I recently got myself an 04 Mercury grand marquis with around 160,000 miles. The steering has a lot of play, I can move the wheel a good 2 inches back and fourth without the wheels even turning, it’s very lose. It also makes a pretty loud kind of cranking noise coming from up front when I turn the wheel a certain amount. Just curious if anyone knows the problem that needs to be fixed off the bat. Would be very helpful, thanks.
Find a shop that can do front end work before you crash and hurt yourself or someone .
That car’s front end is likely to be filled with worn-out components (tie rod ends, idler arm, rack & pinion, ball joints) and this represents a serious safety issue. A visit to a competent mechanic’s shop (NOT a chain-run joint) is needed a.s.a.p.
There;s no idler/pitman arm with rack & pinion steering.
I’m aware of that. However, I don’t know whether this old vehicle has rack & pinion steering, so I listed several possibilities. The bottom line is that this guy’s car has serious front end issues that need to be addressed right away by a real mechanic–not by the kid at the local tire shop.
I just go to Rockauto and do a confirm.
First thing I would look at would be the upper control arms/ball joints although at 160k miles the problem could be a far deeper than that.
Clank usually means to me a ball joint problem of some sort and ball joints are the one thing in the suspension that can fail suddenly with lethal consequences.
If one ball joint is worn then replace all 4 in one shot.
Just about a year or so ago here in OK someone (not the first either) lost their life when a ball joint failed and the car rolled after sliding into the ditch.
Good advice above. There’s a dozen or more places where play could develop between the steering wheel and the wheels. No way to tell via the internet. You need an experienced shop to take a look at the situation in their shop. The noise could be caused by a failing power steering pump as well, or the PS pump fluid level is low.
In my driving experience, clunks were ball joints and looseness was inner tie rods. Might be time for a front end overhaul.