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My 3 is drifting slightly to the left which is getting tiring driving left-handed, and was thinking of doing a quick fix on the tie rods. Has anyone done so? Is it as simple as loosening the locking nut, and turning the tie rod and retightening the nut?

It still drifts after getting tires rotated so I'm pretty sure it's the tie rods, with all the potholes in the city, and I'm thinking of tightening/loosening the left and right wheel equally to keep toe-in the same. Should be fine right?
 

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Not something I would do (if and I do not shy aware from repairing my cars). There can be other causes for your drifting to the same side on a continual basis. You could for example have a steering rack issue, wheel bearing issue, or even an unbalanced braking system all causing this.

I would instead have a pro examine my entire suspension and then have him/her perform a four wheel alignment for $74.95 with a machine that not just precisely measures toe in, but also camber and caster.

Best of luck if you choose to to a DIY.
 

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I agree with Road Trip. The tie rods and ends are only one of many things that can cause a pull. It's really not that expensive to have a full check and alignment that may reveal the true issue.

You CAN do it yourself if you're experienced and careful, but getting it wrong can cause major tire wear problems or worse.

As an example, I had a bad tie rod ends on my old Corolla which caused some play in the steering (but no problem with alignment). I was able to install new ones by noting EXACTLY how many turns they were screwed onto the inner rod. I got it just right and then I drove across the country without any problems. But honestly I probably got more lucky than anything. And also my initial alignment was perfect, so I had a guide of exactly where to set up the new ones. If not for that, I could have screwed up everything.
 

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Many moons ago I used to do this stuff myself. Unless you have the right tie rod end press tool, you could easily damage your tie rod end in getting it loose to rotate it.

I concur with the others. Find a good shop that'll do a 4 wheel alignment at a reasonable price and let them do it. Need 4 wheel because of the swing axles in the back. I once bent a swing arm in the rear on a Benz, it definitely pulled. If you've done this, it could be expensive to fix and not a job to do yourself what with having to compress the suspension spring, etc. Could die doing it.

Ralph
 

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My 3 is drifting slightly to the left which is getting tiring driving left-handed, and was thinking of doing a quick fix on the tie rods. Has anyone done so? Is it as simple as loosening the locking nut, and turning the tie rod and retightening the nut?

It still drifts after getting tires rotated so I'm pretty sure it's the tie rods, with all the potholes in the city, and I'm thinking of tightening/loosening the left and right wheel equally to keep toe-in the same. Should be fine right?
I don't wrench on my cars, so I can't speak to how successful you're likely to be. I've had innumerable alignments done on performance and race cars, however, and after observing many of those being done, I can say that doing the job properly requires following a fairly precise process, even on OEM components.

I'd suggest having a Plan B in place and ready to go, just in case your doing it yourself doesn't help, or you make it noticeably worse. You could make an appointment for a four-wheel alignment that you could then cancel if you like the results you produce on your own.

Good luck with it - I hope you get it solved soon.
 

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The problem is the equipment required to do this. It requires very precise adjustments that you simply cannot cowboy. I have seen DIY setups but by the time you do that it's not worth it.

I fix anything and everything in my cars and there's 3 things I won't do for this reason. Tire replacement onto wheels, wheel balancing and alignment
 

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By adjusting both left and right tie rod ends equal amounts to one side or another all you will accomplish is having the steering wheel misaligned when driving straight ahead. Your issue will still be there. The only way to fix it is a competent alignment and/or front end inspection.

Don
 

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Laser 4 wheel alignment is the way to go.
 

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There's a 'course' check you can do for front wheel alignment. Measure the distance between the front wheels at the rear of the wheel, and then at the front of the same wheels (note - between the wheel rims, not between the tyres). Ideally do it with the car on the ground. Usually on a front wheel drive car they're "toe in" a millimetre or so, so your front measurement should be slightly less than the rear. A handy way to measure is by using a hollow bar with another bar inside it such that the inner can be extended to the first length and held there while compared to the second length. If the distances are way out from each other then your tracking needs attention.
 

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A couple of tidbits about alignment that may help:

Drift is usually the result of an imbalanced camber. Logic say toe would affect it more, but it`s camber.

The general rule of thumb is this: camber determines where tire wear will occur, toe will determine how much. If you screw up your camber, not really a big deal to recover from. If you screw up the toe you could chew off half of your tire life on your way to the shop to get it fixed.

With all that said, I once replaced the steering rack in a mustang in the parking lot of my apartment two days before driving it from Florida to Texas. I set the toe with a tape measure. I`m sure luck had more to do with it than skill.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks all. I'm gonna let a shop do it instead - probably Firestone with their lifetime plan for under $200 - prices around here are $70+ with coupons/specials.
 
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