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Left turn creaks/groans

1999 Town&Country minivan with 165k

There is a creaking or groaning from the driver’s side front when turning left at very low speed, like in a parking lot. When parked, turning the steering wheel in place intermittently causes the same thing but only when the wheel is turning to the left. No noise when coming back to center or going to the right.

Noise is definitely not a clunk or pop or squeal. No difference in handling at normal driving speeds.

Jacked up front driver’s side tire and tried push/pull at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions. Nothing strange, even with enough force to be concerned with jack support only. Pulled the tire and checked out tie rod end and tie rod. Pushing and pulling saw no movement. Grabbed swaybar link and push/pull, all solid. No leaks or worn boots on any of them. Checked PS fluid–fine.

Should I suspect lower control arm ball joint? Is noise consistent? Maybe it needs grease?

Unfortunately, car is far from home, so the biggest question is whether it is safe to drive hundreds of miles before sorting it out.

My wife’s 98 Windstar did the same thing. The tie rod ends needed to be lubed, since there were no grease fittings my mechanic used a “needle” grease fitting/adaptor to inject grease into the tie rod ends. He couldn’t guarantee a fix but the groaning stopped after that.

Ed B.

@edb1961 Thanks very much for the response!

The tie rod ends are original, and it is so frustrating that there’s no grease fitting on top to simplify work and lengthen service. I think I might be able to manage trying to get some grease in there.

The actual tie rod end looks like it was meant to be greased. There is a lower portion in rubber that is “covered” by a larger rubber overhang that goes all the way around. So if grease were pumped in, excess grease can get out between the lower portion and the overhang.

Just realized I was describing the dust boot. Sorry, my bad. :blush: