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Here's what I've got and I think it happened yesterday. I backed out of a parking spot and turned to the left. The back end of the right front tire hit fairly solidly, a cement pole. It was hard enough to expect a small dent on the fender lip, but there was only a scratch on the fiberglass fender flare. I can see a pretty good tire tread on the post.
Not sure if this is the cause but very coincidental.
As long as I'm moving forward, the front tires seem fine, with maybe a small positive camber. As soon as I go into reverse and start moving, the front tires go into a giant negative camber. Probably like 10-20° negative. Pull forward and they straighten right back up.
Steering feels quite loose but the van does not wonder while driving. Steering wheel is about 45° turned to the right for a straight line and the van pulls slightly to the right while driving. This was not doing this before yesterday.
This van has twin I-beam suspension and the only thing I can think of that is common on both sides would be something like where the I-beams connects. Like maybe that connection is broke? I don't see anything hanging down but I can't go under it right now as I'm at work.
Just talked to a mechanic that I trust really well, and I've known for years and he thinks Ball Joints. He says camber will change slightly moving from backward to forward but definitely not that much.
Still would like opinions here but I know mechanics are at work right now.
If your trusted mechanic suggests ball joints I'd suspect that too---the speed you bumped into something shouldn't affect any suspension part unless its already on its way out......
With your mileage its entirely possible one or more ball joints could be worn sufficiently for replacement, especially if they're OEM---no grease fittings. If you go the replacement route I'd do all four and maybe check/change the various front end bushings. I did my '00 E250 along with tie rod ends and drag link and used urethane on the radius arms and axle pivots too. Every other oil change I grease all points---good habit to develop.
Anyway best of luck-----hope its nothing more than a BJ or two!
After having it up in the air and looking at it, I'm now thinking alignment which is what the first mechanic had first said. When backing up, the wheels caster is wrong and is pulling the tires out at the bottom. I kind of proved this when the tires were splayed, and I jacked it up and back down and they were back to normal.
I rocked the tires from the bottom and the top and I didn't feel any movement, not that the BJ's don't eventually need replaced because of age, and they do have zerks on them. Does that mean they are not original? I got the van at 80k and I didn't replace them since then.
So I put it all back together and greased the BJs and the tie rod end and will find somewhere to align it.
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