The suspension on a Ford Escort consists of shock absorbers, springs, anti-sway bars and a series of rubber bushings that all work together to cushion the ride of the vehicle as it travels over uneven road surfaces. Over time, the suspension components can wear and periodically need repair or replacement. The first step in repairing an Escort's suspension is diagnosing which parts may be defective.
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If the Car Pulls to One Side
If the car pulls to one side while driving or coasting, it may be a sign that the tire pressures are low or uneven. Check the tires with a pressure gauge and fill them to the levels listed on the sticker on the driver's side door jam.
If the tire pressure is even on both sides and the car still pulls, the front end may be out of alignment. Most home mechanics do not possess the tools or skills required to properly align a vehicle, so you'll have to take the Escort to an alignment shop for service.
Shaking or Vibrations
Excessive shaking or vibrations could be an indication of overly worn or defective wheel bearings. Use a floor jack to raise the vehicle off the ground and support with jack stands underneath the frame. Place your hands on the outside of the tire and try to move it left to right then up and down. If there is a lot of play in the bearing, it will need to be replaced.
Vibrations during driving can also be a sign that the wheels are out of balance. You will have to take the Escort to a tire shop to have the wheels balanced.
Rolling Around Corners
If the vehicle seems to dive to the inside when making a turn, it could be one of two things: bad shocks or problems with the coil springs.
To check the front shocks, press up and down on the front of the vehicle until it begins to bounce, then release. If the vehicle continues to bounce after you let go, the shocks need replaced. When you replace the shocks, remember you must replace both front shocks at the same time (same goes for the rear shocks -- never replace just one shock on an axle).
Rolling could also be a sign of broken or weak coil springs. Visually inspect the springs for damage and replace them if necessary.
If you are experiencing especially stiff steering, begin by checking the fluid level in the power steering fluid reservoir. Also try greasing the ball joints.
Stiff steering on an Escort also could be caused by uneven tire pressures or front-end alignment problems, as mentioned above.
Power Steering Issues
Check the fluid level in the power steering pump reservoir and fill to the line indicated on the dipstick.
Check the power steering drive belt. If it is cracked or fraying it must be replaced. If the belt is loose you must tighten it by loosening the adjustment bolt on the pump and pulling the pump away from the engine, then tighten the adjustment bolt when the belt is tight.
There may also be air in the power steering system. To bleed it, top off the reservoir and then wait two minutes. Then run the engine as you turn the steering wheel all the way to the left then all the way to the right. Keep an eye on the fluid level and continue turning the steering wheel back and forth until the fluid level stabilises.
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