ball ball joints or struts????

Have a 93 thunderbird lx w/88,000 miles..here are my symptoms: 1) when driving even at lower speeds 35 and below here a slight "rattle or clunking" noise. maybe even "popping" sound (not like a
balloon. more like metal tapping noise. the sound doesnt really change depending on road surface, its pretty constant...my wife insists she hears a "grinding" noise also...which I know could be breaks.
2) car pulls to the right slightly when holding steering wheel, and more so when I let go.
3) the car was in a accident by previous owner and front bumper is loose, he tried tying it up w/coat hangers around tie rod. so I sorta got it a little more secure by using nuts and bolts ( where original ones where) but it is still a little loose and the noise is still there. previous owner says there was no other damage done but Im starting to think this is not the case because the noise has gottin a little worse since we bought a few weeks ago...we've only put about 300 miles on it.
I wish I could record the sound for all to here.......LOL
what could problem be (I know these symptom could probably be a lot of things ) but maybe someone could gimme most likely problem.......I was told tappin/poppin/rattling noise sounds like ball joints or struts/ tie rod??
how can I tell if the ball joints are bad?? tie rod?? The shocks I know need replacing because the car bounces several times when I push down on front end....and probably needs an allignment. the breaks are fine, I"ve inspected them and there is plenty of meat on the pads and the car stops good... I was hoping someone could give me instructions on testing ball joints...could greasing them perhaps help if they are the problem? or is it too late for that now that the noises have started and have been goin on to long????
P.S. sorry the message is sooo long but my daughter is primary driver and cant afford mechanic to do work especially considering most wont even give free estimates...thankyou
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To Check Ball Joints - jack up the front end by lower control arm and then take a prybar and put it under the tire and lift up on the tire if it feels loose replace ball joints on that side.
Also check tie rods (shake tire side to side gentle and feel for play/ extra movement) if you can take and wiggle tire up and down and side to side and it is a grinding noise it is probally a hub bearing
I would also check U joints on drive shaft if it is rear wheel drive
Struts can make funny noises and do funny things though I would check above and if all is good think about replacing struts
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The lower balljoints on that car dont usually 'clunk'on bump when they are bad. However of there is a squeak or growl when you turn steering, the lowers -which are the really important ones- are bad and need replaced. They are press-in. DO NOT rely on factory lube in the replacements. Have grease zerk installed. In order of likelihood, after 250,000 mi on my current, 189,000 on prev 93.... Where you USUALLY find a 'clunk' is in the lower control arm radius rod bushings. thats a Big thick bar from frame through lower control arm. They wear out earliest of all the susp parts. That would also affect 'pull'
Next look at the swaybar link to the knuckle
OR the upper ball joints may be bad. Any looseness when pressed down or top of tire pushed in and out means replace. They are integral and you must replace entire control arm.
The shocks could clunk if loose. {You dont have struts}
Dunno if you drive that much but it's worth fixing, IMO.. ask your daughter.

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1)... other areas to suspect... sway bar end links and bushings.... Some of these end links can be particularly misleading and can appear to be tight if we support the car in a way that can "preload" the sway bar. One way tyo check... disconnect and tie the end links so they don't interfere with steering and suspension movement.... Drive the car over a known "bad section of road" and see if the noise is gone....
2) car pull to the right.... MacPherson strut ( and modified Mac Strut) front ends are usually pretty forgiving when it comes to caster split and/or camber split. All the same, have the alignment checked by a COMPETENT shop... "in spec" and "right" can be two different things.... Tiores can also be a big factor in "pulls to one side" concerns.... Rotate the tires regularly....
3) just blows me away... the car was in an accident and somebody bought it.... some obvious repairs were hacked..... with coat hanger wire,. no less... and somebody bought it... one must ask what hasn't been noticed.... what would an experienced eye see under this thing?
FWIW.... I could spend my entire day giving 'free' estimates.... Unfortunately, it becomes very difficult to feed my family when all I do is free shit. I do know of a few shops that do give 'free' estimates.... they always seem to be full of easter eggs... for the shop... once you're in to them for the first bit you will feel inclined that they are "good" guys and blindly follow them from mistake to mistake (oh, but you needed that anyway)....
A good shop will charge for a comprehensive inspection... They will endeavour to make sure there are no surpirses..... They will understand what sacrificial parts should be considered during any repair to avoid repeat labour costs in the very near future. They will prioritize these repairs, recommending those that affect vehicle safety and/or dependability first.....
Even better, these shops will inspect a used car before you purchase it (again, for a fee..... that pesky 'free' thing) and advise against buying some vehicles that may be better off in a wreckers yard....
People fail to understand how a service industry (such as auto repair) truly works..... without "production", there is no revenue... without revenue, there is no store.... One "customer" (never saw him before in my life) gave me an ass-reaming I wont soon forget.... It was late at night... I was slaving to get a promised job out the door "on time".... He needed 10 feet on 14 ga wire, I stopped what I was doing - got him what he wanted (even had the colour he asked for) and demanded the princely sum of 50 cents.... "F#ck you.... for ten Jesus feet of wire? Bite me" and he left..... Without the wire.
I'm gonna leave that hang for a while..... I invite anyone and everyone to comment on how they feel this should have played out....
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I'll comment...
I'd have followed that asshole and strangled him with the wire. ;-)
Another great and entertaining post Jim, I only wish you'd hook up with one of the trade magazines as a contributing editor.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2007 05:15:19 GMT, "Jim Warman"

I think I would have insisted he take the wire, and he would have spent the rest of the night digging it out of his ass.
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Considering that you stopped what you was doing, retrieved the correct gauge & color & asked for a measly fifty cents & he blasted you with the F-word like that after you bent over backward for him. I'm surprised he didn't get struck by lightning the next day.
Hell, your time was worth more than that. I wouldn't hesitate to pay $2.00 just for your quick response & then the 50 cents on top of that. What an A-Hole.
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Raise the vehicle on a lift, remove the front tires & jerk the wheel back & forth, up & down. Any worn suspension component will reveal it's self more easily & can be inspected more closely too.
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