I think I know what’s going on here, but I’d like to ask for independent opinions, if you don’t mind.
2005 Ford Explorer Sport-Trac with about a 100,000 miles. About a week ago, I heard a few pops while driving at a low speed. Sounded like I ran over 3 or 4 empty bottles. A few days later, something similar. In both cases, I was driving straight at a fairly slow speed. Figured I had an axel issue developing and would have to have it looked at soon. Yesterday, it suddenly escalated. Now, I can actually feel the wheel grab when starting from a stand-still and then release with a significantly loud pop sound and a lurch in movement. It doesn’t seem to matter if I’m turning or not, and once I get the speed up above 10-15 mph, the sound stops, and the truck seems to drive fine. I took the wheel off and did a visual inspection. Other than dirt and a little rust, I didn’t see anything out of place – nothing torn, leaking, etc. I did notice that the tire seems to maybe have a little play in it when it’s jacked up – can wobble it up and down maybe 1/2 inch by hand.
So, my questions: (1) ball joint? and (2) DIY job for someone who is handy and has tools but no experience doing this previously, or is that crazy talk?