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I bought my car a 98 Tracer/Escort used a few years ago and it’s had a small issue that popped up every now and then and I’d like to figure out what it is.

When turning even sitting still the front drivers side wheel will squeak. Driving over uneven ground will cause the squeak. The sound is gentle not loud but constant when moving fast over slightly uneven road. Flat new roads and the sound isn’t really there. The sound is louder if moving slow and turning but only when turning at low speeds.

I had it in for its oil change and inspection recently and asked the above question. It was suggested changing the ball joints on the front as a measure to correct the symptoms above. Our mechanic did show me the joint on the driver’s side to have the rubber material gone on one side and heavily cracked on the other side the passenger’s side was still in good shape. He also mentioned the A joints or struts/shocks. He advised the ball joints first as they are least expensive and most likely to cause the issue plus he couldn’t see any issues with the struts or A joints.

As I said I bought this car used and did notice another issue with the same wheel area in the past. We found that it had a different wheel on the front drivers side, new brake pads installed. We found the pad was held on with just one bolt. After giving the car a good wash and washing away the dealers polish, touchup paint found there’s a small scuff on the passenger’s side.

My thoughts are the previous owner of this car might have bumped something or hit a curb and damaged the driver’s side wheel. They had the wheel/tire replaced and replaced the brake pads as well we think the caliper was damaged in the accident which allowed it to have the one bolt attached to the brake pad when it was checked, it looked like the other bolt had worked it’s way out somehow over time. The caliper and bolt issue was corrected by our mechanic when we found this last year.

I’d welcome any advice or suggestions on this issue, I’m sure it isn’t anything big but would like to get it corrected and keep this little car 100% operational. There are a lot of people in here I’m sure have seen all kinds of issues with these cars could maybe hitting a curb do that kind of damage and if so would the ball joints be the likely cause of the sounds I’m hearing?

Thanks for your time! :D
 

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I had a similar sound on my car. It ended up being the CV joints were on their way out. The problem became very evident once the passenger side outer CV joint broke. I replaced both half-shafts and haven't had the noises since. The ball joints as far as I can tell are original on my car along with one of the outer tie-rod ends(154K miles) and no popping noises once the half-shafts were replaced. - Peter
 
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