2003 Lowerd Focus

It has been some time since I was able to post or say anything on here.

I have a 03 Ford Focus that was lowered when I purchased the vehicle. I recently needed to replace the shocks in the rear end. After taking it to the shop and having them replace them, the alignment on the rear end was atrocious!

The tires were leaning in on the top and out on the bottom creating the car to squat in an odd way. This resulted in my Kumho tires being eaten to shreds on the inside tread. I took it back to the shop and they told me there is NO reason to do any form of alignment on the rear if all I am doing is replacing the rear shocks. Is this true? What can I do from here to prevent this from happening again… aside from not taking it there again?

You have 2 different issues:

  1. Does replacing the rear shocks require realignment? - No.

  2. Is the alignment in the rear per spec? - Probably not.

So take the car to another shop to get the alignment done.

The only time I had struts replaced, an alignment was both necessary and part of the job.

The underlying problem is probably the fact that the car was “lowerd”.
Whoever did this lowering may have done–God only knows what–to the suspension, with the result that the rear camber is now screwed up.

While this may represent a major investment that the car’s book value does not warrant, I suggest that the best way to approach the problem is to restore the car to its original ride height. That may require putting in OEM springs, and possibly other components that were changed/altered by the previous owner.

When a car is “lowerd” (or even when it is lowered), there are good ways to do it, and there are bad ways to do it. Unfortunately, you don’t really know what kind of hatchet job was done to the car’s suspension by the previous owner(s).

Edited to add:
When buying a used car, it is best to avoid a car that gives evidence that the previous owner(s) “hotrodded” it. A lowered suspension suggests that this car was subjected to some extreme driving. Problems with alignment may just be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Yup, it was the lowering.

As a given wheel in an independant suspension system travels through its suspension range, it’s intentionally tilted inward to keep the cars “track” the same width. Were the upper and lower control arms the same length and the wheel kept vertical, the wheel would move in and out and the track vary, and the car would wander everywhere. If you doubt this, put a normal car on jackstands and see the wheels tilt. The dynamics of the geometry are designed such that the wheels will be vertical when the car is sitting on the wheels on a level surface in a static state.

Often when kids lower cars, they do so by simply chopping a coil (or two or three) out of the springs. That brings the upper and lower controls arms above the designed static position and the wheels lean inward. The suspension system is not designed with sufficient adjustment to compensate for this. To lower the car properly involves getting cut spring sets with special upper and/or lower control arms and some replacement hardware. Most kids don’t do it right. Doing it right costs money.

The good news is that correcting the problem may be as simple as replacing the springs and doing a realignment.