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Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers Questions related to non-modified 1995-2001 Explorer, Mountaineer, Ranger and '02+ Sports and Sport Trac. Problem solving, maintenance, TSB, service bulletins, owner reviews, specifications.

Car pulls left when steering wheel is straight

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Old 08-21-2012, 09:34 PM   #1
halfbakedj14
 
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Car pulls left when steering wheel is straight

I finished doing a bunch of front end work, lower ball joints/upper control arms, shocks. I noticed after I was done that when I have my steering wheel dead straight my car pulls to the left, when I let go of the steering wheel the car pulls right. I have to hold the steering wheel in about between the 12 & 1 o'clock position for the car to drive straight. I took it in for a front end alignment today and it didn't seem to fix it at all.

Before I call the alignment shop pissed off is there something I can do to remedy this? I'm thinking maybe it was something I did when doing all the work that an alignment might not fix.

Last edited by halfbakedj14; 08-21-2012 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:02 PM   #2
Runnin'OnEmpty
Southeast USA
2000 Sport
 
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You need to shorten your left tie rod end, and
lengthen the right one by the same amount.
This will straighten your steering wheel.

This is very easy to do: Just mark the tie rod ends
where they're at, loosen the lock nuts and turn the
tie rods. I'd start with 1/2 turn if the steering wheel
isn't off by much. If you keep the turns exactly equal
on both sides, the alignment won't be affected.




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Bought another 2000 Sport (God help me), 4.0 ohv auto, 60K actual miles, Cragar SS alloys/BFG TAs, AAL, EE anti-sway bar, Gibson cat-back, Harvest Gold, GT leather interior.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:18 PM   #3
deweyville65
Dewey,Az
96 EXPLORER XLT
 
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A good alignment shop will set the toe in while centering the steering wheel. As runnin on empty said, turn the outer tie rod ends to center the wheel, at the same time use a tape measure and a friend to set the toe in. I like to use about 3/32 to 1/8" measured about 8-10" off the ground. With new suspension components, you can try 1/16" to 3/32"
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:04 AM   #4
halfbakedj14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runnin'OnEmpty View Post
You need to shorten your left tie rod end, and
lengthen the right one by the same amount.
This will straighten your steering wheel.

This is very easy to do: Just mark the tie rod ends
where they're at, loosen the lock nuts and turn the
tie rods. I'd start with 1/2 turn if the steering wheel
isn't off by much. If you keep the turns exactly equal
on both sides, the alignment won't be affected.
Thanks Ill give that a try but before I do could you explain a little more exactly I need to do? I just want to make sure I know exactly what to do so I dont #### anything else up. Like if Im standing in front on my car which direction to turn each side etc and do I need to make sure the steering wheel is completely straight before I do this? Thanks!
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:31 AM   #5
RomeovilleIL
Illinois
98 LTD, 00 XLT
 
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Take it back to the shop before anything else. You don't want them to refuse to fix their mistake because you fiddled with it.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:00 AM   #6
RomeovilleIL
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For future reference, setting the toe alignment is not terribly difficult after replacing front end parts. The rear axle is not adjustable, so you basically need to line up the fronts parrallel to the rear. Assuming you have matching set of tires and standard factory axles so the width of front and rear axles are the same then you can use the string method. The basic idea is to run a plumb line from the rear to front of the truck with the line running across the middle of the tires on each side. Be carefull not to make contact with any bodywork or running boards. Then simply adjusting the tie rod ends until the tight line just touches the sidewalls at 4 locations (front and back of each tire) will give you a dead straight alignment. Add a quarter turn in on both sides to track true back to center (end result is about 1/16 toe in on each side).

I've used this method many times with good results. Just make sure the steering wheel is tied in place centered when you start or else you'll end up canted (learned the hard way steering lock is not sufficient as it still allows some movement).

There are a number of videos on youtube showing different approaches. This guy's does a decent job of showing the basic set-up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4cYtCwmheI
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:31 PM   #7
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Not sure if this helps but this was the print out of my alignment before and after.

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Old 08-22-2012, 07:14 PM   #8
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After looking at my tie rod ends it doesn't even look like they were touched...
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:51 PM   #9
deweyville65
Dewey,Az
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If it were mine, I would go back to the shop that did(?) the alignment, tell them what it is doing, see if they are willing to make it right. Then find a different shop next time, unless they are agreeable to fixing it. That is why I do mine myself. Surprising what you can do with a level and a tape measure.
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