Front wheel noise \ thumping\ vibration - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 05-08-2007, 03:49 AM
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3rd Generation Front wheel noise \ thumping\ vibration

Hi,

I have a Gen 3 model 1996 Camry with the 5S-FE 2.2L engine - Odometer currently at 118,000 Km - am in Australia so it's a right hand drive.

Approx 3 months ago I noticed a cyclic thumping noise coming from what appears to be the front driver side wheel which increases and decreases in regularity based on my driving speed. Normally I would suspect an unbalanced or flat spot on the tyre, however, I have recently tried rotating my wheels, including using my virtually new spare, which I moved to the front driver side of the vehicle. The rotation seems to have made no difference at all to the regularity or depth of the repetitive sound.

3 weeks ago the local Toyota dealership replaced both CV joints with reconditioned units after I pointed out that the CV joint rubber boots on both sides of the axle (at each wheel end) were torn, however the noise had started several months prior to this, and is still present after both CV joints were repaired/replaced.

What I would like to know is how I can go about testing safely the various components that may be responsible for creating such a sound?. I have some basic mechanical knowledge, a couple of jack stands and an assortment of basic tools.

How safe for instance would it be to place the front of the car on jack stands and inspect the underside steering and axle while someone inside the vehicle slowly accelerates while in Drive (It's an automatic transaxle)?. Are there any particular tests I can carry out in order to eliminate and/or narrow down the possible faulty component/s ?. I've already tried to eliminate the tyres from the equation by rotating as described above. I also checked the on-line Toyota factory repair manual, however it doesn't really go into diagnosing and testing components, only how to disassemble and assemble various parts etc, which is fine if you know which component/s are at fault to begin with.

Any assistance would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

Tony.
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#2 Old 05-08-2007, 03:09 PM
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Your idea of putting the car up on jack stands and then running it should be pretty safe. I don't suggest you get under the car like this, just at things look from the front of the car.

I would also shut the engine and grab hold of that wheel and try to rotate it from 12:00 to 6:00 and then again form 9:00 to 3:00. You are checking the wheel bearings and other suspension components this way. If everything is good and tight, move on to something else.

One other component that could cause this is a rotor that is warped or has excessive rust at the outer edge. Do you notice any pulsation when braking form various speeds? That can be traced to a warped rotor. If that is the case, the rotor needs to be machined or replaced. Excessive rust at the outer edge of the rotor can sometimes cause the rotor to contact the backing plate at the point where the rust is the greatest. If you suspect this, put the rotor and all 5 lug nuts back on that side. Leave the tire off. Now start the car and place it in drive and let the front rotors rotate. I'm assuming that it is still up on jack stands. Now lightly take a file to the outer edge of the rotor while it is spinning to remove the excess rust. Be careful not to touch the area where the brake pads normally contact the rotor.

I hope this gives you a few things to check.

Mike
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#3 Old 05-09-2007, 04:18 AM
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Hi Mike, thankyou for the reply and your valuable suggestions. I can't say I've noticed any pulsation when braking - the problem appears to be quite constant under all driving conditions. I will this weekend however do as you suggest and inspect the rotor for rust and warping.
I also had another look at the Toyota dealership repair invoice from several weeks ago and apparently it specifies that "new" i.e. reconditioned drive shafts were fitted to both sides of the vehicle. Does this therefore mean that the wheel bearings would also have been replaced ? i.e. are these considered to be part of the driveshaft componentry or a separate item ?.
Thanks again, and will let you know how I go over the weekend when I carry out the tests you suggested.
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#4 Old 05-09-2007, 03:45 PM
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The wheel bearings are a seperate item.

Mike
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#5 Old 05-10-2007, 07:35 AM
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I would place the jack stands under the lower control arms to keep the angles similar to actually going down the road. Chalk the rear wheels. Get a cheap mechanics stethescope from an auto parts store and compare the sounds side to side. Also is anything aftermarket? Do the insides of the wheel or calipers have any witness marks?

Good luck, Max.
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#6 Old 05-11-2007, 02:27 PM
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usually vibration (buzzing/humming) noise is cause by a few things
1.Wheel Bearing (especially when turning)
2.Tire out of balance.
3.CV Joints
4.The neighbors cat going for a free ride

just some thoughts, most likely #4
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#7 Old 05-14-2007, 02:13 AM
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Latest update

Hi, and thank you to all who replied with their suggestions.

Jacked up the car and placed it on the stands over the weekend and tried the following.

Checked both front wheels for movement as suggested to test for wheel bearings. Both sides feel rock solid, and, I could feel no movement in a side-to-side or in an up-and-down plane, regardless of the rotational position of the wheel i.e. 3 - 6, 6 - 9, 9-12 and 12-3. There was no inwards-outwards/left-to-right (along steering plane) play either.

There was some rust on the edge of the rotors which I filed down as suggested, however no indication that this build up was contacting the backing plate - I figured filing it down was not going to hurt matters. The rotor surface's on both sides were quite smooth - no high spots or unusual markings etc.

When we placed the car in Drive with the front raised on stands, I could see nothing obvious that would be causing the aforementioned problem. The difficulty however, with this procedure, I discovered, was that, because the wheels/tyres were suspended, any slight imbalance or imperfection in the tyres was exaggerated. Under normal driving conditions, the tyres have the car weight load which helps minimise such wobble type movement. So this test at best was inconclusive.

There was no play or any looseness in the other nearby components, steering etc. I did however notice that on the drivers side - which in Australia is the right hand side - the drive shaft has approximately a 15mm (approx 3/4") movement along the transmission to wheel (horizontal) axis i.e. in and out of the wheel. On the passenger side, this movement is considerably less, at only 3 to 5 mm (approx 1/4"). I don't know whether this is considered normal ?. Just to reiterate - several weeks ago the Toyota dealership replaced both driveshaft/CV joints with reconditioned units, however the thumping sound was present prior and after this replacement.

I still strongly suspect it may be the tyres, even though after rotating them last week didn't appear to have any bearing on the situation. I neglected to mention in my original email, that the tyres are in fact re-treads. I also noticed that although the rotational noise appears to increase and decrease with my driving speed, it is considerably more noticeable at speeds between 35 - 45 km/h. I would have expected that any imbalance in the front tyres would have been more noticeable at higher speeds, and not at such low speeds?.

At this stage, I think my next move will be to replace both front tyres with new tyres and have a wheel balance and alignment carried out to see whether this improves matters.

Thanks again for all your suggestions.

Regards,
Tony.

PS. I couldn't find any cat in or around the engine bay, although we do have an indoor cat who is still alive and well.
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#8 Old 05-14-2007, 01:45 PM
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"I still strongly suspect it may be the tyres, even though after rotating them last week didn't appear to have any bearing on the situation"

Here in the states the generation 3 Camrys came with a full size spare tire on a real steel wheel. Did they come that way in Australia? Do you still have the spare and is it in good shape? Can you try it on each wheel one at a time and see if the problem goes away? Also, do you have a friend with the same generation Camry and the same engine size? Can you swap the tires with that car and take it for a test ride? These would be a cheaper tests than just starting to replace stuff.

Mike
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#9 Old 05-15-2007, 08:27 AM
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Hi Mike,

Yes, the Gen3's in Australia did come with a full size spare wheel as in the US. I did try and rotate the tyres a couple of weeks ago in an initial attempt to eliminate the tyre as a responsible factor for the noise. In rotating the tyres, I did in fact use my spare wheel which I placed on the front drivers side of the vehicle i.e. where I suspected was the source of the noise. I also swapped the back drivers side tyre with the front passenger side tyre. The spare, as far as tread goes, was in new condition, however, it too is a re-tread and has not been re-balanced since it was first purchased around 2 years ago. Unfortunately rotating the tyres appeared to make no difference.

The reason I strongly suspect the tyres might be the cause is (a) because all 5 (including the spare) are re-treads, and (b) about 4 or 5 years ago I recall having a similar experience, which disappeared once I changed the old tyres with new ones.

Your suggestion regarding swapping wheels with another Gen3 Camry is an excellent one, and I did think about this possibility myself - I used to use substitution to diagnose faulty computer components in my previous role in PC tech support. The only problem I have with this technique as far as the car goes, is that I know no one else who has a Gen3 Camry.

My only next best option would be to try and have the current, or at least the front two, tyres checked and re-balanced. The next best option, given I don't have access to another Gen3 Camry, is to replace the two front Tyres with a descent pair of radials. If the problem persists after this, I will be at a complete loss as how to proceed any further, except take the car to a local mechanic for further diagnosis.


Thanks again for all the help you have provided to date.

Regards,
Tony.

PS. When I rotated the tyres a couple of weeks ago I did also inspect, as carefully as I could, the tread on the original 2 front tyres for any signs of unusual wear, or flat spots etc, but couldn't find anything obvious or unusual.

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#10 Old 05-15-2007, 09:02 AM
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you know, what couldve happened is that there is a plate (cant remember what its called or where it exactly is, but any mechanic would know) that couldve been knocked back/out of place when the CV Joints/Axles were worked on ... this often happens if the mechanics arent careful

and it rubs on the rotors/somewhere in that area and the grinding/clicking is noticeable when you are driving and should change w/ the speed of the car

think this could be the problem? its funny, i was just discussing this with someone the other day, and now ive completely forgotten what its called

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#11 Old 05-15-2007, 02:33 PM
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"think this could be the problem? its funny, i was just discussing this with someone the other day, and now ive completely forgotten what its called"

It's called the backing plate or brake backing plate.

Mike
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#12 Old 05-15-2007, 02:53 PM
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thats the one!

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#13 Old 05-17-2007, 04:02 AM
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Hi,

Ok, looks like it was the tyres. I ended up purchasing two new tyres i.e. Non Retread, steel belted radials for the front, and had the 2 back re-treads re-balanced, also had a wheel alignment carried out on all 4 wheels. The loud thumping noise I was experiencing earlier has disappeared. The guy at Kmart Tyre and Auto, mentioned that cheap retreads are notorious for causing this kind of behaviour because over time they quickly loose their shape, and are difficult to re-balance. I definitely wont be buying re-treads in future.

I did check the backing plate and the rotors after Mike's 1st suggestion from a week or so ago in which he highlighted the possibility that rust build-up on the edge of the rotors may cause rubbing against the backing plate. However when I jacked the car up on stands last weekend there was no apparent rubbing against the backing plate while both front wheels were in motion.

Once again, thank you to all who replied for their assistance and suggestions, I can now move onto the next problem which I believe may be a bearing issue in the AC compressor that only recently has started making a faint knocking/tapping sound. The guy's at Toyota said that this is a quite a common complaint with the Gen3&4 Camry's.

I've had my Gen3 Camry now for 9 years and never had a problem with it, however since deciding earlier this year to sell the vehicle later on in the year in order to purchase a newer Gen6 Camry, it appears that all the little problems have decided to surface at once.

Thanks again.

Tony.
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#14 Old 05-17-2007, 03:53 PM
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Glad your problem is finally resolved. I would also consider replacing the back 2 tires with non-retreads, when you are able.

Mike
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#15 Old 05-17-2007, 05:41 PM
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if there is a Sears Auto Center near you, they are having a sale [$44 a tire, instead of $69] on Sumitomo HTR H4 All-Season Performance Tires

mire are being put on right this second ...

its quite a deal

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