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Discussion Starter #1
Our 2006 LE AWD with 151k is now having a clunking noise. Currently it seems to only happen sometimes, but I think I've narrowed it down to happening when steering at least a tiny bit to the right (even just barely past center), once the van is warmed up, and when going under about 30mph. The warmed up part of it is frustrating, but there is a chance that it instead has to do with being weighted, uphill/downhill, and road camber. Our roads and driving habits don't make for the easiest testing sometimes.

We've had some recent issues. A few weeks ago the right steering boot cracked and left PS fluid dripping. The dripping has stopped and fluid level isn't going down, and I shoved some multipurpose grease onto the joint. From the threads here, it's looking to be a non-issue, and I will do a flush on the fluid (very well could have gotten some normal PS fluid into it at some point, instead of ATF) and replace the boot once I'm sure things are ok.

I replaced the front right wheel bearing about a month and a half ago (had been shaking some, and jacked up you could move the wheel both at 9 and 3, and 12 and 6). It's been better since then, but we did have some shaking after that turned out to be the 2 nuts and bolt on the ball joint connection being loose.

Our CV boots are all good, but I'm thinking it's the CV joint. Conveniently, I have the part and tools to replace the CV axle, since my initial quick glance at the PS boot was wrong, seeing a cracked boot and thinking it was the CV joint even though it was light liquid everywhere instead of heavy grease.

On other vehicles I've never had the CV joint go bad, just the CV boots. But it does sound like the CV Joint video on this page, though maybe a little deeper sound: https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/4-Common-Car-Noises

I could also see it being the ball joint, especially since it was lose for a week making noise. But it doesn't sound like the one in this video, and there is no tire movement when raised and trying to shake it (at the 9 o'clock and 3 position nor 12 and 6)

BTW, this video was helpful too, even though he didn't go through CVs.


It seems like most things point to it being a CV joint. I'm just used to a boot being blown, the warmed up issue is a little strange (though I could see it making sense), and I was always told to look for a clicking sound when at or near a full turn, instead of a clunking sound when turning any amount.

What do you think?
 

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I am not convinced it is the CV. I could be 100% wrong. I would double check those 2 nuts and 1 bolt on the control arm. If you left them loose after doing the wheel bearing their maybe some damage.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I'm not convinced it's the CV either. I just found the spec on those nuts and bolt on the control arm (page 30-15 of the FSM says 94 ft lbs). Even "tight" I didn't have them close to that. Jacking up partway, I loosened them and then tightened them down to spec with a torque wrench, even breaking a 1/2 to 3/8 socket adapter in the process.

Fit it in just before school pickup, but then it made the same sound in the same area of the school parking lot, going straight with the pavement dipping to the right. That's only a mile away, so it will be my test zone, and I'll get a video if there's a next time.

I'm thinking sway bar bushings or other bushings, especially ones that could have been hit by the PS fluid when the steering boot opened up.

I'm also thinking about the front strut. Neither the spring nor shock has been replaced. Pushing down on the bumper and letting go seems to act ok, but I do think the rear springs are worn (planning to replace), so it makes sense that other suspension stuff is well worn.

I see the spring twist a little when twisting the steering when up on jacks, but I thought that might be normal.

I figure I'll start with bushings and lube them up with some grease, which if them should at least temporarily change or stop the noise. That's easy. But any ideas, or ways to check the parts of the strut, would be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Got the sound some more, and a couple videos. These are at very slow speed, so it seems less likely it's suspension, and more likely it's something to do with rotation, so either the bearing/hub, CV joints, or maybe even the brakes. It could very well be the bearing...I know we had some worries about it on installation since it was still moving, but once the axle nut was tightened down it was fine.

It's frustrating that I can't find anything when unweighted on the jack. Maybe that points to something?
 

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I had a mysterious clunk a while back that turned out to be a sway bar link.

To figure it out, I jumped up and down on the passenger and driver side door ledge until I could reproduce the sound. Then, had my wife do the same while I put my hand on various suspension parts until I isolated it to the bad link.

Good luck and don't forget to post back what you find.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I took a look at things this afternoon, hoping it could be something obvious, but also prepping for doing the CV. I tightened a couple bolts, and then tried throwing some grease on the sway bar bushings, and some grease and then wd-40 on the power steering rack mounts. While not 100% and not final solutions, I thought that might help with debugging. But nothing changed.

It could be a CV joint, and I have the part and just need to find a small size 24 wrench or small socket for the drain plug (15/16ths socket works on the fill plug, but without removing part of the exhaust I need something lower profile to get the drain plug). If I had that tool, it would have been quickest just as far as figuring this out. But, I'm thinking it's less likely that it's this.

I'll try to get a video posted, but I'm now getting pretty consistent noises at low to very low speed when the car is leaning towards the driver's side, whether that's due to turning right, or on a slant. It's a strong and consistent thunking sound even at 1 mph.

I'm thinking wheel bearings, and I think this means it's just one race of the bearings, the inside one. The tire does not move when trying to wiggle it at 9 and 3 or 12 and 6, unlike my past wheel bearing going out. But I think that's because it's just one race of bearings within it. If I remember right, there are 3.

This is frustrating because I just did them, and used the Timken/Koyo ones. Hopefully they will warranty them. And this time I will do the hub too, since it might have had some wear. Luckily, I know how to do it, and can probably speed through it in 1-2 hours once I have the parts.

(I'll try to post that video later tonight, but no promises)
 

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I took a look at things this afternoon, hoping it could be something obvious, but also prepping for doing the CV. I tightened a couple bolts, and then tried throwing some grease on the sway bar bushings, and some grease and then wd-40 on the power steering rack mounts. While not 100% and not final solutions, I thought that might help with debugging. But nothing changed.

It could be a CV joint, and I have the part and just need to find a small size 24 wrench or small socket for the drain plug (15/16ths socket works on the fill plug, but without removing part of the exhaust I need something lower profile to get the drain plug). If I had that tool, it would have been quickest just as far as figuring this out. But, I'm thinking it's less likely that it's this.

I'll try to get a video posted, but I'm now getting pretty consistent noises at low to very low speed when the car is leaning towards the driver's side, whether that's due to turning right, or on a slant. It's a strong and consistent thunking sound even at 1 mph.

I'm thinking wheel bearings, and I think this means it's just one race of the bearings, the inside one. The tire does not move when trying to wiggle it at 9 and 3 or 12 and 6, unlike my past wheel bearing going out. But I think that's because it's just one race of bearings within it. If I remember right, there are 3.

This is frustrating because I just did them, and used the Timken/Koyo ones. Hopefully they will warranty them. And this time I will do the hub too, since it might have had some wear. Luckily, I know how to do it, and can probably speed through it in 1-2 hours once I have the parts.

(I'll try to post that video later tonight, but no promises)
I had my wheel bearings go on my 2006 sienna at about 104,000 miles; Timken makes good bearings the auto techs tell me; however, I replaced mine with NSK bearings from Amazon. They ran about $54 each with free shipping. Besides being the most expensive bearings I could find on the internet, a couple of techs told me that NSK was the manufacturer of the original Sienna bearings. I don't know if that is true or not. I don't have many miles on the new bearings so I can't tell you if they have good durability or not.

I would appreciate hearing from you as to whether your bearings were the problem or not; thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The Koyo bearings were OEM, which is what the Timken bearings are. They merged or had an agreement or something...whatever I read about 2 months ago. I'm sure a quick google search will find something.

It sounds like a lot of these vans have wheel bearings that fail in the 100-150k range, often the passenger front ones. I thought I was just unlucky the first time, as I found a bit of overspray up near the mirror on that side so don't know what the original owner didn't tell me, and assume the worse that there was a decent enough accident up there that he had fixed without getting onto the car-fax. But, it looks like it might just be normal, a part that fails on these vans at a considerable but not outlandish mileage.

Like I said, when I put in these bearings they didn't seem right to me, still having some play until we tightened down the axle nut. Maybe that's normal...maybe it isn't. I also think there might have been some wear on the hub that I reused, but I thought it was more inside than where the bearing contacts....but if it was damage, and was in a place that did matter, then that could also cause the new ones to go out quicker than expected.

Otherwise, everything I saw and read recommended the Timken/Koyo, and so I didn't try to save a couple bucks or get it quicker by buying something else. I'd still recommend them, though there are a few other options out there, and it might very well be that all options are better than what was available 14 years ago when the van was built.
 

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The Koyo bearings were OEM, which is what the Timken bearings are. They merged or had an agreement or something...whatever I read about 2 months ago. I'm sure a quick google search will find something.
A few years back I ordered a Timken front wheel bearing for an Accord and got an NSK. There's some sort of tie up with them according to NSK's website:
Jul. 2007
Timken-NSK Bearings (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., a manufacturer and vendor of automotive bearings in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, is made a wholly owned subsidiary and becomes Suzhou NSK Bearings Co., Ltd.
The bearing worked fine.
 

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Our 2011 Limited developed a mild, intermittent steering clunk at 55K miles or so. First dealer said "Brake shoes", which I knew was BS. Second dealer (same chain) said "CV joints", replaced them under extended warranty. That did nothing. Went back, said (as I'd said first time, thanks to someone's suggestion here) "Steering half-shafts?" and they looked again, surprise, steering half-shafts. That did it.

No idea whether same issues would apply to your 2006, but it's an idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I see the confusion, especially without posting a good video. This was a continuously repeating clunking sound, whereas most of the steering and suspension clunks out there are more of a one-off.

It got worse and more consistent last week, and I found that it was happening both when turning any amount (a little or a lot) to the right, or when the the road was slanted down to the driver's side. It was most noticeable at slower speeds, say 0-15mph, and the van needed to warm up. The mile drive to the school, and then it's canted parking lot, was the consistently working test case.

With this, I decided it was the wheel bearings, again. When we finished installing them just over 2 months ago (1000 miles), they had some play until we tightened down the axle nut. This had worried me at the time but they drove ok at first. I ordered a new Timken bearing again (it could get here quick, and I figured this was the easiest way to "warranty" the bad one), along with a Dorman hub, new rotors, and a fresh set of brake pads (lifetime replacement from auto zone, so might as well set up new with new).

All went smoothly, though slower than I expected (~4 hrs, + 1 for rotor/pads on the other side). I should have labeled what I used in my bearing replacer kit previously. And while I got the dust cap out quicker this time, the snap ring gave me plenty of trouble, both taking out and putting back in. If there's a next time, I'll probably grind down a set of needle nose pliers to get a better grip, as the various ones I was using kept loosing their grip. When disconnecting the front suspension arm I had some oil from the lower ball joint. I don't see any cracks and it didn't lose any more, but it will be on the list of things to watch and replace.

Things are good and quiet now, though it's only seen a few miles so far. I have a noise from the driver's side and was ready to order a bearing for it, but then I took the wheel off and rotated it 2 lugs, and it made the noise in the same spot on the tire. This is also at low speeds, possibly a rubber squish sound. I figure if it was that the wheel/tire was out of balance you wouldn't hear it at a half mile per hour. But 3 of the 4 tires have always had an inverted bulge in the sidewall, so maybe this has something to do with that. I removed any small gravel in the tread, without a change. I'll probably just switch the 2 front tires and see what happens. These tires are probably 2/3rds through their life, with some outer wear on the ones now on the back, but they're at 5-6/32 everywhere else. If the noise sticks with the tire I'll be seeing if the tire shop can warranty them a little early.

Thanks everyone
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Another followup, now 15-20k later at 165k. This timken bearing has worked fine. And the driver's side hasn't been an issue yet.

In cleaning up the transfer case, topping it off, and cleaning up other things a little, I see more oil on what is probably that lower ball joint on the passenger side. That will be good to replace while I'm replacing the power steering (dust) boot.
 
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