I have a 2001 Ford Windstar Ltd. with 140k miles on it. Lately, there has been an occasional knocking sound coming from the front of the car. It seems to be a suspension issue (only happens when in motion and when making sharp turns or going over a bump, and even then not every time). From what I can gather, it seems like bad swaybar bushings are the likely culprit. Has anyone had this problem before? Also, how easy is it to fix? Also also, can I still drive it until I get it fixed?
If the problem is merely worn-out sway bar bushings, the vehicle can be safely driven until you have the time to fix it. However, from a distance nobody can say for sure what the source of the noise might be.
If the noise is actually coming from a badly-worn ball joint, that is a safety issue of major proportions. Or, if the noise is from a tie rod end that is about to separate, that is also a huge safety issue. A broken ball joint can cause you to lose a wheel, and a broken tie rod will cause you to be unable to steer.
I strongly suggest that you have the front end gone over thoroughly by a competent mechanic. If his examination indicates that bad bushings are the only problem, then you can relax. On the other hand, after 140k miles, it is very possible that he will find genuine safety issues, as mentioned above.
Please do not delay having the front end components checked.