My car is making a lot of noises and pulls hard and shakes

Tiny
LOVELY MESHA
  • MEMBER
  • 2012 FORD FOCUS
  • 92,046 MILES
My car jerks, pull really hard shakes and makes all kind of noises. They said it was my 02 sensor.
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Saturday, October 15th, 2016 AT 3:50 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You need some new "theys" to give you advice. Oxygen sensors affect emissions and fuel mileage, and in rare instances, engine running problems. You have something much more serious going on that must not be ignored. Ford has had a real lot of trouble with steering and suspension parts separating leading to loss of control and crashes. About eighty percent of the time you get sufficient notice that something is wrong by the noises and other symptoms. About twenty percent of the time there are no symptoms leading up to the broken part and your car skidding into the ditch or into oncoming traffic. That is why the steering and suspension systems should be inspected at a tire and alignment shop at least once a year, and any time you hear a noise, clunk, or rattle. A lot of those noises are caused by things that are not safety issues, but you wont know that until the car is inspected.

From your description, it sounds like you have already been ignoring these symptoms for quite a while. If you are involved in a crash, even one that is not your fault, you can be sure the other guy's insurance investigator or lawyer is going to find the worn or defective parts on your car. They will convince a jury that you were partly at fault for the crash because you were less able to void it, and they will be right.

At the mileage you listed there are definitely going to be numerous worn parts unless they have been replaced already. It would be safer to have the car towed to a repair shop, but if you do not have to drive at highway speed to get there, at least drive carefully. This is definitely not something to ignore for even another day.
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Sunday, October 16th, 2016 AT 8:01 PM
Tiny
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What should I have them check for. What are they's?
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Sunday, October 16th, 2016 AT 8:07 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Your comment was, "They said it was my 02 sensor." You need different "theys". That was like humor. You need different people giving you advice.

All you need to ask for is a "front-end inspection". Or just tell them the list of symptoms and observations and they will take it from there. I was the suspension and alignment specialist at a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership throughout the 1990's, but I worked for a mass merchandiser for seven years before that. Every week at that store we got in our weekly shipment of brake, exhaust, and front-end parts. Specifically, during the 1980's, in any week we would sell perhaps a dozen front-end parts for all the GM vehicles that came in, about a half dozen parts for Chrysler products, and maybe two or three parts for all of the import cars. We also got in forty four tie rod ends for Ford Escort and Tempo "killer cars", and a couple of dozen parts for all the other Ford models. By mid week we were sold out of the Ford parts and had to order more from the local auto parts stores.

To add to the insult, there are three main alignment angles that must be set very precisely to control pulling to one side, tire wear, and centered steering wheel. One of those angles has extremely little effect on front-wheel-drive cars so it is not adjustable. Another one of those angles is critical that it be set perfectly for good tire wear and to prevent a pull, but the engineers at Ford preferred to leave it non-adjustable to save a few dollars. If you get stuck with the tire wear and pulling, there is no fix for that. No other manufacturer in the world ever did that to their customers.

To be fair, only two things will cause "camber" to change on a Ford front-wheel-drive car. One is worn parts and the other is the result of sagged ride height. You have worn parts as evidenced by the symptoms you described. Sagged ride height changes the geometry of the suspension system, and that is due to weak coil springs. That is an issue with age, not mileage, and your car is not old enough for this to be a concern yet. Your specialist will measure front and rear ride height and tell you if new springs are needed.

One of the reasons we need to adjust camber is to reset it to specs after it has changed due to mildly-sagged springs. That's one reason an alignment is needed periodically. Your car still uses Ford's strut design from the '80s that doesn't allow for adjustment. If camber is reasonably close to specs after any worn parts are replaced, your mechanic is still going to align your car. In a few years when camber is too far off to provide good tire wear, he will not take your money for an alignment unless he is allowed to do the job right, which means replacing the springs. The good news is that will be about the time any car needs new struts, and the major aftermarket parts manufacturers now all offer new struts with the new springs and other new parts already assembled and ready to install. You'll pay only slightly more for the parts, but the job will take much less time, which translates into dollars for you. Working with compressed coil springs, (remember, those springs are strong enough to hold up 2,000 pounds of car), is dangerous too, and that is factored into the cost of the job when we replace just the springs.

I should mention too that just like with doctors, carpenters, and chefs, mechanics speak their own language and typically have very poor communication skills when speaking with car owners. That is one big reason for miscommunication and perceived but undeserved mistrust. Most shops don't allow customers to enter the work area because of all the hazardous conditions, but if you're lucky, your mechanic will be allowed to take you under your car and show you which parts are worn and how they are allowing the wheel to not stay solidly in alignment. At the very least, you generally have the right to have your old parts returned to you. Most mechanics will not put them in your car if they're dirty or greasy, but they will keep them handy for you to look at later.
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Sunday, October 16th, 2016 AT 8:49 PM

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