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Problem with 2002 Ford Explorer

I’ve been having a problem for a while with my 2002 Ford Explorer - it is the XLS 4X4 and has 96,000. I have a problem that started a little over a year ago - it usually only happens when the weather is cold and I don’t warm up the car but it seems to be happening more often now and even after I warm up the car. When I put the car into reverse and turn my wheel I get a loud clunking noise that sounds like it is coming from the wheel base. Then when I put it in drive and turn the wheel in other direction it makes a loud clunking again. Then once I get going the first two or three turns clunk as well and it is a little hard to turn the wheel but then it is fine. Any ideas? I know I have to get it looked at but money is tight right now and I am afraid to hear it is going to cost thousands.


Have you checked the power steering fluid level?

It always scares me when I read that a steering wheel is hard to turn. Even “a little” hard to turn. Steering is rather important, and if it’s not working correctly it needs to be checked and repaired.

This is not a monetary issue, this is a safety issue. If, all of a sudden, the steering wheel were to stop turning altogether, what would you do?

I beleive you problem is the ball joints have to be replaced along with the link kits.

From what you describe, you might want to have the front ball joints inspected. If this is what’s causing the noise, the vehicle is unsafe to drive. Because if a ball joint fails, the front wheel can fold under the vehicle while it’s being driven.


Thanks everyone - any idea how much the ball joint replacement would cost?

Like they say, the ball joints can cause this noise and they DO BREAK and when that happens at 70 you are toast

Update - I had the car gone over by a mechanic for the past two days - turns out it is not the ball joints - he took the entire front end apart and there is nothing wrong - the sound is the four wheel drive - it is popping into four wheel high when the car is cold but then once it gets going it is fine. He assured me that the wheels are not going to fall off. He had me drive and put it in 4x4 high and then make a right turn - this recreated the sound that I was hearing.