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Popping noises under 97 Ford Escort Wagon

I’m trying to help my 60 year old mom figure out what is wrong with her 97 Ford Escort Wagon with 49K miles. There is a lot of popping noises underneath her car. It pops on the left when she comes to a stop and turns right. It pops on the right when she comes to a stop and turns left. It pops sometimes when traveling straight on uneven road (when one tire higher than other). It popped underneath when I was traveling 25 mph on a crowded residential street when trying to move from left side of road to right (sharp movement of steering wheel). I didn’t hear popping when turning in a parking lot while driving very slowly. She had all four struts replaced and springs in March 09. She recently had two lower front ball joints replaced at another place. They tightened down the suspension where it connects to the frame. Someone hit this car on the side and the insurance company wanted to total it. Being very attached to the car and not able to afford a car payment, she insisted that it be fixed. So, I’m wondering if her frame is cracked. I’m very concerned about the amount of money she is putting on her charge card. Can anyone suggest other things to be checked?

Thank you.

Heather

Just a question first. In regards to this popping is it a single pop or is it multiple ones? (pop-pop-pop-pop, etc.)

If multiple pops, this often points to worn CV joints, which are part of the halfshafts. Halfshafts are the drive axles that propel the car and it’s a common problem with front drive vehicles.

The car has pretty low mileage to be suffering from failure of both ball joints and all of the struts. While it’s possible these repairs could have been needed, the part about replacing all of the springs sounds odd. This makes me wonder if any of those repairs were really needed or if someone was simply guessing.

In regards to the halfshafts, sometimes it can be near impossible to determine if they’re bad with the shafts in place. They must be removed for inspection and if you’re going that far one should consider replacing them anyway unless it’s determined they’re near perfect. Hope that helps.

Another thing that can cause this noise are broken stabilizer bar end links. These are what connect the stabilzer bar to the lower control arms. When these break, what’s left of the end links can start hitting on the lower control arms when turning or when going over bumps.

Tester

I think the noise is most likely related to accident damage that was not correctly repaired with my second choice being the balljoint job not done correctly.

Thanks for replying so soon. When I test drove it July 4th, after getting back from G.Y., I remember hearing one pop each occurrence. My mother claims to have heard more than one on occasion. It definitely isn?t a sequence of pops each time, i.e. no pop, pop, pop, pop, etc.

Given that the car steers properly, the front end doesn?t shimmy, and the alignment really isn?t that bad, I?m thinking it has to be her suspension or unibody.

Thanks,
Heather

Thank you, Tester.

When I looked under the car with the passenger front turned as far as it would go, I remember seeing a short shiny new metal bar/bolt that attached two arms. It was vertical in orientation. I think I remember seeing a stabilizer kit on the invoice from G.Y. when we got it back on July 4th. I’m guessing that it isn’t these.

heather

Thank you, oldschool for your response.
I’m really wondering if it is the unibody in some not so noticeable spot that is cracked - perhaps on both sides. She said the front passenger door was hit, but not close to the tire. I don’t know how low. It may have bent the unibody and then, it showed up in the winter as a problem. She told me yesterday, the pops didn’t occur after the accident, but later, when she started driving over a road with numerous pot holes daily in the winter. They started low at first and have been getting louder, especially with this last repair of lower front ball joints and tightening of suspension to frame.

There was plenty of fresh black grease around the lower ball joints and over other parts from the last repair at G.Y. So, I know they lubricated them during install.

She told me she has heard popping toward the middle of the car too. It’s not just the opposite sides when she makes turns.

I think it has to be a part involved in the suspension or the unibody, since the car steers fine, doesn’t shimmy in the front and the alignment isn’t that bad.

If we find out, eventually. I’ll share what the problem was.

Thank you.
Heather

Has anyone inspected the motor/transmission mounts? I would.