View Full Version : Rattle in front end (sounds like a bad ball joint)

07-27-2008, 10:25 AM
Here is the issue: when moving forward on uneven surface or moving slowly with the wheel turned, and when backing up I hear a wobble or rattle in the front suspension. I checked the front end yesterday and everything is tight (no play in the joints). There is one thing I noticed with the hood up and the car on the ground, when the wheel is turned, I can feel vibration on the left strut bolt. I had someone turn the wheel for me and the same occured on the right side. Would this be a sign to replace the struts? The ride comfort and handling have not been affected.

What are your thoughts on this, anyone?

07-27-2008, 08:36 PM
Whew...that's a tough one...is the rattle a high or low pitch? If it's high, I wouldn't think it's a ball joint. And apparently you haven't noticed any grease drips, either.I wonder if it's simply a bushing needing replaced somewhere...

07-28-2008, 07:27 AM
Both low and high pitch. The high pitch rattle I believe are the caliper shields. My concern is what is causing the clunking sound which only happens when moving slow over uneven surfaces (mostly heard when backing out from my garage or any place I park the car). At first I thought it was the camber and tire angle when turning. It makes the same noise when driving on the grass (car show). I do not feel anything in the steering wheel, but I do on the floor boards. I just want to figure it out before I spend money on something that would not be necessary.

07-28-2008, 06:01 PM
I agree i think its the brake shields. i just bought a 03 with the rattle and its the brake shields.:bounce:

07-28-2008, 08:51 PM
I sounds like it may be steering rack bushings to me.

At low or no speeds while turning the steering wheel a noise of varying pitch and frequency can often be heard and felt.

I initially had them lubed and reinstalled when the car was still under warranty. 2 years later when it reoccurred I installed the Maximum Motorsport solid rack bushings. These would be the center drill, non-offset version used on stock K member cars.

The install was not hard and the steering feel improvement, is nothing short of FANTASTIC!

I did also install the MM 4 point K brace at the same time, so there is, no doubt, improvement felt from that as well.

07-29-2008, 07:15 AM
Rack bushings, possible. I had Ford replace the bushings and bolts last year. That corrected most of the creaking I had. I will have to recheck that while the car is on the gound and see if the rack still shifts when the wheel is turned. This time I believe it is something else. Yesterday I attempted to tighten the top bolts on the struts. I was able to get some movement which did reduce the amount of vibration felt when moving over uneven surface (backing out of garage is the prime example since my house is on a slope and the garage is perpendicular to the slope). Ford service did tighten something last year in addition to the bolts and bushings but they did not mention what that was.

Wonder if I can remove the shields and still pass inspection. Everytime I hit a bump in the road I can hear them make noise. I know that is not the vibration or rattle I feel. My issue sounds more like a loose ball joint. My 96 ford explorer that eats them up every two years and the noise and feel are the same but yet I cannot shake loose the suspension with the front end off the ground. I though at first it could be an inner tie rod end, the outer tie rod ends are still tight.

07-30-2008, 12:50 PM
I still feel you are most likely looking at a fairly common rack bushing issue.

The caliper dust shields should not be an issue in any state inspection, since they play no actual braking role.

Before I bought my ducted shields, I ran just cooling hoses to both rotor vent inlets near the knuckle, so these can be easily eliminated without concern for safety.

Are you running aftermarket caster camber plates? Any looseness in the strut upper mounting can and will cause noise.

Tie rod ends do wear so you will want to systematically inspect and verify tie rod health.

A rattle in brake shields is not all that common, at least not that I'm aware of.
However pad rattle is VERY common due to the anti rattle clips being fatigued or forgotten by some brake shops/installers.

I don't know how many miles are on this car, so that is going to affect the accuracy of any remote diagnosis I may attempt here.

I will be very surprised however, if this turns out be something OTHER THAN rack bushings.

07-31-2008, 07:36 AM
Sorry I left out stats.... The car is bone stock (except for the cat back). 43k miles. A few days ago I had tightened the bolts on top of the struts. I have not noticed the noise since then. The bushings and mounting hardware of the steering rack was replaced last year (had an issue with the rack comming loose) but i did not rule that out as a cause for the noise.

Caster Camber plates are stock and were never removed.
Tie rods are in good shape. I inspect them every 6 months (front and rear) and lubricate them as needed.

Than you all for your replies. I am still not convinced I fixed the issue but will continue to look into it with all of your suggestions.