rough steering return from hard left turns - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Highlander 1st Generation (2001-2007) Forum dedicated to the discussion of 1st generation Toyota Highlanders.

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post #1 of 9 Old 04-11-2019, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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rough steering return from hard left turns

Hello, the old Highlander (04 v6 awd 256,000 miles) is experiencing what I would best describe as a "rough" sort of noise with a vibration in the steering wheel after you make a hard left turn, such as into or out of a parking spot, pulling onto a street, etc. The noise is not a metallic or grinding, its almost like something is studdering when you quickly return the wheel to center after the turn.
The car had new monroe struts about 12k miles ago, the fluid is clean, and the tie rod ends were replaced with the struts. The lower a arms are still original though, and I just did four new tires about 5k miles ago, which so far are wearing evenly.
I haven't had a chance to really investigate this yet, I was just wondering if anyone else out there has experienced something like this before. thanks in advance for your help!
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-12-2019, 01:46 PM
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How old are the ball joints?

'02 HL V6 FWD
'99 Lex RX300 AWD
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-12-2019, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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The lower ball joints are part of the lower a arms, I believe, and are original. When I had everything apart last fall they seemed fine, and I'm not getting other symptoms that would suggest ball joints, like a shimmy, uneven tire wear, or "loose" steering. I'm almost thinking something in the column, but I havent dealt with anything like that yet so I'm not sure.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-15-2019, 08:35 PM
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Maybe the wheel speed sensor or bad connection triggering the ABS on the left front? Also, how is your wheel bearing?
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-20-2019, 06:37 AM Thread Starter
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This noise is definitely related to the actual steering, not rolling or weight shifting on the wheel, so I don't think it is any of those things. I am leaning towards the upper mount on my new strut on the left front, as I can hear it creaking a little when I turn the wheel with my head out the window. I sprayed the whole area around the upper bearing with Rem lube and the noise seems to be happening less frequently. I may be contacting monroe to see if I can get a replacement once I'm 100% sure that's the problem.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-22-2019, 08:37 PM
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If you have a floor jack, lift the front off the ground until the front wheels are well clear of it. Then put her back down.

After I replaced my high pressure power steering line, my girl would knock once when cornering, specifically if you changed directions like turn left down one street then a quick right to another or if you were driving straight then took a long sweeping turn it would knock once around the apex. I also noticed like a crow hop on smooth concrete like in a parking garage if I hard lock right turned, like a u turn and she would sort of clunk at the time too like a bad CV. First time it happened on concrete it was wet and I thought it was the traction control kicking in but I was crawling along and didn't think anything of it a few days later same thing same garage after a torrential down poor. Then it did it in the dry, same garage. Never felt anything in the steering wheel though.

Started thinking time for new cvs/axels but I rotated the tyres not long after this and noticed front wheel's lugs were very tight when they should not have been - I needed a breaker bar to loosen them, I use torque wrench to torque to owner manual specs (103nm I think it is - forget now as I check the manual it every time I do it and I do it twice on each lug and wheel, zip up lugs with my cordless and finish with torque wrench then a walk around after all wheels have been put back on). Anyway after this I noticed the knock was gone. Then when I did my last oil change she knocked on the test drive. Got home jacked up front only noticed wheels dragged inwards as I lifted her, checked bearing play - none visible or audible - wheel rock and hand on springs while rotating the wheel, then put her back on the pavement, second test drive no noise and she's been good since. haven't been to the garage again since so cant 100% confirm but driving the noise is gone.

2006 Kluger (Highlander) CVX (Sport) 3.3L with leather interior and 7 seats.
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-24-2019, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks phoenix, I'll give that a try next time I'm messing with the cars. It is perfectly normal though for the wheels to drag inward when you jack them up, just for your peace of mind.
I am still leaning towards one of my new shocks being bad however, since the problem has diminished quite a bit since I sprayed the whole upper bearing area with oil. Also that shock seems to have a nice "bang" when you hit larger bumps on the highway. I originally thought it was because I had the tire pressure jacked up for a trip, then I thought it was the tires I had which I didn't like, but it's still doing it with new tires at a normal pressure.

I should mention that I stripped one of the studs installing that strut, even though I torqued it to the spec listed in my chilton manual. In order to change the stud out without removing the strut I was able to pull one side of the spring down with a ratchet strap to get enough clearance to switch the stud out. That of course cocked the bearing which made a grinding noise later on. I had to remove the strut, disassemble it and reassemble it which fixed my problems, so I thought I was good to go until my current problems popped up.
That being said I am going to see if monroe will replace this strut. I'll let you all know when and if they do and if it fixes my issues.
Thanks!
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-26-2019, 10:45 AM
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I was having an issue with the steering not returning that was the steering column U-joint under the car. Sprayed a bit of penetrating then lubricant and it cleared right up, might be worth a look.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-29-2019, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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**FIXED**
Thanks for all of the great ideas, guys, but upon closer inspection I found that small piece of plastic that hangs in front of the right tire was worn in half. Nothing seems out of place or hits when you turn the wheel with the car parked, but it was missing some fasteners and I can pull it over to the tire with my hand. So under certain hard left hand turns the tire goes past that piece of plastic which is somehow flexing back a bit and gets hung up on the way back past causing that rough sensation.
It seems my spraying that strut with oil didn't help things, it was just the plastic wearing farther away from the tire that caused things to improve, so i guess the strut will live another day.
One thing that still has me wondering is there is a hole worn in the plastic covering the front subframe mount, and I can't pull it over by the tire by hand and it's a couple of inches away when the wheel is turned all of the way. Maybe the wife ran something over (traffic cone... trash can... small animal...) and it's not related, who knows?
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