99 Rav4 BAD STRUT BEARINGS?


#1

A couple weeks ago I started noticing a knocking noise coming from my front passenger wheel. It only happens in drive, while accelarating around corners. I checked the CV joints, all are fine, no cracked boots, moved the boots around and can hear the grease in there and no sign of a leak. The strut boot has broken however. Im thinking bad strut bearings? Since the boot is pretty much non existent it might be corrosion build up? Any thoughts on this?


#2

If the front end starts getting clunky or noisy… Look for worn Ball joints, or worn sway bar busings…lower control arm bushings…even in the steering tie rod ends.

Jack up the front of the car or at least get the offending wheel off the ground. Grab the tire with both hands and see if you can wiggle it top to bottom, left to right…you may find “play” in one of those movements. Ball joints are a little hard to find sometimes and require a pry bar to help generate more leverage or force. But you really do need to get the wheel off the ground first.

Upper strut Bearings rarely go bad…but they do eventually like anything else. All depends on the style of the strut…some have bearings to let the entire strut move with the wheel…others the strut does not rotate at all. All depends on the style of your vehicle. Jack it up and play with that wheel…just raise the wheel off the ground…and see if you can produce any slack movement up, down, left or right… You should be able to locate the source of the noise that way.

Another little test is when you have the front end jacked up…Put jack stands under the frame or subframe making sure not to support the vehicle with its front control arms …they need to be free to move. With jack stands in place…use your jack to put under the tire…you can remove the wheel or leave it on. Put the jack under the control arm you suspect is the noisemaker and begin to jack up the control arm…look for slack between where the arm is fully unloaded and when you begin to jack it up…you may see play in its fully extended position and when it begins to be loaded. That’s about it…let us know.

Blackbird


#3

Knocking while accelerating in a turn is often the result of a worn inner CV joint. You can set the parking brake and with the transmission in neutral attempt to rotate the inner joint tulip. If there is any free play it is shot.


#4

If these are the original struts, than yes, the noise is probably coming from the strut mount. They don’t have bearings, but there are plenty of rubbery bits in a strut assembly and its mounting parts that get old, tired, shrunk, and cracked. Have all the other bushings and connections checked too, including those in the sway bar mounts and sway bar links.

If you DO confirm that it’s coming from the strut mounts, I recommend you get all four struts changed AND the strut mounts, spring bushings, dust boots, bumper stops, and all the other associated rubbery bits.

The attached link will get you to the parts and should give you an idea what you’re dealing with.
http://www.toyotapartsoverstock.com/default.aspx


#5

Rod Knox is referring to the outer CV joint…and he is correct but the noise associated with the CV joint would be a “rapid clicking” type of sound which gets louder or is more pronounced the more the wheel is turned. You need to have the wheel turned at a good angle and apply power to make the noise at its loudest. If you are talking about turning while going over bumps or unloading the front end suspension…you are closer in thinking its strut or bushing or ball joint related.

CV joint failure is a pretty easy noise to re create…rapid clicking with wheel turned and power applied will do it every time. If no boots are cracked…they rarely go bad. They always blow out when the boot cracks and allows the grease to fly out.

Blackbird


#6

@“Honda Blackbird”

“Upper strut Bearings rarely go bad”

Let’s please hear your definition of “rarely” :no_mouth:


#7

The outer CV joints will usually click if they go bad, but the inner CV joints will make a knocking noise as the bearings on the three arms of the center triangular piece fight to keep themselves in the grooves that have been worn in the outer housing.

For the OP, one of the inner CV joints’ primary functions is to allow the axle to freely change length as the steering knuckle goes through its movements while still transferring torque to the hubs. It does this via a three-pronged center piece with a bearing on each prong, that rides in three grooves in the outer housing. They can tend to wear their own spots in the grooves, and as the axle’s changing length tries to move them in and out they fight the movement, making a thunking sound.

However, without a better description of exactly what conditions your noise occurs under it’s impossible to suggest whether it’s CV joint related or strut related. Your post makes me think you’re suspecting the struts, so I’m going with that. Besides, after 16 years it would not be at all unusual for the struts to be shot. Sometimes one will even freeze up. I had that happen to the shocks on one of my trucks once. A shock looks different from a strut, but the damping mechanism is pretty much the same. And I still think the mounts and all the rubbery bits should be changed when the job is done.


#8

I just tried what Rod Knox suggested. Theres no play in the CV joint. The outer tie rod boot looks pretty bad, more compressed than on the driver side. Ill get it in the air soon. Theres not flat ground around where I live so ill have to take it to a friends house tomorrow. But theres no noise other than in DRIVE while accelerating. No sounds at all while accelerating in REVERSE. General alignment is good but feels somewhat loose when turning, seems like I need a lot more steering wheel rotation to make a turn. I attached an audio file for your listening pleasure.


#9

Also, there is no noise happening over bumps or holes. Only when turning while accelerating.


#10

Check engine mounts.


#11

engine mounts would cause a noise so specific? I know they can cause a variety of problems but it seems odd to think they would be the factor here. Did you listen to the audio clip?


#12

Yep, sounded like my '86 Tempo with a bad engine mount…


#13

@insightful

Personally, I think the early Tempos, like you had, look better than the later models


#14

Meneo
General alignment is good but feels somewhat loose when turning, seems like I need a lot more steering wheel rotation to make a turn.

That sounds like rack&pinion trouble.


#15

It’s hard to say what’s causing the knocking sound over the net. You need somebody experienced to put it on a lift for a look-see. It is possible for a CV joint to be worn out even though the boot remains ok and there’s no apparent excessive play when tugging and pulling on it. I don’t think that’s what your problem is though, at least not a bad outer CV joint. Outer CV noise is usually a click click click sound which varies in frequency with wheel speed and most apparent when making sharp turns at slower speeds, esp when turning and accelerating from a stop sign.


#16

Yeah saying the upper strut bearings rarely go bad was a silly way to describe them failing. What I should have said is that they do go bad over time…like anything else. I just haven’t seen or had to do strut work based on the upper failing as the cause of said work. I dont see them failing in a way that makes me take the system apart…the strut usually fails and then everything gets replaced with them as a result. They seem to be pretty trouble free is what I meant.

But sure they do go bad eventually like anything. Not sure how long this setup has been installed on vehicle. They could be the originals…and if so…don’t owe anyone anything at this point. LOL

Blackbird


#17

@“Honda Blackbird”

I remember on some of the older Benzes, think 190E, 300E and 500SL, for example, the rubber would crack, and there would be significant movement.

But the vehicles usually had some miles, when that happened.

The nice thing about those cars was they had a modified McPherson strut setup, which means you could carefully change the strut and/or mount without compressing the spring

But as you suggested, by the time the mount failed, the strut itself usually wasn’t in very good shape, either