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2004 Corolla LE, 2020 Camry Hybrid
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

First, thanks to everyone on this board. I've never posted, but I've been lurking around here for a few weeks now as I attempt to save our family money doing work on our car myself. We own a 2004 Corolla LE which has nearly 200K miles on it. Recently, we leased a new 2020 Camry Hybrid to replace it, but we decided to hang onto this old car for short runs around town and such. I've been tackling various projects from replacing a wheel hub to transmission fluid/power steering hoses, gasket replacement, etc... all in accordance with the suggestions that you all have posted here in the DIY and the invaluable comments to go along with them. This is a fantastic board and thank you all.

Currently, I'm trying to chase down a creaking sound that seems to be coming from the toward the back end of the car. I've attached an audio clip here so you can hear what it sounds like. This creaking happens to varying degrees of volume when I apply the brake. I noticed that the sound of it changed a bit today, after I had the rear end jacked up replacing a wheel hub (which went perfectly thanks to the DIY post on here). Where is this noise coming from and how can I get rid of it? I was thinking it was something that may just need some lube because to me it sounds like plastic or rubber rubbing as opposed to metal on metal. Help me track this sucker down? Thank you all! Here's the audio (mp3) link in the next post:
 

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When you say wheel hub, do you mean the wheel drum? It sounds like something with your brakes and drums with the drum being out of round. Does it make the same noise when you try slowing down using only the emergency brake?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, I replaced the wheel hub assembly, but not the drum. I actually just bought new drums early today thinking along the same lines. But, I honestly don’t expect it to work. Perhaps because I’ve been reading about suspension bushings all evening. But I do intend to put the new drums on and see what happens.
 

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NoLa Rolla
'05 Corolla S 240K+ miles ('98 Corolla VE deceased in 2008)
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I think that's the sound my 2005 makes when braking sometimes. I just haven't had time/energy to investigate. Since I have other things to do on the car I'll check out the drum when rotating the tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The creaking has returned and as such, so have I to this thread.
So I replaced both rear drums to go along with completely new brakes back there. Everything is new. Even new wheel hub assemblies. 8 days ago, I did the drums and it totally got rid of the noise. However, I wasn't confident in my adjustment of the brakes as they felt soft and it was my first time. So I had to get an alignment done this weekend and thought I'd have them check my work back there. They said that they needed adjusted and tightened them up for me. I began leaving the parking lot and the creaking noise heard above returned just as loud as before. I checked the lubrication points and there is lube on all of those spots.

So brand new brake pads and hardware, brand new wheel hub assemblies, brand new drums and two shops confirmed that all looks perfect and clean and brand new and perfectly adjusted back there.

Ideas?

One mechanic suggested it could be the rear shocks/spring/strut assembly (which we've never replaced). At first I dusted this off in my head as not really the problem because when I didn't have any brakes essentially in the back, it didn't make the noise for a full week until they were properly adjusted. So it has to be brake related I figured. But then I remembered something else I read online about the front end and how when you brake, it pulls the front end down and suspension noise becomes a thing. Is the same true for the backend? I really probably had no (or very little) braking power from the rear over the week it wasn't making noise, so would those back shocks have been given a rest and now that the brakes back there are working again, perhaps they're being pulled down at stops and making the noise?

Be curious to hear more theories on what this noise could be.
 

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マズダスピード3
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When does the creak occur? With speed, going over bumps, or just all the time?

The only idea I can think of is to unload the suspension by putting the car on jack stands.

Then start shaking the rear suspension until you can replicate the creak.

You can also test the rear wheel bearings by pulling the wheel at 12 and 6, and 3 and 9 o'clock positions to see if there's play.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I do believe I’m hot on the trail now. After doing some reading and testing it does indeed seem to be a bad spring/strut. Pushing on the trunk makes a similar, albeit not as loud noise and after doing so, I noticed that when I look at it from the back, the noiser of the back corners also has an obvious sag to it. We’ve got about 190K miles on it most of which were on the garbage bag pothole filled streets of New Orleans when we lived there, and we’ve never replaced anything in that area. So I ordered a full assembly and am replacing both sides. Feeling confident this is gonna fix it but I’ll post and confirm when I knock it out next week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Replaced all four struts on the car. Rides a heck of a lot nicer, but the creaking is still there. It's only in the rear. Are there any spots on the axel/frame or someplace that rotate when braking that require lubrication back there? Really sounds like rubber rubbing metal or other rubber as opposed to metal on metal.
 

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Best thing to do, is to jack it up on stands.

Then try your best to isolate the sound. You might try shaking the rear sway bar to verify the bushings are tight.

Another area to look at is your rear wheel bearings.

If all else fails, use you BFH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks. I replaced the whole rear wheel hub, so shouldn't be that. But to confirm, there IS a rear sway bar? You know, I thought there was, but then read online there wasn't on the 04 and when I was replacing the wheel hub assembly and struts assembly and drums, I didn't see one, but perhaps I was looking in the wrong place. It only makes the noise when braking and only when I get into the final brake (0-7mph). Off I go to investigate this rear sway bar situation.... thanks.
 

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It seems certain to be rotational so I don't think it is anything to do with the rear suspension. I would double check on the parking brake next. Apply your parking brake in various small adjustment increments and see if you can notice changes in that noise. If that makes no difference then doesn't it have to be the brake shoes? Perhaps live with it for a month and see how, or if it changes as these new shoes get a bit of wear in them. Does humidity or moisture changes make a difference? I do agree it does not sound like a brake related noise that I've experienced.

You might test for the noise again by finding a safe area to drive the car in reverse too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Parking brake... never done this (only used the parking brake probably 10 times in my life, most of which have been during all the work I've done lately, haha)... so I should drive at a slow speed in a parking lot someplace and slowly pull the parking brake to come to a stop and listen for noise?

I should note, the noise was happening before I got the new brakes on the back to about the same degree as after I got the new brakes and drums. I live in a humid area (coastal SC), so kinda tough to know if humidity makes a difference since its usually humid.

It also makes the noise in reverse when I apply the brakes.
 

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Drive at a slow speed in a safe parking lot someplace to reproduce the noise. Next engage the parking brake only the first one click and drive it again. Repeat again now with two clicks, then again three clicks, etc (until you can tell the parking brake is working or dragging). Is the noise changing as you make these adjustments during your test ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Is the noise changing as you make these adjustments during your test ?
Ok, so not sure if this gives you any clues or this was just inconclusive.

I drove about 1.5 miles from a cold start to the parking lot. Probably 8 stop signs between here and there and it didn’t make the noise at any of the stop signs. I got to the parking lot and did a few trial runs trying to get it to make the noise. No luck. So I decided to just start the parking brake test anyway. I went through click by click and at none of the clicks did it make any noise. So I took the parking brake back off entirely and on the first run after that, it made the sound. However, the sound was different. It had a slightly higher pitch and wasn’t as loud. I got it to do it maybe 2 or 3 times before starting the parking brake test again. I went through the parking brake clicks, one by one again and couldn’t get it to make the sound at any of the stages. So I took it back off entirely. No noise. Tried various stages of the parking brake again, no sound. Needing to get home, I gave up, took the parking brake off and came home. No noise at any of the same 8 or so stop signs on the way home.

Give you any ideas or was this just an inconclusive test that I’ll need to repeat again? Perhaps I should do the test when I know its making the noise consistently.

Or maybe the parking break is just out of shape? Haha, by that I mean that I can literally count on my hands and feet the number of times since 2004 that the parking brake has been used and about half of those times were probably in the last month that I’ve had the brake on while working on the car to try and figure out where this noise is coming from. It spent half its life in New Orleans and the other half here in Charleston SC... there aren’t any hills in either place, so I’ve never had a need for the parking brake and its just never been used.
 

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Did you replace the brake spring hardware in addition to the shoes and drums? Was this noise there before you replaced the wheel bearings/hub assembly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The dealership did the shoes and such, I only replaced the drum myself. So while I can’t be sure, the spring looks to be in good if not new condition. Should I swap it to be sure? I can hit up the DIY thread on it here to figure that out. I also had a separate brake shop inspect and lube (dealership didn’t hit the 6 lube points) and they said everything else looked fine.

And yes, the noise has led me to replace multiple parts back there including the hub assembly, but replacing it made no difference. Same sounds as before.
 

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A buddy has a creaking sound on his 04 Yaris. It happens whenever he applies his brakes and only in the rear. He wasn't able to figure out the source. Sometimes, it's just that way.
 
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