6th Oct 2004, 12:16

I have a slight "clunk" on the driver's side of my 1996 Avalon when backing out of my carport in the mornings. I have always done my own maintenance and can't find anything noticeably loose, thus I was reading the website. I guess I'm the lucky one. I replaced the timing belt, at 140,000 miles, at a cost of $48 from the dealer when I could have gotten an aftermarket part for $13, due to the success and absence of failure of the original, I stayed with Toyota brand on that part. I replaced the half-shafts, one at 135,000, and one at 168,000. Lifetime guarantee rebuilt from Auto Zone for $59.99 each. Changed a leaking rack and pinion seal, $6 part, but put a new boot on for $25 while I was at it.

The only strange thing was a clicking valve lifter at about 120,000 miles. Inspection revealed that an exhaust valve had loosened by.030" for no apparent reason. The available pucks were not thick enough, so I made a.030 shim and slipped it under the puck. No noticeable change after another 86,000 miles.

Yes, my Avalon now has 206,000 miles and is, by far, the best car I have ever owned. Based on everyone else's comments, I guess I would be afraid to buy a newer one, tho.

My '96 is a V-6 that thinks it's a V-8, especially when accelerating for a pass at higher speed. It will accelerate to 120+ mph very quickly when I decide to play with it on new tires (I run Perelli tires).

On a recent trip from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, we took the by-ways through hilly country and had fun driving the car playfully and got 31.5 mpg for the trip.

I wonder if Toyota went downhill after 1996?

Maybe I'll just keep this one in the family.

The scary part is that we added a 2003 Sienna to our carport a year ago. We liked the idea that the drive train was the same as the '96 Avalon, so we bought the dealer's last 2003 after the 2004's came out.

Good luck folks!

23rd Nov 2004, 09:21

Just wanted to give a quick update for all who still read this page. Replaced all four struts the other day. Very easy as long as you have access to a spring compressor. I used the cheapest I could find, Gabriel's from Auto-Zone I believe. My total came to 230 bucks and each strut was priced differently,;I saw this as reasonable. You may get Tokico's on the web for about 360 if wanting to spend more. The good news is that my suspension is noticably better and the car handles like a champ now. Bad news... same clunks and rattles in the front end as before. Does the design of the car somehow allow the strut to touch the actual body resulting in no possible way to fix, short of removing the strut all together???!


20th Dec 2004, 17:43

My wife's 98XL had the right front rattle when cold last year, but I got her to ignore it until this year when it got colder and louder again. I replaced the strut mount, rattle gone. Now the left side is starting to make noise. Auto-zone had the right one for $62, the left is $74. Around here they let you buy the spring compressor, use it and then return it for a refund. It took me about two hours total time, but I was REAL careful to get everything lined up to prevent any future noises. On a scale of 1-10 I'd give it a 4.

6th Jan 2005, 18:56

I have a 99 Camry (at 60,000 miles) and I also have been hearing a noise from the front right side on rough roads and over bumps. A Toyota service in Los Angeles told me that the cause is worn strut mounts and they asked $525 to fix the problem. Reading about the experiences of others on this site, I am amazed that there is such a wide range of cost estimates for fixing this problem. I don't understand why different Toyota services quote such different prices. As a result of this and other similar experiences in the past (once a Toyota service tried to charge me a huge amount for something that is covered under warranty), I have zero trust in the honesty of Toyota services now. I think Toyota must ensure that there is uniform pricing in Toyota services and protect its customers from price gouging. Since the problem seems to be so common, it should also own to its responsibility by fixing this problem for free.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences.


16th Oct 2005, 15:59

I have a 98 Camry that has the common noise problem of the right front strut making progressively worse noises as the strut flexes. The Toyota dealership here in Plano, Texas quoted us around $900 to fix this problem. It seems ridiculous that Toyota does not fix this problem for free, since it is obviously a design or manufacturing defect. I will never buy another Toyota product or use the dealership again, as if that will cause a huge gouge to their profit margin. I guess Toyota has become so successful that they can afford to neglect customer service. It seems ironic, since Toyota's current market share was based on reliability and service.

29th Nov 2005, 21:08

I have a 97 Camry that I too have been trying to diagnose the front suspension rattle. This web site has been very helpful to point me in the right direction. I am a lifelong Toyota owner and have loved my three trucks and the Camry has been an okay car. I have recently had horrible problems with my local service department and the Corporate office. I'll tackle this suspension problem on my own and move on. What has kept my buying Toyota's is the service and longevity of it's vehicles. That incentive is gone.

26th Feb 2006, 05:56

I have a 98 Avalon XL that I bought new. I had taken the car to the dealer when I had about 10,000 miles, they changed front struts and support, that helped, but did not eliminate the rattle, they said there was nothing wrong. The power driver seat makes a thump noise as if something moves under the seat and you feel it every time I make a turn, took it to dealer 4 times, they cannot find anything wrong!!

Then there was a scare of sludge problem, fortunately the dealer said I did not have it.

Now for last 2 years there is loud noise coming from rear wheels, it is very annoying, the mechanic hears the noise, but cannot pinpoint where, the dealer says to replace bearings and struts and all associated parts in the back suspension, seems silly to change everything.. big bucks!!

This is my second Toyota, I too have been unhappy with it and dealer and Toyota support... NO MORE TOYOTA'S FOR US!!!

28th Feb 2006, 18:46

I too am suffering from the front end rattle noise on my 99 Camry LE. Usually it is very noticeable at slow speeds and on local roads. Highway driving is OK. I bought this car about 6 months ago and have been trying to figure out what the sound might be so I am happy that I stumbled to this website. I will probably try to change my strut mounts to see if it will take care of the noise on my car as it has worked for some others.