Absolutely not. You can take them off and throw them away and never notice it on most roads. Their job, in part with the anti-sway bar, is to reduce how much the body leans when you go around corners at higher speeds. Most cars didn't even have anti-sway bars until the mid '70s.
Ford has way more trouble with steering and suspension parts separating leading to loss of control and crashes than all other manufacturers combined. Noises like squeaks and rattles are the first sign of trouble and must never be ignored, but what you described can also be caused by a worn part that is about to break. If you can turn the steering wheel back and forth a little before the wheels start to turn, the most common suspect is a worn tie rod end. Depending on which one comes apart, you'll either sail into oncoming traffic or the ditch. There ARE other causes of steering wander that are less serious, but the car needs to be inspected to know for sure. The best place to have this done is at a tire and alignment shop. Whatever is wrong, they will have seen it many times before.
To add to the misery, Ford saved money at your expense by leaving off two adjustments for the three main alignment angles. One of them, "caster" is left off on most front-wheel-drive cars because it has little effect on pulling and tire wear, but Ford also left off an adjustment on your car for "camber". That must be set very precisely to achieve good tire wear and no pull, but you're stuck with whatever you got, and it is pretty messed up to make the car ride nicely. The Tempo and Ford-built Escort hold the world record as alignment disasters with 15,000 mile tire life if you're lucky. The Taurus isn't that bad, but alignment specialists are still frustrated with them because they want to do a good job for you, but they can't.
Ford was also the only manufacturer ever to use "rubber-bonded-socket" tie rod ends. They drop the ball and stud into the socket, fill it with molten rubber, and expect it to hold together. Your life depends on those parts not separating, but every time you turn the steering wheel, you're twisting and tugging on that rubber, and it is going to break apart very much sooner than those on any other car brand. No aftermarket supplier makes their replacements that way. Even the cheapest of those parts will last eight to ten times longer than the Ford parts. You most likely have the better ones on your car already.
Monday, October 6th, 2014 AT 2:34 AM