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bradleyheathhays

Tracking / steering issues

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My '11 Crown Vic has got 315k miles on it and I'm having some kind of tracking problem that I think is coming from the steering. If there's not much wind it drives straight down the road just fine up to about 60 mph. But if the winds up some, or if I take it up to 70, it's tracking characteristics start to get weird and unsettling. Rain seems to cause it to get worse as well. The feeling is not dissimilar to hydroplaning.

I got the wheels off the ground and pushed/pulled on all the tires..3 and 9 o'clock, 6 and 12. Back wheels were solid, and the fronts were ok when I did the 6 and 12, but on the 3 and 9 test the tires moved about 1/4". They didn't move easily say as if they were completely loose, but it didn't take all that much effort to get them rocking either. At each limit of movement there's a low grade thud that's coming from somewhere between the two wheels, pretty close to the center of the car I'd say. I don't know if the movement I'm seeing is normal, but the degree the steering seems to be unpredictable would seem to correlate to about the degree of movement I'm seeing with the 3 and 9 test.

Any ideas on where I go from here?

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You should not be able to move the wheels by hand up/down or left to right. Naturally the wheels will turn left and right and the steering wheel will turn with it. Any play indicates a bad suspension component. Chances are you have worn out ball joints and/or tie rods. If it were mine. I would plan on doing upper control arms and lower ball joints. Check tie rods and sway bar links. Those cars are inexpto rebuild the front end. Then get an alignment afterwards. 

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Thanks for all the advice.  I'm not sure what the word 'inexpto' is though...next to last sentence.

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8 minutes ago, bradleyheathhays said:

Thanks for all the advice.  I'm not sure what the word 'inexpto' is though...next to last sentence.

My phone does some crazy auto correct. That’s supposed to be inexpensive. They are fairly inexpensive to rebuild the front end.

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Sorry it took so long to get back. I just got the car back from a front end inspection and they're saying my biggest problem is that both lower ball joints need to be replaced. I've done work similar to this before (using a pickle fork to separate joints and using a rented ball joint press) but they were advising it might be too tough of a job to do by myself in my driveway. I have a 1000lb impact wrench but only a really small compressor.

What do you guys think about attempting this job myself? Any advice?

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Well I've decided I'm gonna give it a shot at doing this myself. 'Couple' questions...

- I know the lower BJ presses out, but does the top one press out as well?

- Does the sway bar link have to come off for better access?

- Anything else I should change out while I'm in there? So far I'm gonna be doing both upper and lower BJs and probably the tie rod ends.

- I've been told to use green loc tite. That would be used on the threads on the bottom of the BJs?

- Also been told to watch out for the spring shooting out at me but I believe I have a shock in spring, a strut? Is there any danger of this spring suddenly popping out after tension is eased? I don't plan on removing the spring at all.

- The Moog BJ I'm considering at Rockauto doesn't appear to have a grease boot. Am I looking at this picture wrong? Is that black part a boot that will expand when it's filled up?

 

MOOG BJ.jpg

Edited by bradleyheathhays

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From personal experience I will strongly advise you to not use Moog suspension parts. My experience with them is they wear out waaaaay too quickly. Motorcraft or bust, especially with something like ball joints and tie rod ends. 

If you pull the sway bar links off and the ends move around pretty freely, go ahead and replace them too. You might as well regardless while you’re under there, it can't hurt. 

And as for loc-tite I personally never use them on suspension parts (with exception to inner tie rods because there's usually not a lot of thread to work with) just because they're exposed to so much road debris and salt if you live in the snow belt they’re going to seize anyway. I recommend being very liberal with an anti-seize compound before reinstalling any bolts. If you have any nylon lock nuts, replace those with new ones (grade 8 ) and, I cannot stress this enough, always make sure you torque every bolt to manufacturer spec and you should be fine. 

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