bad joint here

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  #1  
Old 06-15-12, 01:30 PM
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bad joint here

So I noticed while driving my 98 Ford Ranger 2WD I was getting a sporadic front end noise and a looseness sensation. Checked underneath and saw this: http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/b...1/IMG_1811.jpg
Could somebody please identify what is this leaking joint, what's likely happened here and what I need to get fixed. Is this an inner tie rod end, a rack and pinion seal leak or something? Any comment/advice appreciated. Thanks
 

Last edited by sgull; 06-15-12 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 06-15-12, 01:36 PM
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The photo link didn't work for me, page not found error
 
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Old 06-15-12, 01:51 PM
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Sorry. Try it now, think I got the link working.
 
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Old 06-15-12, 07:00 PM
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Okay I discovered its the inner tie rod end. Apparently there's a leaking seal in the steering rack, seeping power steering fluid into the dust boot there. Fix is typically to replace the entire steering rack assembly.
 
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Old 06-15-12, 07:10 PM
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Yep. But look on the bright side; last time you'll have to do it and I think you'll like the feel with a fresh rack. Probably has a few miles on it?
 
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Old 06-15-12, 07:18 PM
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Tow guy, actually not all that many miles. only 98,000. So, with a fresh rack I should feel some noticeable improvement? Other than eliminating the noise and looseness I mentioned, will it seem to handle better somehow?
 
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Old 06-16-12, 04:39 AM
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Should see some improvement when you lose the looseness. Won't be "factory" necessarily, but should handle a bit better. Wow, only 98k miles; expected it would be more like 150+. At 98k I'm not sure there will be a big bump in feel as there won't be as much wear as on one with 150k, but at least the leak will be gone. The alternative is to drive it until it gets worse, but that just delays the inevitable.
 
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Old 06-16-12, 10:15 PM
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I just hope changing out the leaking rack will solve the looseness I feel from the front end, and that its not something else causing that. We'll see.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 06:55 AM
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steering rack shouldn't be producing any "noises". Make sure your hub bearing is not going bad, which I'd suspect more than rack at such low mileage. A little bit of leaking fluid is not a disaster. And bearing will give you heck of "fly all over the road" experience. And will make noise.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 09:06 AM
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ukrbyk, although inspection/lubrication of the front wheel bearings is long overdue (probably never done yet), I'm not getting anything like a "fly all over the road" experience nor any particular pulling/drifting/wandering of the vehicle as I drive. The noise I hear briefly from time to time, seems to be a low dull vibration/shake thumping or clunking coming from the front end that seems to me like something loose in the suspension or steering. Thinking possibly wheel bearings, I did jack the front tires off the ground and grabbed them top and bottom and tried to rock them back and forth but got absolultely no play there. And I'm not hearing any kind of whining or humming sound as I drive, so although I won't rule out a bearing going bad, what I'm experiencing doesn't seem (to me) to indicate a bearing at fault. Looking around underneath in the front, nothing appears obviously wrong other than the leakage from the rack. However, that doesn't doesn't really seem like it'd be producing the looseness sounds I described.
I might also mention as a sidenote that the roads in my community here are poorly maintained, a lot of rough bumpy pavement and potholes all over the place, not too easy on suspension/steering components.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 02:23 PM
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You know, come to think, when I bought my 99 Ranger, rebuilt title, I did have some issues with the front end driver side. I simply replaced the axle bearing, not even pressing its seat out, and it took care of it.

"looseness" can be perceived in many ways. I thought you had side to side or such movements of the vehicle.

I am still not sure what you mean by that word. Loose steering wheel? Those are almost made with huge dead spot around steering wheel center position.

The noise I hear briefly from time to time, seems to be a low dull vibration/shake thumping or clunking coming from the front end that seems to me like something loose in the suspension or steering.

I seriously doubt this will be coming from steering rack. Ball joints, control arm bushings, bad bearing - that I do see.

Hey, why don't you rotate tires front to back and see what happens? Tire will do that too.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 02:46 PM
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Yeah, trying to somehow describe this "looseness" sensation or sound/noise isn't going to get me anywhere. Could maybe even describe it as a rattling. One thing it's not doing, at this point anyway, is giving me any side to side or such movements, and not loose steering wheel either. It certainly wouldn't hurt for me to go ahead and at least remove/examine the wheel bearings, especially considering they've never even been repacked. I have and jacked it up removed the tires out of the way and got under there and looked at all the bushings and joints, shock mounts, etc. and tried to shake and jerk things to perceive something loose but everthing looks normal and feels tight to me. Could be a lot of things I suppose. Probably be lucky if I ever discover the source.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 05:05 PM
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Until you said no steering looseness I was going to suggest double checking the outer tie rod ends for play.

Trying to describe & diagnose noises on-line is pretty tough.
 
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Old 06-17-12, 07:16 PM
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my driver side was badly squeaking from up-down movement. everything was tight, just really annoying, loud squeak.
So I drilled holes in ball joints, right on the truck, and installed zirks. Packed them with grease, and that was it.
axle bearing is something like 6 bucks. You know... And five minute job.
 
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Old 06-20-12, 08:27 AM
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I went ahead and changed out the front wheel bearings (inners and outers, new races, seals, fresh grease). I wouldn't say the old bearings looked particulary bad or too obviously overworn to my naked eye. There was a decent amount of the old grease in there, not really dry looking or anything. What I did note was a few dark spots of discoloration around inside ring of bearing cones, and some areas of slight scoring on the wheel spindles. Test drive afterwards I didn't seem to perceive previously desribed sound/noise/looseness, so maybe its fixed. So far so good anyway. And the bearing service was way overdue, so good to get that done. thanks
 
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Old 06-20-12, 12:53 PM
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Pretty cheap fix, too, compared to some of the pricier parts.
 
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