'88 Ford Transit (Made in Germany) Raimo camping van. Pulls to the right

brakes
alternators

#1

Ok, Big fan of Car talk. I love guessing what the problems are with other people’s cars.

I’ve recently bought this car because I wanted to try out a camping car life style this summer. Its going to be great.
However, I cant quite figure out a couple of its problems, especially about the braking…

  1. Whenever driving, its always pulling to the right. (My guess, wheel alignment. The front tires were very unevenly warn when I got the car too.)

  2. Whenever I brake, and especially at higher speeds, i feel a pull to the right. (I hope this is also alignment, but could it be brakes?)

  3. Independent of the two problems above, I need advise on how to know what type of engine my car has. The previous owner put a '95 transit engine and transmission he said, so when I’m buying spark-plugs, for example, I don’t know exactly what type to buy. I know its a 4 cylinder gasoline engine, with a 5 gear manual gear box.

  4. Charging… Since its a camping car, it has two batteries. Main battery for the starter and engine, and Aux battery for the lights and camping stuff. When the engine is on, the alternator is producing current at 13.6 V on the Main battery, and 12.6 V (!!?) on the Aux battery. (with engine off, the batteries show these voltages-> Main: 12.7, Aux: 10.6 (I guess Aux battery needs replacement)
    a. I thought Alternator should be producing at 14.something when engine is running.
    b. Why is the charging voltage different for the two batteries? Bad connection, or intentional?
    c. My guess is that the voltage regulator is malfunctioning. but where the heck is the regulator located? the wires from the alternator seem to disappear behind the firewall.

Alright. I’ll leave it there. You wouldn’t believe how soft the seats are on this car! it is like sitting on a bed! (The chairs turn into a bed too…)

Would love your opinions and advise about above points.
Paul


#2

Re: 1 & 2.
You should get the front suspension inspected asap (consider a tow). Could be very dangerous, would not be the first Transit to loose a front wheel.
Re: 3.
Most likely its a 1,6 or 2,0 pinto engine (blue valvecover), but You need to find the enginecode and I can’t remember where it is placed. Has the timing belt been replaced, they don’t last very long on those engines, but are easy to change.
Re: 4.
Your main batt. is fine, but the aux. batt. is dead. That’s why the low reading on aux with engine running. 13,6 is at the low end, but within the range. 14,2 - 14,4 would be ideal. The regulator is inside the alternator and not easily changed and probably not needed.
Hope You’ll have many happy days in the camper.


#3

Voltage regulator is OK. Aux battery is dead. My guess is that when you replace the aux battery you will see slightly higher voltage from the regulator. Aux battery is depressing the system voltage slightly because it’s so dead.


#4

It’s likely the first 2 problems (steady state pull and brake pull) are related. Inspect the front brakes very carefully for drag.

Also, swap front tires side to side and see if the steady state pull changes. If it doesn’t, it’s not tires. If it does, it’s tires. And if it only changes slightly or disappears, its both tires and the vehicle.

My money is on it doesn’t change and it’s the brakes causing it.


#5

OP here. Great to hear that the Alternator is probably just fine! I had guessed that the Regulator was a separate box, but I guess I was thinking about another car. So on fords, is the regulator pretty much always inside the alternator? (forgive me if that’s a dumb question!)

About 1& 2, "pulling to the right"
Asterix, (by the way, great name!)
I doubt it is anything dangerous, as it passed the EU test a year ago, and it has not been driven much after that, as far as I know (They check the front end during the EU inspection.)
Anyway, Could you give me a rundown of how I could check for the most dangerous problems with the front end? (rock the tire back and forth… you know…)

Also, Do you have any suggestions for what it might be if the front end is not in a dangerous state?


#6

“So on fords, is the regulator pretty much always inside the alternator?”

Yes on pretty much all cars, not just Fords.


#7

Simple test - drive it 20 minutes or so using minimum braking, stop and grab each wheel hub. A hot one means the brake is dragging.

Pulling to the right while braking could mean one of the left side brakes is not self-adjusting or a caliper slide pin is stuck.


#8

I’m going to go against the grain . . .

Most vehicles that have a 12V setup with 2 batteries have some kind of a battery isolator. It’s essentially a solenoid/relay. If that is faulty, one of the batteries will not get charged.

It’s quite possible the auxiliary battery is reading 12V at idle, because it’s literally not getting charged.

As far as the pulling goes, you definitely need to get a shop to perform an alignment. It might just need to be adjusted, but you might also have a bad brake hose or a sticking caliper Best to get this taken care of ASAP

In my opinion, the alternator is fine, because if if wasn’t, you’d never see 13.6V at the main battery when idling.

How old are the batteries, by the way?