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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

When I rock my steering wheel I hear a knocking sound. I think its the steering rack. I remember a few months back I was told the steering bushings have play in them.

I was just wondering if the bushing can be replaced or I have to get the whole rack done?
I called 2 local part stores and they said I have to do the whole rack but I have seen on the net on some cars you can just do the bushings.

I think this is cause of my knocking when I go over some bumps and also my steering wander and my drivers side tire wear.
I have a 2002 Focus zx5.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Inner and outers have been changed.
So have sway bar links and control arms. Still have the steering wander and wobbly drive on un even roads and the nock when rocking the steering.
 

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It's going to need a closer look at the rack/bushings to tell if the knock is coming from there, as well as checking for looseness in that area.

Wander can also come from loose bushings in the rear suspension, so if there isn't an obvious problem up front (other than noise) checking there as well would be a good idea.

P.S. - redirected to Brakes, Suspension & Chassis for more looks
 

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Do you have only one tire wear funny?

I wonder that the knock is necessarily related to the steering components if everything has been replaced and is tight. Did someone else do the work on all of this, or did you (i.e. if a shop did it, maybe they left something loose... or, heck, maybe you did if you're the mechanic!)?

Knocking can only come from something loose, wander can be a function of tires & alignment. If you've gone wider and lower in profile on the tires and have zero toe, or toe out, you'll wander if everything is tight anyway.

How are the motor mounts? Steering column (wherever it has a mechanical joint - though it wouldn't cause just one tire to wear funny)?

Sailor, if there were issues in the rear causing the car to drive funny, wouldn't there also be wear on the rear tires?
 

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Yeah, you'd certainly expect that if the car had been driven long enough after the problem presented itself.

A single "sacked out" (worn,loose) bushing in a front or rear lower control arm on these can cause it to feel VERY loose in the tail, often shows up first when it feels funny while cornering. Bad enough, it'll wander when going straight & that's when tire wear would start to show up quicker.

Front lower arm design on these (not unique to Focus) plus being FWD results in a different front alignment than "usual". Zero to SLIGHTLY out is the normal alignment, as bushing flex pulls it to toed in when driving (from drive forces). Starting with toe in results in too much of a good thing, and tire wear increases.

Good points on "something loose", anything in the front end can cause a noise & it doesn't have to be very loose for a noise to occur.

Ball joints are often a single "clunk" when starting/stopping, strut mount can cause knocking over bumps & when VERY bad could affect steering/alignment. Just checking the center nut on those is a start for knocking over bumps.

Knowing what "steering bushings" were being referred to by someone else would help, can't be sure what they were talking about third hand.

Even control arm bushings are suspect, I've seen some mentioned here that were worn out & one with loose mounting bolts at the rear bushing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My mechanic did all the work

Front control arms
Front sway bars
Front inner and out tie rods
Rear sway bar links

I waited for him. Always taken my cars to him so I know I can trust he doea a good job. Everything is tight, there is no play in the wheela if you jack it up and grab the tires and rock them at 3 and 9 or 12 and 6. No rattle on rough roads either so I know the sway links are good.

Its just the one drivers side tire has worn, all the rest of the tires are perfect all have 80% tread on them.

If i drive on a rogh road the steering will rock left to right until i get back onto a smooth road. Also rocking the steering wheel you hear a clunk as well.

He told me last time he thinks there is some play in the rack, hes checking it again tomorrow.
Also the knocl only seems to be when going slow loke if I pull i to my apartment complexI hear it as the enterence is slightly raised, and if im driving down the road at slow speed and go over a rough part in the road or a dip o hear it.

Could it be the sway bar bushings at the front? Would they cause my symptoms?
Would they cause steering rock to make that knocking clunking noise?
Would the cause wander and just one side side tire wear?

Iv had alignment done but it seems like even after getting it done the alingment dont stick and goes out so only 2 things I can thonk of is sway bushings and rack.

Struts seem fine and solid.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Also must mention over the last couple of weeks, it seems the ateering is tighter when getting turnes full lock either right or ledt but only in the morning once cars warmes up or after making a trip to shops etx its fine wont do it again all day. Thats why im thinking maybe the rack bushings are toast.
 

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Only one side wears, steering gets tight in feel, makes noise over bumps, and alignment doesn't hold. Strut bearings would explain noise, but not alignment issue. Ball joints would explain wear, but if the control arm was replaced, I think those have the new ball joint attached.

That would leave something mechanical which could only affect one sides, so, should be either the strut mount itself is bad (and at that point the strut bearing too, it would seem), or there's a rack issue.

I'm dying to know the issue here!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
All ball joints are new. No play in wheel when trying to rock it at 3 and 9 or 12 and 6.

Hhmm how can I test the strut bearing?

If all ball hoints are new would the rack cause wandering and aligbment not to hold

Would the strut bearing cause that one side tire to wear as well?
 

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Alignment shouldn't be changing more than the variation between different measurements - and that should be small.

Something loose or bending is the only way alignment can change.

It's not lined up with one tire wearing, though proper alignment won't reverse existing bad wear. Rears should be rotated to the front with one bad front tire.

Def. look at the strut bearings as well as recheck of the rack.
 

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If something here is loose, I can see it causing some issues, but how much I don't know. A knock here and there and hard to turn seem reasonable.

When I fixed it on my 325, we put a jack under the wheel and you could see the deformaties, but the construction of that part looks a little different from this one. Without looking at my son's car, I can't exactly get a visual on how to go about checking, but a pic on the website says you could probably start by doing the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
well when I say alignment dont stick, its more the car is wandering and the steering is moving around itself, like if i got over a hump the steering will jus move over to the right or left.

if im driving on a cobly road then the steering rocks left to right like crazy.

the knock only seems to be when the left drivers side hits a bump.

maybe i will start by changing the strut as its the easiest and then tacklet the rack if needed. It is a 2002 so 12 years old, so I dont know if the previous owner did the struts or not.

I did the control arms
inner and outer tie rods
front and back sway bar link

im just curious to fix this issue now. I know its an old car but my theory is tha if I look after it then its cheaper for me keep than go spend loads buyuing a new car. My wife how ever thinks differently where as me if somethings wrong it bugs the shit out of me to figure it out.
 

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Steering moving as you describe now is considered to be a GOOD point of the Focus as compared to many other cars by enthusiasts.

Gaining more "feel" through the wheel is a plus for the driver who wants to know what's happening at the wheels, a "minus" for those who'd rather not have to deal with it & feel every wiggle.

Many cars are so "numb" as to have virtually no "feel", the only feedback is seeing where it goes when you turn the wheel.

It's even more dramatic with wider low profile tires, like the 17's from an SVT. Pull up to a stop where the pavement is grooved deep from traffic & you need to muscle the wheel a bit just to keep it straight when a wheel is on the edge of one of those grooves. And the slightest tire/balance variation can be felt, like some tires that "flat spot" from sitting overnight & vibrate until you've driven a bit and they warm up.

Another good part, is that with experience you can feel the difference between that feel & kick back vs. the car "wandering" from road surface issues or loose suspension - extra input from the feel helps as you know better what the front tires are doing right through the steering.


Chase your noise, as that can indicate a problem, but IMHO learning to take advantage of that steering feel is a plus.
 

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Yeah, but over a bump, it shouldn't do that excessively.

Is your car stock ride height? What size wheels and tires, stock 15's or 16's, or aftermarket? Width? It sounds almost like bump steer, but you wouldn't get that excessively unless the car were way low (much over 1.5" or so, I'd guess). If your car drives straight on a good road, then it's not your alignment.

My Mk3 wanders a fair amount with pavement irregularities, but it's not yanking the wheel out of my hands or anything.

A bad strut will make it sound like there's a little gremlin in your wheel well with a hammer smacking your frame. Struts should be replaced in pairs. And, fairly certain a bad damper, left alone, will cause some uneven tire wear.

Pull your strut, if you can collapse it easily or it doesn't push back up, it's bad. And check your strut bearing/mount while you're at it. On my 320i and my 325es, new bearings made turning the wheel a lot easier.

Keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I have ford alloy wheels which came with the car 16inch, tire size 205 55 16 and that size Ford recommends for that rim here in Alberta as I called them and checked.

On cobly roads if i hold the steering tight it feels like wants to just leave my hands and do its own thing. On normal roads it drives fine and straight.

Everything is stock on it. Although I just checked my drivers side is a little lower than my passenger side. So I can fit four fingers from tire to arch on the passenger and on the drivers four fingers are tightly squeezed in. Also bottom round part of the strut seems to be closer to the tire on right passenger side than left driver side.
 

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You could have a bent strut, need to check that tire to strut clearance closer. Was camber checked when aligned?

With it being an '02, left side spring could be sacked a bit more. I'd think a broken spring would have been caught with all the work done.

At the age & likely mileage you're due for struts/springs & rear shocks sometime, not calling it urgent unless you find a noticeable problem just putting it on your list for the future.

Hard to judge how much feedback is normal when typing, that's why I mentioned one situation that gives a healthy pull on mine.

Old Grey 320i - how's the 320 compared to the MkIII? MkIII isn't as "light" a wheel as the earlier ones since it has EPAS instead of the hydraulic rack - mine feels more like an unassisted rack than the typical power steering. Power is only notable at parking speeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Spring broken hhmmm would that not make a popping sound tyrning the steering? I get no boises turning the steering at all, just the nock if slightly rocking it left to right.

Although i just took a look under the hood. The top of the right strut is a different bolt than the left so it looks as though one of them has been changed at some point and maybe its the right that was changed as thats the side of the car thats slightly higher like finger width higher.

When alignment was done they said everything was in spec front and back. It was a 4 wheel alignment.

Rims not bent as had them balanced fine. Just that one tire has a feathered like wear on it. The other side and back tires are fine no uneven wear at all.
 

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'In Spec." is often not good enough for these regarding alignment. The original specs. were tightened by Ford for later identical suspension models, and it's still best to be more specific than that. (camber may not have been checked at all as it's not adjustable.)

Which way it's feathered might be a clue to alignment if they haven't been rotated in a while, tells nothing now if the alignment was recent - just historic.

Front needs to be zero to slightly toed out, rear at min. spec toed in (that is typically .010). Any more toe in the rear & it'll wear tires on the inside, any toe in at the front will cause wear & driving problems.

Mismatched front struts could have an impact on that rough road driving, imagine one wheel bouncing down the road from a worn shock while the other runs smooth.
 
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