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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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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

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Considering the mileage I've decided to change out everything I can.  Ordering 2 new top A-arm assemblies, 2 lower ball joints, 4 lower A-arm bushings, 2 new strut assemblies w/ springs, and 2 sway bar links.  This only leaves the tie rod ends which there is a chance are not original.  This car was part of a fleet that got regular maintenance so since I didn't see any movement at the outer tie rod ends when I was doing the 3 & 9 push test I'm thinking they may have already been replaced.  I'll put in everything I've ordered and see how the steering is after that.  Do you always do both inner and outer tie rod ends at the same time or is it common just to do the outer, or just the inner?

Found a decent set of ebay shock and spring, strut? assemblies for $150 but it's specified as fitting the interceptor model whereas mine is just the base model.  Would they still work ok?

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Found a fairly comprehensive front end kit for a great deal...like $137 for all of this...

 

2006-11 Ford Lincoln Mercury Steering & Suspension Kit 12 Piece Set - 1ASFK05040

 

spacer.png

 

link to item

 

I'd rather go with something more dependable like Moog at least on the lower ball joints.

What do you think? Should I go with this kit and save? She's got 320k on her now.

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What you may save now could cost you down the road. Inexpensive parts like that are tempting, but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

 

I would try Moog as much as possible. 

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