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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to the forum, and I have a 2003 zx3 premium with the 16" wheels and tires. I bought the car in april, brand new. Since I've had about 500 miles on the car, it has been back to the dealer on two seperate occasions to check the alignment. When I go over certain types of bumps, especially manhole covers, it feels like the front end of the car wants to go one way and the back another. The steering wheel is ****ed to the right and the car pulls left, even accounting for the crown in the road. I have heard the Firestone Firehawks on the car have a poor ride quality, but this is ridiculous. Any suggestions? thanks.
 

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Gee that's funny... my rear end broke lose this weekend unexpectedly (see my post in SoCal)
 

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It's sounding more like suspension/steering damage somewhere along the line. Any bad potholes, manwhole covers, and/or curbs that ZX3 has hopped?

How are your tires wearing? Is there any uneven wear?
 

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I'm new to the forum, and I have a 2003 zx3 premium with the 16" wheels and tires. I bought the car in april, brand new. Since I've had about 500 miles on the car, it has been back to the dealer on two seperate occasions to check the alignment. When I go over certain types of bumps, especially manhole covers, it feels like the front end of the car wants to go one way and the back another. The steering wheel is ****ed to the right and the car pulls left, even accounting for the crown in the road. I have heard the Firestone Firehawks on the car have a poor ride quality, but this is ridiculous. Any suggestions? thanks.
The misaligned steering wheel doesn't seem to be normal. That is definitely something the dealer should easily be able to fix. When the wheels are pointed straight, the wheel should be straight. If the wheel is turned to the right and you are pulling to the left that is a definite front alignment problem.

With regards to the feeling you are getting from the suspension over manhole covers, bumps, etc. of the front-end going a different direction than the rear, that sounds normal to me. Every car I have ever owned (and I have owned my share of cars) has exhibited this sensation when going over certain bumps or road irregularities. Sportier, short wheelbased cars will do this with more severity than softer riding, longer wheelbased cars.

A misaligned front-end could "enhance" what you are feeling, but even when the wheels are perfectly aligned you will still feel the backend "jump out" slightly when going over certain bumps. I would be pushing the dealer to get that steering wheel aligned and the pull to the left eliminated.

The Firestone Firehawks are not the best tires in the world, but they do a decent enough job until you feel like upgrading. Mine are approaching 16,000 miles and they are definitely louder than when they were new, but they still tackle dry and rainy roads nicely. Snow performance is marginal at best even when they were new. Ride is okay, but they are a budget priced tire when compared to the Pirelli/Michelin/Yokohama alternatives out there. With tires, you get what you pay for (in this case, you get the cheapest tire that Ford can find that meets their specs...incidentally many of the new ZX3's in this area are coming with Pirelli P6 Four Season tires...supposedly softer riding and quieter than the Firestones and in the same price range to replace).

Keep pushing the dealer until you are satisfied. If they don't fix it, you could always make a lemon law claim. It is amazing how problems miraculously get fixed when a manufacturer is faced with a lemon law claim. Unfortunately, many dealers will not make a 100% effort to fix problems unless they are pushed really hard. I am very pleased with my dealer and their responsiveness to any problems I may have..I couldn't ask them to be any better than they are. Have you considered trying another dealer to look into your alignment concern?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had the alignment checked when the car had 700 miles, but they said only the left front toe was out, but not by much. I had a similar problem on my 95 Contour SE V6 5spd, and had a dealer in Birmingham re-align the steering wheel. This cured the problem. The hardest part in convincing the dealer to look at the problem seems to be a lack on any noticeable tire wear. I had firehawks on my Contour (oem), but did not notice the same problem. Of course, the wheelbase on the Contour was 106.5in, and it rode on 205/60 15's. Of course the Contour also had much stiffer shocks, so maybe my focus needs a suspension upgrade. Right now I am busy getting them to fix all the rattles in my 7500 mile new car. I might just try a different dealer than the one that sold the car to me. Thanks for the advice
 

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I agree with the previous posts about the misaligned steering wheel and the drift/pull issue. The rear jerkiness that you feel is inherent it all focuses. The rear suspension travel and movement was designed to have that amount of "bump steer". Bump steer is when the rear wheels actually steer (toe in/out) as the supension goes up and down. In this case, when you hit the access holes, you are causing the rear wheels to steer out then in as the wheels dips into the cover and then steer in as it exits the cover. Yes, it gives poor ride comfort, but it also gives the focus is nimble handling as it goes into a roll motion like making turns. Think of it -- one side of the car, the wheel goes up and the other the wheel goes down as the vehicle leans. The bump steer is steering the rear of the car around that turn, making the car feel nimble and gives it the good handling feel. Pretty cool if you ask me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I definitely understand what is going on, and hopefully one the front end is properly aligned and I get rid of the Firestones hopefully it will help the situation. I do like the way the car handles, but the bump steer is a bit much. Taking it back to the dealer on Monday for the alignment. Wish me luck
 

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Right now I am busy getting them to fix all the rattles in my 7500 mile new car.
That is the major issue I have with my '02 ZX5. At 16,300 miles my poor car has numerous clunks and rattles. My dash, rear cargo area, and various interior trim pieces have numerous rattles. My suspension, particularly the rear, has loosened up considerably and is rather noisy. Most of them come and go depending on the outside temperature.

Other than one really bad one, I haven't even bothered going to the dealer to have them fixed as they tend to make such problems even worse. Mechanical problems are no sweat, but give them a rattle and they end up breaking trim pieces and keeping the car for 3-5 days with no resolution. All the cars I have owned have rattled, some more than others. I agree that they are annoying and shouldn't happen.
 

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I had the SAME problem and Ford gave me the same reason UNTIL my warranty ran out. I took it in and they said, ooooohhh, its the rear shock and coil spring. I did yell they hell out of their service dept head and took it my garage (home) and did a new shock install, as well as new coil spring (bout 5 bucks at salvage yard) and have had no problems since.. The right rear shock was toasted, as well as the upper mounts, be sure to buy new plastic sleeves, if the tabs are broken, they secure the upper mount as well as the nut, i tried using the broken upper sleeve and had popping noises on large bumps...ended up being movement between the mounts and shock body..... Hope this helps.
-Eric
 
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