Q: Please see
if you can shed some light on my problem, which the local Ford
dealer cannot solve. It’s a 2002 Ford van that was converted into
a Pleasure Way mini motor home when new. We’ve had lots of
problems with it pulling hard to left when braking but drove
straight. We’ve put lots of work and money into the front end and
brakes, now no pulling when braking but it still drifts badly left
when driving. The tie rod ends and sleeves have been replaced and a
camber-caster kit installed, and it’s been aligned twice.
still drifts to the left as badly as ever. The dealer said that
since the generator and propane tank were on the driver’s side,
perhaps that is why the drifting. I can't believe every Class B
motorhome on the road, most of which are set up like mine all drift
left. Can you offer any suggestions?
diagnosing a pull-to-one-side situation, I’d start by swapping the
front tires side to side, along with a fresh set of eyes checking
suspension and steering parts for looseness or damage. Sometimes a
tire can have an off-center belt that contributes to pulling. The
addition of the caster-camber kit (ball joint stud adjuster-bushings
with an eccentric center hole) was a great move, as this allows fine
tuning of front alignment angles.
track best with about a half degree more positive caster on the
right side suspension than the left. Caster is the angle of the
upper and lower ball joint center-lines, similar to the angle of
rake of a bicycle’s front fork. The extra half degree on the right
helps the vehicle track straight on a crowned road, rather than
pulling slightly to the right. Your van may have a larger caster
spread than this, possibly due to an alignment tech calling it
"good" when the caster is at an unfortunate spread within
the one-degree allowable tolerance. Loosening the pinch bolt and
rotating the adjuster bushings to the desired rotational position,
getting both camber and caster just right, is a lot of work, and can
be frustrating. It’s also possible a suspension part is tweaked
slightly, and the ideal caster spread can’t be achieved.
images of identical and similar Class B mini-motorhomes (a large and
heavily loaded van) and looking at how close they run to the maximum
gross vehicle weight, I think stability could be noticeably enhanced
by adding either an air bag or elastomer rear suspension kit.
Firming up and leveling the rear suspension could do a lot of good
minimizing the effects of generator and propane tank weight, keeping
the front suspension pointed straight.
Q: My 2003 BMW
325ci convertible has about 98,000 miles. I had a coolant leak I
fixed a few months back; had to replace the plastic reservoir as it
is notorious to leak at seams. Since that time, whenever I start the
car (being parked for 8 hours or so) the coolant light stays on for
a minute and then goes out. Coolant has been always full. Last week
I noticed that if car is parked on a (downward) slope the light
doesn’t come on at all.
–– Gary P.
A: It seems
your expansion tank float switch is indicating low fluid level as
the cold fluid level contracts. With the engine cold and
unpressurized, remove the expansion tank cap. With the proper fluid
level, the tip of the float (a slender red rod) should be between
flush with the top of the tank cap threads and protruding 0.8 inches
above this. You may be a bit conservative with the fluid level?