Dear Car Talk,
My husband and I purchased a used 2012 Prius from an individual. Our concern is that the car makes a creaking type noise, most noticeable as we get out of the car. We can recreate the sound by rocking the car back and forth. It only occurs immediately after being driven. The sound is similar to a swing set that creaks as it swings back and forth. We cannot locate the source of the creak. We took it to the local Toyota dealer for a check-up and routine maintenance. We asked that they investigate the creak. Their diagnosis was “all Prius do that” but we know that to be untrue because we have owned multiple Prius including a second one currently and none of our other Prius creaked.
My questions are: What could be causing this creaking sound? Do you think we should be concerned? Why would the local dealer make up a story that “all Prius” make the sound?
Thank you for your help.
It could be a spring rubbing, it could be a strut mount failing, it could be a squeaky suspension bushing or a stabilizer link or bushing. An inspection of the spring may find witness marks where it is rubbing, the bushings can be lubed with silicone but likely will return.
These are usually just annoyances that really don’t hurt anything. If you really want a fix, be prepared to pay a mechanic (not the dealer mechanic - a good local independent) for his time trying to find the problem. And it may be a couple hundred dollars.
When you say “back and forth,” do you mean side-to-side or front-to-back? Does it seem more noticeable on one side or near front or back?
Since you can evoke the sound by rocking the car, I would open all the doors, the hatch, and the hood, and try it. Seems unlikely, but one of those doors might be rubbing. You might try taking it to an independent garage and ask how much they would charge to take a quick listen. Although unlikely, perhaps it will “jump out” at them. You could also post your question on priuschat.com to see if anyone else has encountered the same thing.
BTW, when I first bought my 2005 Prius (new), a checkup showed that the rear wheels were slightly out of alignment. Since it has a beam axle, I asked the local dealer’s shop if Toyota had shims to correct the alignment. The service manager told me that the Prius had a new rear suspension that automatically corrected the alignment as the car was driven. He further asserted that all new Toyota models would be getting this magical rear suspension system at their next redesign. I stopped taking my car to a shop where the guy who is running the show has no idea of what is playing.
Does it make any difference if the gasoline engine has or has not been running?
it creaks when 2 people exit? Vs 1 person? Left side or right side of car? If u can hear it when rocking car than I figure u can pinpoint area of creak?
It creaks with any number of people, including only the driver. We can’t tell if the area of the creak. We have tried going around the car to determine where the sound is coming from the only thing we can tell is that it sounds more like the front.
I hadn’t thought about that but It does have to be warmed and driven awhile for the creak to happen.
But it’s a hybrid. The gas engine runs only some of the time. It may not be obvious - maybe the display can be set to let you know. A warm tailpipe will tell you the gas engine has been running recently.
“Warmed up and driven a while” does not have a clear meaning with a hybrid. If the noise happens only after the gas engine has been running, it could be something in the exhaust system that flexes when you rock the car when the exhaust is hot.
Thank you for the helpful info and suggestions. The creak happens when rocked from front-to-back and when we get out of the car after it has been driven for at least a few miles.
That makes sense and something we haven’t thought of. You are correct that it is a hybrid and it only happens when the gas engine has been used / warmed.