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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, my 98 SE (130kmiles) has been eating right-rear tires for the past three years. Each time I've had it into the shop, I've had no problems reported. Recently, after having the transmission serviced and the front ball joints replaced , I took the car to a tires/alignment shop that's worked on my car before (the alignment was under warranty).

They advised me that my right-rear wheel camber is at -2.4 degrees, that it is out-of-spec, and that it's due to either a "bent knuckle" or a "problem with the strut". The mechanic couldn't tell me which it was when i asked. This seems a little crazy to me. According to them, the knuckle is a dealer-order part, and costs $89.99. They said that they would install it without labor charges because they should have caught that before.

So, I called up Autozone to inquire about the price of the knuckle, and they had no clue what I was talking about. If there are knuckles in the rear, do they also have a different name? From the posts here, it seems that the front knuckles are what the wheel bearings are pressed into. In the rear, are the knuckle analogous (i.e., the wheel bearings are bolted to them)?

It just seems like all of this is very fishy. I just replaced the rear wheel bearings a year-and-a-half ago. I know that something could break in that time, but the tire wear issue never improved after I replaced them. I still get a "wumwumwumwum" sound after about 6 months of driving.

Thoughts?

Many thanks in advance,
Sean Douglas
Norman, OK
[email protected]
 

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it sounds to me like there is damage to the rear control arm or rear knuckle (aka spindle or hub). These parts are usually damaged when something hit the outer lower edge of the wheel and pushes it inward... like sliding into a curb for example.

The knuckle is the name for the assembly that contains the spindle, hub, and bearing. It attaches at three locations, the strut, the control arm and the tie rod. The brakes are also supported by the knucle. The lower control arms are the two long flat bars that run from the center of the car to the lower part of the knucle on either side (total of four bars, two per side).

You can inspect the control arms yourself. If you can crawl under the car, look to see if there is any obvious damage to the control arms, they should be completely straight and perpendicular to the wheel. When they are bent, the wheel is tilted inward, causing the outer edge of the tire to quickly wear.

Also, you might try this. Raise the right rear wheel as if you were going to change the tire. With the car in Park, and the parking brake off, spin the wheel. Look for any wobble. Watch the rim from the side as it spins. If there is a noticeable wobble then the trouble is most likely in the knuckle (spindle, hub, or bearing).

All of these parts can be found at the junkyard for cheap. Lemme know if this helps.
 
G

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Just another FYI. On the Taurus, rear camber is not adjustable unless you put camber bushings in. The toe is somewhat adjustable, but not by much. Many alignment shops will align the car to the best of their ability, and call it close enough. Since you seem to be wearing through wheel bearings and tires regularly, you'll need to have the control arms and knuckle checked. My guess is that the car was either in an accident or hit a curb, and bent something. Usually the knuckle does not go, unless it was damaged in an accident. If you do need the rear camber bushings to get the car aligned properly, I think most NAPA stores carry bushings for this, or you can order them from Prosuspension.com.
 

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Originally posted by Bob Gervais@Mar 23 2004, 06:30 PM
If you do need the rear camber bushings to get the car aligned properly, I think most NAPA stores carry bushings for this, or you can order them from Prosuspension.com.
that reminds me.... I have a brand new set of these. If you need them PM me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Okay... so today, I did the "spin-the-wheel" test, and noticed no obvious wobble.

Upon inspection with my less-than-perfectly trained eye, everything looked straight, including the control arms and strut.

A little history of the car: it's never been involved in an accident to my knowledge, but I did back over the tip of a curb with the right rear once at a reasonably high speed. Regardless, I didn't see a chance in the tire wear pattern. This doesn't mean that it didn't get worse and I didn't detect it. It also doesn't mean that it didn't have damage done to it before I got it (it was 19 kmiles old when I got it), or that it wasn't just defective from the factory (I know... Ford NEVER puts out faulty equipment... their AX4N transmissions were top-o-the-line... lol).

So, the tire/alignment shop pulls the switch on me when I go in there just a little bit ago... the price of the knuckle mysteriously jumped from $89.99 to $179.99. They told me that $89.99 was the price of the strut. Needless to say, my relationship with that ship is over. I can go junkyard scavenging for that part, and I have a friend that's Ford "certified" mechanic that will help me put it in. But, I'm not going to do all of that until after I insert a camber kit. When I'll do that is up in the air, because my spare time is running out for the foreseeable future.

Autozone prices:

Struts: $49.99 or $59.99
Rear knuckle/spindle/hub: $150 at the dealer and and the salvage yard
Camber kit: $63.99

Am I nuts for having walked out? I mean criminy... between that shop and another shop who has enjoyed "finding" problems, I'm being nickeled and dimed to death here. I'm pretty sick and tired of this runaround... I know I have to maintain the car, which I have no problem with... but this BS with the shops has me pretty peeved.

Thanks again for all your help...
Sean Douglas
Norman, OK
[email protected]
 
G

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I would be peeved just over the fact that they can't tell you exactly what the issue is with the car. Like I mentioned before, unless there's been a major hit to the frame, or the suspension, the alignment shop should be able to get the rear straightened out. My guess is that the rear toe is off, due to the tire wear, and the bearing going bad prematurely. I don't blame you for walking out. Have your buddy check all the rear suspension, and replace what's bad. Simple as that. From there, take it to a decent alignment shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was peeved about it. Tonight, when my Ford "certified" mechanic helped me install the camber kit (bought from Spridget -- thanks for getting it to me so fast), I told him what the shop said about not being able to tell which part it was, and he said they were BS-ing me. When he looked at the knuckle, he said that there was perhaps a very slight bend, but prolly nothing to worry about. He said to worry about it after the alignment's been done if there is still a problem.

In taking removing the trailing arms and punching out the old bushings, it was quite obvious that my car spent alot of time up north... those things were bears.

Tomorrow, I'll take it to the shop where I have my AC serviced, and let them align it. I'll tell them that there's a camber/toe kit in the rear and to look in particular at the right rear camber. I'll advise the outcome...

Many thanks again...
Sean Douglas
Norman, OK
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After putting the camber kit in and having it aligned, I was advised by the shop that all was good. We'll see in 6 months if my tire starts making noise again (as long as I don't do something STUPID and smack into something). Thanks to all that helped make this happen.

As far as the AC is concerned, that's now become a new adventure. See elsewhere in the forum for a post on that if y'all are interested...

Thanks again,
s
 
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