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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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vibration and pull....

In my '94 bird, I have a pretty bad vibration in the fron end at higher speeds and it has a bad pull all the time. It's been this way for a while now, and it is getting worse.

I have recently had an alignment done (which didn't help at all) and the front struts/rear shocks replaced, the front sway bar end links, had the tires re-balanced, and I had the ball joints checked out. I'm not sure what else would cause these problems. Control arm bushings maybe? I don't know enough about them to be sure. Any body have any suggestions on what I should check?

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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 05:53 PM
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make sure the ball joints were checked correctly. the ball joints on our cars are a loaded style so you have to support the Lower control arm to remove the sprung weight so you can check for ball joint deflection. next thing would be the control arm bushings and strut rod bushings.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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The ball joints were checked at the shop, and that was how they did it. I should almost be able to visually check the control arm/strut rod bushings? I have a feeling they may be missing, as I was under the car the other day and noticed that my rear sway bar end link bushings were completly missing....

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 06:48 PM
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Swap the tires front to rear and test it to see if your problem is lessened/eliminated. A balanced tire does not eliminate the vibrations that are the result of a bad tire. In my experience most pulling/vibration conditions are because of a bad tire/tires. Poor alignment specs do not directly cause vibrations. The lower ball joints on our cars can be checked with the suspension hanging if you know how to do it correctly. A good alignment shop will not line a car up with loose front end parts (ball joints, tie rods, strut rod bushings).

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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 08:18 PM
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You might have a bad wheel bearing in the front..I'd check those out..and also make sure you didn't lose a weight off your front rims..that'll do it too..

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by coolhandzep View Post
Swap the tires front to rear and test it to see if your problem is lessened/eliminated. A balanced tire does not eliminate the vibrations that are the result of a bad tire. In my experience most pulling/vibration conditions are because of a bad tire/tires. Poor alignment specs do not directly cause vibrations. The lower ball joints on our cars can be checked with the suspension hanging if you know how to do it correctly. A good alignment shop will not line a car up with loose front end parts (ball joints, tie rods, strut rod bushings).
This car has had a vibration since I bought it Feb 2009, bought new tires that March. Don't really want to swap the rears as they are shot, but will be getting new tires all around in the next week or so, so maybe that will help.

I would hope the shop I went to wouldn't line the car up with bad bushings/ loose suspension. Or at least hope they would tell me if something else was wrong.

How would you check the ball joints? Do you jack the car up by the frame and see if the wheel has any play?

When driving, if I let go of the steering wheel for a minute, it shakes left to right, shakes worse when I let off the gas or kill the cruise (withouht pressing the brake)

It hasn't really bothered me m uch until now, and now it's getting worse, I just haven't had the time to pull the tires off yet, so I will know more when that happens. Just looking for ideas on what I could visually look for.

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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-26-2010, 09:31 PM
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Quickest way to check both upper and lower ball joints.
1. jack up a side by the lower control arm
2. grab tire top and bottom and attempt to rock tire in and out, if it moves it's either the upper or wheel bearing (possibly a very very very loose lower)
3. use a big bar and pry up on the bottom of the tire (from the front) using the ground to pry against, if the tire moves up and down the lowers are loose

If your problem is only getting worse i'd bet its the tires getting even worse. This of course is giving the shop the benefit of the doubt that they checked everything and it's solid. My old boss (an old time alignment man 45+ years) told me "you can't tell a customer it will drive like a different car after an alignment, but you can after new tires and an alignment".

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-27-2010, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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I will definitely be getting some new skins this weekend. I am going to try the balljoint check hopefully tonight, if not tomorrow.

So would any of this explain the pull also?

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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-27-2010, 05:33 PM
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Before i broke my lower ball joint on the drivers side i had a pull to the left driving witch was accentuated by putting the brake's on but worn tires can also cause pull's and vibrations. my advice is to get another alingment after you get new tires. chances are that the crap tires you have on there now have pulled the alingment out of spec. but thats just me

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-27-2010, 05:55 PM
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Bad tires can cause a pull. Bad tires cannot 'pull' your car out of alignment. The only things that will 'pull' it out of spec are curbs, pot holes, telephone poles, buildings (hitting these of course), lose parts, or physically moving the adjustments with a wrench. Get some new skids and assuming your front end is solid you will be good to go.

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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-27-2010, 06:40 PM
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re-balance tires? check alignment? check control arms?

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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Getting ready to pull the tires off now, I'll be sure to take some pics and let you guys know what I find.

I did forget to mention that when I hit potholes, sometimes I hear a clanging noise in the front end, mostly on the passengers side. After I replaced the sway bar end links, it seemed to wquiet down a little bit.

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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, first I jacked each side up by the lower control arm, grabbed the wheel top and bottom, and tried rocking it in and out, and I had no free play whatsoever on either side, wouldn't budge at all.

Then, I pulled the tires off, and looked for worn/missing bushings. Didn't see any (that I could notice). However I did notice that on both sides where the tie rod ends go into the control arm I could move them front to back, just a little bit, like it would pivot where the bushing is, not sure if thats normal or not.

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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 07:43 PM
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The outer tie rods go to the spindle, not the control arm. You lost me there. Check the tie rods the same way you checked the upper ball joint, but grab the tire on each side, not top and bottom.

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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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I tried moving the tire both ways, grabbing it from top to bottom and side to side, no play at all. I've been thinking maybe an out of balance driveshaft may be causing the vibration, and bad tires causing the pull, but neither explains the clunking I hear when going over potholes or bumps, which leads me to believe its a suspension issue...

Also, with the tire removed, I could move the brake rotor a lot, like slide it on the wheel studs. I know they slide right ogg with the caliper removed so I'm not thinking much of it, but worth a mention.

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post #16 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 07:51 PM
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prob tires are not balanced most likely, I dont remember how loose new ones are but they should take at least some pressure to move the ball joint, if its really easy to move they are bad.

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post #17 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 08:02 PM
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A driveshaft will not shake your steering wheel back and forth, it will rattle the whole interior and give you a butt massage. Bad tires can cause pulling AND shaking. The clunk could be worn strut rod bushings.

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post #18 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, heres what I think is my strut rod bushings

both sides




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post #19 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 09:00 PM
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No, that's an endlink for the steering; it's bolted to the knuckle.

Those are bad, and need replacing, IMHO.

Torn boots mean replace, OK? That could be everything on the front end at this point, if it's never been done.

The strut rod bushings can be seen easiest by cranking the wheel all the way to one side, and look behind the opposite wheel. There's a rubber cover, and a big nut that goes thru the lower control arm. The bushings are on both sides of the control arm, behind that nut.

Check the ball joints as well; if the boots are torn, replace them.

One is just above the wheel, at the end of the upper control arm; the other is just below where your picture is, holding the lower control arm to the knuckle.

Check them closely; you really don't want those to fail.

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post #20 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 09:16 PM
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always get bushings like that from ford. especially strut rod bushings from all ends.

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post #21 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Those were the only ones that were torn, thats why I posted those pictures. I took pics of all the others but since the boots weren't torn, I didn't feel it was necessary to post them.

Could the steering endlinks cause the clunking? Before I replaced the sway bar end links the clunking was really bad.

After pulling the tires, and seeing that everything looked pretty solid, I am really hoping that the new tires and an alignment cure this problem.

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post #22 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Here are the rest of the pictures I took.













This one looks torn, but it's just the grease....










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post #23 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-28-2010, 10:39 PM
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Ok, heres what I think is my strut rod bushings

both sides




Those are outer tie rods, not strut rod bushings as others have pointed out. The boots are not torn. The factory ford outers have a boot that merely fits over the shaft and fits snugly over the actual body of the tie rod (as well as most aftermarket parts). It is not sealed or affixed to the cast metal part. The grease that is exiting the boot is from some overzealous greasing. My car has the original factory outers and have 160k miles on them, keep them greased and they're good for awhile.

My dad greased the outer tie rods of his buick lesabre everytime he changed the oil... I can't fault the man for his car maintenance practices. He gave me the car to commute with and it currently has 260k miles, but you should see the blob of grease that is around the outer tie rod boots (factory original)!

As long as no parts are replaced (or loose to begin with) between now and your new tire replacement another alignment is not needed assuming it was done correctly the first time. See my post, number 10.

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post #24 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 02:50 PM
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This one looks torn, but it's just the grease....
If there's a grease fitting, that's good, and it means they've been replaced.

If there's no grease fitting on that lower ball joint, it's leaking grease.

I'd look at it very closely, to make completely sure.

The best way to check everything involves unbolting all the connections at the knuckle, and moving things around, checking for play. I do that when I replace shocks or other components.

Odds are the loud rattling is coming from the sway bar endlinks; the upper end freezes, and the lower rattles. You have to unbolt them to check them. You need both front wheels off the ground to do that successfully, and a small 2 jaw puller to pop the end loose. Search, there are multiple threads on the endlinks.

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post #25 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 03:39 PM
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before i replaced my coil springs i had a metal to metal clunk noise. the very bottom coil was broken on the back side that i could not see form visual inspection. just something else to look at. and as for buying Ford parts. ive been running moog for a year and 18,000 miles now.. no problems.

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post #26 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 04:51 PM
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before i replaced my coil springs i had a metal to metal clunk noise. the very bottom coil was broken on the back side that i could not see form visual inspection. just something else to look at. and as for buying Ford parts. ive been running moog for a year and 18,000 miles now.. no problems.
That's mostly you guys up north; not sure if it's the salt or the potholes...

The wost thing we have here is railroad tracks, lol.

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post #27 of 32 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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If there's a grease fitting, that's good, and it means they've been replaced.

If there's no grease fitting on that lower ball joint, it's leaking grease.

I'd look at it very closely, to make completely sure.

The best way to check everything involves unbolting all the connections at the knuckle, and moving things around, checking for play. I do that when I replace shocks or other components.

Odds are the loud rattling is coming from the sway bar endlinks; the upper end freezes, and the lower rattles. You have to unbolt them to check them. You need both front wheels off the ground to do that successfully, and a small 2 jaw puller to pop the end loose. Search, there are multiple threads on the endlinks.
I have replaced the endlinks about a year ago, mine were shot. And as I said before, after I replaced them, the clunking seemed to deaden for a while.

Tomorrow the new rubber will be put on, so i will see what happens then and go from there. I do have a plug in one of my front tires, (stupid nail) that may have threw it off balance.

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post #28 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Well, got the new tires on yesterday. As soon as I drove it home from the tire shop I noticed that it wasn't pulling to the right anymore. Just took it on the interstate, no shaking at all. The tires look sweet too. Raised white letters are awesome, and the shop screwed up and ordered me the wrong tires, so they hooked me up with wider tires for the same price. (235-60-15's, instead of 215-75's) It's like a new car to me now. Thanks for all the replies and the help.

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post #29 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 12:38 PM
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Glad to hear! What did I tell ya?

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post #30 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 08:05 PM
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pics? any new rims with those wheels?

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