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Rear suspension clunk on a Camry

I have a very nice 94 Camry with a 200k on it, however it is spotless and drives and shifts like new. I love the car.

It developed a little clunk in the rear suspension that I have trouble identifying and fixing.

The best way top describe it is when I go over a speed bump especially a low profile tripple bump, the front is nice and tight and when the back wheels roll over it I hear clunk like something is loose in the trunk. Not too loud, but audible enough to notice. That said, the shocks perform well and recently my mechanic persuaded me to pickup a set of used struts from a wrecker that were taken of the car with very low mileage and upon replacement nothing changed, same clunk, good action on shocks though not wobbly or bouncy just good tight springing action like a good shock should. My mechanic thought may be it is a sway bar but after replacing struts he had checked out all connections there and everything seems in order. It is really annoing to hear the clunk and not be able to id the problem and not see any other simptoms.

Let me know if you have any other ideas

The noise might be coming from the upper strut rod bushings where they pass through the upper strut mounting plate.

On the rear struts, there’s no upper strut bearing because the rear wheels don’t turn. So the strut rod passes thru a metal mounting plate with rubber bushings. Over time, these rubber bushings shrink from the heat they’re exposed to from the rear window. This then allows the strut rod to come in contact with the mounting plate, and you first get a subtle clunk when going over the slightest bump, until it turns into a clank.

You may have been able to fix this with your original struts. But have your mechanic get at the top of the struts, and then at the center strut rod nut, tighten the nut to squash the rod bushings. I use an air ratchet.


Also make sure your spare tire and jack are secured in their places.

I don’t recall exactly how the rear strut mounts on a Camry are constructed, but most cars, there is some rubber involved and it’s not unusual for the rubber to die after a decade or so. You can try pulling back the carpeting so that you can see the mounting nut on the top of the strut. Bounce the rear end of the car while looking at the mounting nut. If the nut moves at all, there is some sort of mounting problem.

Also, on my 1999 Camry, after installing an aftermarket catalytic converter, then an after market middle exhaust section, the muffler has moved back just far enough to bounce into a mounting bracket bolt that it probably cleared by a quarter of an inch in the OEM configuration. If you aren’t adverse to crawling around on your hands and knees, you might want to look at the top of the rear flange of the muffler and see if there is a small shiny spot from your muffler doing something similar.

I’d be shocked if this wasn’t worn sway bar bushings. Extremely common with this car.

I have a 2000 Camry with 172K miles on it. It has developed the exact same symptoms. My mechanic mentioned the sway bar bushings as well. He said it is not a safety issue since everything is tight.

One source of clunking noise in our Nissan were the seat belt retractors, whcih are mounted in the trunk. They work with an inertial weight and as they age can develop clunking sounds.

Having had to change my own, I agree that the sway bar bushings would be my primary suspect. Especially the ones that hold the bar to the chassis.

Upper strut mounts as suggested by Tester are also common sources.

But, in truth, after 16 years any of the bushings could be the culprit. A good look-see is warranted.