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3rd & 4th Generation (19921996 & 19972001) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 1992-1996 & 1997-2001 Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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Old 03-21-2010, 05:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Knocking in the rear

I've been hearing a knocking sound coming from the rear. Mostly the left rear, but today it seems like I heard it coming from the central rear area a couple of times. The noise occurred more today than the previous day.

I get the feeling it may be the sway bar, but I'm unsure. Visual inspection under the vehicle yielded nothing unusual. The sway bar bushings are intact. The sway bar links appear to be fine as well.

A few weeks go, for about two days, I heard a springy noise coming from the left rear. I thought something may have been loose in the trunk, but nothing was found. The noise went away. No idea if this is related.

Here are the facts I know about my rear end:

1) Hubs, bearings, and drums are original and have never been touched
2) All control arms are original
3) Struts, springs, etc and sway bar/links/bushings are new

It's always a possibility something has come loose. If this is the case, it could not be seen via a visual inspection with the vehicle on the ground.

On Monday, I may have an opportunity for someone to take a look under the car on a lift, with the wheels off. If this place does mechanical work, I will ask for them to take a look, or see if I can take a look myself.

Any ideas what can cause a noise like this? The sound is like a solid metal bar hitting something under the car.
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Old 03-21-2010, 07:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Is it a constant noise or intermitten?
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Old 03-21-2010, 07:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If it is a "clunk" type of noise going over a bump or uneven road, it is more than likely associated with your rear sway bar. I've worked on a few friends cars that are GEN4 Camrys, and when they get up to 120,000 or more miles, they all have that sound.

Elevate the rear of the car, get under it, and grab the sway bar near each of the two bushings, and lift/pull on it relatively hard. Does it move within the bushing? Is there any play in it? If so, replace the bushings (they are only about $10 for a pair at an automotive parts store).

Also while under there, grab the sway bar near each of the linds at the end of the sway bar, and push/pull on the sway bar. Is there any looseness in any of the links? Sometimes a link with a broken grease boot can wear itself out and cause this noise too. But most often, I've found, it is the sway bar bushings that are the cause.
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Old 03-21-2010, 09:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I am willing to bet that at least one of your track bars has worn bushings on one of its ends. These are the four arms that go from the center of the car out to each axle. (2 per side). Jack up each wheel and get a good grip on each side of the tire and give it a good wiggle side to side, Hear anything? If yes then one of your end links for that wheel is worn. Didn't hear anything? Then give the tire a few hard kicks on its outer edge, if you hear a rattle or knocking sound then, one of your track bar end links are worn just a little. These track bars have only become available in the aftermarket this past year. If your wheels are tight on the track bars, then jack the car up by the center jacking point at the rear and let both wheels hang. Place a small pry-bar under the sway bar end-links and pry up and down. There should be NO movement in the sway bar link joints. Also check the two rubber mounts that the sway bar passes through which mounts it to the body. These should also be tight around the sway bar, if not the sway bar can rattle around inside. Finally check the left and right control arms. These are the two arms that go from the bottom of the axle carrier forward to the car body mounts, under the rear seat area. push and pull the arms forward and rearwards. These can produce noise when they are worn badly. By the sound of your description I'm thinking worn rear track bar.

Last edited by camry6; 03-21-2010 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
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my money is on the rear struts. Visually inspecting the struts is a little deceiving because there tends not to be excessive oil on the strut... occasionally though the seals are completely shot and theres oil all over the strut body... that makes it very easy to justify replacement. But when there is no oil on the strut you start looking elsewhere like the stabilizer links, control arm bushings, etc.

These struts can clunk very badly without appearing as if they're leaking oil everywhere. The clunk usually happens when the strut reaches the top of its travel, rebounding after hitting a bump. I think if you try doing a few low speed sudden stops while pumping the brake pedal to get the backend moving up and down that you might be able to replicate the sound you're hearing.

Also, once you jack the car up and remove the rear wheel the struts will be fully extended. Its a little difficult and you'll need to make sure the car is properly secured on jack stands but you can pull up on the whole hub/brake assembly to compress the strut then quickly release it. You'll definitely here a clunk then. You'll have to determine if that's the same noise you here from inside the vehicle while driving.

Check your stabilizer links also. Try to figure out a way to get a pry bar in there to move the sway bar around quickly to see if you have play at the link. These can be difficult to remove if they're rusty but using a little bit of heat on the nut can work wonders.

Good luck!

Last edited by primo382; 03-21-2010 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeball96 View Post
Is it a constant noise or intermitten?
Intermittent.

The noise does not only occur over bumps. It does not only occur on turns or heavy driving. Last night I was moving up a drive-thru line and heard the knock. I do not hear the noise during high speeds on the highway. Either because it does not occur or because there's too much other noise for me to hear it.


Regarding the other posts, thanks for the input. Some of the things you guys mentioned may be causing it are new. Please read the short list in my first post. Struts are new, links are new, bushings are new, sway bar is new. New things can go bad, but my bet is on something else, or maybe something else involving one of those items failed.

camry6, I think you're talking about the rear lateral control arms, and the "track" they are attached to? I was thinking about those too, and that maybe a bushing on one of those could have gone bad.

Something else just came to mind. When I installed the Whiteline RSB around new year, it was missing something my old bar had. The original bar had these "stoppers" on each end next to the bushings. I think their purpose was to prevent the bar from shifting? Is it possible that the bar has shifted off-center and is hitting something on the left side? My thought is that it's not possible... but those stoppers must have been there for some reason.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Toyota dealer here calls them rear track bars, that are attached to the center of the car on the rear suspension cross member, but yes they are the lateral control arms. They are commonly the cause of the type of noise you are describing. Chances are if you give your rear wheels a few sharp kicks at the outer edge of the tires, even with the car sitting in the driveway. compare how the left sounds to the right and it may reveal the problem.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haux View Post
Is it possible that the bar has shifted off-center and is hitting something on the left side? My thought is that it's not possible... but those stoppers must have been there for some reason.
This could definitely cause the sound you are hearing, the stabilizer links could easily come in contact with something if the bar slides too much.
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:30 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Today, for the first time I heard the noise during high speeds. 55, 65, 75, I hear it almost all the time now. It's starting to sound more like a rattling/knocking noise. Also, I heard it while getting into the car once, so it does not have to be in motion to happen.

Kicking the tires doesn't do anything though.

I tried to squeeze under the car and grab the swaybar, but it feels stable. If my car gets on a lift tomorrow, I will see if I can take a look underneath, or have them do it.
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I wouldn't rule out the end link. If you get under the car you can twist the end link that attaches from the sway bar to the strut. Turn it around a bit and drive around to find out if that is the problem. I do that sometimes and the sounds go away. Its the easist diag.
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think I found the cause of the noise.

About a third of the way in from the left side, the sway bar is touching something. I think it may be a metal piece coming off of the gas tank. So, when the sway bar flexes or moves (whatever it does), it bangs against it all the time. I'm gonna try to take a picture of it. Someone told me if I used shorter links it would fix the problem. Not sure if that's an option.
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The circled area is where I think the sway bar is banging against the metal piece that comes off of the gas tank.

Have any of you experienced anything like this before?

Any suggestions about what I can do? I suppose if I was at home, I could just remove the bar entirely and reinstall it. Is that pretty much all that can be done? I'm unsure what's to keep it from happening again.

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Old 03-29-2010, 03:50 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I didn't look through all of the pictures the first time around. Here's a really good shot showing how close the rsb comes to that metal piece.

So I'm thinking this is where it must be hitting, rather than the other photo.

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Old 03-29-2010, 09:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Nobody has any idea how the rsb could have shifted in a way to where it's banging against the gas tank now?
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Old 03-30-2010, 04:37 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Can you get under the car and move the swaybar up and down with your hands and cause the noise? If you can, jack up the car and try that; just be sure to support the car securely on jackstands before getting under there. If the bar flexes up and down too much, you may need to replace the sway bar bushings. They are pieces of rubber that help keep the swaybar from moving up and down too much. As they get old, the hole in them get's enlarged and allows too much movement of the swaybar causing problems like you are experiencing. This is a cheap and relatively easy fix.

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