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Front end question

Front end question on my 2001 Ranger. I have 90,000 miles. Rattle, noisy, definite knocking feeling on the steering wheel. I took the truck to alignment services. They test drove the truck and the alignment was fine and did not need an adjustment. Happens not all the time, but between 20-35 mph. Smooth ride after 35mph to 70mph. Now I have new tires, 5,000 miles on them, and Edelbrock shocks all the way around have 45,000 on them. Brake work, front pads, rotors, and new lower ball joints at 75,000 miles on them. Any suggestions on where and what is causing the knocking from the front end at that low speed? Thanks

Check the sway bar bushings.

If they’re worn like this, the sway bar can make a knocking noise.


If this means they did not put it on an alignment machine don’t go there again. Any decent front suspension shop should be able to solve this potentially dangerous problem.

An alignment process doesn’t necessary include a diagnosis for play in steering and suspension components. It sounds to me like you have play in a tie rod bushing or like Tester guessed, a track bar bushing. Shock absorber bushings can develop play too Ask you shop to put your Ranger on a lift and put a lever to those suspect connections. I expect one of them will have too much play. Bad tires, out of round tires can cause this too…

Could be just about anything suspension or even brake related. Is the “…Rattle, noisy, definite knocking…” consistent? At what speed to do hear/feel it? Lightly apply the brakes the next time you hear the noise. If the sound goes away, I would suspect something with with the brakes.

I also suspect the noise is there even at high speed, you just can’t hear it because of its increased frequency.

Those guys are pretty sharp if they can test drive a vehicle and determine the alignment is fine…or not.

It baffles me they turn down the chance to find a problem and make some money both on the repair and the alignment.

I tend to agree with a sway bar noise based on a moderately wild guess.

Sway bar bushings are an extremely common cause of suspension knocking on older vehicles.
The steel bar that goes through the bushing hole constantly turns within the bushing, and that combined with the natural drying and cracking of the rubber makes the hole unable to securely hold the metal bar in one place. Rubber is no match for the spring steel that the bars are made of. It’ll usually be the bushings that hold the bar to the frame, although sway bar links can begin to thunk too.

The good news is that this can be easily verified by simply lifting the vehicle SAFELY SECURED and aggressively shaking the bars by hand. On a Ranger you could probably have enough clearance with the vehicle up on ramps to do this. I feel MOLDED ramps, properly used, are safer than jackstands, although not everyone feels this way. Stamped steel ramps I no longer trust. I’ve heard of them collapsing.

However, since it’s traveling up through the steering wheel I think a really good look-see of everything under there by a competent shop is in order.

Is it 2WD or 4WD ?

2003 Ford Ranger 2WD


Replaced the sway bar bushing the ride is a little bit better, but can
feel still feel the knocking. Next step replace the sway stabilizer bar
link ?



In order to replace the sway bar links usually requires destroying the old ones.

So, if the new bushings improved ride, try replacing the links.


My experience has been that sway bar links don’t have to be destroyed to replace them. If you have a long strong allen wrench to hold the ball’s shank and a ratcheting box end, they can be removed without destruction. They do use fine threads, however, so without these tools you’ll invent new adjectives… and maybe a few new verbs… trying to remove them.

Having said that, I agree that changing the links is worth doing. They can rattle and knock, and they can freeze. And they’re an affordable thing to try when you can’t solve a rattle/knock.

On a 2001 Ranger?

With 90,000 miles?

I don’t think the old links are going to just unbolt.


Point made. :grin:

I would have thought the whole sway bar link with zirk fittings would be standard, the links do not degrade, but bushing only? Could be fine, not many people work that way these days.

I’m not sure young kids today even know what zirk fittings are. I haven’t seen one anywhere on a car for a very long time. “Lube jobs” are a memory of us old folks.

There are no ZERK fittings on a sway bar system.

Just bushings and links.


Last set of sway bar links, maybe 8 years ago had grease fittings, moog seems provide zerk fittings on many


That link is for an Infiniti M35!

Here’s the sway bar link for a 2001 Ranger.

I don’t see any ZERK fittings.


Don’t want to fight about it zerk fittngs are available if you look hard enough for many cars, like mine, it is out there