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Explorer alignment issue

oharris

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City, State
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Year, Model & Trim Level
'96 & '98 XLT V8, '00 XLS
My 2000 Explorer is having some issues. It wanders all over the road, almost feels as though you are trying to balance on top of a ball. When you accelerate, it goes left let off and it goes right. Both reactions are delayed though. It's absolutely scary on an icy road, so I need to get it fixed.

I can't find anything loose in the suspension, and neither could the shop I took it to. They suggested it was alignment and possibly tires. I had it aligned this summer and it still felt pretty loose. The symptoms seem way too severe to be tires. Anyone else run into this? I also have a '97 Mountaineer and it's steady as a rock.
 



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corkey

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Elite Canuck,multiple ifs offender,, and musky maniac,, i wheel and i fish,,
Year, Model & Trim Level
99 xls,96 xl,91,08 Ranger
i would say that the toe is not good, it may be set at 0, that is not good, there has to be just a bit of tire scrub,, but barely any,

other options,

caster is so close to no offset that it wanders , to account for road crown,( meaning the outside of the road is lower than the middle on each side)they usually set the caster at 1/2 a degree lead on the right wheel, or passenger side, so it kind of drags a bit left, keeping it from going off the side of the road when you let go of the wheel,,

there could also be a loose condition in the steering shaft allowing the steering wheel to stay in the middle but allowing the wheels to wander a bit, making it go to one side or the other as you drive,,
 






jonlax

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Bensalem, PA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 xlt
Do you feel play in the wheel or just a pull when braking and acceleration?

One of three things to check are your lower ball joints. You'll need to have the wheels off the ground and pry with a pry bar between the knuckle and the lower control arm. Just shaking down the front end by hand will not always show a problem with the lower balljoint.

The second thing to check is if you have a shifted belt in your front tires. This is a very rare occurrence but I have seen this type of problem in the past.

Third would be a collapsed brake line. This is usually hard to visually see because of the design of some rubber lines. What I like to do is compress the caliper or some old timers that I've worked with in the past would see how fast they could fill up a small container with brake fluid from the bleeder screw.

Also most alignments aren't perfect. Without knowing exact numbers and mesurments it could still possibly be your alignment. Caster mesurments will tell you a lot when it comes to handling.

Good luck
 






oharris

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'96 & '98 XLT V8, '00 XLS
I don't feel any play in the steering wheel, it feels tight, just hard to keep it going straight. Like I said it just feels like you're trying to balance on top of a ball.

I just replaced the upper ball joints, and I can't find any play in the lowers. I have taken the weight off of then and tried to pry, but I can't detect any movement.

I'm thinking of swapping the tires from my Mounty to eliminate that possibility. It has kind of a hodge podge of tires on it, but again, these symptoms seem too severe to be tires.

It doesn't appear to be related to the brakes, doesn't pull when you step on the brakes, but it sure goes to the left when you floor the accelerator. That's the symptom that that has me really puzzled. Can caster cause that?
 












deweyville65

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96 EXPLORER XLT
Look for looseness in the REAR suspension.
 






RomeovilleIL

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98 LTD, 00 XLT
Lets start at the beginning. Did this problem exist prior to getting it aligned? Did they give you a spec sheet to show where it was set?

Personally I start by rotating the tires to see if it's possibly a tire issue (check air pressure is at least 30 pounds).

Assuming no change next suggest getting the truck on an alignment rack and get some numbers. Spec calls for 0.125" toe in. That isn't very much. The shop should notice if any parts have slop in them. Suspect parts include ball joints, inner and outer tie rod ends, hubs, or the rack itself.

Try lifting one side at a time, first from the frame (suspension drop), then from the control arm (suspension loaded) and check for any play in the tie rods and ball joints (9-3 & 12-6). There are times when slop is detectable only in one and not the other suspension state.

If you would like check the alignment yourself, lift the front end and string the tires. This can get 98-99% toe alignment this way, but dont recommend trying to make adjustments yourself without some experienced oversight the first time. Just see if the alignment is off.

Take 2 long pieces of string (kite string, dacron fishing line, anything lightweight and fine you can pull tight and see well). Tie one end to the leaf spring behind the rear tire, then run it across the face of the rear tire (try to center over the hubs) to the front, across the front tire and tie to front bumper anywhere inside the line of the tires. The idea is simply to have a tight string that runs in a line front to back of the truck that sits in the middle of each tire. The front and rear axle are the same width. Make sure the string isnt touching the doors or running boards - move up or down the tire a little to clear. Set up both left and right then center steering wheel. You should be able to look from the front of the truck down the string and see it is 1 straight, and 2 touching evenly on the sidewalls of the tires on both sides of the truck. Toe out will have a gap between the string and sidewall on the back of the front tire. Toe in will have a gap between the string and sidewall on the front of the rear tire if it is severe, otherwise you may simply notice that the string is tight and has a bend inward when sighting down its length from the front at bumper level. You might need to turn the wheel a little bit to find the true center where both sides give you a meaningful measurement. Sorry if the description is a little confusing. Once you have it in place it makes a lot of sense and gives you a very quick and easy way to check alignment at no cost. If everything looks good with the front end lifted on a floor jack, slowly drop it back down. Dont turn the steering wheel. Look again at the strings. If you have a ball joint or tie rod with play in it, the toe will move when the suspension loads back up.
 






oharris

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Solved

OK, I swapped tires with my Mountaineer and many of the problems disappeared and reappeared on the Mountaineer. I then had it aligned and it drove just as good as the Mountaineer does, so new tires are in order. Guess the tires were a little worse than I thought.
 






my98nnj

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Glad you figured it out and thanks for the update!
 






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