Nasty sqeaking/creaking... Bad ball joints?

Discussion in 'SN95 V6 Mustang Tech' started by rocketv6, Feb 5, 2010.


  1. rocketv6

    rocketv6 New Member

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    I have a really loud (and embarassing in public) squeaking/creaking noise from my front end. It happens while braking slightly, steering while not accelerating, driving over any bumps in the road, even just turning the wheel while stopped. I'm dumber as a box of rocks as far as suspension goes, but I'm guessing ball joints (and have been told by an uncle: most likely ball joints). Or maybe some ends or bushings down there.

    If it's not a big wallet-buster, I might just have them replaced at a shop (if that ends up being the problem). I don't have some of the tools required to do springs and all of the fun stuff related, so I'm trying to find an easy way out. I've got a Chilton and it tells you how to do a ton of suspension stuff, but I'm not too confident on that.

    Anyone had similar problems? If so, what was the diagnosis and what's a rough estimate for fixing the problem?
  2. wmburns

    wmburns SN Certified Technician

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    TSB 05-14-3

    What model year car are we dealing with? There is a Ford TSB that sounds like a match (if correct MY).

    I had this same problem on my 2003. Try to reproduce by turning the wheel almost to the limits of travel. Then have a buddy slowly turn the wheel to the limit of travel. From under the car, look at the steering rack. You may notice it moving (straining) on the bushings. This is normal. However, you may also note that it squeaks at the same time.

    I fixed it by replacing the steering rack bushings with stiffer model bushings and lubbing them well. The Ford TSB calls for the rack support tubes (through the K-member) to be replaced and re-torqued.

    If the problem occurs only when braking, IMO it is more likely front suspension or ball joints.

    >>
    TSB 05-14-3

    07/25/05

    SQUEAK/CREAK NOISE FROM STEERING RACK
    WHEN TURNING


    FORD:
    2002-2004 Mustang

    This article supersedes TSB 04-24-8 to update the Action.

    ISSUE
    Some 2002-2004 Mustang vehicles may exhibit a squeak or creak type noise when turning.

    ACTION
    Replace both power steering gear tube brackets.
    Refer to Workshop Manual Section 211-02 Steering Gear Mounting. Tighten the steering gear mounting fasteners to 52 lb-ft (70 N.m).
  3. MustangLX-5.0

    MustangLX-5.0 Founding Member

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    WMburns may've hit the spot. It's one of two possible problems. It's either the center sleeves on the steering rack mounts creeking .. or ball joints. Right now, I have a creeking sound coming from the front end (light, not that loud) that occurs mostly when I'm stepping on the brake and allmost at a full stop. Typically as the front end is moving down with a certain amount of force. And get it sometimes when I'm stopped and turn the wheel slowly. I have verified my ball joints on this one. Both wheels have a slight clunk of in out play top to bottom. And the creek is coming from the drivers side ball joint.

    A couple years ago I had the problem with the steering rack. No matter how much I tightened the rack mounts, it still creeked like hell... just like you explain. It's the metal sleeves in the middle between the nut and bolt head. They start sliding sideways .. and new bushings and sleeves are the only fix. Of course, if you got oil or steering fluid leakage onto the bushings, you might want to remedy that first. The oil weakens the bushings over time.
  4. rocketv6

    rocketv6 New Member

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    Sorry, forgot M.Y.

    Car is a '98... Interesting twist driving home tonight too. It rained while I was working but was stopped by the time I was headed home and it wasn't creaking nearly as bad. Seems like it's somewhat affected by humidity. Does that change the diagnosis or favor one over the other? Thanks for the info you've given me already, just trying to get all the symptoms out there to really peg this pain in the (blank)...

    And as you said (MustangLX-5.0), most of my creaking is also coming from the drivers side.
  5. wmburns

    wmburns SN Certified Technician

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    The TSB applies to 2002-2004 MY. So it does not apply to you.

    What happens if you bounce up/down on the suspension? Can the sound be reproduced?

    What about the condition of the grease seals on the ball joints? Tie rod ends?

    The trick here is to narrow this down. Condiser taking it somewheere for a repair "estimate". A pro may be able to nail this down much quicker.
  6. rocketv6

    rocketv6 New Member

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    It only seems to come from bouncing the drivers side and surrounding hood area. Very little to no creaking at all when I bounce the passenger's side. It creaks sometimes when getting in the car (and I'm not a big guy by any standards) or opening/shutting the door.

    I'll check on the grease seals and tie-rod ends (to the extent of my knowledge and the Chilton I'll be referencing), but I'll probably end up asking a friend of my girlfriend's family who did a ton of great work on a few issues for me about a year ago. He co-owns a smaller shop and won't start repairing (or counting the labor-hours) until he's got a down-to-the-penny estimate.

    Thanks for all of the help! And I appreciate the patience with specific information, I've spent almost no time with my suspension so I'm still getting to know whats down there...
  7. MustangLX-5.0

    MustangLX-5.0 Founding Member

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    Checking up on a post of yours back from september, I see you are somewhere around the 165k miles mark. Being that your OD is broke, and you do work on a daily basis, you've probably got around 170k miles or so. I'd say you were well due for balljoints to be replaced. It's that time. I'm around 160k or so. Maybe 145-150k. Don't know, my OD is broke also :p. My original OD broke at 100k in '04. The cluster I have now has been broke at 160k. I think going in and out of work where there are numerous HARD speedbumps killed my balljoints. Consider them especially if you hit a lot of hard bumps in the road.

    Any way you can record the sound? I could tell you almost for certain if it's your ball joints just by hearing the noise when you push on the suspension. I'd come out and check it out for you, but you're well on the other side of the state by West Palm Beach.
  8. rocketv6

    rocketv6 New Member

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    OK, I'll give that a shot

    My dad's got an old camcorder, so I can use that to get a video of where I'm pushing on the suspension and the sound it'll make. If I can wrangle a friend or even a family member (they owe me for more than a few oil changes :D), I'll include a short driving session and the brakes/turning the wheel. If I can do that, I'll post on YouTube and leave a link. I'm on a dirt road thats pretty washboarded most of the time so you'll get an idea of the creaking of normal daily driving.

    My uncle who first said "20 bucks its the ball joints" actually lives a bit closer to you than me, over in North Port. I don't think I'll be over there anytime soon though :rolleyes:. A bit off-topic, but thanks for that advice back in Sept. It did end up being the head gaskets and I was hurting a little paying for it, but I'm glad I did it. Car runs like new (and is loving the slightly cooler weather).

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