Reader Question Hi,
A couple things: 1997 Ford Ranger Front End Problem
1. My steering wheel is pulling to the left.
2. When I turn the wheel to the right I hear kind of a loud thumping or cracking sound coming for the front end. (I think its the drivers front) It makes me wonder/worry a bit.
What are these the symptoms for?
Hey there Mike
I would have a mechanic check the front end of the vehicle for wear. You could have worn out radius rod bushings, which is pretty common on this vehicle and year model.
These plastic bushings basically hold the front end in place and keep it tight. Problem is, they located these bushings next to the hot exhaust system, so the plastic melts and loosens up over time.
Common complaint is a rattle noise or thump when you hit a bump or when you step on the brake during a harder than normal stop. If the bushings on one side melt, the vehicle will pull to one side and the steering wheel will be off center.
Inspecting these bushings is cheap and easy to do. Replacing them costs about $350 including a new alignment. This repair can be hard to do so I would not recommend a do it yourself project unless you have access to a vehicle lift.
Continuing to drive with worn out bushings will cause premature tire wear and can cause the I-beam that the bushings are installed on to wear down to wear replacement is needed…at an extra expense.