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Alignment or worse?


dtulip8
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Hi everyone,

Just been driving home tonight, and as I was accelerating away from traffic lights, the cars steering suddenly went quite heavy and it swerved off to one side. It almost feels like I've got torque steer or something. Do we think its just the car losing its alignment or should I be worried something more serious has let go. Theres no knocking or banging sounds when I drive it now.

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Check the obvious stuff first like tyre pressures (manually) and tread condition, then compare the suspension on both sides and see if anything's obviously bent or out of place

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Checked tyre pressures, all awry so I pumped them up to spec and it feels better. However the fronts were only done a few weeks ago so wondering if they have a very slow puncture or is this natural? 

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The corrosion on the driveshaft is perfectly normal on a car of that age. 

There is some dampness on the right hand side inner driveshaft that may require a further investigation, might just be rain water but worth a check.

How far out were the tyre pressures?  A slow puncture won't usually drop below about 15PSI but may take a couple of weeks to get there.  That sounds like the most likely issue here.  Do you have ESP/traction control on a PFL 1.6?  As that can be affected badly by a slightly low tyre which would also cause your pulling issue on a damp/cold road.

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No ESP as no button to turn it on/off. The pressure was about 25psi on the front left which is the side that felt odd, so I guess it could be a slow puncture (they're really cheap tyres on the front which I've been meaning to replace for ages). The rears were 29psi but they haven't been done for a while. I think it could just be rain on the driveshaft, as it had been chucking it down most of the day. @F0CUE I had the oil done about 2 and a half months ago, mid Septemeber.

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There isn't an ESP button on the Mk2/2.5s except for the ST.  It can only be switched off through the dash menu if you have it on any other model.

25psi will be low enough to feel.  Give it a few days and check again to see if it's dropped again.  Can also be a leaky valve if you can't see anything in the tyre. 

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7 hours ago, TomsFocus said:

A slow puncture won't usually drop below about 15PSI but may take a couple of weeks to get there

What's the reason a slow puncture won't drop below 15psi Tom? Is it just not enough pressure to overcome the obstacle i.e. nail?

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I've fixed plenty of slow punctures with less than 15psi left in them. Had one on the van just the other week, dropped from 33 to 8psi overnight😢 The new valve I had fitted along with the new tyres had failed.
Most 'slow punctures' i deal with are not actually punctures but more rim leaks or valve stem problems. I also get a few where tyres have just recently been fitted but it has developed a slow leak, 9/10 that's down to the tyre fitter not cleaning the rim properly.

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15psi is 1bar, atmospheric pressure.  It's equal with the outside air pressure so if it's a slow puncture it doesn't tend to drop past that.

I'd class 33 down to 8 over night as a major leak.  A slow puncture can go a week or more without 'needing' topped up.

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Tyre pressure appears to be dropping again, will check properly on Sunday after it’s had 4 days. Can’t see anything wrong with the tyre, so perhaps a leaky valve. Will get a set of new cores and a tool and replace them all and see if that works. Also gonna pull the tyre off properly and check for any damage. 

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On 12/6/2018 at 7:46 PM, stef123 said:

But it’s 15 psi/bar above atmospheric pressure not equal to it.

Hmm, that's a fair point...  :pinch:

I seem to only buy cars with these annoying slow punctures and they rarely drop to single figures even when left for ages, not sure why that is now!  :unsure:

Had 3 nails and one screw in one of the Golfs tyres for 3 months...just kept pumping it up each week lol...never went flat, 18psi was the worst it got to.  Had exactly the same issue with nails when I bought the mk2 Focus and the ST150!  :rolleyes:

 

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29 minutes ago, dtulip8 said:

Tyre pressure appears to be dropping again, will check properly on Sunday after it’s had 4 days. Can’t see anything wrong with the tyre, so perhaps a leaky valve. Will get a set of new cores and a tool and replace them all and see if that works. Also gonna pull the tyre off properly and check for any damage. 

No need to go to all that effort, just get a sqiurty bottle with soapy water and spray that around the valves and rims if you can't see any punctures.

 

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if you live near speed bumps vans often deposit half a tonne of screws, nails, drill bits and other sharp stuff, so these days punctures are more common than ever

however if the tyres where off the rim recently, how well the tyre sealed to the rim and or the valve could be an issue.  (one lot near me seem to do the valves up to about 1/2 ft lb and you can do another 1/2 turn without trying, it tends to keep the pressure up for much longer when you do it up properly)

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11 hours ago, dtulip8 said:

I assume I’ll still need to get the rims off the car to do that?

Not necessarily.  If it's the valve, treads or the outside face of the tyre you can see that without removing wheels, just roll the car forward a bit to turn the tyres half way to see the hidden treads.  Obviously if you can't see anything there then it'll probably be easier to remove them for access to the inside.

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Pressure is still at 30psi, so it seems to be holding now. Still think there may be a teeny tiny leak, but not enough to worry about. Will check again next week. Thinking it may be an alignment issue now, as it still pulls to one side and steering doesn’t feel right. Will be maybe it’s fourth or fifth alignment since I’ve had it 😡.

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if the tyres are good and at the right pressures, I would suspect CV joints next, if one is seizing up or dry due to a damaged boot, it can give random weird sensation (particularly if it was big puddles as it may washes the grease out just at the wrong time).

steering geometry seldom changes between right and wrong, a soggy bush might.  But its pretty robust on the focus and if there wasn't odd noises and didn't occur after hitting something hard I'd be looking for something else

if its repeatedly doing this you should stop driving and fix the fault asap

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you could do the alignment 1000 times but its pointless if there are any worn components. Before an alignment it is good practise to go round the suspension to check for wear/play. 

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May sound naïve as I know it shouldn’t taken as gospel, but it’s MOT two months ago didn’t pick up anything with the CV joints. I don’t see how they could’ve deteriorated in 2 months, but I guess I could always check if I jack it up. I’m wondering if the cars just following the ruts and cambers in the road instead. May take to a garage in the week and ask them to take a look.

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Also, I’ve had my mechanic look for any loose suspension parts or damaged parts and they’ve been unable to find anything. The steering just sometimes feels like I’m getting torque steer almost and it’s sometimes moves in its lane slightly. Really confused.

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are you running premium brand tyres of the size and load rating of the originals? budget nasties, different wheels (wrong outset) and stupid sizes won't help (particularly in wet, cold conditions)

your signature says Leicestershire.... at this time of years some roads east of Hertfordshire loose about 80% of their grip levels.  Grease, filth, farming and soil erosion turn the place into a skating rink.  Hard to believe till you drive a semi-powerful rear drive car and realise what couldn't loose traction ever in berks bucks, will do 80mph drifts on 1/2 throttle all day long

 

 

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