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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I have an '05 Sienna CE with 52k miles, purchased used at 40k miles from a Toyota dealership. Ever since owning the vehicle, there appears to be a subtle clunking sound in the left/front center of the vehicle when going over bumps/potholes...I can't tell if it's coming from the steering shaft or front end. The roads are kind of rough around here today and the noise was more pronounced and sounded like it was coming from the steering shaft. Has anyone experienced anything similar, and what did it turn out to be? Could this possibly simply be normal? A search of the forum shows a steering shaft problem known to these vehicles, but the noise appeared to be present when making turns at low speeds, which isn't the case with my vehicle.

I don't mind taking it to the dealership, but they misdiagnose stuff half the time... e.g., when the manual sliding door on my Sienna was sticking (it just needed lubrication), they said, "you need a new power side door!" and were stumped and didn't know what to do when I said it was not a power door. The other local dealership charges double what everyone else does, and the 3rd one is reputed to be dishonest, so options are unfortunately limited...
 

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Sure sounds like the steering shaft u joints you might be able to hear more clearly if you do not start the van but unlock the steering wheel and shut off everything else and turn the steering wheel back and forth ,if you hear it I think that can rule out ball joints.If you do a search on this site about the shaft and u joints there is a post from one of our members that took a syringe and put grease in it and lubed up his u joints in the steering shaft that may help . Good luck
 

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could be the steering shaft - ours made clunking noises at slow speeds (and pretty much any speed). didn't matter if it was a slight turn like a bend in the road or a hard turn like backing into a parking spot.

the dealership pretty much replaced everything under warranty, and it's been okay since.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi everyone,
Thanks for your input...this is helpful because I can mention these things to my mechanic (will pass on the dealership this time) the next time the Sienna's in his shop. The noise was more pronounced today going over packed ice and did seem to be coming from within the steering column. Interestingly, it seemed to vary depending upon the position of the tilt steering column.

Also, I read that worn front end parts (e.g., sway bar bushings) can also cause clunking over bumps, so maybe I can ask him to check out the front end too, although hopefully it's still all good at 52k miles.
 

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I had a similar issue when just turning the steering wheel at a standstill. Took it to my suspension shop and they mentioned a bad strut tower bearing. I plan on doing it the next time I have to change my struts.
 

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This is a great thread. I am the one who greased my steering column. That ended up being fixed. No more clunking when steering. But I have also been dealing with the exact same issues as the original post. I get clunking, mostly on the driver side when going over certain bumps. It feels and sounds like it is suspension related. I have changed out all the usual suspects. I replaced the front sway bar inner bushings, outer end links and upper strut mounts. I even replaced the driver side strut mount twice to make sure. I inspected the lower control arm bushings and ball joints and they seem ok. After all that I still get the noisy clunking over certain bumps. Very annoying. If the OP or anyone else gets this resolved, please post on here how it was fixed.
 

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hello123 said:
I had a similar issue when just turning the steering wheel at a standstill. Took it to my suspension shop and they mentioned a bad strut tower bearing. I plan on doing it the next time I have to change my struts.
What you are describing is not the strut mount/bearing. It is in the steering shaft. Go to this link and look down the page to my posts on how to fix it:

http://siennachat.com/forum/index.php/topic,942.15.html
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Robster,
Thanks for your input. Your description of the symptoms sounds like mine--the clunk is usually on the left side, and only occurs with hitting certain bumps, and almost sounds like something is loose. Given the inconsistency of these symptoms, I am wondering whether telling my mechanic "thoroughly inspect the front end and steering column and replace anything that isn't perfect" is the right thing to do, or might end up being a waste of $$$. It is doubtful that he'd be able to reproduce those noises when testing the vehicle. I'd think that chances are that an '05 Sienna with 52k miles probably doesn't have front-end issues. If it wasn't for hearing these clunking noises while driving over hard-packed ice/slush the past few days, I wouldn't have really thought of them.

A previous mechanic, who was excellent, had advised me that it was not easy for him to diagnose various odd noises I brought to his attention until they were not-so-subtle, and that it would make more sense and be most cost-efficient to wait until something was clearly wrong and was reproducible, in which case diagnosis and repair would be more straightforward.

So, haven't brought the van in yet, but still contemplating what to ask of the mechanic.

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Robster said:
This is a great thread. I am the one who greased my steering column. That ended up being fixed. No more clunking when steering. But I have also been dealing with the exact same issues as the original post. I get clunking, mostly on the driver side when going over certain bumps. It feels and sounds like it is suspension related. I have changed out all the usual suspects. I replaced the front sway bar inner bushings, outer end links and upper strut mounts. I even replaced the driver side strut mount twice to make sure. I inspected the lower control arm bushings and ball joints and they seem ok. After all that I still get the noisy clunking over certain bumps. Very annoying. If the OP or anyone else gets this resolved, please post on here how it was fixed.
 

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Anybody have any luck finding out what the cause is yet?
 

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As suggested by [Robster], I have UNlocked this topic.

If you are experiencing issues regarding "STEERING clunking" please try the following existing topic instead:

TSB: ST003-04R / Steering Shaft Noise 29Apr2004
http://siennachat.com/forum/index.php/topic,225.0.html

Please continue discussion of SUSPENSION clunking below....

topspy/Mod-Squad 8)
 

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We had this exact issue when our 2007 LE was new. It took quite a bit to figure it out but it ended up being the left, front spring. The dealer changed out so many parts I can't even remember them all. The clunk was in the left front side, at low speeds, over bumps, while turning if I remember correctly. After they replaced the spring, we haven't had the problem since.
 

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siennaaz said:
We had this exact issue when our 2007 LE was new. It took quite a bit to figure it out but it ended up being the left, front spring. The dealer changed out so many parts I can't even remember them all. The clunk was in the left front side, at low speeds, over bumps, while turning if I remember correctly. After they replaced the spring, we haven't had the problem since.
I could definitely see the spring being the issue, especially since it is the only thing left in that area that hasn't been replaced. You said it did the clunking while turning. Mine does it no matter what. Did you also experience it while going straight?
 

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Robster said:
This is a great thread. I am the one who greased my steering column. That ended up being fixed. No more clunking when steering. But I have also been dealing with the exact same issues as the original post. I get clunking, mostly on the driver side when going over certain bumps. It feels and sounds like it is suspension related. I have changed out all the usual suspects. I replaced the front sway bar inner bushings, outer end links and upper strut mounts. I even replaced the driver side strut mount twice to make sure. I inspected the lower control arm bushings and ball joints and they seem ok. After all that I still get the noisy clunking over certain bumps. Very annoying. If the OP or anyone else gets this resolved, please post on here how it was fixed.
I am also suffering from the steering clunk. I have tried the grease thing, seemed to help a bit. I just did it a couple weeks ago and it has been below zero (celcius) here since. I did notice that I could grab the steering column and get it to make lots of noise. I am going to try and get the grease to run down the shaft further by heating it with a hair dryer?. Not sure if it will help but it is worth a shot. Has anyone replaced the steering shaft and found the problem cured? Mine was replaced a couple years ago under warranty... Been to the garage, no noticeable problems from the "experts"!

shineysideup
 

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Robster,
Yes, the more I think about it it was while going straight as well. It seems to me that going over a speed bump would cause it, but going over a bump while also turning made it more noticeable. This is a problem that was fixed three and a half years ago so I'm trying to remember the details...
 

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Siennaaz, thanks so much and any more input would be greatly appreciated.

Shineysideup, sounds like you are on the right track. Just get as much grease in there as you can. Keep in mind that it takes some driving time for the grease to work its way into where it needs to be. I am sure the cold weather is delaying the process.
 

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Well, I have some awesome news! I finally got around to replacing my front driver side coil spring. I went ahead and replaced both front struts with KYB GR2s as well. After doing this then driving around neighborhood for a while it appears as though the clunking sound is completely gone. I am ecstatic. I have now replaced the front sway bar bushings/end-links, front strut mounts, left front coil spring and front struts. My van appears to ride as though it were new! Quiet and smooth over very bumpy terrain. I am quite pleased. This may sound like a lot but my van has 121K miles so IMO all of this was due, with the exception of the driver side coil spring. Thankfully the spring only cost me $70 from Toyota of Dallas. I do all the work myself so the cost is minimal. Also, my steering shaft is still completely quiet and clunk free.
 

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Robster said:
Well, I have some awesome news! I finally got around to replacing my front driver side coil spring. I went ahead and replaced both front struts with KYB GR2s as well. After doing this then driving around neighborhood for a while it appears as though the clunking sound is completely gone. I am ecstatic. I have now replaced the front sway bar bushings/end-links, front strut mounts, left front coil spring and front struts. My van appears to ride as though it were new! Quiet and smooth over very bumpy terrain. I am quite pleased. This may sound like a lot but my van has 121K miles so IMO all of this was due, with the exception of the driver side coil spring. Thankfully the spring only cost me $70 from Toyota of Dallas. I do all the work myself so the cost is minimal. Also, my steering shaft is still completely quiet and clunk free.
This sound is really annoying, when it's there. We can drive the van around for a week and hear nothing. All of a sudden the noise starts up again. Your front spring was broken? I was told by the garage they thought it might be the struts. My van just turned over 220,000km last week. I think I better look into replacing the struts. Were your struts in bad shape when you removed them?

thanks for the info,
Shineysideup
 

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No my spring was not broken, just somewhat defective. It wasn't rebounding correctly and was making a clunking noise if I hit certain bumps just right. If you have 220K kilometers then go ahead and replace the struts as they are due anyway. You should also replace the strut mounts and sway bar inner bushings and outer endlinks.
 

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jlyang said:
Your description of the symptoms sounds like mine--the clunk is usually on the left side, and only occurs with hitting certain bumps, and almost sounds like something is loose. Given the inconsistency of these symptoms, I am wondering whether telling my mechanic "thoroughly inspect the front end and steering column and replace anything that isn't perfect" is the right thing to do, or might end up being a waste of $$$. It is doubtful that he'd be able to reproduce those noises when testing the vehicle. I'd think that chances are that an '05 Sienna with 52k miles probably doesn't have front-end issues. If it wasn't for hearing these clunking noises while driving over hard-packed ice/slush the past few days, I wouldn't have really thought of them.

A previous mechanic, who was excellent, had advised me that it was not easy for him to diagnose various odd noises I brought to his attention until they were not-so-subtle, and that it would make more sense and be most cost-efficient to wait until something was clearly wrong and was reproducible, in which case diagnosis and repair would be more straightforward.
This is my dilemma too.. 1998 Sienna with 201,000 miles, gets a clunk sometimes when going over bumps in a straight line, steering is quiet. This happens only sporadically so I've been waiting until it's louder/happens more often. But I'm worried there might be a balljoint problem now, so thinking I should at least get those inspected. Problem is I have no mechanics I trust.. dealership will replace everything to the tune of a couple thousand if I let them..
 
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