• 1994 FORD TEMPO
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • 135,000 MILES
I have a 1994 Ford Tempo. Recently the car started to drift to the left when driving on the road, ( you know, if I released my grip on the steering wheel). Now, I have to keep a very tight grip on the steering wheel to keep the car going straight down the road. The first thing I tried was rotating the tires, ( front to back). That did not help. Next, I tried having a wheel alignment, ( twice). Still it pulls to the left. Next, they found that there was a broken front spring. That was replaced and the alignment redone. Still pulls to the left. I took it back one more time after that to recheck the alignment, still no luck. Next, I rotated the tires - front to back and cross ways. Still pulls to the left. Is there any other problem that would cause this car to always drift to the left when driving down the road.

Thank You,
Mr Golf
Do you
have the same problem?
Sunday, March 6th, 2011 AT 2:50 PM

1 Reply

Got'cha. What you got is what you get, at least as far as the alignment is concerned. Ford is famous as one of the few manufacturers that builds cars that can't have camber adjusted. You will also see on the printouts of the alignments that camber on the front is REAL REAL high compared to normal cars. You'll find well over 1.5 degrees which means the front tires are tipped out a pile on top. Makes them ride on the edges of the tread for a nice soft ride at the expense of tire life of less than half of other cars. Normal camber values are between 0.0 and 0.5 degrees. People buy cars after test driving many models. You don't make a buying decision based on tire life because that won't be known but you do make a decision based on comfortable ride quality. What happens after you buy the car is of of little concern.

One trick that was very common to solve a pull when the cars were still fairly new was to unbolt the tapered stud of one of the outer tie rod ends, turn the steering to the right, then tighten the stud. Ford used a very trouble-prone and dangerous type of tie rod called a "rubber-bonded-socket" which means they set the ball into the socket and "glued" them together with molten rubber. By loosening and retightening one, it got put into a twist when the steering system was straightened out. When it tried to untwist, it pulled the steering system to one side which counteracted the alignment pull. Sort of like connecting a rubber bungee strap between the steering linkage and the body of the car.

Even though the springs were replaced, a good place to start is by measuring ride height on all four corners. There are books that spell out where to measure and the specified height, but what you really need to be concerned with is both front corners are the same and both rear corners are the same.

From the way you described the problem occurring, it is entirely possible you have two different tires that developed a pull. Rotating is the correct way to find that but just switch the two front tires side to side. An additional clue to a tire pull is the car will pull the other way under moderate to hard braking.

Don't overlook the possibility of a sticking brake caliper. Most front-wheel-drive cars are designed to resist pulling when one caliper is applied harder than the other but it still should be checked. Stop on a slight incline then see if the car will creep downhill on its own when it's in neutral and you release the brakes.

Look at the steering axis inclination (SAI) numbers on the printout. There is no right or wrong value. Whit is very important is they must be very nearly the same. If they are more than 0.2 degrees different, something is bent or the cross member is shifted sideways, (on cars that have them bolted on. This is a much bigger problem on GM cars).
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Sunday, March 6th, 2011 AT 3:48 PM

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