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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, Folks!

After searching the forum unsuccessfully I decided to post my question here. My 2006 AWD Highlander Hybrid, with 162,000 miles on it, has a mysterious rattle that I hear when vehicle hits minor bumps on any road. The rattle sounds like the exhaust contacting the body, but multiple inspections by several mechanics have revealed no obvious contact of any kind. The exhaust, suspension, even the spare tire, have all been thoroughly inspected with no obvious cause being found. The best anyone could guess was that perhaps the strut(s) are making the noise from inside their housings. I've had my friend follow behind me to check for unusual suspension oscillation and he saw nothing unusual to indicate the strut(s) were bad, other than their age/mileage, of course.

My question is this: Has anyone else experienced a similar issue and, if so, what did you find was the cause?

I'm planning to replace my struts soon, anyway (and would like to upgrade to a "better than OEM alternative," but that's another thread, lol), but am not convinced yet that this will solve the problem. Hoping for some advice from anyone who may have some insight into this.

Thanks, in advance!

Steve ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
By the way, I forgot to mention that I wondered whether there could be something loose in the battery compartment that might be rattling? The sound seems to originate from the middle to rear part of the car, but it's really hard to pinpoint exactly where it might be coming from. I haven't been into the battery compartment myself, but I know that there was at least one recall that might have involved work done in that area, so thought perhaps a component might not have been properly secured during the repair (I've only owned the vehicle for 1 1/2 years).

I should also mention that the rattling noise has been with the vehicle since I bought it, but was relatively minor until just a few weeks ago, when it began to get more prominent.

Thanks again, for any assistance with this!

Regards,
Steve ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Update: The "rattle/banging" has gotten significantly worse in the last two weeks, and I've just ordered a complete set of replacement struts/springs for the vehicle. I am hopeful that the problem is a worn/broken strut, and that replacing the entire strut/spring assembly (and associated mounts/bushings/etc.) will correct the problem.

Will keep you all apprised.

Regards,
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Update: Success!

Hi, Folks!

Well, the set of four Unity Strut/Spring assemblies arrived on Friday - Unity was the ONLY brand that sold a complete, ready to install, strut/spring combo for the Highlander, and because I didn't know where the rattling was coming from I wanted to be sure I was replacing every possible source of the problem - struts, springs, and all associated hardware/spacers/bumpers. I would have preferred to buy a higher performance strut, such as a KYB, but since doing so would have required that I reuse the old spring and mounting hardware, I went with a brand I've never heard of ... fingers crossed regarding the quality and longevity!

Anyway, with limited time and inclement weather on the way (it was only in the low thirties today), I tackled the right rear first, which was the area that seemed to be causing both the noise and the recent jittering of the rear wheels. I didn't have time to replace the left rear today, but thankfully it seems that the hunch worked out - the severe rattling is gone and the vehicle seems more stable. Next weekend, when the temperatures rise back into the forties I'll take care of the left rear, and perhaps both of the front struts and springs.

For now, though, I'm grateful that the Highlander no longer scares me to drive - I don't scare easily, but it felt like the strut might come apart in the middle of the road in the last few days, so I parked it until the new parts arrived!

Moral to the story: If you hear a mild to moderate rattling when you travel over minor bumps in the road, and your mechanic can't find anything obviously wrong, chances are your struts are in need of replacement.

Regards,
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update - more rattles, and the cause

Hi, All!

Well, you solve one problem and another one decides to rear its ugly head. No sooner than I solved my ongoing strut rattling than I started to experience a very unnerving new problem ... and another rattle! The back of my Highlander started "twitching" whenever the road wasn't perfectly flat (this actually began before the strut replacement, but became worse shortly after I did the replacement job).

I did a little basic diagnosing, and discovered that my right rear wheel bearing was "going..." I also discovered, while changing out the left rear strut last weekend, that my left rear dust shield had broken off and was rattling around while I drove.

So now I have TWO new rear wheel bearings and TWO new backing plate/dust shields in hand. Repairs to begin later today, after which I am confident that the Highlander will be trouble free for a good long while! Front struts (which I already have in hand) will be replaced when the weather warms up significantly.

Regards,
Steve :wink:
 

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Thanks for the update. I also have a squirly feeling in the rear of my 2004 Highlander which can be felt the strongest upon deceleration from highway speeds. When using my brake to slow down I don't experience the same sway. I am thinking it is bushings but would like to know which ones, (2) control arms or (4) suspension arms? Any ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for the update. I also have a squirly feeling in the rear of my 2004 Highlander which can be felt the strongest upon deceleration from highway speeds. When using my brake to slow down I don't experience the same sway. I am thinking it is bushings but would like to know which ones, (2) control arms or (4) suspension arms? Any ideas?
Hi, Vetman,

As it happens, I should have updated this post after the wheel bearing was replaced, but I neglected to do so. It turns out that the wheel bearing was NOT bad (at least not the cause of the problem), but one of the bushings connected to the right rear "knuckle" assembly had failed. Toyota does not sell individual bushings for this assembly (there are three that are part of it - trailing arm, front control arm, and rear control arm) but, instead, wants to charge $500+ for the entire assembly instead of $20-40 for an individual bushing that could be pressed in. When my mechanic originally wiggled the wheel, we both assumed (incorrectly) that the wheel bearing was worn. In my case, the front control arm bushing at the knuckle was bad, and it allowed the right rear wheel to "steer" slightly on its own, which created a very unnerving and dangerous issue. I was not in a position to pay $500+ for a perfectly good part, so I searched for potential aftermarket bushings and found something close, but "unnofficial."

My mechanic couldn't get the associated bolts to break free, and while I was contemplating replacing the whole thing (and buying new bolts/etc.) the problem mysteriously went away (I believe that the worn rubber in the bushing rotated and the issue temporarily stabilized). I continued to research potential options during this "reprieve" and when the bushing inevitably shifted again and the problem returned, I decided to tackle it on my own. I found a Youtube video where a guy had made his own bushing press (out of plumbing/black gas pipe fittings and grade 8 bolts/washers/nuts) that allowed him to change the bushing without removing the entire assembly. I invested in a 1200 ft/lb Harbor Freight 20V impact wrench, which successfully broke free the bolt my mechanic couldn't get loose, and replaced the bushing on my own in my driveway! I used Grade 8 replacement bolts (the new bushing wouldn't accept the stock Toyota hardware, so I had to make minor adjustments), and the Highlander has been driving great for almost a year now!

My new project will be replacing the front control arms/bushings, which are now gone at almost 180,000 miles. I was planning to replace the bushings myself (again), but I can get complete lower control arm assemblies through Amazon for only a little more than the cost of the bushings, without all the extra work - it'll be well worth it. Just waiting for warm weather to return to Chicagoland!

By the way, I purchased a complete set of control arms / bushings, most of which I have NOT put on my vehicle because I simply haven't had the time / opportunity to mess with it ... so I've been doing the various jobs on a "need to accomplish" schedule. If you want to buy some of the pieces that I may never use, I'm willing to consider letting them go for a lot less than I paid for them - PM me if interested. ;-)

Hope this information is helpful! If I can dig up the details on the parts I found/used, and the youtube video on the home-made bushing press (which was the only way to do the job on the vehicle - professional ball joint/bushing tools are too big to fit the area while it's all on the vehicle), I'll post links for you.

Good Luck!!!

Regards,
Steve
 

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2003 V6 AWD 337k miles, original owner.
This is a very informative post. I have yet to have problems with control arm bushings (knock on wood) but have had a few other experiences readers might want to know about when diagnosing suspension noises. Here goes...
1. Rattle on certain terrain- right rear suspension -Turns out it was the strut mount rubber had gone soft allowing the top nut on the strut to contact the metal housing. Replaced strut mount. Cured.
2. Rhythmic rattle at 65mph, worse when in a slight right bend- left rear suspension. I was convinced it was a wheel bearing. So much so I ordered a new pair and the hubs. Nope. Turned out it was the rotor. The very outside edge had rusted (swelled a few thousandths) and was contacting the caliper body causing it to rattle. Just readjusted the caliper a little (there is some slop there) and the noise was cured.
3. Gawd-awful scrapping (intermittent) following brake work-rear suspension. Turns out the stone shield had gotten bent a little and the rotor would rub. Just bent it back. Cured.


Hope this helps when diagnosing those rattley-clunky-scrappy noises that crop up from time to time. Good luck, Haya....:nerd:


Edit:


Planecrazy- BTW best of luck with the Unity quick struts. I started a string several months ago on experiences with quick struts, please comment regarding your experience. Here is a link to the string. https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/83-highlander-1st-generation-2001-2007/1538370-strut-replacement-using-complete-struts-quick-struts.html


My personal experience is mixed. One of the two Unity struts I used on my HL seeped oil after about 23k miles. (Front only-still have KYB’s on the rear). The other one is fine. I also used Unity struts on our beater VW Jetta (again, front only) those have 70k miles plus on them and are still in good shape.


I was able to get a refund on the leaky one and applied that towards new Monroe Spectrum quick struts. They are on hand but due to weather I have yet to install same. I'm hoping it will get warmer and I can do the install sometime next week. C'mon spring!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
2003 V6 AWD 337k miles, original owner.
This is a very informative post. I have yet to have problems with control arm bushings (knock on wood) but have had a few other experiences readers might want to know about when diagnosing suspension noises. Here goes...
1. Rattle on certain terrain- right rear suspension -Turns out it was the strut mount rubber had gone soft allowing the top nut on the strut to contact the metal housing. Replaced strut mount. Cured.
2. Rhythmic rattle at 65mph, worse when in a slight right bend- left rear suspension. I was convinced it was a wheel bearing. So much so I ordered a new pair and the hubs. Nope. Turned out it was the rotor. The very outside edge had rusted (swelled a few thousandths) and was contacting the caliper body causing it to rattle. Just readjusted the caliper a little (there is some slop there) and the noise was cured.
3. Gawd-awful scrapping (intermittent) following brake work-rear suspension. Turns out the stone shield had gotten bent a little and the rotor would rub. Just bent it back. Cured.


Hope this helps when diagnosing those rattley-clunky-scrappy noises that crop up from time to time. Good luck, Haya....:nerd:


Edit:


Planecrazy- BTW best of luck with the Unity quick struts. I started a string several months ago on experiences with quick struts, please comment regarding your experience. Here is a link to the string. https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/83-highlander-1st-generation-2001-2007/1538370-strut-replacement-using-complete-struts-quick-struts.html


My personal experience is mixed. One of the two Unity struts I used on my HL seeped oil after about 23k miles. (Front only-still have KYB’s on the rear). The other one is fine. I also used Unity struts on our beater VW Jetta (again, front only) those have 70k miles plus on them and are still in good shape.


I was able to get a refund on the leaky one and applied that towards new Monroe Spectrum quick struts. They are on hand but due to weather I have yet to install same. I'm hoping it will get warmer and I can do the install sometime next week. C'mon spring!
Thanks for the additional info on your Highlander! I'm hearing increased suspension noise in the rear of mine, that sounds suspiciously like the noises I heard in my original struts, so I'm not confident that the Unity sets are doing as well as I hoped they would. The rear of my Highlander also sits lower than it did with the OEM's. Initially I wasn't too concerned, because I anticipated installing the front Unity's when the weather warms up. however, now I'm not certain if I want to do that, especially since I might wind up having to replace the rears if they're leaking like your fronts did. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to what I might find when I inspect them, especially since I know people who have not had great experiences with their Unity's.

Do you happen to recall, offhand, what the warranty period was on the Unity's? I'm probably past warranty on mine (right at the year mark, although they haven't been installed for the full year I've owned them).

Regards,
Steve
 

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Hi Steve,
Warranty appears to be 1 year from purchase. I was over that but bitched and complained to Amazon (and to Unity directly) that the failure was grossly premature. Unity transfers warranty responsibility to the seller, in my case Amazon. So I rode herd on Amazon 'til they coughed up a refund. They did and all is well.
Suggestion: If you open up a warranty claim, try to utilize email rather than speak to a rep directly. This way you have a documented history of your actions to refer to if needed. Typically these so-called Customer Service departments like to delay-delay-delay. Be ready for this. Use phrases like "time is of the essence", "please respond without delay", "my cars is up on jack stands", "mom needs to go to the clinic" etc., etc. You get the picture.
Good luck to you and let us know how things turn out. Haya....
 

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Hi Steve,
Warranty appears to be 1 year from purchase. I was over that but bitched and complained to Amazon (and to Unity directly) that the failure was grossly premature. Unity transfers warranty responsibility to the seller, in my case Amazon. So I rode herd on Amazon 'til they coughed up a refund. They did and all is well.
Suggestion: If you open up a warranty claim, try to utilize email rather than speak to a rep directly. This way you have a documented history of your actions to refer to if needed. Typically these so-called Customer Service departments like to delay-delay-delay. Be ready for this. Use phrases like "time is of the essence", "please respond without delay", "my cars is up on jack stands", "mom needs to go to the clinic" etc., etc. You get the picture.
Good luck to you and let us know how things turn out. Haya....
Thanks for the tips - I'll have to go back and see if I even purchased through Amazon (probably did)...

Regards,
Steve
 
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