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Samsonator

Car Suddenly Feels Different

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Hi there,

On Sunday I drove to a garden centre, was there for a few hours. When I drove back the car instantly felt different - the suspension seemed "bouncy" and the steering felt lighter than normal. I started to get paranoid and thought "Is it different? Maybe I never noticed?", but to be honest, I drive it every day and would notice! And the fact that it felt different on the same day. I got the Focus because it feels solid on the road, now it bounces around and actually seems a bit harder to control, although not dangerously so (so far at least). Tiny bumps in the road make bounce unevenly from side to side - before it felt more sporty and stiff.

This is a MK2 Focus 57 plate (1.6 petrol).

I wish I was more of a mechanical expert - my guess would be a suspension problem as that may explain the bounciness and the lighter steering?

Has anyone got any ideas? I guess I should take it into the garage/dealership but don't have a lot of time at the moment...

Cheers,

S

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If it's bouncy then I suggest you look at the shocks for signs of leaks and got from there. While your at it just check condition of suspension parts too. No need to take wheels off you should be able to get in ok for a look

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Thanks for the response. I will have a look this afternoon to see if I can spot anything. Do you happen to have any idea how much a replacement shock is including labour? Ironically I had just a few days ago been thinking of trading the car in for a C-Max for the extra interior space without spending much money - if shocks are going to cost a lot to replace I may have to think more seriously about it!

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IF it is shock related - by no means am I implying it is.. They are relatively cheap parts to buy.

The front shocks are more expensive both in parts and labour. If you have a look on eurocarparts (or pm me your reg) you will get an idea of part costs.

Ideally and I would recommend that all suspension components are replaced in axle pairs.

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I had a quick look around the car - could not see any obvious signs of damage. Tyre pressures were about 0.3 bar lower than they should be on all tyres. I did have new tyres put on a couple of months ago. I suppose potentially something could be loose?

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And don't make Kwikfit or the dealership your first ports of call. A good local mechanic is ideal. Maybe try a couple to get an idea of costs.

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Have you got adjustable steering mode in the dash menu you haven't altered that from your usual setting by any chance

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Go to each corner of the car and give it a good, firm push downwards. Watch how it behaves...if it bounces about like Tiger on a trampoline - that shock is gone. If it stops almost instantly then it's fine. Always a good idea to replace in pairs.

For reference, I had my rear shocks replaced a while ago along with front pads and was charged £230 for the lot (and a couple of other minor bits that added a little bit more in labour)

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Go to each corner of the car and give it a good, firm push downwards. Watch how it behaves...if it bounces about like Tiger on a trampoline - that shock is gone. If it stops almost instantly then it's fine. Always a good idea to replace in pairs.

hi,, as Sean has said this is a quick test to check the dampers in the shocks are ok,,, did you hit any perticular big holes or speed bumps at a greater speed than normal on the way tothe garden center ?

You could have blown out the dampers seal and its now bouncing up and down on the shocks spring (like Seans tiger on a trampoline,, lol), you will also feel a diferance in teh cars ride and handeling.

this might help.

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Thanks for the suggestions guys, I will check it out tomorrow as I've been away today. On a visual inspection, I felt that the rear-right wheel had a bigger gap from the arch than the left, so will look at that again too.

There were no potholes that I remember on the way to the garden centre and the roads were fairly slow (e.g. 30 mph). Where I live is riddled with those huge paved speed bumps that are like mounting a kerb - although I bounce onto them very slowly, they still make me wince as I feel the suspension being tested. I've seen boy racers literally fly through the air - all four wheels off the ground. They do take you by surprise as they are much harsher than they look. It would not surprise me if these have slowly been damaging the suspension over the past 2 years to be honest. Makes me sad though as it explains the number of people who drive Range Rovers around here...

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I cant think of any suspension component that could change that quickly without some outside influence (eg - kerbing, potholing etc).

More likely the colder roads are affecting the tyres, summer tyres do feel very different below about 5c.

Or putting something heavy in the boot also gives the steering a lighter feel, you didn't happen to buy a tonne of paving slabs at the garden centre? :lol:

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It is strange - I can tell you that. We bought nothing at the garden centre, so left with the same load as we arrived. Of course there are always minor bumps on roads, so I guess if a weakness had developed it could have been the final straw on a little bump...

I checked the suspension on each corner - nothing obvious. The front seems to firmly spring back with no bounce. The rear kind of bounces twice in comparison, but both corners seem the same - not sure if that's normal? Rear seems less rigid than front, but I guess that is pretty normal for most hatchbacks?

One thing that I have noticed which may help further diagnosis - when I park the car on the drive and pull the handbrake - when I take my foot off the brake pedal, the car moves quite a lot forward (drive is a slight slope). This never used to happen, so it must be related. Feel like something or a number of things are loose!

At the moment I am only driving it locally and the feeling when driving on a fairly straight, flat road is that the car is wobbling or drifting subtly. It just feels like a completely different car to the solid, stiffer ride it had last week. It really makes you feel weird as you keep thinking "did the car just move weirdly while I was going in a straight line?".

Quite freaky. How can a quick change transform a decent car into something horrible to drive?

Sorry about the ranting!

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When I test drove a car for the mrs it was spot on, I went to pick it up a week later and straight away knew.. there is something not right. I had an idea in my mind that it was rear shocks so I got the mrs to drive it while I followed. All I could see was both wheels bouncing more than they should have been doing.

Sure enough, it turned out to be the shocks

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In addition, we did have a heavy load of Christmas presents coming back on a 160 mile journey and had not driven the car much until the day it went funny. From looking at a few videos, it does seem like the swaying and rolling which never used to exist is to do with the shocks - I have had this on other cars in the past. It feels like there are a few things wrong now though! Do I pay for diagnostics, then pay for work or just trade it in and let them do all that in their own time and they can give me whatever price they see fit.

To add to my paranoia, when I bought the car, it had just been traded in and they had not checked it - I test drove it and it felt ok - I had just arrived in our Nissan Micra which is supposed to be like a trampoline, so it was hard to tell if there was a problem with the Focus. When the Ford garage prepared the car for me (they were very thorough), the said that the wheels were buckled and they had to replace the wheels and tyres (free of charge of course). The car felt perfect when I picked it up though. I am just paranoid that there has always been a weakness from the previous owner...

I was literally looking at C-Max models the day before the suspension went funny!

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Well, the mystery was not solved as such, but as I had already started the process of looking for a C-Max, one came up and I have already traded in the Focus.

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Well, the mystery was not solved as such, but as I had already started the process of looking for a C-Max, one came up and I have already traded in the Focus.

That's one way to solve your problem lol.

Sent from my iPhone using Ford OC

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