Tie Rod ends bad?

I have a 2001 Ford Escape; I have a terrible rattle in the front end of the SUV mostly when going over a bump. It is most apparent when going at slow speeds over a bump in say the pot hole ridden parking lot of Wal-Mart.

I have replaced the ball joints a few years ago and put new brakes on, I have checked out all the items associated with the suspension aside from needing a little grease all look pretty good. I have also checked to see if all the bolts dealing with suspension items are tight, and they are. When I was changing my front right tire the other day I did notice i could move the tie rod by hand pretty easy when the SUV was on a jack. I can?t be for sure but perhaps this is where my big rattle is coming from? Any thoughts would sure help.

Could be, and if they’re bad, it’s very unsafe. Get this checked out ASAP.

I’m with Texases. If the tie rod end was as free as your post implies, this could be a dangerous situation and needs to be addressed.

It sounds like time to put the whole Escape up in the air and get underneath. Everything articulated should be checked. If one joint or bushing is shot, others may be also.

Could be any of a dozen things. If it is loose trim piece or spray shield, you can just ignore it, although why not try to fix it? However, if it is something in the suspension or brakes and you drive faster than 15-20mph at times, you really need to identify the cause and probably to fix it.

Try bouncing the front of parked vehicle car up and down. Also, try twisting the front wheels back and forth and top and bottom. See if you can reproduce the problem or if something moves that shouldn’t. If that doesn’t work, crawl underneath with a flashlight and look for missing bolts, broken stuff (i.e. springs, torsion bars) or shiny spots where metal has been moving against metal. For example, a missing caliper bolt can make really weird sounds and isn’t all that easy to see unless you are really paying attention.

If you can’t find anything, take it to a good independent mechanic along with clear instructions how to reproduce the noise.

My 2000 Blazer had a similar rattle, it turned out to be the hood hinges. Over time the hinge bolt on each side loosened up and caused the rattle. The fix is to install conical washers on each side.

To check, wedge a piece of cardboard betwen the hood and the fender nearest the hinge. It would still be a good idea to have the tie rods and front end inspected.

Ed B.

Does you car use sway bar links? if yes they are know to make noise on other models.

You need to have your front suspension checked out ASAP. The noise is likely coming from that loose tie rod end you found. If memory serves, the Escape will produce a rattle out of a loose tie rod end. It is one of few vehicles that will do that. Sway bar links are another possibility. Get it checked out and fixed soon. You don’t want a tie rod end breaking on you. Aside from being very dangerous and inconvenient, it will probably take out some other expensive parts in the process.