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Car pulling after alignment

Last week I got my rack and pinion replaced and immediately following that I attempted to go on a trip that weekend. However, my car began shaking insanely, it had been doing that the whole trip. About 100 miles in I decided to turn back and have it looked at. The repair place I went to have the steering rack replaced, balanced my tires and the shaking went away. Now the issue with my car is that on the highway it pulls to the left slightly but on other roads going about 40 miles an hour it pulls to the right. I’ve had the suspension parts looked at before they replaced my rack and pinion and all was good. The shop did recommend I replaced my shocks and struts soon based on the manufactures suggestion.

I had my alignment done immediately following the rack and pinion job. My wheels are balding on the outside, all of them. I assume that was because my vehicle was in need of alignment. Now my vehicle pulls to the right on normal roads and to the left on the highway. It’s not too bad but it does bother me I want to take care of my car. There is a slight humming sound when going at all speeds. I can’t here it when my windows are down but it does sound it like is coming from outside somewhere. It is not loud enough to record.

Any clue on what the problem is? My theory is that the balding on the outside of tires is causing the pull. There is hardly any traction on the outside of my tires, but it’s just the first line on them that’s about an inch or so wide. The rest of the tires have fairly good traction as they only have about 11,000 miles on them. The two of the worse tires are on the front, the other two on the back. My car has about 74,000 on it. The reason the rack and pinion broke is not really certain however I do remember hitting a huge pot hole going about 40 a month before my vehicle got fixed. I drove maybe 500-1,000 miles with the rack making a clicking noise until i got it fixed.

Thank you I appreciate your help.

Sounds like your tires have uneven wear. Nothing can make them better. Or ride better. New tires will fix your noise issues and probably fix your pulling, if your alignment is good. You don’t need “new” tires, you need different, good, tires. Used or new.

Yes I do have uneven wear on my tires. How mandatory is it that I get new tires? Is there a greater chance for a blowout? I’m hoping to drive home for thanksgiving it’s a little under 600 miles.

Your tires have been ruined. Go to tirerack.com, type in your tire size, and search for all-season tires that fit your car. Then read user reviews/survey results to choose good tires. Buy a set, have them mounted and balanced. Also replace your struts if they are old.

Then address any remaining driveability issues. But with bad tires and struts, you have no chance of fixing them.

Is it hurting my vehicle to keep them for now? I don’t want to waste 300 on tires and 600 fixing the struts and shocks. Struts and shocks should be good for another 30,000 anyways according to Ford.

The tread wear bars aren’t flush with the uneven wear yet

It wouldn’t really be wasting the cost of the tires. It would be wasting what’s left of the value of the tires. At this point, that isn’t much. Some would argue that since the tires are balding on the outside edges, they no longer have any real value. They’re unsafe. I would be among those that would make that argument.

Your tires no longer have the integrity to withstand the road impacts that come with potholes and such. I think it’s time to look for new rubber.

Your tires should not wear on the outer tread ribs before the inners. You say the car pulls right on 2 lanes and left on the highway? Normal crown in the road should cause that to a small degree but you seem to notice greater sensitivity to that crown. I think your car is in need of an alignment. The one you got after the replacement rack and pinion was not done very well. Replace the tires and get a new alignment.

A very simple thing to try is to put the front tires on the back and the back tires on the front. If the problem eases you know it’s the tires. If not it’s a front end problem. Incidentally, what make, year and model is this?

Begining with the wheel in the straight ahead position turn it fully to the left and note how far it was moved, then move back to the straight ahead position then fully to the right noting how far it turned. If the wheel could be turned further one way than the other the rack was installed off center and must be reset and realigned. If there is no difference from left to right jack up and support the car and inspect the front suspention for loose play. Post your results.

It’s going to be hard to know if this problem is caused by the tires or not, without trying out a new set as an experiment. Switching them left/right, front/back is worth a shot though. See if the problem follows one of the tires. (Some types of tires don’t take well to having the rotation direction reversed, so consult a tire shop for advise before switching left/right.)

Wear on the outer edge isn’t necessarily caused by mis-alignment. Incorrect air pressure, going around corners fast, especially if the vehicle has a high center of gravity (like a minivan), even a correctly aligned and well maintained suspension system can’t compensate and outer edge tire wear can occur.

I’m surprised the “insane” shaking you noted after the rack replacement was traced to the tires not being balanced. They weren’t shaking before, right? That seems a little suspicious. However, they fixed it by balancing the tires and it is hard to argue with success.

I was gone for training for a month and my car was left sitting so not really sure. It’s a 2011 ford focus 75000.

Did you get a printout of the alignment specs? If so, look at the camber and toe numbers.
Tires wearing on the inside edges points to a too much negative camber issue or too much toe out.

Normally toe may not apply to the rear tires but I’m pretty sure your car has independent rear suspension and that does make it an issue.

@ok4450 Just to point out the OP said the tires were wearing on the outside edges.

My bad. Outer edge wear is going to be due to too much positive camber or too much toe IN, not out.

@bradleytjohnson Just curious, you said the back tires were also worn on the outside edges but not as bad. Did the back tires spend some time on the front due to tire rotations?

Yeah the wear was from the vehicle being out of alignment.

So I jacked my car up, spun the front wheels. The Right was normal but the left (driver side) made a grinding sound. I took the wheel off, spun the rotor and the grinding sound still persisted. My conclusion is that this is why the vehicle is pulling to the right, and the culprit of the humming sound when I drive. Not sure what is wrong with it though…

Since this is somewhat solved If a mod could close this that would be great!

The grinding noise is probably wheel bearing or brakes.