to be off!

If you do have excessive camber, parts 2, 3 and 8 would be the first ones I look at to see if they're tweaked. If part 5 is bent, your car took a big whack, it's fairly beefy. If part no. 1 is bent - the car was in a wreck, the crossmember is a big momma of a hunk of metal.

In the service manual, there are (involved) procedures for setting the suspension to "design height", just another thing to consider.

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Old 07-17-2005, 09:16 PM   #5
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THANKS

Thanks guys! your info is very helpful. I don't like the idea of rotating my tires that often, because then i will just have 4 tires with inside wear on them, and will still have to replace them long before i should.

perhaps i could lift up the back end and take a picture of the rear suspension and post in on here? or would it be better if the tires were still on the ground in the normal position?
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Old 07-18-2005, 12:48 AM   #6
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Since he said it was a 2001, it's probably got the same camber flaw as every other Focus at that time. It's more pronounced on the wagons, though, because the suspension geometry is a slight bit different. (from my personal experience, too)

There was a TSB for issues with negative camber

I have a wagon and it's lowered 1.5". The camber out back is -2.5 to -2.8 degrees. However, as was said before, the TOE is adjustable and the place I go to, did a good job. Sure, I notice the subtle inner wear, but I have gone through at least 1/2 of the life of my 17's. I am certainly not worn down to the belts, though!

If I had been seeing the belts, then I'd suspect the TOE setting, as that would much more aggressively wear out the insides than the camber setting, alone. In your case, you state that you might have 75% tread on 3 tires, and the 4th is messed up inside. I'd have to point the finger at the toe setting.

But, that makes sense - since you said that the shop either did (or couldn't do) nothing to change it. Ergo they could not correct the toe settings.

Therefore, if we could get info from the previous gurus that posted, does anyone know which item in that picture is responsible for toe settings? We can gather from the TSB that the Upper Control Arm is responsible for the camber setting. If I had to guess, it'd be #5 - as I believe that piece is to flex (and, therefore, adjust toe) when under load, so as to promote passive rear steer.

Maybe there is a bent part on that one side.
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Old 07-18-2005, 06:12 AM   #7
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Bingo - the TSB suggests that part no. 2 (upper arm) is responsible for the camber problem.

Toe is adjusted with the eccentric washer holding the cotrol arm.
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Old 07-18-2005, 02:26 PM   #8
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You can actually see negative camber. Put the car on a level paged surface, and sight down both sides at as little angle as you can, eyeing both front and rear tires. If you got 3 wearing ok and one not, you'll be able to spot it immediately. On another point, I have always checked and adjusted my own alighment. I've got the information to write an "how-to" but I haven't gotten to it. The only area I can't get damn close is the rear "thrust angle" or adjusting rear toe to true center. Hopefully, I'll get off my cam, write it up and include some pics (that'll be a little hi tech for me, though)
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Old 07-23-2005, 12:06 PM   #9
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picture

I finally got around to getting a picture of it...i'm not sure it will help any though.

The link to the TSB didn't work....but I would really like to see it.

The place I took it to uses a computer alignment system that is only a few years old, so I assume that if it was possible to get the toe adjusted correctly, they would have done it....
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Old 07-23-2005, 10:49 PM   #10
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take a pic of the alignment printout, that would be a better clue than your pic there. I may be able to help if I know where it's sitting now. (15yrs aligning cars)
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