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If the suspension is so worn that the wheel can be wobbled then yes you either have a bad ball joint or a worn tie rod. There are a couple of possible causes. Do you trust your mechanic? If so take his advice and get the ball joint replaced. I would ask him to guarantee that this will fix the problem before letting him work on it though, otherwise it might turn into a job where suddenly, you need this too and this too and this too and a cheap job winds up costing you a ton of money.
- when starting, engine shake might not be firing in one of the cylinders or might have an electrical fault.
- when driving, shake might be due to badly inflated tires, badly balanced wheels, damaged CV boots and joints, worn bushings.
In short, you need to get it to an auto mechanic who deals with Renault to tell you what is wrong. You can ask for a quote to fix it but you don't have to proceed.
You take what you've been told to several other mechanics and tell them what you've been told and ask them how much to fix it.
Check the disk brake pads. At slower speeds you can hear them squeak because there is less wind and road noise. The other possibility could be a bad u joint at the ends of the axle half shafts on the front differential. Check both. I really doubt it is the transfer case. You transfer case is engaged all the time. The axle is locked and engaged when you flip the lever by a vacuum motor on the axle shaft on the differential.
Your mechanic is correct, They may have mentioned "Tie rod" ends as well as "Ball Joints", If left unrepaired they will leave you stranded when they let go as well as ruining tires very quickly. Usually a tie rod end or ball joint will break as you make a slow turn because of the extra force exerted on them as you make the turn into a drive. Hope this is useful information.
Sounds like the mechanic is trying to sell you something you don't need. Ford transfer cases are some of the best and it's rare if they need replacing. If yours is noisy or rough they can easily be serviced (just not by your mechanic) check around with specialty truck shops, even some dealers. Get some other estimates if you really feel it's not working right.
Even if you dont use the transfer case it need maintenance and limited usage to keep seals good and mechanical parts fliud. A person should run the 4x4 system from time to time. the mechanic may be right.