1997 toyoto camry front-right noise


My camry developed a rattle in the front right area which was diagnosed as a bad upper mount on the strut. This was replaced by an independant mechanic and took care of my problem. However, serveral months later it developed a sort of thunking sound (differant from the first sound)in the in the same area. (sounds kind of like metal being in a bind and then flexing back. This occures mostly when turning the steering wheel. It does not do it all the time but gets more consistent in warm weather. I took it to the toyota dealer and he said the upper mount replacement was not aligned properly. For $100.00 he loosened the mount and retighten it. Sure enough, this didnot help and it continues to make the same noise.

Can anyone offer any suggestions before I take it back to the dealer?


Does this ‘thump’ happen most often at low speeds (like in a parking lot) and when turning the steering almost all the way to the stops? If so, then it could be a worn out ball joint, which would be easy for an independant mechanic to check.


This actually occurs even if the steering wheel is only turned partially.


Ok, here’s what I suspect. If it does it when you trun no matter what and the car is in motion (no forward or reward motion - no noise), then I suspect the ball joints (u-joints) in the right front drive shaft. There is a technical term like half-shaft or something but I’m running a fever so my brain is not working that good. I get concepts, but miss the technical words.

Since it’s a 1997 and we have no mileage info, I’d say at 10 years those ball joints/u-joints are probably pretty loose. They will start making noise like a popping/etc when they are starting to go but typically only when you are in motion and make a turn.

It could be a lower ball joint, but I’d start at the drive shaft first (I assume it’s FWD since it’s a Toyota).


The mileage is 86500 and the car has not been hot-rodded. Do you think it could still be the ball joints?


Also, it is a 4 cylinder front wheel drive automatic.


Yes I do. I incorrectly referred to it as a ball joint. It’s the u-joints on the shaft that sends power to the front wheel. Some call it a half-shaft. At 86k miles it’s not uncommon for them to get worn out. It happens naturally whether it’s been hot-rodded or not. It’s a common occurrence so don’t think you did anything to cause it or make it happen. After 86,000 miles, parts will wear out and that is a common one.

So I would start there. It’s possible it could be the lower or upper ball-joint (the part the spindle attaches to and rotates around when you turn the steering wheel) but I would check the u-joints on the half-shaft first. A good mechanic that works on imports should be able to figure it out quickly. They aren’t difficult to replace for a good mechanic, but they aren’t cheap either. That’s due to it being front-wheel drive.


I finally think I have the problem solved. I just got it back from the dealer who replaced the struts and top mounting brackets. He showed me the old one on the right hand side. It had been installed incorrectly the first time and the strut shaft was not seated properly, was twisting back and forth causing the sound. Hopefully this has taken care of it.

Thanks for your responses.