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Discussion Starter #1
HI, folks. New guy here, with a recently purchased 2006 LE. We love it! I'm well versed in advanced wrenching on my own vehicles (the Sienna is my youngest vehicle), up to and including pulling/replacing engines and transmissions, etc., but I'm completely new to owning a Toyota.

Just last week my wife reported a THUNK when going over bumps. I took the car to work one day to confirm it. The interesting thing is, it's not consistent. Sometimes a clunk, sometimes not. It does not seem to be related to the severity of the bump.

I did some crawling around underneath and did not find any obvious problem with the suspension. (I was suspecting a failed shock, but nope.) I did find that both of the boots on my steering rack are shot. The passenger side is shredded, actually.

When an assistant turns the steering wheel back and forth, I do get a definite small clunk from the steering rack, and I also notice that the rack moves slightly back and forth.

I have two specific questions:

  1. Is the steering rack a likely candidate to cause a CLUNK when going over bumps?
  2. Is the movement of the rack normal, or should it be pretty solid?
 

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There are rubber bushings where the rack attaches to the frame. Sometimes I see posts on here about them wearing out and causing the clunk, you can probably find just the bushings to replace.
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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No, I'm sure they are not. It's probaby almost as much work as completely changing out the whole rack.
I haven't done the job, but my reading of the various posts over the years is that it is easier to change out the whole rack. One or two have done the bushings by dropping the rack, but others were not able to remove the old bushings and/or get the new ones in without pulling the rack completely out.

-Mike

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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Here is a link to the rack and bushing issue:

Here is a second link to a related post with some good information:

Both of these will give you information on bushing replacement process and issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Posts like those are what make forums like these so valuable. Thank you both!

I'm leaning towards just having the dealer replace the rack. It's gotten rapidly worse and my wife doesn't even want to drive it, and I'm pressed for time. I'll be calling the dealer and another local shop in the morning to see when they can get us in....

It also seems counter-productive to do all that labor and NOT replace the rack.

I'll post back when I have a resolution.
 

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Somewhat common issue also. Sometimes the bolts are just loose. changing those out aren't too bad from what I remember. Just do both sides though.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There are lots of things a clunk could be. The challenge is finding which of the many possibilities is the actual cause.

Well, I decided to tackle it myself. Too early to give a success report. I ran out of daylight with the steering column not bolted down, and the tie rod ends still to do. I'm putting in new tie rod ends and sway bar links. The tie rods because it's crazy to have them off and not replace them when I have over 200k on them, and the sway bar links because the grinder was the only way to get them off.

The new ones are actually better than the OEM, because they have a 19mm nut as part of the shaft, behind where it fastens, so there is some way to keep the shaft from spinning while you tighten or loosen the nut. The OEM links just have an Allen socket in the end of the shaft, but that isn't nearly strong enough to hold while you apply enough torque to break through 13 years of rust. The Allen socket stripped out before the nut gave any.

What bothers me with this job is that I didn’t see any obvious reason for the clunk, unless it’s internal to the rack. I haven’t checked for that yet. I was expecting to see that the mounting bushings are shot, but they seem fine. That means I may have done this project for no good reason. The boots were shot, though.

By the way, now that I have seen how the bushings are mounted, and how difficult they are to get to. I would NOT recommend trying to replace them on the vehicle. I doubt it’s possible at all. There is simply no room to work. And if you take the rack out to replace the bushings, do you really want to put an old rack back in there? Well, maybe, if money is that tight, but it’s quite a lot of work. You’d really need to think it over.

Getting the mounting bolts to break loose was a serious challenge. I have air tools, but there isn’t room to get them in there. On the passenger side, you might, if you have a good ½” extension and universal joint with a deep well 17mm socket. On the driver’s side, fugghedaboudit. Not going to happen.

On the passenger side, I finally had to resort to using a 4 ton bottle jack to push up on a 17mm box end. The jack has a groove across the face of the anvil, which fit nicely on the edge of the wrench. It was still tedious. I had to jack up a bit, release the jack, reposition the wrench, jack up, repeat. I’d say I had to go a full turn like that before it started loosening up, and 2 full turns before I could wrench it by hand.

On the driver’s side, the jack approach didn’t work because the wrench needed to go down, so I used a crowbar wielded by my 300 lb. son (strong as an ox!) while I guided the wrench. Again, it was a fight.

All that to say, I’m saving $1000 this way, and I’m not at all sure it’s worth it.
 

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While you are in there with the rack out I would suggest you look at the intermediate shaft that connects your steering column to the steering rack as well. There have been reported issues with the u-joint in that shaft "clunking". I am pretty sure there is a TSB about salt and corrosion build up in that has caused some issues. Just make sure it is turning nice and smooth and does not have excessive play in the joint.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, did I save a thousand? Or did I waste $600? I have a new steering rack (Cardone reman), new sway bar links, new tie rod ends. All from my friendly neighborhood NAPA store.

It's all done, and all is well, but that was not the cause. The mystery clunk is still there.


I still have to get the steering rack and steering wheel back in agreement, but I've found that popping the steering linkage off the steering rack spline is pretty easy. An 18" extension with a 12mm socket gets the bolt out (and back in) easily, and to get the linkage off the splined shaft of the steering rack, I 'built' a very high tech, specialized tool. I was down underneath trying to use various tools to pop it up, and having zero success. They just kept slipping off. sigh. I realized I needed something with a saddle sort of top on it. I found a humungous box end wrench (used for tightening a tow hitch ball) , and used my angle grinder to cut the small end in half, leaving a half moon.

How well did it work? Well, as I was getting it into position so I could whack it with a hammer, I bumped it and the linkage popped off. (y) 15 minutes of struggle turned into a few seconds of, "Oops, it's done."
 

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Discussion Starter #15
While you are in there with the rack out I would suggest you look at the intermediate shaft that connects your steering column to the steering rack as well. There have been reported issues with the u-joint in that shaft "clunking". I am pretty sure there is a TSB about salt and corrosion build up in that has caused some issues. Just make sure it is turning nice and smooth and does not have excessive play in the joint.
Thank you, I will check that. Didn't think if it.

However, I may have found a problem with either the hub (bearings?) or the CV joint. As I was pulling the driver's side wheel off for the umpteenth time, I noticed that the holes in my rotor that go over the wheel studs are a bit elongated, and the rotor moves with respect to the hub. I know the rotor isn't bolted to the hub, but I have never seen that much play before. It's not a matter of the lug nuts not being tight enough.

It also sounds like there may be a problem with the wheel bearing, but.... the wheel seems solid. It doesn't have the play I would expect from a wheel attached to a worn out wheel bearing. But, I'm not used to working on front wheel drive, so maybe it's different? (I've owned them before, but never worked on one.)

Annnnnnd,,,, another possibilty is that I have gotten a rock stuck somewhere it doesn't belong. We live on a gravel road, and have a gravel driveway, so we have lots of small stones around. My son and I found quite a few here and there as we were working on it.

All that to say, I'm open to suggestions on potential problem areas and diagnostic methods. I'll be out of town for a few days, so I'll have time to read your ideas and ponder, but no hands-on until later in the week.

Thanks all!
 

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I had a very similar mystery clunk in my 05 XLE... i replaced my Sway Links, CV Joints and the Struts... Mystery knock was gone. My rack has both boots torn but not shredded. i was able to just pull them down and reclamp them. They didn't appear to be leaking either. The CV Joints on the other hand were leaking and throwing grease all over the bottom of my engine compartment and i had 2 power steering return hoses leaking very bad as well. They have saturated my control arm bushings but they still appear to be in one piece. Most likely i will have to do the bushings next. But as of now, no more clunk! Yay!
 

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As you mentioned in a earlier post. There are many things a "clunk" could be!

With this in mind you have already mentioned wheel bearings, CV & Ball Joints, and your elongated Brake rotor bolt clearance holes.

What is the mileage on this 06? This info might help others with prioritizing potential issues.

1. Here is the link to the TSB on the steering shaft noise, (might be helpful)
TSB: ST003-04R / Steering Shaft Noise 29Apr2004
http://siennachat.com/forum/index.php/topic,225.0.html

2. Have you inspected the full strut assemblies? The upper mount bearings will make noise if worn out. or even the strut itself if it has failed. The springs could also be weak and collapsing / making contact.

3. In general discussion Gen 2: - there is a thread that has an attached trouble shooting video. The name of that thread is "Clunking from front end/steering column going over bumps?" Watching this might give you some help with a process to go through to check and eliminate potential issues.
 

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Did you check the front struts, or perhaps the lower control arms? There a couple of spots that might be the source of an odd clunk.

I just replaced the rack on my '08 Sienna, and a new OEM rack from a Toyota dealer in Atlanta was $480 plus shipping. Sienna racks are famous for rotted boots due to failed rack seals, allowing the fluid to pool in the boot and rot it. Replacing the boots just allows the problem to restart. That replacement was a BOOGER!! I think I posted a link to the.video I did for it in a different thread.

Anyway, a clunk going over a hole would sure make me think of something associated with vertical motion, like a control arm bushing or maybe even a motor mount (?). Even further out in left field, considering the elongated rotor holes, could you have something as oddball as a dragging caliper holding the rotor slightly, but overcome by the torque of the shaft, causing the studs to slowly widen the holes with every start-stop cycle. The "clunk" worsens as the holes widen and become noisier when going over a pothole as the rotor shifts in vertical motion in a manner it wouldn't without the elongated holes. Probably a really left-field notion, but thought I'd toss it out. Good luck! You deserve a merit badge for the rack replacement!
 

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HI, folks. New guy here, with a recently purchased 2006 LE. We love it! I'm well versed in advanced wrenching on my own vehicles (the Sienna is my youngest vehicle), up to and including pulling/replacing engines and transmissions, etc., but I'm completely new to owning a Toyota.

Just last week my wife reported a THUNK when going over bumps. I took the car to work one day to confirm it. The interesting thing is, it's not consistent. Sometimes a clunk, sometimes not. It does not seem to be related to the severity of the bump.

I did some crawling around underneath and did not find any obvious problem with the suspension. (I was suspecting a failed shock, but nope.) I did find that both of the boots on my steering rack are shot. The passenger side is shredded, actually.

When an assistant turns the steering wheel back and forth, I do get a definite small clunk from the steering rack, and I also notice that the rack moves slightly back and forth.

I have two specific questions:

  1. Is the steering rack a likely candidate to cause a CLUNK when going over bumps?
  2. Is the movement of the rack normal, or should it be pretty solid?
Well, did I save a thousand? Or did I waste $600? I have a new steering rack (Cardone reman), new sway bar links, new tie rod ends. All from my friendly neighborhood NAPA store.

It's all done, and all is well, but that was not the cause. The mystery clunk is still there.


I still have to get the steering rack and steering wheel back in agreement, but I've found that popping the steering linkage off the steering rack spline is pretty easy. An 18" extension with a 12mm socket gets the bolt out (and back in) easily, and to get the linkage off the splined shaft of the steering rack, I 'built' a very high tech, specialized tool. I was down underneath trying to use various tools to pop it up, and having zero success. They just kept slipping off. sigh. I realized I needed something with a saddle sort of top on it. I found a humungous box end wrench (used for tightening a tow hitch ball) , and used my angle grinder to cut the small end in half, leaving a half moon.

How well did it work? Well, as I was getting it into position so I could whack it with a hammer, I bumped it and the linkage popped off. (y) 15 minutes of struggle turned into a few seconds of, "Oops, it's done."
Could be a few things, Struts leaking, bad antisway bars, ball joints or tie rod ends..
 

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HI, folks. New guy here, with a recently purchased 2006 LE. We love it! I'm well versed in advanced wrenching on my own vehicles (the Sienna is my youngest vehicle), up to and including pulling/replacing engines and transmissions, etc., but I'm completely new to owning a Toyota.

Just last week my wife reported a THUNK when going over bumps. I took the car to work one day to confirm it. The interesting thing is, it's not consistent. Sometimes a clunk, sometimes not. It does not seem to be related to the severity of the bump.

I did some crawling around underneath and did not find any obvious problem with the suspension. (I was suspecting a failed shock, but nope.) I did find that both of the boots on my steering rack are shot. The passenger side is shredded, actually.

When an assistant turns the steering wheel back and forth, I do get a definite small clunk from the steering rack, and I also notice that the rack moves slightly back and forth.

I have two specific questions:

  1. Is the steering rack a likely candidate to cause a CLUNK when going over bumps?
  2. Is the movement of the rack normal, or should it be pretty solid?
Jack up the front and remove the wheels, then grab the stabilizer sway bar with your hands and turn it left and right. If you're able to turn it and feel lose that means the stabilizer sway bar link is worn out. I would change both, if one is worn out, the other side is not far behind to wear out.
I recommend that you heat up the nut on the SSBL for a few minutes then open it. Believe me it will save you the agony of seeing the 6mm hex key hole from stripping. If that happens you would have to cut the bolt/nut out on the SSBL.
 
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