Strange Sounds from '98 Camry



A few months ago, my brakes were making squealing sounds every time I came to a complete stop. I had the brakes checked (70%+ remaining on both front/rear), bled, had the rear brake drums removed and shoes cleaned.

1 month later, sound is back. Plus a few other sounds. Similar squealing when I turn the wheel while driving. Seems to go away when I apply the brakes. Also, whenever I go over any bumps or uneven pavement, the car rattles really badly and sounds like it’s about to come off its axels. At some point, I thought something might be loose externally, but looked and couldn’t see anything.


1. brake squealing

2. steering squealing from front-right

3. rattling when going over bumps or uneven road

Camry has 100k miles.


What kind of shop looked at your brakes? If it was a big corporate chain-type of place, find a local, independent mechanics.

Brake squealing: this is very common when brakes are done without enough attention to anti-squeak methods (including some brake hardware parts. As far as braking goes it is normally harmless.

Squealing on turn: you may have one brake pad worn more than others and about to trigger the warning strip squeal. You have 4 pads - not all brake inspections involve checking every single pad. You may also have a bent dust shield for the rotors. It may also have nothing to do with brakes - you might just have a slipping belt.

Rattling: go immediately to a local, independent shop that specializes in front end work and have someone drive the car. You likely need a new ball joint or two. If you want to know how important this is - the whole front end of your car is supported by the ball joints. Imagine driving along and having your entire front end suddenly collapse onto the road.

Any good local mechanic should be able to sort both of these things out. It is best to stay away from corporate chain shops unless you specifically know of one that is competent and trustworthy.


Multiple causes?

1.0 I’d get someone other than a chain store to check the brakes, but some brakes just squeak. It can be frustrating and expensive to fix that. There are Mechanix files someplace on this site that will probably list one or more shops not too far from where you live.

2.0 Squealing from the right front might simply be a slipping power steering belt, but you’ll want to get the suspension on that side checked when they look at the brake squeal. Could be a wheel bearing or something else that you really don’t want to fail while you are driving.

3.0 Rattling. Take everything out of the trunk. Make sure that the spare tire is fastened down and that there is nothing floating around in the spare tire well. Drive over a few pot holes. If the car still rattles, get the suspension on both sides checked when they look at the brakes. The only other thing that could legitimately be loose and bouncing around is the rod that holds the hood up, and that only if the plastic clips that are supposed to retain it have snapped off.


Most likely whoever worked on your brakes forgot to put the pad retainer spring clips back on when they they put the calipers back together. It is not dangerous, but it is irritating to drive with all this horrific noise. Go to someone who knows what he or she is doing.
As for your rear drums, the inside diameter should be measured, the surface inspected for gouges from shoe rivets, and if bad replaced, if good then they should be roughened with emery cloth every time they are taken off. The shoes only need to be roughened with emery cloth if they are glazed. the shoes also should be measured for thickness and replaced if worn excessively. check the cylinders for leaks too.


Diagnosis on this according to shop:

#1 Brakes on front-right were completely worn. Right-side brake caliper leaking fluid; needs replacement. Rotor needs replacement. Recommended doing them in pairs for even wear.

$624.78 for parts/labor.

Seems expensive! Is this just the cost of having a mechanic do this instead of doing it myself?

2 Related to brakes though I’m not exactly sure I understand how. It only happens when turning the wheel left and goes away as soon as the brakes are actually applied.

Included in cost of fixing brakes.

3 Worn Struts typical of this model year Camry. Also recommended sway-bar links realignment/replacement. Said it wasn’t the ball joint so it’s not urgent or dangerous.

$1192 - struts, strut mounts, sway bar links for parts/labor
$339.79 - sway bar replacement/realignment?

I don’t think I’m going to replace the struts but am considering the sway bar maintenance as per their recommendations.