Ball joints are the most common cause of squeaks even though they check okay. They are checked for looseness and play between the ball and socket which occurs before they fall apart and cause a crash, a real common problem with Ford's older front-wheel-drive cars. It's not so common on the rear-wheel-drive cars. Tight ball joints will check okay but can squeak when they're binding. That is due to lack of lubrication. Ford engineers figured out they could leave four grease fittings off the car in the late '70s. They cost a nickel a piece. Build a million cars, they save four million nickels.
Most high-quality aftermarket replacement ball joints have grease fittings but since they aren't originally found on those cars, some mechanics forget to look for them when doing an oil change or other routine service. At 200,000 miles your ball joints have been replaced already. If they have grease fittings, add some grease to see if the noise stops. You can also use a stethoscope to listen next to each one while a helper bounces the car. Check the upper ball joints too although the lower ones carry the weight of the vehicle so they will be much more likely to be the source of the noise.
Also look at the lower control arm bushings or listen next to them with the stethoscope.
Monday, August 1st, 2011 AT 3:19 AM