Focus Fanatics Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Several months ago, I hit a pothole a huge pot hole hard enough to throw the alignment off and move the strut a 1/2" or so in relation to the knuckle (perhaps the pinch bolt wasn't tight enough).

I had the car aligned, and all was well for a while, except the alignment drifted off again after several weeks. The steering wheel had to be slightly turned to travel straight.

Had the car aligned again, at a Ford SVT dealer no less, and once again, several weeks later the steering wheel is out of position. Clearly something with the passenger side front suspension is still amiss from slamming into the pothole, but before I start replacing parts, I wondered if anyone had suggestions of where to begin?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,543 Posts
The techs that did the alignment should have (and probably did) check for worn or broken steering and suspension components. Which way does the car pull? If the wheel knuckle were knocked back by the impact (making the strut more vertical from the lower knuckle mount to top strut mount), it would reduce caster and reduce that wheels tendency to track straight. Conventional wisdom is if other alignment angles are equal a car will pull to the side with less positive caster.

Do you have a printout of the last alignment angles you could scan and show here? If the caster angles are not close to equal it could cause tracking problems.

Geezer (a guy here, hopefully he'll chime in) is kind of an alignment and suspension guru and has a more detailed explanation of this, but you can check for wheel bearing and tie rod free play by jacking up the front end of the car (steering wheel locked) and grabbing both sides of the tire (3 and 9 o'clock) try to turn the wheel back and forth. If there is excessive slop or movement in this direction it could indicate a bad tie rod or other steering linkage. If you grasp the tire at the top and bottom and try to tilt it in and out, excessive movement would indicate a loose wheel bearing in the steering knuckle. You should not really be able to move the wheel more than a hair in either direction. This is just something you can check yourself to detect obvious problems, but like I said the alignment people would have done this as a matter of routine so I doubt you'll find an obvious problem this way.

Caster is not really designed to be an adjustable angle on any car I know of, so hopefully it's fairly equal side to side.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,023 Posts
Not holding alignment is an indication of a damaged part. What alignment spec is it not holding? If its toe I'd check the control arm (and the ball joint) first, followed by the tie rod (check for stripped threads as well as straightness). If its both camber and toe I'd check for a bend strut as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Updates:

I dug out the alignment specs, and will post them below. I also just noticed that the front passenger side wheel (the damaged side) sits noticably inward of the fender than the driver side. I've attached a side by side photo below.

When I jacked the car up, there was zero side to play when grabbing the wheel at both 9 and 3 or 12 and 6.

Here are the alignment specs:

Toe is measured in inches.

And pictures of the wheel:

(note steering wheel may not be perfectly straight)

To summarize: the wheel isn't sitting correctly in the fender and the toe has drifted out a 1/4" on the passenger side between alignments. Would this indicate a bent strut, tie rod or control arm, or some combination of the above?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,023 Posts
When comparing the final settings of the first alignment with the initial settings of the 2nd alignment I see three major changes. The first is that the left side "increased" in negative camber by almost a "full degree". The right side "decreased" by -.66 degree and as you mentioned the right toe-in increased by .26 (inches or degrees? ....not specified in the chart). I have to apologize as I don't know what conclusion to definitively arrive at. I was hoping it would be limited to one side. The disturbing issue/question is why did the left side camber changed so much? I would have also expected the camber to increase on the side that took the hit but that didn't happen as it actually decreased.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the help Geezer, however, I realized I messed up my little chart. Left side camber changed very little, right side camber was initially at -2.5 degrees when I brought the car in for the second alignment, as evidenced by the photos of the wheel looking "pushed in" in the wheel well.

I've since corrected the chart.

Toe was measured in inches in the chart.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top