Car creaking during slow straight acceleration and stopping

Hi Guys,

I have a 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

which I bought as a Certified Pre-Owned in

June of '09. I recently (July 2010) got it

back from the shop after they replaced the

high pressure compression hose for the AC,

which works perfectly now. But about 2

weeks after getting it back the car creaks

when I slowly accelerate or brake.

I had a front end collision in June of

2009, right after I bought the car, (airbag

did NOT deploy, but there was enough damage

that grill, condenser, radiator, and lights

had to be replaced) but it never made this

noise until now. Strangely after they

fixed the collision damage in '09, the AC

never worked well (either because the

aftermarket hose was defective or because

they never replace the coolant or both), so

I’m thinking now maybe refilling the AC

refrigerant added weight and is revealing a

problem in the subframe? Or maybe it’s the

motor mounts?

This car was also part of the recall and

that little postage-sized piece of metal

placed on the accelerator to eliminate risk

of accelerator sticking, but again, I

didn’t hear this creaking until after

getting the AC fixed just recently.

Any idea what might be causing this? Is it

a nuisance noise or something serious?

Your thoughts would be appreciated!



I don’t see the miles on the car. Hard to see how the AC repair would cause this, I’m guessing coincidental on that.

I’d have the brakes checked. It could be the wear indicator scraping on a rotor. It might also be a caliper that isn’t fully releasing, perhaps some dirt in the wrong space. A wheel bearing going out might make some noise, and there lots of CV and U-Joints on the car as it has a complicated drive system.

Sometimes something that needs lubrication makes a noise at slow speeds that goes away as speed picks up. In this case it could also be that increasing speed means more tire noise and wind noise and the sound is still there but it is masked by louder sounds.

Check out the brakes first, then get deeper into the drive train if it isn’ brakes.

Forget the added weight causing a subframe creaking theory. Lift a can of refridgerant at teh parts store and you’lll find the weight is inconsequencial.

Also, motor mounts won’t creak if broken, they’ll allow thunking from engine movement.

The accelerator is a possibility only because they need to remove the assembly to install the recall shim. Perhaps it wasn;t reinstalled securely.

But, why not simply take the car back in, tell them it’s had a creak since they worked on the AC, and let them look at it?

I wonder if it is simpler, go to a carwash and clean the crud out of all the undercarriage. I have a buddy that drives on a dirt road in VT. Once a month he has to wash it, or even gunk build up to make the suspension noisy (creaking like you say). He has leaf springs in the truck, if the highlander does, too, make sure to really spray the leaves.

the noise you describe sounds like a rubber bushing on the suspension or steering geometry.

Thanks to everyone for all the thoughtful comments. I do plan to take it in I just wanted to arm myself with second/third/fourth opinions first. The creaking is significant (sounds like a deep metal creak, like I’m opening a dungeon door) and mostly happens when I first press the accelerator after being stopped, less so when I stop slowly. It disappears altogether once I get above ~2 mph. I can’t help but think that it is the weight of something heavy fighting inertia (like the engine block or something). And the sound is more pronounced under the front (seems to be somewhere between front seats and engine). I would not have noticed it at if I was sitting in the back. Does this change anyone’s answer?

tends to confirm my guess in my mind. tire and road noise will obscure the bushing noise as you speed up. Only, I would add that if you dont get the noise when stopped and engine not running but only when you get in and out of the vehicle, my guess might be just a pound of smoke.

Charlie, the person has not been here for 8 years. Start you own thread with details and people won’t have to read all the other stuff.

Was this ever figured out? I am having the same issue. Just a light creak/tap noise upon initial acceleration for about 2 seconds until I get to about 5mph then it stops. Only difference is that it does not happen during breaking. It sounds like its coming from the front driver side although I do not sit in the passenger side to know. 2001 Audi A8L Quattro.

Mark, you should start your own thread, otherwise people may respond to the original 9 year old post dealing with a 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which has nothing in common with your 2001 Audi A8L Quattro.