Our Community is 705,000 Strong. Join Us.


2001 steering wander, constant correcting


lesab92
01-17-2011, 11:54 PM
Recently purchased a 2001 MGM with 13,000 original miles. At highway speeds, the car seems like it wanders. The car seems to want to go to the left and it takes constant correcting to keep on track. It's like you're driving it all the time if that makes any sense. It has 4 new Michelin tires (same as OEM) and recent alignment at shop that specializes in front end work and alignment. I owned a 1985 Colony Park wagon for 10 years and can't remember it being this difficult to drive. At this point we don't even use the 2001 for highway driving because of the steering issue. Has anyone experienced a similar problem with a Grand Marquis. I did a little searching on the internet and have seen similar complaints, but there doesn't seem to be much in the way of an explanation as to why these cars do this. Going back to the alignment shop this week for complete inspection. Hopefully the problem will be resolved. If I learn anything, I'll post the results.

HEMIDAZE
01-18-2011, 07:05 AM
This usually indicates the toe in is "toed out". Other than that it may be a tight or frozen steering part (ball joint, tie rod end, idler arm). Let us know what happens.

The same problem can happen with an extreemly worn tie rod end but is not likely with low miles and would have been found by your front end shop.

way2old
01-18-2011, 07:02 PM
Also check the little"u" joint in the steering column under the hood. They will freeze up and cause steering problems. We have taken the shafts off and soak it in transmission fluid or spray with penetrating oil and work the joint until it moves freely. It is a real cheap fix if that is the problem.

Blue)(Fusion
01-18-2011, 10:10 PM
Although your front end shop would probably notice it, check the inner and outer tierods for any play. Also check the pitman and idler arms for any play. Just a few weeks ago I replaced an outer tierod and my idler arm. Wasn't too difficult.

Also it may indicate a worn steering gear box.

lesab92
01-21-2011, 03:23 PM
I took the Mercury to alignment shop. They removed the tie rod ends to check the components. The idler did not have play, but was very stiff. The shop opted to replace the idler arm and check alignment specs again. Don't know why a 13,000 mile car would need an idler arm, but it's done now. They adjusted the front end a couple of specs over to try and compensate for the pull to the right. They also backed off the steering box adjustment a bit. Picked up car and immediately noticed drifting to the right which actually seemed worse than before. I took car for drive on tollway and got it up to 65+. Seemed OK and on acceleration OK, but still felt that car wanted to go to the right but not like I was fighting the wheel or anything like that. Got off tollway and continued to drive and it seemed that the drifting to the right was going away. It was very cold here today and I'm wondering if the Michelins needed to warm up. I also noticed that when lightly applying brakes earlier, the pull to right was greater. The shop told me that the front end was very tight. This car has only 13,000 original miles and sat a lot in the garage. I wonder if part of the problem is that the sealed suspension not having any lube for 10 years and now possibly tire belts. Here again, these tires are less than 6 months old (OEM same Michelin Symmetry tires) and have only about 3,000 miles on them. BTW, left my wife's 2000 Century at the shop for safety inspection. The Century has 72,000 miles on it and everything checked out OK. This Mercury GM should drive as good as a 2000 Buick Century with 6x the miles. Thanks for earlier suggestions.

Blue)(Fusion
01-21-2011, 03:54 PM
If all the suspension parts are tight and the alignment shop has the toe, camber, and caster within specs your problem is not the front steering or suspension components.

Did you get a print off sheet of the alignment specs? What is the thrust angle of the rear tires?

Are any of your brakes sticking at all? When lifted, do the front tires spin easily by hand? Do you have any excess brake dust on either wheel?

Also keep in mind that because of road crown, your car will tend to turn to the right. If you are in the fast lane on a highway you should notice the car tends to turn to the left.

The sealed for life parts last a pretty long time no matter what's its age. I know of mid 90s era Panthers using their original sealed ball joints and tie rods...mostly in areas of moderate climates.

P.S. Michelin Symmetries suck. I bought my car with them on there and made the mistake of replacing them 2 years ago with another set of Symmetries. I will never use a Michelin tire again after realizing just how little they grip in snow and rain compared to a tire with decent tread patterns. Even my semi-new UHPAS Pirellis grip massively better in the snow and rain and UHPAS tires are known to not be very nice in atleast snow.

auto trainy
01-24-2011, 07:38 PM
I have 2000 GM and from day one we had pulling problems and had it back to the dealer 3 times and finally they adjusted the air pressure in the oem michelins and it corrected the problem,just my 2 cents,good luck.

BrianAlex
01-30-2011, 03:25 PM
I just bought a 2001 Grand Marquis LS with 25,000 geezer miles on it and I have noticed the exact same symptoms as yours (OP) minus the pulling which I did feel at first but was due to different slants of the road.
This is very frustrating on long drives and a nuisance around town.
If you look away for 2 seconds you will find the car about to go into the parked cars on the right.So you have to constantly keep your eyes drilled on center and make numerous corrections.
It feels like pushing a barge along a canal with the pointy bow of a small boat.You aim it,you don't really steer it.
This car is mint,you can't even tell anyone's been in it,everything is perfect and I hate driving it so I guess I will try the alignment shop and sell if they can't fix this.
I was wondering why Ford spent millions upgrading to rack and pinion in 2003. I guess I have my answer.

lesab92
01-30-2011, 10:12 PM
We purchased this Grand Marquis from the son of the previous owner last summer with only 10,500 miles. I thought if was a fantastic deal. Ours has just about every option imaginable, but like you said you can't drive it on the highway. We're very disappointed with this car and am also thinking of selling it. The previous owner was 95 years old and the story was that he used to just like to sit in the car in the garage. Maybe he was afraid to drive it and I'm wondering why no family members wanted the car and now I think I know why. Usually the geezer cars get handed down in the family.

Does your Grand Marquis have the Michelin Symmetry tires? I spent a lot of time this weekend trying to figure out this problem. Since I purchased the same Symmetry tires (huge mistake) at Discount Tire last fall, I went back there yesterday to talk with a salesman. I explained the issue and asked if he would switch my front tires. Instead, he offered to put 2 brand new tires on the front for $37 thinking that if the car did the same thing, it wasn't the tires. He also offered to sell me a new set of Michelin Destiny tires for about $200 and take my Michelins back. So now I would be at $700+ into tires and may still have the same problem. I told him that I would get back to him.

I then stopped by the local Goodyear dealer, and asked if he had any experience with the Michelin tires on the GM. He said his father had owned a Lincoln with the Symmetry tires and it did the same thing until he put some Goodyears on it. His opinion was that the only reason Ford elected to specify the Symmetry was because it had a whitewall. IMO, the Michelin Symmetry is not the right choice for this particular car model.

I also sprayed some PB Blaster on the u-joint on the engine side of the fire wall just being curious to see what would happen. I thought that maybe something would change, but the steering behaves the same.

Sounds like since we have the same problem, one of us may find a solution and share it on this board. This week I'm going to talk to a Mercury dealer and maybe even the mechanics that service the Crown Vic cruisers for our local police dept.

Send me a PM if you find anything interesting.
I just bought a 2001 Grand Marquis LS with 25,000 geezer miles on it and I have noticed the exact same symptoms as yours (OP) minus the pulling which I did feel at first but was due to different slants of the road.
This is very frustrating on long drives and a nuisance around town.
If you look away for 2 seconds you will find the car about to go into the parked cars on the right.So you have to constantly keep your eyes drilled on center and make numerous corrections.
It feels like pushing a barge along a canal with the pointy bow of a small boat.You aim it,you don't really steer it.
This car is mint,you can't even tell anyone's been in it,everything is perfect and I hate driving it so I guess I will try the alignment shop and sell if they can't fix this.
I was wondering why Ford spent millions upgrading to rack and pinion in 2003. I guess I have my answer.

Blue)(Fusion
01-30-2011, 11:29 PM
The circulating-ball steering system pre-2003 Panthers have is susceptible to wander issues vs. the 2003+ rack and pinion setup. The steering gear usually wears out from improper maintenance of the power steering fluid. I change mine once very two years using the turkey baster method 3 times in a week period using a generic branded Mercon/Dexron III ATF.

The way I check for any steering wear is jack the front wheels off the ground and with the driver side window and hood open, I wiggle the wheel and make sure that the steering shaft is turning the same amount. If not, it's a worn U-joint. If it moves with the wheel with no lag, then you need to have someone do the same thing while you get under the car and watch the pitman arm. If this has any lag in it, then you have a worn steering gear/box. Replace. If that doesn't have lag than whoever did your alignment missed a worn tie rod, pitman, or idler arm.

I noticed the wander more with the Michelin Symmetry tires. I used 2 sets in 5 years since I've owned my 2000 GMQ. In November I installed Pirelli Zero Nero 235/55R17 all season tires and most wander went away. A month later I found I had a bad outer tie rod anyway. Replaced that and the idler arm with Motorcraft parts and there is now no wander on my car. The other steering parts are all factory original.

BrianAlex
01-31-2011, 11:55 PM
OK guys,this is great info.
Yes I went out and bought a set of Michelin Symetry at Discount Tires for four hundred and some odd bucks (even though the original tires had most of their tread,the sidewalls were cracked and they were 10 years old).
Blue Fusion; How likely is it that these cars with 25K miles and Lesab92's with 10K would have steering play? I checked mine with one wheel off the ground and detected no play at all and the steering wheel seems reasonably tight.
I will do some of the things you suggest and report back.

I did some research on the steering gear and discovered that the "handling package" (which I don't have) included a different steering gear with a stiffer torsion bar and that the police package included a stiffer one still. They are identical in exterior dimensions. I will try to get the link for this info.

I may try this if nothing else works on the assumption that cops would never put up with this wandering.

Here: http://www.p71interceptor.com/steering/gearboxes/partnumbers.html

Blue)(Fusion
02-01-2011, 09:34 AM
Yes there are the civilian, handling package, and police package steering boxes. I have the civilian one in mine which is the loosest of the three. I can turn the car with a single finger if I wanted and offers little road feed back. My dad's '99 Crown Vic LX with the Handling and Performance Package (HPP) has the somewhat tighter handling steering box. I like it best out of the three because it is tighter and still offers the variable power steering assist. The police unit does not vary the power steering assist at different speeds - it is the same in a parking lot and at 120MPH in a chase.

How likely it is that your steering components are worn with the low miles? Well it's not very likely but could happen. Both of your cars are older and were previously owned. Are you sure they have never been in an accident? A slightly bent frame could cause similar problems even after a wheel alignment.

BrianAlex
02-01-2011, 11:08 AM
Blue Fusion,thanks. In a prior post you said;

" In November I installed Pirelli Zero Nero 235/55R17 all season tires and most wander went away. A month later I found I had a bad outer tie rod anyway. Replaced that and the idler arm with Motorcraft parts and there is now no wander on my car."

So you are pretty sure that the tires were the major (or a major factor) in the wandering?

Also I wanted to know if your dad's CV with the handling package is wandering or is it tight because I might get that gear box if it helps.

I have a 1969 GMC 3/4 with 200,000 miles and original steering parts and it handles 10X better that this thing.

One last Q! What is your 0-60 with that set-up? Thanks-Brian-

Blue)(Fusion
02-01-2011, 01:04 PM
I will not say for certain about the tires. In my case they helped. But I also likely drive my car differently than you do.

My dad's car is tight. I'd day it is the perfect stiffness the steering should be.

Did you check the suspension components in addition to the steering? Worn sway bar end links or shocks or bushings or ball joints will cause similar issues. Excessive thrust angle will too so do not over look the rear end.

lesab92
02-02-2011, 02:51 AM
What a coincidence that I too purchased my Symmetry tires at Discount Tire. I was thinking that if the engineers picked these as OEM that they knew something. When I bought this GM last summer, I noticed that the left quarter had had some paint work done because the shop used tape instead of paint for the stripes. The left rear tire was also newer than the other three. The paint match and tape striping was so good that you can hardly tell. So while I know the car was hit in the rear quarter, I don't know if the frame was affected. Perhaps that is part of the problem.

The front end shop that I took my GM to went over the suspension with a fine tooth comb. The only part they replaced was the idler arm and only because it was very tight. The shop owner said he had not come across this same problem with other GMs.

I'm going to call every Ford and Mercury dealer in the area this week or next and see if I can find someone that can say that they've had cars in with similar issues. We were hit with a monster blizzard here today and the car I chose to drive was our Camry wagon. I'm afraid to drive the Mercury on dry pavement, let alone in snow. And yet it has 4 wheel disc brakes, and traction control and new tires.


OK guys,this is great info.
Yes I went out and bought a set of Michelin Symetry at Discount Tires for four hundred and some odd bucks (even though the original tires had most of their tread,the sidewalls were cracked and they were 10 years old).
Blue Fusion; How likely is it that these cars with 25K miles and Lesab92's with 10K would have steering play? I checked mine with one wheel off the ground and detected no play at all and the steering wheel seems reasonably tight.
I will do some of the things you suggest and report back.

I did some research on the steering gear and discovered that the "handling package" (which I don't have) included a different steering gear with a stiffer torsion bar and that the police package included a stiffer one still. They are identical in exterior dimensions. I will try to get the link for this info.

I may try this if nothing else works on the assumption that cops would never put up with this wandering.

Here: http://www.p71interceptor.com/steering/gearboxes/partnumbers.html

BrianAlex
02-02-2011, 05:14 PM
Does yours have the "Handling Package"? This option includes a different steering gear and this may be a critical piece of the puzzle. Thanks-Brian-

Another coincidence; My last car until this Dec. was a Cressida Wagon very similar to your Camry Wgn. Even though it was in nice condition with new leather door panels and a host of other new parts I had to have it crushed because it wouldn't pass Calif. smog.

lesab92
02-03-2011, 12:00 AM
Too bad about your Cressida. In Illinois, they have stopped testing pre 1996 cars. A few years ago you needed to take your car to a test station and they would put your car on a "dyno" and accelerate up through various speeds in an attempt to simulate actual road condition. They closed all of those facilities. Since our Camry is a '96, we still need to take for test, but they only use a computer. So far it has passed.

I saw the photo of your car. It looks really like new, just like mine. And since we both have extremely low mileage cars, there must be some reason why we're both having the same issues. I hope we can find a solution, because it's not easy to find a decent used car with less than 100K miles. Would be nice if one of us had different tires.

Our GM does not have the handling package, just traction control and rear air suspension. I'm thinking it's the steering gear box or the tires. Before the snow hit, I took the car to a high school parking lot that was reasonably flat. I did left and right turns and each time the steering wheel does not return totally to center. In either case, the wheel only returns to about 5 degrees left or right from center. To center the wheel, I need to turn the wheel to center or the car will continue to turn. I've thought about putting a little more air in the tires (40 psi) to see if this condition improves with a little less tire on the ground. As you said in an earlier post, it's like your aiming rather than steering at high speeds. Maybe the Goodyear dealer I was talking to is correct when he says that the Michelins tend to behave like this on these full size Ford/Mercury/Lincoln cars.

Does yours have the "Handling Package"? This option includes a different steering gear and this may be a critical piece of the puzzle. Thanks-Brian-

Another coincidence; My last car until this Dec. was a Cressida Wagon very similar to your Camry Wgn. Even though it was in nice condition with new leather door panels and a host of other new parts I had to have it crushed because it wouldn't pass Calif. smog.

Gerry1966
02-03-2011, 01:18 PM
Hi, I acquired a one owner 1996 MGM with the wandering steering issue (was so excited to find the car I thought it just needed aligned). I have owned 3 90-96 MGMs and one 91 lincoln TC, never have I had this steering and wandering front end issue.

I had my trusted mechanic replace the steering box, steering gear, ball joints, Tie Rods, Pittman arm, idler arm, bushings, shocks one step at a time looking to end this. i think the whole front end is now new. The U joint is solid at the couplings and moves freely. I have had it aligned 2 times by 2 different shops, it is spot on. Previous owner had Uniroyals on it, were a bit worn and had a few cracks in the sidewalls so I purchased a set of Michelin X radials from Sam's Club-I have run these on 3 previous MGMs and never had a problem. The wandering has calmed down but it is still there on the highway .

I really do not know what to replace next...this has the standard handling package. Car was rustproofed, runs like a dream, has the electric dashboard and EVERY option, and is really solid and tight.

Having the brakes and all 4 rotors replaced as they are original and a bit "glazed" on the surface. My mechanic said the dust/heat shields on the front brakes cause excessive heating of the rotors and we agreed to leave them off maybe this will help.

If anyone finds the answer PLEASE post to me!

lesab92
02-03-2011, 02:40 PM
Welcome Gerry1966: Sounds like similar scenario again. I too was elated to find this GM. When I bought it last August, it had just over 10,000 original miles. And I got the tip on the car from a close friend so everything seemed just right. I wasn't really looking for one of these 4 doors, but it sounded like such a great deal. Who knew the steering was going to be such a big deal. Sorry to hear you had to replace so many components, but at least you know your front end is good. Hopefully we all find a solution before we run out of interest in these cars.

I'm going to get rid of these Michelin tires as my last ditch effort. If that doesn't work out better, than I'm going to sell the car when the weather gets better.

On another note: I called 2 Mercury dealer service departments today inquiring as to whether they have seen this issue before. Of course they both said bring the car in for an inspection (1 @ $110, the other @ $57.50) and they would see what they find.

I also callled Red Head Steering Gears in Seattle http://www.redheadsteeringgears.com/

They have re-manufactured GM steering boxes for $236 exchange and the core charge for this particular model is $75. Shipping back and forth is @ cost. The person I spoke with was very knowledgeable and even put me on hold a couple of times to go and speak with someone else about this issue. The reason I called them is that I noticed on a Ford Truck forum that many SUVs and pickups have similar issues. They re-manufacture their steering boxes utilizing a larger bearing than original and the link on their site explains this. He referred to this a the Ford "small bearing" problem with these steering boxes.

Blue)(Fusion
02-03-2011, 06:10 PM
Just throwing some thoughts out there reading the previous few posts....

1) When you got alignments, did you get just the toe aligned, or did you ensure that toe/caster/camber was all within spec?

2) When I ran Michelin Symmetries, I ran them at 40psi for better fuel economy. Mind you, the center tread wore out noticeably quicker this way. Still had plenty of tread running them from new with 30k on them when I sold them and the wheels in November.

3) Did the shops check the rubber bushings on the front upper and lower control arms? If they are dried out/worn, the control arms will move a little when in motion.

4) Check the sway bar and linkage! My front sway bar bushings were pretty bad when I replaced mine a few months ago, allowing the swap bar to lag when trying to eliminate sway.

5) OH I FORGOT ONE!
Except for the GMQs with the HPP (Handling & Performance Package), these vehicles do NOT have a rear sway bar from the factory. I installed a 17mm rear sway bar from a junkyard Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (a.k.a. P71) and it made a world of difference in improving stability on the highway. It reduced the car tending to be pushed by a crosswind and in my experiences, slightly reduced the wander on the highway (this is with the Michelins).

Total cost to install the rear sway bar was about $50 for aftermarket Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings, aftermarket MOOG sway bar end links, and brand new factory brackets, bolts, and speed nuts.

For 4 and 5, I have some pictures that may or may not be helpful in this gallery (http://richgannon.info/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=19) of mine. The front sway bar bracket studs had to be cut out with a Sawz All due to rust and I got new ones from the dealer. The receipt is in the pictures.

4 and 5 also took no mechanical skill whatsoever to accomplish. It literally took a under an hour combined to do both, save the run to the dealer and Lowe's.

BrianAlex
02-03-2011, 06:23 PM
Welcome to the discussion Jerry1966. Thanks Blue Fusion for the info.

I am still waiting for someone with the Handling and Performance Package to chime in. Right now I am leaning towards a steering gear swap as the best solution but I need to hear from someone with this set-up.

I am also wondering what it would be like to unplug the EVO system and go for a test cruise.

Blue)(Fusion
02-03-2011, 07:02 PM
Like I said before, my dad has a '99 HPP and his steering is tighter. By tighter, I mean it requires a little more force to turn the wheel versus the base civilian model steering gears. He is running some cheap-o brand tires that I never heard of before, but they are honestly better than anything else I've tried grip-wise. His does not wander. Mine no longer wanders with everything I have, too. He never had Michelins on it, even from the dealer since it's a Crown Victoria.

Only exception is windy conditions. Then it's a PITA to keep in the lane. But that goes for any RWD vehicle I suppose.

EDIT:
Unplugging the EVO harness would make things worse. This would cause the steering box to remain in maximum assist mode, i.e. parking lot mode. At highway speeds, this can be dangerous. Ask me how I know...

BrianAlex
02-04-2011, 12:19 AM
Thanks Blue Fusion.

I do believe the wandering is a matter of tires and steering box.

Here is some futher info that backs up this belief;

Quick Ratio" Steering Box: As part of the handling and performace package (HPP), crown vics recieve steering boxes with a "quicker ratio" than their non-hpp counterparts. This increases turning effort for better handling, reduced wandering, and for a more sporty feel. Police cruisers have a quick ratio box too. But the police one is a little tighter than the hpp box, particulary in the 99'-02' vics. Swapping steering boxes is straight forward enough. All 1992-2002 steering boxes will interchange, but older 95' & prior vics will require a new pressure hose to use a 96+ box. If you choose the "pre-owned" route, keep in mind that the general "rule of thumb" is to install the newest lowest mileage latest model year steering box that you can find. See also: http://www.car-part.com

Speed rated tires: As part of the HPP and police packages, crown vics recieve firm speed rated tires. These tires have reduced sidewall flex, better blowout protection, and other enhanced handling characteristics. See also: http://www.tirerack.com

This info is from http://www.p71interceptor.com/optionalequipment/


If your dad's rides OK that's more evidence.

I called Ford and they want $493 (incl tx) for the box so I need to be sure. Thx-Brian

Blue)(Fusion
02-04-2011, 05:28 PM
If you want to experiment with the steering box, get a junkyard part. There are countless P71s sitting in junk yards. Last time I went to the local Pull-A-Part there were no less than 30 Police Interceptors there plus more GMQs and civilian Crown Vics.

It will not have the EVO, but it will determine whether the steering box swap will help for cheap. I'm sure you can get it for under $50 in a reasonable condition. If it works, get a remanufactured HPP steering box.

FWIW, his tires have very soft sidewalls. Inflated to 40psi they look like they are low on air. The Symmetries have stiffer side walls than his which did perplex me and did not show low air pressure until about 25psi.

I'm wondering it part of it has to do with the stiffer front and rear sway bars, and stiffer front springs.

BrianAlex
02-04-2011, 10:11 PM
Blue Fusion, that sounds like a plan. I'll check my Pick Your Part and get one for $50 or whatever. If it works ok I'll leave it on there,I'm not adverse to having a stiff steering gear.

lesab92
02-15-2011, 11:12 PM
Hello again, Finally warming up around here for a couple of days and I have some time to do some more checking into the steering issue. I called Discount Tire last week and they said to bring the car in and they want to rotate the right side tires to see if the pulling changes. I had thought that switching the front tires left to right and right to left would be a better indicator of pulling. I'll report back what happens. I am thinking of trading up to the Michelin HydroEdge if they offer a good deal. I know it will cost me more money, but at least I would get better wet pavement traction. Of course the Discount Tires salesman could not understand why I didn't like the Symmetry tires I had purchased. Anyone have good luck with the HydroEdge tires on a GM?

Blue)(Fusion
03-10-2011, 12:42 PM
Thought I'd give some new input here.

I am on spring break and my dad let me drive his 99 LX w/ Handling & Performance Package around town (since my car requires 93 octane which is much more expensive) and he had me rotate his tires. His does wander. I honestly don't remember if this is a new thing or if it's been like this forever. I only experienced it on the highway in his car. On city streets it's pretty stable.

Mine definitely does not wander like his does anymore. Once again, I think it comes down to the tires and/or wheels. I am running 17" rims instead of the stock 16" rims which means less tire sidewall. Plus these Pirelli sidewalls are very stiff.

BrianAlex
03-10-2011, 09:21 PM
Thanks for the update BlueFusion. I watch this thread for updates and I am bummed that your Dads car wanders even with the Handling package. I was waiting for this info before I commited to purchasing a HPP gear box and doing the swap. Maybe I will skip it now.
I am getting "used" to the terrible "handling" and I think I am stuck now anyway since selling it with gas going above $4 to who knows how high might be tough. -Brian-

Blue)(Fusion
03-10-2011, 09:52 PM
After I finish changing my shocks tomorrow I'll put his car on jacks and see if I can't find any loose components. If I don't find anything, I'm sticking to my tire/wheel theory.

P.S. I did check and all of his suspension and steering components are factory with the exception of all 4 ball joints and one outer tierod which have been replaced with the greaseable style (unfortunately).

lesab92
03-11-2011, 01:47 AM
Since I changed to the Michelin HydroEdge there was an improvement, but not very much. These tires are better on wet roads, but get up to 65 – 70 MPH and depending on the road it pulls to same side as lane you're driving in. I mentioned this issue to a mechanic today and he thought it might be lower ball joints. Here we go again. I had this all checked out by the alignment shop and you'd think they would have found that when they dropped the tie rods. It is fine for around town driving, but stay off the highway. We have ours up for sale and I'm hoping it will sell because of the low mileage. I'm regretting for upgrading to the HydroEdge tires. I should have gone with something different. I think Michelin owns BF Goodrich and I might have been given a chance to go with a Goodrich tire. The fact that the steering doesn't return all the way to center also throws me. It is like something in the steering system is way too tight. Hopefully driving the car will help loosen things up a bit. I think components that can be greased are way better than these factory sealed units.

Blue)(Fusion
03-11-2011, 08:51 AM
If it's pulling to one side and not returning to center, that sounds like the caster is out of spec. Most alignment shops don't touch caster, some not even camber. If you have the print out of caster, camber, and toe, what are the values for the front wheels? And if done properly, you should have have values for the rear tires which can not be changed, but still checked. The rear wheel thrust angle is important in determining how to align the front tires on a live axle RWD vehicle.

BTW, if you go for a 2003+ you should not have these problems since it was upgraded to a rack and pinion setup which does not wear like the recirculating ball system in 2002 and older. And the suspension is improved all around.

lesab92
03-21-2011, 02:29 PM
Thanks for the update BlueFusion. I watch this thread for updates and I am bummed that your Dads car wanders even with the Handling package. I was waiting for this info before I commited to purchasing a HPP gear box and doing the swap. Maybe I will skip it now.
I am getting "used" to the terrible "handling" and I think I am stuck now anyway since selling it with gas going above $4 to who knows how high might be tough. -Brian-

BrianAlex, Anything new on your 2001 Grand Marquis? We took a 200 mile trip yesterday. Our GM still wants to pull left, and more so when in left lane. I'm thinking of taking the car to a Mercury dealership.

lesab92
04-25-2011, 01:54 PM
I had just about given up on our 2001 MGM and was trying to sell the car. I had mentioned to our regular mechanic that the MGM handled poorly and seemed to veer left or right depending on the road you were driving on. His initial thought was lower ball joints as he had seen this before on some cars. He agreed to drop the tie rods and see if in fact one or both of the lower ball joints was the culprit. He even said he would not charge me if he could not find anything.

When he called to tell me the problem was the idler arm, I was surprised. After all, I had taken previously the MGM to a “professional” alignment shop. This “professional” alignment shop had aligned the car initially and told me the problem was solved. A month or so later I had taken the car back to that same shop and they replaced the idler arm and the car was still handling weirdly. I was bascially told that the car had sat too long and the front end was stiff. The shop made me feel like it was all in my head.

Well here’s the problem. Ford design the idler arm with a bushing system that just gets tighter and tighter as you approach the recommended 50 ft. lbs. of torque on the nut. So the solution was to lube up the whole thing good before assembly and back off the nut (one flat) or to about 40 to 45 lbs before inserting the cotter pin. I was also told that the “professional” shop had not even cleaned up the shaft before installing the new idler arm. It all makes sense to me as why would the idler arm have to be that tight to begin with. All the idler does is help to guide the center link. Perhaps when these cars were brand new with all fresh parts, the 50 lbs of torque was just enough for the bushing to wear a bit during the break-in period and then the steering would be tight, but not crazy tight.

I would suggest that anyone who has a steering issue to at least consider that part of the problem, if not the whole problem, is the idler arm being way to tight. You would need to drop both tie roads to check this out. And I believe that MOOG makes a replacement Idler Arm that has a different bushing system that helps aleviate this problem and even has a grease fitting. I may even consider changing to the MOOG idler arm as it should work great as long as it is lubed regularly.

In any event, we’ll be keeping this MGM as it drives beautifully now. Now I gotta figure out why the headlights come on when the switch is in off position.

BrianAlex
06-05-2011, 01:35 AM
Lesab92,glad you got that fixed up and I hope you are enloying your ride now.

I think your problem was slightly different from mine.


Today I bumped up the pressure in all tires to about 38-39 psi and went for a 170 mile ride and on the freeway it is just barely acceptable but is 40% better).

I also got an alignment last week (it's first ever) and toe was out of spec on both and the right camber off a hair.

I think I'll keep the car now. Yes it's a barge but I'm stuck with it.-Brian

Add your comment to this topic!