Replaced LCA and balljoints, truck pulls to the right when braking

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Hi all, having an issue that I can't seem to figure out. I couldn't get the lower ballpoints out of the lower control arms, so I bought a new set from Advanced (Moog), and had a shop down the street replace them. Took it to Firestone Friday for a new alignment, noticed that when I'm braking the truck will pull to the right. The issue is, its not all the time. Took it back, the toe was off a few degrees so they adjusted it. Well, the steering is straight but the steering wheel is not entirely center, so its off to the left a notch or too, otherwise, keep the wheel straight causes it to eventually go to the right. This is on an entirely straight road/street with little or no "crowning". Of course, it didn't do this before the LCA were replaced.

That's one nitpick thats been bothering me, but back to the main issue. I cannot figure out WHY when I brake it pulls to the right. Its not all the time either, it'll do it and then not do it. No matter if I'm gentle, or hard on the pedal it will pull to the right, which requires me to turn the wheel a bit to the left to keep it in line.

Almost everything has been replaced up front, minus the tie roads, upper control arms, upper ball joints and CV shafts.

Everything that was replaced over the past two years;

Both front brake calipers (driver side had some leakage), and passenger side appeared fine but chose to do it in pairs.

Front brake lines appear to be original, so I haven't touched those yet.

Front hubs

Struts/springs

Sway Bar bushings + sway bar links


All the searching I've done either pinpoints to the LCA or the LCA bushings. I know that the passenger side LCA bushing was a little lose after testing it.

The pull was noticeable before the driver brake caliper was replaced, after replacing it it wasn't nearly as bad or noticeable. But with the LCA replaced now, it seems like I'm back to the square one. What else could be the issue? The steering wheel not being fully center while driving slightly irks me (which it was before with the previous alignment), but the braking has me more concerned if anything.
 

hockeyman

Silver Supporter
I'm no expert here, but...
I'd take it to another alignment shop and have them thoroughly check the LCA bolts/bushings, ball joints, tie rods, etc.. Find a reputable shop, too. It may cost a bit more, but you and your family's safety is at stake...along with other drivers if shit goes wrong while truckin'.

Did you have the steering wheel apart anytime soon? If you bought it used, was it like that from the day of purchase?
While at a different alignment shop, I'd have the steering wheel addressed, asap. Get that "completely centered" first, then go from there.

I replaced all of the brake calipers on my wife's accord last year, and it turned out that the front passenger caliper was bad or not properly rebuilt (autozone calipers). It made her car pull to the right. It was worse sometimes and not so bad other times, so I assumed it was a sticking caliper piston. Brought it back, installed another one and it straightened right out. No problems after that.

Hopefully, you get better advice from experienced members here. I'm just throwing idea's out to 'ya.

Good luck!
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
The steering wheel has never been taken apart, at least as far as I know. When I bought the truck 2 years ago, it did have a pull to the right. Replacing the driver side brake caliper fixed most of it, but the pull was VERY faint when doing heavy braking. At the time I had Firestone do an inspection for $10. Upper control arms and balljoints checked out, no play at all in them while testing. I also checked them again yesterday and there was no play. Tie rods I was told were still good, the only thing that needed to be replaced was the lower control arms and balljoints. Mainly the passenger side, the lower bushing had some play in it. There was no issues with the steering or alignment at the time. I did get the lifetime alignment with them and it was good until the lower control arms were replaced.

Like I mentioned, when braking the steering wheel needs to be turned to the left to keep it from going to the right. I greased up the slide pins on both front calipers and that made no difference. I will be scheduling it with another shop to be looked at.

I was under the impression that if it goes to once side while braking, it means theres a weak point in the left side braking. So could a collapsed brake hose cause this?
 

TequilaWarrior

Well-Known Member
Check brake hoses on both sides. Re-bleed both sides. Use brake cleaner on both sets of pads & rotors.
The smallest amount of air or water in your lines will make braking weak on one side. Contaminants on pads will result in uneven braking. Bulges or cracks in hoses are immediate cause for replacement. If the hoses aren't securely attached / mounted that can also be an issue.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Brake hoses look intact, and appear to be attached in their original mounting points. I ordered a set of Delco ones for both fronts, should be here tomorrow to install them. Just seems bizarre that this is happening/worse after the LCA were replaced. Would that also affect the steering? It doesn't pull, or tug until brake pressure is applied.
 

hockeyman

Silver Supporter
If it's only pulling once the brakes are applied, I'd be almost certain that you need to focus there...somewhere. As mentioned, air or water in the line(s), clogged or bulging lines, brake proportioning valve (I think it has one), ABS fault somewhere...and the list goes on and on.

In my opinion, you need to get that steering wheel straightened out, first. Then go from there.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
Agreed on that steering wheel / alignment. A little story...

I had Firestone do an alignment on my old Sierra recently, after having replaced the entire front suspension. Got the printout showing the 'before / after', which looked good, and the vehicle drove well. But it seemed like the steering wheel was farther off-center than before I brought it to them. Didn't pursue it, and went about my business. Truck drove straight and didn't pull, so I didn't worry about it.

Later on, I made the decision that I was going to sell that truck - and I knew that people seeing the wheel off-center would be...off-putting. So I took it back (this was 2 mos later, at least).

This time, they got the wheel straight (not 'picture perfect', but within 2-3 degrees, let's say). And they ran the 'before / after' report again.

Lo and behold...they had to adjust the toe - on both front wheels. Not just because that's where you make the adjustment to center the wheel...but b/c it was off. And I had not made any suspension adjustments or hit anything in the interim.

Moral of the story - just because it's 'aligned'...doesn't mean it's aligned.

Take it back.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! The truck is going in tomorrow. I'm going to make sure they put her on the lift and first check to make sure EVERYTHING is tight and how it should be. Before they even touch the alignment, and the truck isn't leaving until it's been driven before and after and everything is as it should be.

I have attached pics show how my steering wheel needs to be positioned when coming to a dead straight stop. There are two pics as well, I'm not the best photographer but looking at the left side it seems to point in and the right seems to point out just a hair.
 

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JerryIrons

Well-Known Member
ANY alignment job done by a shop should ALWAYS result in your steering wheel lining up correctly. If I got a vehicle back from someone like that, I would never go back, and take it somewhere else. It's just such a rookie mistake.
 

Chickenhawk

Well-Known Member
I agree. I had enough shops do an alignment and not center the wheel that I developed my own system for adjusting toe in my driveway. It takes a lot of adjusting, trial and error, but I know it's PERFECT.
 

Eric04

Silver Supporter
I had a shop owner get bitchy with me once because I brought my vehicle back for realignment because the steering wheel was off to the left. He was like, "Man, it was off a couple degrees. Really?" I pointed out that while it may have only been off a little it was still, uh, OFF. Why pay for an alignment that is off any amount? He's not a horrible guy and his shop generally does good work but after that I found other shops to frequent.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
I'm taking the truck back to the shop that installed the LCA. Firestone is telling me there's nothing wrong with the alignment. Here's the kicker, they claimed the driver side LCA bushing is bad, and the passenger side ball joint is lose in its socket. They handed me an invoice for $800 to do my bushings and lower ball joints while saying my Envoy isn't safe to drive. Oh yeah...they wouldn't let me go back there and "see" what was wrong with them either. So back to the first shop for their opinion and to take it apart and take a look and then a phone call to Moog if this turns out to be the case.

I'm more pissed that this wasn't caught on the first alignment, Firestone tried telling me they inspect the underside before doing any work. So if my ball joints and bushings were bad, why wasn't something said in the beginning. 😡
 

hockeyman

Silver Supporter
I'm more pissed that this wasn't caught on the first alignment, Firestone tried telling me they inspect the underside before doing any work. So if my ball joints and bushings were bad, why wasn't something said in the beginning. 😡
Probably because they were too lazy to properly check them in the first place. A visual inspection is as good as Monopoly Money.
I would seriously make a complaint to the "higher-ups" at firestone. Not only was it lazy / negligent, but very unsafe, too!
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Well some good news. Ma and Pa shop was able to take it in today, they threw it on the lift and everything checks out. LCA are good, the bushings are stiff with no play and same goes with the LBJ. They test drove it and found everything to be solid as well. I also have a printout (they're ASE certified) with what they found, and Monday morning its going into the shop that did the work replacing them for another inspection and print out.


It seems like its looking more to be like they really botched the alignment job.
 

hockeyman

Silver Supporter
Glad to hear that the other shop found the issues and will take care of them for ya.

So, no issues with the lbj's and lca's, huh? I'd take that printout back to firestone and show it to the manager. Or, simply make it part of the email I'd send to corporate. That's just me though...
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Yeah so far the shop is telling me that there's nothing wrong with my LCA or LBJ's, and its just Firestone trying to make me pay for something I don't need. But so far, it seems like Firestone either doesn't know how to do the alignment or they won't uphold the lifetime alignment I have.

Once I get the second sheet from shop #2, I'm taking it back to Firestone and asking for a manager, or taking it further up the chain to corporate and see if I can get compensation for the time wasted/gas used to keep driving up there.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Or at the very least, a refund. Possibility of more than that are slim to none.

I have found that a lot of shops just don't know how to properly align these trucks with their adjustable lower control arms. When you do find one, stick to it.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
I'm going to push for getting a refund on the alignment. After this fiasco, I'd rather wash my hands of them. I guess I'm more mind boggled at them being so inept, there's so many 360s around here, its hard to imagine that given the trucks age and how plentiful that its even a problem to do an alignment. I guess it really comes down to whether they're being paid for the work, and thats reflective of how much they care.

After all the time wasted in driving, sitting and gas used its something that just isn't worth going back and forth to deal with.
 

JerryIrons

Well-Known Member
I have found that a lot of shops just don't know how to properly align these trucks with their adjustable lower control arms. When you do find one, stick to it.
+1 on this, in fact I think in general it's hard to find a good alignment shop.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
FYI - if you have the 'lifetime' alignment, it's good at any 'corporate' owned store (but not the 'independently owned' ones. So if you have another Firestone anywhere near you, they will honor that purchase (nationwide).

Considering that your local Firestone tried to scam you into addn'l parts you didn't need, I wouldn't blame you if you stopped bringing the truck in to them. But that lifetime alignment is a good deal, if you're keeping the truck and have a competent shop you can trust to take it to. I'll probably purchase it for the blue Sierra, tbh.

By the time you've had the 2nd one done, you're $ ahead...and if you're lifted, it's worth its weight in gold.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
I called corporate to complain about the store and to see if its possible to get the refund.

I would keep it if I could trust the stores around me, but that makes 3 nearby that are terrible to deal with and driving an hour away to get to a "decent" one just isn't worth the hassle. I know the other two are terrible, since we deal with them at work. After the amount of times we had work vehicles get sent to the body shop from them backing into stuff, or go to the dealership to have the engines replaced from their negligence its too risky to see my Envoy go anywhere near them.

So the store manager called me back, saying that there is an issue with my truck. They want me to bring it by to "show" me that my LCA and bushings are shot even though they're new. Then of course they through in "the other shops must be wrong, or don't know how to test the balljoints and bushings". I'm more inclined to believe the other guys, since they let me back there and showed me there was 0 play in the bushings and balljoints. The second shop went further and put it on there alignment machine. The toe for the driver side is off, and they have it set to point in ward, causing my braking issue. The right side is the same story, so even though it looks straight my alignment is nowhere near what Firestones "print out" is showing.
 

hockeyman

Silver Supporter
There ain't no way in hell I'd bring my vehicle back to that firestone shop. They'll now thoroughly look for something wrong, just to point it out to you.

If a refund was being offered if I brought it back to them (firestone) for further inspection, I'd simply move on and take the loss. Your dough though...
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Well the issues were at other shops that messed up our company vehicles. This was one of the better, ones or used to be. They pretty much want me to bring it back to "prove" there is an issue with my bushings and ball joints. I'd rather just get the money back and move on.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
The second shop went further and put it on there alignment machine. The toe for the driver side is off, and they have it set to point in ward, causing my braking issue. The right side is the same story, so even though it looks straight my alignment is nowhere near what Firestones "print out" is showing.
The way I read that, it looks like Firestone needs to recalibrate / repair their alignment equipment.

After hearing what they've done to other vehicles you know about...yeah...I can see where you just want to call it a learning experience & move on. A shame. Do you have a plumb bob and a 3ft piece of string? LOL (yes, I'm kidding...I wouldn't try it, myself)
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Its from my understanding, after meeting an old buddy while shopping earlier (who was a lead tech at Firestone once upon a time, and what a coincidence I might add) they work off commission. They were similar to dealerships, getting a flat rate for the work they completed. Once the new CEO stepped in, they were pulled into a commission based salary for both the advisers and techs. He pretty much made it sound like they may have purposely set the alignment wrong to get me back in there to pay for work I didn't need. They apparently make 1 sale off lifetime alignments, and when you have the lifetime one, they don't get paid for the work so they're less inclined to get the job done and that's where this leads into. This was the "gist" I got, so I can't say whether its true or not.


Those are just the 2 within 10-20 minutes from my workplace 😄

The one further away by about 30-40 mins, is the one that used to be "top" rated for our area which was why I was willing to travel further. But, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. I have a few stories from the stuff I've seen and witnessed, so I have a bit of a strong bias about never going to the other stores.

If only it were that easy, otherwise I would gladly take up the task myself
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Alright alignment is fixed! Don't have to keep the steering wheel turned a few degrees to the left for it to stay straight, so that's plus. Now the bad, the steering wheel is still wanting/needing to be turned a bit to the left in order to brake straight without going to the right lane. So it looks like I'll be needing to tackle the brake lines next. Since the calipers as mentioned are new, it can only be the brake lines. Otherwise I'm at a complete loss of what to do next.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
So a little bit of an update for you all.


I replaced the front brake lines. While it solved the pull I had at low speed braking, it still exists when going anything over 50 MPH+. A good example of explaining it, was when I made multiple trips into the city last weekend and had to apply the brakes quickly, or with more pressure from sudden traffic slowdowns or someone nearly cutting me off. Doing under 40 and braking doesn't really cause much of a pull, its slightly there but is nowhere near as bad as it was. This though, when going faster does cause the truck to pull to the right when going at least 50 and needing to apply heavier braking for whatever reason.

The brakes were bled after the line swap, adding more brake fluid and testing out the ABS on a gravel road in case there was air in the lines somewhere. What could be left? I've had a family friend say it could be the ABS module, the proportioning valve, master cylinder or the driver caliper. Though like I mentioned the front calipers were replaced, the rears were done by the previous owner. So I can only think of maybe the problem lies in the driver rear caliper not grabbing, causing the pull I've been trying so hard to crackdown on? I'm just not sure what I'm missing.
 

Chickenhawk

Well-Known Member
The front brakes contribute to mot of the braking effect, but a deficiency in the rears will tend to manifest itself at higher speed. Your symptoms make me suspicious of the previous work on the rears. It would not surprise me if you take them apart and find one side worn much more than the other.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
That is what has me questioning the rears. Between the front caliper bolts being barely hand tight, and the one caliper already leaking at the piston (driver side) I went ahead and did both to be on the safe side. I haven't taken the rears off yet to inspect the caliper, or pistons. Well I did the brakes, but didn't really inspect the rear calipers since I figured they were "new" or done sometime before it was traded in.

I also began debating if my front hubs are the reason, since I'm running a Timken and a Moog. Wasn't sure if mixing them was causing different speed read outs, or if the different hubs/speed sensors would cause one side to read differently causing one caliper to activate before the other or what not.
 

gmcman

Well-Known Member
Late to the party so some of this is moot, there's a hole under the steering column that the alignment tech is supposed to insert a rod so the steering wheel remains straight when performing the alignment. This would have solved your crooked steering wheel.

Brake hoses wont show much wear on the outside, they tend to collapse on the inside.

Generally a pull to the right, means a collapsed left brake hose. The calipers also won't retract fully and the pads can possibly glaze.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
Late to the party so some of this is moot, there's a hole under the steering column that the alignment tech is supposed to insert a rod so the steering wheel remains straight when performing the alignment. This would have solved your crooked steering wheel.

Brake hoses wont show much wear on the outside, they tend to collapse on the inside.

Generally a pull to the right, means a collapsed left brake hose. The calipers also won't retract fully and the pads can possibly glaze.
New shop thankfully fixed the steering wheel alignment issue. I learned a bit beforehand (before going to a new place for an alignment), that Firestone techs make nothing for the hour they spend on doing lifetime alignments so the jobs are botched to pay for unneeded services.

While the truck drives straight and the steering wheel is practically dead center while driving, I still have the braking issue. Well on a hard brake when the truck wants to go right I still have to keep the wheel turned a bit to the left when hard braking to keep it (truck) going straight when stopping.
 

gmcman

Well-Known Member
When you had the lower control arms installed, did they come with the lower control arm bracket as well?

Just to check, take a look at both front wheel openings with the wheels straight...does one wheel look to be more forward than the other in the opening, ...by a noticeable amount?

Does it pull hard to one side as soon as you start driving and try to brake....when the brakes are cold?

If you apply the brakes and it starts to pull to one side, what happens if you slowly apply more pressure to the point you are making a hard stop...does it start to brake in a straight line at one point or continue to pull the entire time?
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
They came as a complete assembly, I looked underneath and everything that came with it looks to be installed as they should. With the wheels straight, they look dead center especially when looking into the openings. When Firestone botched the first two alignments, there was a noticeable difference when centering the front wheels nothing too extreme but you could tell it wasn't exactly right.

It'll drive straight, including if you don't keep your hands on the wheels. The pulling only happens when applying the brakes. If you're coming to a stop with gentle pressure on the brakes it'll stay straight. The moment sudden braking is required, or when the light suddenly changes from yellow to red (especially in the city) and harder braking is required is when it starts pulling to the right.

Could bad bushings in the upper control arms cause an issue?
 

xavierny25

Well-Known Member
Could be those UCA bushings. I had a similar issue ended up being a front sway bar bracket being broken.87801
BTW, it didn't look broken till I actually started taking things apart.87802
Didn't get a pic of the bushing but it was really bad with alot of play.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
As far as I know, the front sway bar brackets are in tact, I had them apart in November to do the front and rear bushings before the snow fell. Kinda why I was asking about the UCA, I know the driver side squeaks a bit going over bushings. Since everything up front is new excluding the CV shafts and tie roads, it just leaves the UCA left to be replaced. The shop that did the alignment checked the upper ball joints, passenger side has a tiny amount of play, and the driver side is still solid. But I don't remember if they mentioned anything about the UCA bushings.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
ANY play is not good. It will only get worse. I had your issue except it was my lower A-arm bushings that were shot on one side.

Good alignment shops would not do an alignment on a vehicle that has any slop.
 

gmcman

Well-Known Member
They came as a complete assembly, I looked underneath and everything that came with it looks to be installed as they should. With the wheels straight, they look dead center especially when looking into the openings.
Ok...I was referring to this gap. The 3 bolts on the LCA bracket require A LOT of torque, sometimes if not cranked down, the bracket can slide backwards under hard braking...happened to me. Just something to check.87803
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
@Mooseman I planned on doing both UCA + balljoints this summer, replacing them shouldn't have too much of an effect on the alignment? The left side UBJ had 0 play in it, the right side had a hair of play in it.

@gmcman Here's how the wheels look with it straight. I'm not seeing any abnormal spaces between the fender and wheel. I'll be jacking up the truck tomorrow if the weather isn't too bad and put a breaker bar to it and see if I can force any play down there. If there is some play, I'll bring out the impact gun and give it a few hits to get em nice and tight. First pick had some lens flare going no matter how much out of the sun I was.
 

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Mooseman

Moderator
I'd still get it aligned again. Changes in new vs worn parts as well as the loose UBJ will make your current alignment invalid.
 
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Mike534x

Mike534x

Well-Known Member
It looks like it's fixed for now! Jacked up one side and checked for wheel play. Passenger side had none, looked at the driver side and found the wheel had more play then the other. Looked down below and found the bolt that runs through the LCA bushing/bracket into the frame turned out to be loose. Tightened it down as much as I could and added some blue locktite. Took it for a test drive down the street, so far the alignment is still straight. Steering wheel stays dead center, and it doesn't want to wander into the right lane either when braking. I'll keep an eye on it the next few days to see if it loosens up or anything but so far so good. Posted a pic of the culprit.
 

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