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Car Pulls Left when Transmission Shifts - Possible Solution

 
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Old 01 Sep 2014, 09:40 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Detroit, MI
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Default Car Pulls Left when Transmission Shifts - Possible Solution

Well it's been a while since I've been to this forum, great to see that it's still alive and kicking. I purchased an '03 NA in 2011 with 98,000 miles and it's running strong at 135,000 right now. This forum was incredible at helping me to solve any and all issues. Sorry for the long post to follow, but I figure that if someone runs into the same problem as me, they will find it well worth it...

I had one problem that I couldn't seem to find an answer to here on the forum, and I was fearing the worst. The cruiser started to pull to the left during acceleration and especially when the automatic transmission would shift from 3rd to 4th gear. It would also be accompanied by a metallic squeak. I changed the control arms at the beginning of summer, so I didn't suspect that any of those bushings would be worn yet. My fear was that the transmission was going, or that my steering rack was failing. I jacked the car up and inspected the ball joint, outer tie rods, inner tie rods, cv joint, control arm bushings, sway bar bushings and links, strut tower, everything seemed perfect. Took it back on the road and still had the same issue. Jacked it back up again and started running more tests. I grabbed the top and bottom of the left tire and checked for play, and it was tight. Ball joint must be good. Grabbed the left and right of the wheel and VOILA, it had a good 1/2" or so of play. I thought, it must be the damn tie rod, I thought I checked that already. But upon further review, the front of the control arm was sliding back and forth on the section of the frame that it's bolted to. I thought, how could the bushing be worn already? Relieved that this was probably the issue, I ran to O'Reillys and picked up a $7 Moog bushing. Got home, took the control arm off, and the current bushing was in great condition? Huh? Then it dawned on me, I had been getting so comfortable taking apart and changing suspension parts on this vehicle, that I didn't tighten all bolts with a torque wrench anymore, but by "feel". Although this bolt was tight, it wasn't "tight enough" to grab the control arm and prevent it from moving. I just assumed the bolt going through the bushing, which has a metal center sleeve, was what prevented the control arm from moving. But there is some play between the bolt and the metal sleeve, so the bolt needs to be adequately torqued (125 ft lbs.) to "squeeze" the bushing so that it cannot move. Moral of the story, TIGHTEN ALL BOLTS TO SPEC.

I was very close to taking this in to a transmission shop for them to inspect. I'm not sure whether or not they would have found the bolt that wasn't tightened properly, but I bet they would have found a need for the trans to be rebuilt!

Like I said, sorry for the long post, but hopefully it will help someone out some day!
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