Good evening, everyone -
Monday afternoon, I started to notice a ticking noise that sounded like it was coming from the front wheels when accelerating in my 04 Ford Escape XLT. It sounded sort of like I had a stone in the tires, as it would get faster with the car - the thing that seemed odd to me was that once I got up to ~10-20mph, the sound would go away. When I got home, I pried all the stones out of the front tires that I could find, checked them over for nails or bolts, then hopped back in and took a test drive around town - nothing. Slightly satisfied that I solved the problem, I forgot about it. Til today. On my way home this afternoon I was cruising with the windows down - I rolled over a small bump coasting into a stop light and just like that, the ticking was back. Out of pure curiosity, I went straight to my local shop. Their initial theory was that since it was coming from the wheels, it might either be a brake issue or a bearing issue. They took it for a test drive around town, then hoisted it up on the lift to take a look around. Both brakes and bearings were in great shape, but while they were looking around, they noticed that there was a decent amount of play in the drive shaft leading into the transmission. The guy at the shop said that in his opinion, the ticking was coming from the transmission/drive shaft. He told me that if that was the case, he didn’t see how the problem could be resolved without rebuilding the transmission. I’m dreading the thought of this - he admitted up front that he is not a transmission expert and referred me to a shop that specializes in transmissions 2 towns over.
If his theory is correct, will the transmission, indeed, have to be rebuilt, or could it be as simple as replacing the drive shaft and/or the U-joints? If I can get away with just replacing the drive shaft and/or U-joints, is this a complex, expensive job, or is it something that could be done in an afternoon in the driveway? I did a quick search before starting this thread, and someone posted an earlier discussion (very similar situation to mine) where the prevailing opinion was that the problem was with the car simply needed new u-joints.
I only drive the car twice a week - about 20 miles each trip, going no faster than ~55mph on back/city roads. Is the car safe to drive if the drive shaft is indeed a problem, or should I look for other ways to get around?
Thanks in advance!