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Randall C
Randall C, ASE Master Tech
Category: Cadillac
Satisfied Customers: 11377
Experience:  ASE Master Tech, 32 years exp,Cadillac 6 yrs
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Wanders..I had the front end aligned and tires rotated

Customer Question

I have a 96 STS. The car wanders to the left. I had the front end aligned and tires rotated. We have done the alignment several times to find an error or the best setting with computer equipment. Nothing seems to work and it still pulls to the left.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cadillac
Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.

Hello, since I do not know your knowledge of alignments, I will try explain in layman terms

There are 3 different adjustments on front of car. Toe,Caster,Camber

Toe is looking down on top of car and seeing if the tires point straight ahead

Camber is the top of the tire leaning in or out

Caster is how far the tire is forward or backward looking at side of the car.

Now. Only caster and toe will cause a pull. I suspect the toe is dead on and also the caster. BUT... sometimes suspension shifts to where you need to think outside the box and make adjustments not at factory specs. I suspect caster is at fault. They probably have dead on but it needs tweeking. If you measure the center of one tire to the center of the other tire, same side of car, this is caster. Caster will NOT cause tire wear.

On all cars the LF tire sits back slightly to account for crown in the road. I think yours is set back too far. Meaning, they neeed to move caster either forward on LF or rearward on RF. Either one will work. Fortunatley, caster is adjustable on your car. IF not done already, there are 3 rivits to be drilled out on top of strut, then the strut will slide forward or rearward to move tire front or rear. They need to pick a side. I suggest LF and move the tire more to the front of the car. Your problem will be solved. I do this all the time. Below is info on how to adjust . Just FYI/ Hope this helps. Thanks

 

Fig. 2 Front Wheel Caster Adjustment

  1. With car supported by its wheels, remove the three top strut mounting nuts and washers, Fig. 2.
  2. Lift front of car by the body to separate top strut mount from inner wheelhouse. Do not raise control arms or tires.
  3. Drill two 11/32 inch holes at the front and rear of outboard strut mounting holes. Use a rat-tail file to slot the outboard hole.
  4. Paint any bare metal areas with a corrosion protective primer or paint.
  5. Reposition strut mount in holes, then lower front of car.
  6. Reinstall washers and nuts.
  7. Set caster to specifications by moving top of strut forward or rearward as required. 1 mm of movement is equivalent to 0.1°of caster.
  8. Torque top strut mounting bolts to 18 ft. lbs.

 

 

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you,

Your analisis makes sense. I am not an expert on alignment but quite knowledgeable about cars in general. I will take the information to the shop that did the work on Monday. I will get back to you and let you know what the results are.

Thank you again.
Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
Remember, they need to go outside of the box. They need to pick a side of the car and move that caster front or rear and drive each time. The beauty of this is they do not need to hook to machine each time. The just need to slide one strut littl by little to pull is gone. I assure you 100% I can take any pull out if there is enough caster adjustemnt to do so. If they do not feel comfortable with this, you need to find another alignment shop as a good alignment tech works like this and not just doing what the computer screen says to do on alignment rack. Just thought I would throw that in
Randall C, ASE Master Tech
Category: Cadillac
Satisfied Customers: 11377
Experience: ASE Master Tech, 32 years exp,Cadillac 6 yrs
Randall C and 4 other Cadillac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am sorry I haven't got back with you sooner but right after I had the work done I had to leave town. I will be back late this week. Anyway, the changes didn't make any difference. I am going to look at it myself and possibly make some changes ( more aggressive than the alignment) myself.

I will report to you then.

Thank You,

sam=oatz

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
I promise you that caster can be adsjusted to compensate for any drift left or right. The problem these days is align techs use a computer aligner. They are trained to follow the specs and adjustments the computer tells them.I have been specializing in alignmnts for many years and have had to basically shut off the computer aligner and go with training to get the drift out. I hate to say but these days some techs just use the machine and really do not have the advanced know how on making corrections. may not be in your case. Again, caster will correct the problem as long as all other things are ruled out like worn parts etc.. Either the left side needs to go forward or right side back. Hope this helps.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
6/18/09

I thought I would follow up with you. I have drilled the holes, 1 towards the front on the left (driver's) side and one towards the rear right(passenger side). The remaining holes are already slotted hence, the bolts move with the newly drilled holes. I shifted the left strut as far as it would go towards the front and towards the rear on the right side. The only difference is the the steering seems slightly looser however, that may be in my head. The car still wanders left just as before.

I just don't get it.

Do you know of any other checks?

Should I drill more holes further in the front/back direction and see it it makes a difference?

If the strut bushings on the top were put in incorrectly, if possible would it make a difference?

Would the sway bar links, this car has the trick ones-STS, and they were replaced some time ago to supposedly solve the suspension rattle. The installer put them in backwards, MOOG with grease fittings, and now I have to grease them with a flex hose.

Does the power steering pump have an adjustment?

I did accept your answer before, did you get paid?

Thank You,

Carl
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Did you get my 6/18/09 response?
Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
I have been away last few days. Back now but doing catchup. I am working my way through the posts. I need to write a response to you. I just do not know what. I do not understand why things are not changing. I can take most any car and move caster to get car to go to whatever side i want. You must have a thrust angle problem from front to rear. The bushing will not cause problem. Sway bars will not either. There is not an adjustment for steering but i am getting confused now when you say drifts left but steering seems looser a or is looose. let me think some and back as quick as i can
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks Randall,

When we were checking the alignment, the tech checked the rear wheels and made adjustments, I believe with the thrust, i.e. was one wheel further forward than the other. They did make that adjustment to no avail on the pull.

Don't concern yourself with the steering looseness. What it felt like is the it was easier to turn however, it is probably in my head.

The pull to the left hasn't changed.

I went so far as to loosen all the nuts on both sides and drove the car for a couple of miles. They all shifted to the center position on the slotted hole but the pull didn't change.

The only thing I can think of is to extend the slot further on the left(forward)or right (rearward) or both and see what happens.

Would the Cadillac dealer have a factory bulletin the most shops would not have access to?

I do have the computer print out from the alignment shop if you want to look at it.

Thanks,

Carl
Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.

I have access to the caddy bulletins.

yes, please send a copy of alignment if you can. If not, i will have you read off some things

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

graphicThis is the last alignment we did, several weeks ago. If didn't help with the pull. Yesterday I drilled the slot to maximize the adjustment so I could shift the bolts to the extreme end of the factory slots. Did nothing.

 

Let me know if you have any solutions or even guesses.

 

Thank You,

 

Carl

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
was this a before or after?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

First message didn't seem to go through.

 

The alignment was done before I drilled the holes. I thought that when we got the pull corrected I would then have the alignment redone.

 

Does that make sense?

 

Thank You,

 

Carl

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
Sorry I should have been more clear. the alignment report. Was this the before algn report or after they were done?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am not sure I understand but I will try to explain.

 

I have the bushings for the struts replaced. It made the left pull much worse.

The mechanic then took the car to Les Schwab to have the pull fixed.

It didn't work.

I took it back and the alignment guys realignmend the car several times. After each I test drove it on the freeway and around the block to see if it worked or improved. No real change took place. They did read your first set of instructions and incorporated a little bit of what you suggested.

Again, nothing worked.

 

I then took the car home and went to work myself and extended the slots on each side as suggested. No alignment has been done since. I tried to attach two pictures of the holes but it wouldn't take them.

 

Thank You,

 

Carl

 

made a number of a

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
let me try again. You sent the alignment report. Todays alignment machines will do a BEFORE and AFTER report. I need to know if the report I am looking at is the FINAL OR after alignment report or the before. This is very important question. I hope you understand
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The report is an, "after alignment" report.

I do not have a copy of the "before alignment" report.

 

However, the alignment report is, before I drilled the slotted holes.

 

If that doesn't make sense, call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX or send me a phone number and I will call you.

 

Thank You,

 

Carl

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Did you get my reply yesterday?

 

Thank You,

 

Carl

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
The report is typical. The caster is lower on the left side per specs but you have a special case for some reason and need that caster number on the left to be at the same as right or higher. Again, I ahve never had a car i could not get a drift out of but we need to narrow down your problem. Swing those struts the opposite way you are to full extreme. I want to know if worse or better. I also want you to swap both front tires side to side. Do the tires first. lmk when you can
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Late last week I drilled new holes towards the rear on the left and front on the right side. We then realigned the front end. It tracks straight most of the time and sometimes might wander to the right. Strangely once in a while it will wander left as before but not as bad. The following is the printout.

graphic

 

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
For whatecer reason your car wants NEg caster on the right side. This could be inication of a bent part etc. The specs look good. I would probabaly bring the rear toe in closer but is is within specs.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

 

Thank you for your time and advise.

 

Carl

Expert:  Randall C replied 5 years ago.
you are welcome. I hope all works out. Thanks

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Randall C
Randall C
Cadillac Mechanic
11377 Satisfied Customers
ASE Master Tech, 32 years exp,Cadillac 6 yrs