My '02 Camry LE 4-cylinder has 95k miles (I expect to get 300k out’a this thing like I did with my '93 Camry, so the night is young). Slowly over time, the car developed this maddening, ever-worsening metallic-like thump, somewhere in the front suspension, which became louder and yet louder over time, audible when you go over routine bumps in the road. My first best guess: front strut mounts. I replaced the front struts and mounts, which resulted in nicer ride (yes, they were due anyway), but still that nagging metallic clunking. Next logical suspect, sway bar links. Removed one sway bar LINK to inspect it, but the sway bar LINK was okay, tight.
Then, while I had the sway bar link removed, I wiggled the big sway bar itself… BAM! Sombase swaybar was slappin around lucy goosey inside the severely worn sway bar bushings. The bar was moving up and down half an inch!.. so therein lies the problem. Why in heck these bushings wearing out so soon I ask. I’m not driving off-road or any such’a thing! Inferior bushing material maybe… was Tyoter cutting corners with bushings back in '02 ? These boy’s make one helluva reliable road machine, but that noise… I couldn’t take it no more. The split replacement bushings (there are two required) are reasonable enough at about $30 for the pair, but you must REMOVE FRONT SUSPENSION MEMBER DYNAMIC DAMPER to get to 'em. A full Saturday afternoon project no doubt.
So, the take away from this is that… you must remove one (or possibly both) sway bar links to inspect for worn sway bar BUSHINGS, cause you can’t see 'em, and the whole assembly is TOO TIGHT to feel any slop… until you remove a Sw.B. link or two.