F150 Squeal - ? Ball joints

1997 Ford F150, 6cyl, 138K miles. Have posted here before about this problem. The truck has a loud squeal when the wheels are turned. This occurs when it’s stopped or at low speeds (can’t really tell if it’s happenning at other speeds ?). A friend who’s a mechanic, upon hearing the noise, said he thought it was either tie rods or ball joints. I replaced the tie rods (original ones) and the squeal remains. Is there any definitive way to determine if indeed the ball joints are causing this noise ? When I posted before, someone suggested I may have a bad serpentine belt pulley, but the noise seems to be coming from the front end, and not under the hood.

Oddly enough, the front end and under the hood are pretty much the same exact location on a vehicle.

Here’s a quick test to see if its the suspension system, or the pulley/pump system:

Remove the belts from the engine, and then make the same turn from the truck.

If you hear the same noise, then its the suspension parts.
If the noise is gone, then its the belts/pulley/pump.


The noise might be from a dry lower ball joint. Common on these trucks. Have your mechanic grease the lower ball joints with a needle greaser. If the noise is gone the ball joint requires replacement.


Someone else (another mechanic I know) actually mention exactly that - a dry lower ball joint. Is the idea behind the needle greaser that it would force grease into the joint better than through the grease fitting ??

If the truck has the original ball joints there are no zerk fittings for greasing. The needle greaser allows greasing of the ball joint by inserting it past or thru the dust boot on the ball joint.


There are typical zerk fittings and the lower ball joints have grease coming out of the boots - I’ve greased them before. The upper ball joints do not have any fittings.

In lieu of removing the belt, you could simply turn the steering wheel with the engine off. If the noise is there, it’s a front end component. Ford ball-and-socket front end parts have a tendency to make noise near the end of their useful life. It’s designed as a way to get the vehicle operator to take the vehicle to a repair shop before the part fails.