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Clunking/rattling during light, straight-line acceleration

I’ve got a 2007 Toyota Sienna, AWD, with about 230,000 miles on it. Lately, when accelerating lightly (i.e. this doesn’t happen if I stomp on the gas) I hear and feel (through the body and the steering wheel) a moderate to strong clunking/rattling sound. Its frequency is proportional to the vehicle speed rather than engine RPMs. When turning during acceleration, the noise is less apparent or even nonexistent.

The more gently I accelerate, the louder it is and the more I feel it.

Sometimes, the sound and vibration returns when braking.

At highway speeds, there is sometimes a noticeable vibration/shimmy in the front end that transmits through the steering wheel, which may or may not be related.

Finances are tight right now, so I’m wondering what the range of issues could be with these symptoms before having a mechanic take the whole front end apart. There’s no clicking or grinding or screeching sound, just the clunking and vibration as described above. The van is otherwise maintained regularly.

Any thoughts? Ideas to further diagnose/rule out the issue?

There’s no way to diagnose it over the internet. It needs to be looked at.
My wild guess would be that you have a CV joint that’s history… probably an inner one… but don’t consider this a diagnosis and take it to the mechanic. It’s only a guess.

Check the heat shield attached to the underside of the body above the muffler. The heat shield on my wife’s 06 Sienna came loose a month ago and was resting on top of the muffler.

As for the shimmy at highway speeds, at least verify the lug nuts are tight on all the wheels.

Ed B.

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