Help 1998 Ford Explorer front upper and lower control arms question

I have a 98 Ford Explorer with 248k miles on it and she has performed wonderfully with minimal major repairs. We just had some serious rains in San Diego and now the front right side sqweaks so loud. I took it into a Ford dealership where I have gone to for 5 plus years. They want about $1300 to replace both R and L control arms, both upper and lower. They tried to lube it or grease it up to stop the sound, but no luck. I don’t want to get rid of the truck, and I am financially trying to keep the cost low. Any thoughts or suggestions? Signed - Wanna keep her, but don’t have a lot of cashola

Get another opinion. Maybe you just need some bushings, and not the control arms themselves.

On the other hand, $1,300 is not the end of the world, and certainly less than the cost to replace the vehicle.

Nothing lasts forever.

The noise may not ne coming from the control arm bushings but instead from the upper and lower ball joints. Have someone try greasing the ball joints. And if these are the OEM ball joints where no grease zerks are provided, they can be greased using what is called a needle greaser. This is slipped under the rubber ball joint protector to where grease can be introduced into the ball joint.


Look in the telephone book for an independent front end shop. They can probably give you a better estimate. Alternately, check with a local Napa parts store to find out if they could recommend a good front end shop. They sell the bushings for the upper and lower A arms. You also could check with a alignment shop to see who they recommend for front end work.

If the bushings have worn out, the front end will be out of alignment. One way to check the bushings is to unload the front suspension and try to move the wheels. If there is movement, especially in and out at the top and bottom, the bushings are critically worn. A good alignment shop will tell you that an realignment is useless until the bushings are replaced. Also consider replacing the ball joints and tie rod ends if you plan to keep this Ford running much longer because there is little extra labor to replace them at the time the bushings are replaced.

Hope that helps.

The squeak could very well be caused by the stabilizer bar bushings which become dry and hardened over time. It’s easy to lube them and cheap to replace them. The sway bar bushings would have been my first suspect.

That being said, if you’re going to keep the vehicle I would say replace the upper/lower control arms on both sides.
At a quarter of a million miles I would find it hard to believe they’re not worn and I’m puzzled why someone at the Ford dealer is wasting their time trying to grease something that is not meant to be greased in the first place.

Since the ball joints are the most critical part of the front suspension in assuring that you do not lose your life to a rollover I would say replace them now.
The price is fair enough for dealer labor rates and Ford OEM parts but you could price this at an independent shop and you might save a few bucks.

Perhaps the rain carried some dirt into the bushings? Get in there with a power spray, and get all the gunk out, and then re-grease. I have a buddy in VT that drives his Ranger over a dirt road to work. Whatever crap surface is on there gets into the rear springs and squeaks like a son of a b!tch. Power wash gets it out, but it’s back in a few days, so he usually just ignores it. Don’t overlook the simple suggestions.

If you have 248 K on the original ball joints, consider yourself fortunate. I suspect that it is much less expensive to replace the control arms with the ball joints already assembled than to put new ball joints in to the existing control arms.

My 1998 Ford Explorer came with a host of problems. The most costly quoted to me was 1500.00 worth or repair/parts for the upper/lower control arms (front.) It turns out that Autozone has the Upper control arms for 105.00 apiece and the lower control arms for 134.00 apiece. Then, just pop off the tires, loosen the brake system (disks and wiring harness) Unbolt and replace/rebolt the lower control arms. Do the same for the upper control arms. Replace brake system, tires and voila! You have repairs to this costly repair for 476.00. It took 6 hours for the work to be done in my driveway with a Chilton Manual. Save yourself a thousand dollars and keep your Explorer!