2001 Jeep Cherokee Front End

I have a 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport (128,000 miles) that has a groaning sound when ever you turn the steering wheel (and front wheels, of course). We were told by the former owner that it was the front wheel u-joints. I do not think that is the problem since it makes the sound when the Jeep is not moving forward or reverse. Is it typical for the u-joints or spindle joint (ball joints?) to make noise when they get older?

It makes a similar sound when I stand in front of it and try to push it up and down. When that happens, the car is not running and the wheels are stationary in all respects.

Any ideas?

“It makes a similar sound when I stand in front of it and try to push it up and down.”

Sounds like bushings and/or lower ball joints

Have somebody jounce the front end, while you CAREFULLY put your hands on various control arms, ball joints, bushings, etc.

You might find the source rather quickly

Might be sway bar bushings. That would be common for an older vehicle

The noise might be caused by worn/dry ball joints.

If the noise can be recreated just by pushing down on the front of the vehicle, feel the ball joint areas while someone pushes down on the front of the vehicle.


A groaning sound often comes from the power steering unit pump. I’ve had this on several cars. I would have it checked out as well as the front end as mentioned.

Looking at the front end a little, I think the ball joints (if the car has them) work more like steering knuckles. The car has a solid front axle and the joints only swivel to allow the wheels to steer the car. I do not think they normally swivel/move in the up/down direction.

The ball joints allow the steering knuckles to turn while cornering, and also allows the steering knuckles to move up and down when going over bumps.


The sound is definitely not the power steering pump. Just replaced one on the other car and the sound is different and “sounds” like it is transmitted through the body/structure of the car. I checked the front end as suggested by “feeling” for the noise as the wheels were turned and I laid in front of it. The problems is everything vibrates from the noise, like it is transmitted everywhere!

Dry ball joints will make that noise.

Try this. Take a floor jack and lift the vehicle at the front end below the lower control arms so the tires are off the ground about six inches. This takes the load off the lower ball joints.

Have someone take a five foot length of a 2X4 or something similar and place one end under the front tire. Now have them pry up on the tire and let go while you watch the ball joint. If the ball joint is worn, you’ll see the slop in the ball joint.


I will have to wait until my kid brings the car home (he took it to work). It has a solid front axle, so I am not sure what to do here regarding the ball joints. I will check it out and get back to you!!

If you look at the steering knuckle, there’s an upper control arm with a ball joint and a lower control arm with a ball joint.

You want to place the floor jack under the lower control arm, so when the vehicle is raised it removes the load from the lower ball joint so it can be checked for wear.


Apparently, it has ball joints, but no conventional lower control arms:


Also, check for dry tie rod end joints in the steering linkage.

What you’re seeing insightful’s link is only the axle assembly itself, devoid of the control arms. The attached link will show the entire structure.