Please have somebody inject grease into your tie rods. Your tie rods are most likely not bad. The grease will probably make the grinding noise go away. If you take it to a mechanic he will try to replace the tie rods (but they just need grease).
I have had a similar problem with squeaky noises in the front end of my Windstar. I spoke with a mechanic at a Ford dealer and he said the outer tie rods need to be replaced because they are unable to be greased. "Lubed for life" or something like that, he stated. Is this true? Are they unable to be greased or is the dealer trying to sell parts.
A mechanic friend of mine told me that his Ford ('sic' ALL Ford vehicles) had the same problem and he just 'lived' with it. Another friend of mine had the same problem and had her transmission replaced. I had the same problem with my 2001 windstar SEL and here was their comment after I took it back to the dealership : 'Steering Diagnosis - Noise in steering when making sharp turns - road tests verified intermittent noise from power steering, performed PURGING procedure and top off fluid, ran oasis to find TSB 01-4-5 for updated P/S hose, test drove and no noise heard, not a mechanical defect, slight caviation in system when making hard left turns.' This was last December and the charge was 65.00. Hope this information helps.
Please do not listen to any mechanic about groaning/creaking tie rods. Most mechanics will tell you that the tie rods cannot be greased and must be replaced. That is a lie. You can buy a grease injection needle at most auto parts store. Inject the grease into the tie rod boot yourself and save hundreds of dollars. My tie rods started to make noises at 30,000 miles and I injected the grease. Now I 97,000 miles on my Windstar and no noises coming from the tie rods.
Thanks for the hint on grease injection. That's a good thing to know.
What was the comment on the Aerostar and Mazda? Are you assuming that the Aerostar is a Mazda product? That's humbug.
Agreed on the grease injection needle. It's a common Ford issue now with this lubed-for-life lie they have, for the vehicle to squeal or groan when turning the steering wheel. Just listen carefully next time you're in a parking lot. You hear the sound, turn your head, you're going to see an Expedition, Crown Vic, Windstar, whatever it is will be a late 90s-2000s Ford product.
It's like going to Wal-Mart and buying a $30 boombox and it says NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE on the back, but you betcha I'm going to get in there and clean and adjust the tape deck every spring.
I have a 98 Windstar and have had continuous problems with the power steering unit. My van has been in the shop six times in the past two weeks. The high pressure line keeps shredding. What can I do?