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Old 12-06-2016, 04:08 PM   #1
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Clunking noise over rough pavement

Recently my Yaris has developed a clunking noise while driving over rough pavement. To me it sounds like it is coming from the passenger side front suspension. It is an intermittent problem and does not always occur. It is more likely to occur if one or more of the following factors are present:

low ambient temperature
long time since car was last driven
slow speeds (under 35mph)
while driving on slight uphill grade
while turning

But as I said it is an intermittent problem. All of these conditions can be present and it will not happen. Likewise it has happened when none of these condition are present.

I can not get the car to make this noise by turning the steering wheel while stopped or by pushing down on the corners of the car while parked. The shocks rebound normally in that case.

Car drives the same as day one. No change in road feel, no shimmy or vibration at speed, tracks true. Handles, brakes, and steers as always.

I have crawled under the car, removed front tires and can not see anything obvious. I retorqued sway bar end links, strut bolts, caliper bolts. All were tight, wrench clicked at recommended torque. I did not put a wrench on every suspension bolt, but those I did were tight and all I could see looked good. So maybe it's not the suspension?

This is a 2014 SE model with a little less than 18K on the odo. I would not expect suspension damage at that mileage but NYC roads are pretty bad.

The car is still under warranty and I will bring it in sometime after the holidays but I would like to have some idea of what the problem is before I let them have a crack at it. The intermittent nature of it worries me. Based on prior experience with other vehicles I fully expect that when I do bring it in the car won't make any noise and the dealer will say everything's fine. I don't want to play that game. So if anyone here has had a similar noise if you would be so kind as to tell me what it turned out to be it would be appreciated. Even though this is a 3rd gen car the suspension is mostly the same as 2nd gen so 2nd gen owners please feel free to weigh in.

P.S. I know the first response is going to be post a recording of the sound. I've tried to get it on camera to no avail. I would like some proof for the dealership as well but the intermittent nature of it requires that I constantly drive with my phone in my hand. I got pulled over last week for that. Luckily the cop was nice and let me go with a warning.

Anyway the sound is best described as a "clunk". It is NOT a "clang" or a "bang". It is NOT a sharp metallic sound. It is definitely not normal. Hope that helps.
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Old 12-06-2016, 05:11 PM   #2
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I'm probably the least qualified person on the forum to weigh in on this, but the first thing that comes to mind is the broken control arm bolt issue from back in the day.

http://www.yarisworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=27658

From what I remember, this would produce a clunking sound.
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Old 12-06-2016, 08:26 PM   #3
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^That sounds correct.
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Old 12-06-2016, 08:46 PM   #4
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I read about the control arm bolts issue but I though that only pertained to vehicles before the 2009 model year. I thought there was some change in how the bolts where installed on later cars. Nevertheless it does seem as if what those owners described is similar to what I'm hearing. I'll have another look and bring it to the attention of the dealer when I go.
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Old 12-06-2016, 09:00 PM   #5
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Grab the car by the roof while standing next to it and rock the car back and forth... This is easy way to see if ur swaybar links have gone bad....cos if car drives fine one would not notice this unless over bumps but like u said under warranty so I don't see why wait drive it to Toyota and have it fixed.
Also if it was the bolts as you may think your car would drive with extreme unpredictablety and would be specially noticeable at braking ...as the car would feelike the front end want to rock under, best way that I can describe this.
My first thought 💭 bad swaybar link.

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Old 12-06-2016, 09:08 PM   #6
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Or Jack the front of the car up so the wheels are off the ground. Grab a big f*cking hammer and hit the tire. I had to do this to diagnose a bad control arm bushing as it wasn't obvious when looking at it and I couldn't re enact the sound when bouncing the car.

Sometimes a bfh will be enough, I also had to put my hand on various suspensions parts when hitting the tire. The part that is bad will "feel" different when the hammer impacts the tire.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exiwolfman View Post
Grab the car by the roof while standing next to it and rock the car back and forth... This is easy way to see if ur swaybar links have gone bad....cos if car drives fine one would not notice this unless over bumps but like u said under warranty so I don't see why wait drive it to Toyota and have it fixed.
Also if it was the bolts as you may think your car would drive with extreme unpredictablety and would be specially noticeable at braking ...as the car would feelike the front end want to rock under, best way that I can describe this.
My first thought �� bad swaybar link.

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My original thought was sway bar links as well, but they were tight and looked good when I inspected them. Anyway I took your advice and set the Yaris a rockin' today. I mean I got violent with it. I had it rocking and rolling and good. Not a peep out of the suspension. I also spent the majority of my day on the road and not once did it make any noise.

Last night I re-read the above referenced thread and I'm beginning to think maybe it is the control arm bolts. The fact that there were posts concerning 3rd gen cars got my attention. I did have a look underneath again today and the bolt heads look OK, put a wrench on them just to see if they were obviously loose. They were not. I did not attempt to retorque to full value out of fear of possibly snapping them. Reading that thread got me scared.

As I said previously the car still performs fine. Unless things change for the worse I'm just going to leave it be until I have some free time after New Years and let Toyota figure it out then.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by NYC-SE View Post
My original thought was sway bar links as well, but they were tight and looked good when I inspected them. Anyway I took your advice and set the Yaris a rockin' today. I mean I got violent with it. I had it rocking and rolling and good. Not a peep out of the suspension. I also spent the majority of my day on the road and not once did it make any noise.

Last night I re-read the above referenced thread and I'm beginning to think maybe it is the control arm bolts. The fact that there were posts concerning 3rd gen cars got my attention. I did have a look underneath again today and the bolt heads look OK, put a wrench on them just to see if they were obviously loose. They were not. I did not attempt to retorque to full value out of fear of possibly snapping. Reading that thread got me scared.

As I said previously the car still performs fine. Unless things change for the worse I'm just going to leave it be until I have some free time after New Years and let Toyota figure it out then.
Why wait... Just take it in. Could be an easy fix and or something that could prevent worse.

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Old 12-07-2016, 09:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Exiwolfman View Post
Why wait... Just take it in. Could be an easy fix and or something that could prevent worse.

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Just don't have the time at present.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:10 PM   #10
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So I finally took it in this week and of course they didn't hear anything. I went for 2 test rides with 2 different techs and neither one could hear it. In fact it was making the noise but it was very intermittent and very, very faint and I can understand how it could be missed. I could hear it though. I guess I am attuned to the sound. For the record it is not always so faint. It is not always present either, but when it is it is always the same "sound" but the volume can vary greatly.

They claimed they did a full inspection of the front suspension and couldn't find anything wrong. I think that's true because I have done so as well and can't find anything wrong either.

I mentioned, REPEATEDLY, to the service writer and both techs, the issue of the lower control arm bolts and the TSBs relating to this but they seemed uninterested. Told me none were applicable to the car. When I pointed out that that may technically be true going by VIN or MY, but that all MY Yaris share the same front suspension design and it was worth investigating the service writer tried to tell me that the 2014 MY has a different front suspension. Yeaaahhh..right. Service writers.

They never removed the LCA bolts for inspection.

Initially they wanted to charge me a $129 diagnostic fee for this. This is why people hate dealerships. I eventually paid zero.

Anyway I'm not too upset. At this point I'm 97% sure that the issue is in fact the LCA bolts so I went ahead and ordered a pair online and I'm just going to change them out myself. Less aggravating that way. I just hope the old ones come out in one piece
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:12 PM   #11
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Sway bar Links or struts are going or both if it was the lower control arm bolts u would definitely know it car would drive strange specially when stopping.

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Old 03-31-2017, 09:18 PM   #12
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It is definitely not the sway bar links.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:21 PM   #13
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Well than I say struts on the way out , mine where like that at 110000km replaced with kybs when I lowered my Yaris on teins

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Old 03-31-2017, 09:22 PM   #14
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How old is ur Yaris and how many miles on her ?

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Old 03-31-2017, 09:24 PM   #15
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Other possibilities are front pads bouncing in the​ brakets ...Very Noticable on open style rims and if pads are dry as in no grease on slippers or fittings​

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Old 03-31-2017, 09:24 PM   #16
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3 years and 20K miles. I don't think its the struts. No evidence of leaks. Car rebounds normally.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:26 PM   #17
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3 years and 20K miles. I don't think its the struts. No evidence of leaks. Car rebounds normally.
Definitely would agree now that I know how old and miles on her , I would service ur front brakes I bet it's the pads bouncing around ...Anyhow it's do for a brake service anyway .

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Old 03-31-2017, 09:32 PM   #18
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Other possibilities are front pads bouncing in the​ brakets ...Very Noticable on open style rims and if pads are dry as in no grease on slippers or fittings​

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Checked. No.

I said I'm 97% sure its LCA bolts only because I've checked (and now dealer as well) almost everything else that I can think of. That and the fact that the LCA bolts have a reputation for causing clunking noises. There is a 24 page thread on the issue.

I hear you on the difference in feel if it is the LCA bolts but it seems that almost nobody who had the problem in the referenced thread reported handling or road feel issues, only an abnormal clunking noise.

Anyway I'll find out soon enough. Once I change them out I'll report back and see if they made any difference.
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