Car wanders badly

I have a 2002 Mercury Marquis with 54000 miles on it. The car is in very good condition but several months ago it began to wander badly, especially at highway speeds. It is now at the point that I am uncomfortable driving it. Had a friend/mechanic check the alignment which he said was perfect. Tires are wearing evenly. He has told me to try changing the tires. I disagree, its to strong of a wander. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Now check the steering gear. Watch the front tires as you turn the wheel.
Do they move exactly as the steering wheel does or do they wait to react to your commands ?

Something loose in the rear axle could seem like a front end problem too.

Try pushing and pulling on the front tires side to side, then on the top. Let us know if there is play in either test.

I would also consider rotating the tyres, to help rule out a tyre problem.

I experienced something similar, turned out to be worn bushings (tie rod?) I think.

How old are the tires are on it? Sometimes aged tires even with good tread can cause a car to wander.
The rubber hardens with age and loses its bite.

Assuming there is no suspension fault with a ball joint, etc. At 54k miles there should not be but depending on the environ conditions and road surfaces it’s always a possibility.

One of the worst pulls I ever had was from a bad tire. Don’t assume that there’s such a thing as “too strong” for a problem to be from tires.

That said, the whole “friend/mechanic” part is a little suspect. Take it to your best local front end/alignment shop for another look

take the car to a qualified shop. Have each wheel balanced. The alignment needs to be checked. This should cost about $100. Wander at highway speed means an issue with the tires or alignment. It could be basic steering parts as well but your friend may not have measured as closely as needed.

Has anyone checked the condition of the shocks?


No Tester I haven’t really checked the shocks but someone else suggested that to me. It rides smoothly and I wasn’t suspect of the shocks but at this point I won’t dismiss anything.

Cigroller, I wouldn’t consider it a pull, it definitely wanders from side to side but at this point I am going to try tires also. I happen to have a couple of extra’s that I got a good deal on and am going to have them mounted this week. The tires on there look very good and are worn so evenly though.

Goldwing I will suggest to my mechanic friend to check the tie rod bushings!

It should be so obvious as to what the problem is as the wander is so distinct!

Thanks for all the feedback!