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Old 08-27-2012, 09:18 PM   #1
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Fish tailin' on dry pavement?

So apparently I'm turning into a true city driver and wasn't paying attention and squirrel hunting (looking off into space) and realized I was quickly approaching a very RED stoplight. So I locked it up to stop and she began to fishtail or trying to swap ends if you will. It was completely dry and all that good stuff but it was the first time I've ever "panic" stopped in the car. It was still very controllable and I stopped just fine but it was very annoying that it was trying to swap on me. Not to mention unsettling to the cars at the light on either side of me. Although it was kinda cool looking seeing the tire smoke from stopping

So my question would be is this normal? just a focus thing? I've got stock 195/65/15 tires, 91k on stock shocks and strucks, and it's an S so it just has the one 19mm(skinny) sway bar up front. Any one of those factors could be a contributor but I'm just checking to see if it should be expected or if an FRPP suspension (which I want), some 17's (which I have, lookin for tires) or a larger front and/or rear sway bar will help. One upgrade in particular will help the most? All the above and still expect a little?

Let's hear it


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Old 08-27-2012, 09:50 PM   #2
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The shocks could have easily caused the poblem (too much nose dive that un-weights the rear end). They should have been replaced 30K miles ago. Also during the panic stop was the car perfectly straight? Even the smallest steering correction in a heavy stop is enough to cause/create an oversteer condition. 65 series tires are also pretty tall. If underinflated they can cause some control issues due to the softer sidewalls. Stock 15's were 60 series (195/60-15). I'm not aware of any focus that came stock with 195/65-15's.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:49 PM   #3
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oops. 60 series, I double checked, sorry, I confuse numbers. I know the shocks need replaced, the cars only been mine for 10k so I figured it contributed as I'm aware it needs shocks but they aren't blown out nor even seem remotely worn other than my manual says replace at 60k. Yep it was straight as an arrow, after stomping the brakes I got maybe 20' of straight stopping before the swapping commenced. I check tire psi once a week so it was to spec. I was also doing 50mph just to add to the details. On another note maybe it's just me but every abs equipped vehicle I've owned has never pulled the typical abs description of pulsing pedal, preventing lockup and loss of control and the focus was no different. I assume it's just me not noticing it working but it didn't feel the difference. It felt just like non abs as in I was braking to lockup letting off to regain control, then brakng to lockup again. It wasn't so bad I felt out of control but it was certainly unexpected and I was mildy aggressive in my pedal modulation and steering corrections. My old 92' ranger was much the same except the swing was slightly slower due to a longer wheel base plus truck vs. car. It supposedly had rear abs but it never unlocked the rear wheels in a slide on dirt or snow/ice until I released the brake pedal........
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:37 PM   #4
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You have rear drums - when they lock, as yours did, the rear ends gets very lively. A lesson I learned years ago on a Honda.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gjm4l View Post
On another note maybe it's just me but every abs equipped vehicle I've owned has never pulled the typical abs description of pulsing pedal, preventing lockup and loss of control and the focus was no different. I assume it's just me not noticing it working but it didn't feel the difference. It felt just like non abs as in I was braking to lockup letting off to regain control, then brakng to lockup again. It wasn't so bad I felt out of control but it was certainly unexpected and I was mildy aggressive in my pedal modulation and steering corrections. My old 92' ranger was much the same except the swing was slightly slower due to a longer wheel base plus truck vs. car. It supposedly had rear abs but it never unlocked the rear wheels in a slide on dirt or snow/ice until I released the brake pedal........
Your car does not have abs...base model S's didnt come equipped with it (I have the same car.) Double check your manual and/or check for an ABS light when you turn on the car.

This is probably a contributing factor to the wheels locking up and the smoke you described. You will want to get used to not having abs, Braking techniques and more specifically Threshold Braking is worth reading into, knowing your car and how it reacts is probably the safest approach to stopping. Also, check into replacing the shocks and that your brakes and tires are in good shape
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:57 PM   #6
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Huh didn't notice that feature. Goes to show how much I've paid attention to the car. Figured ABS was standard by now on everything. Not having abs is actually a plus to me(just opinion don't have to be right) . I hate the sensation of it kicking in, it feels to me like losing control over my brakes.

I am familiar with threshold braking (gaining maximum stopping force by using pedal control to rest just on the edge of brake grip before lockup) from past vehicles I've owned and none of my dump trucks or street flushers are abs equipped (yep not exactly the same as a normal vehicle). Had I left the brakes locked up, pedal through the floor I would have surely slid into someone. I guess I'm not as familiar as I should be with the car as I went to lock up 3-4 times (smoke at each lockup) and each instance it would try to swap ends on me. I'm used to trucks I suppose. All of them I've had if I did lock up they predictable slid to one side (typically to the left for some reason)vand at a slower rate, more of a slide than a swap.

I suppose I'm just trying to figure out if any one thing would help the most, anything people agreed on as the first best upgrade to make it feel more planted. Also checking to make sure it's not super abnormal. I'm kinda realizing this is the shortest wheelbase vehicle I've ever owned which could explain it I suppose. Shorter axis/arc to swing through.

I'm fully aware of the obvious suggestion of Pay Attention! and Replace Worn Parts! You dummy but figured it was worth a shot (part of the reason I don't have new shocks is I want to upgrade not replace so I'm searching for a deal!)

Thanks for all the suggestions and info keep 'em coming!
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