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Shocks, struts or ? '03 Ford Focus Wgn

The roads here in Maine this winter were especially awful with potholes and bumps. My '03 Ford Focus Wagon has recently developed a noise that I can’t diagnose. The noise can be best described as a “rattle” from the front end when going over very small bumps/cracks in the road. It almost sounds like loose shocks. They are the original shocks and have 130k miles on them. Big bumps are not a problem. Car does not bottom out, sway upon braking, or bounce when I put my weight on it and release. Several years ago I had a “creaking” from the front end and my mechanic replaced some bushings which fixed the problem. I originally thought this was the same, but it doesn’t sound like that - worried it could be the struts but I want to diagnose it a little better before I bring it to a mechanic and just say that I have a front end noi$e. Thanks for any thoughts/advice.

Well, you’re just going to have to take it to the mechanic and say that you have front end noise. Just describe the noise and the conditions under which it occurs as carefully as possible.

And do it really soon. My own first guess, depending on the nature of the “rattle,” would be a bad ball joint or two. Bad ball joints are not to be messed with or ignored.

But generally, there are plenty of things up there that can rattle over bumps. Your best bet is your best local front end/alignment shop.