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Mystery suspension "clunk" in 04 4x4 TRD doublecab

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Old 02-12-2011, 02:03 PM   #1
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Mystery suspension "clunk" in 04 4x4 TRD doublecab

Okay, this is kinda lengthy, but it's a good brain teaser. I've done a lot of "googling" and can't find anything close to my issue (so it doesn't seem like a common problem with my truck)

I have an '04 TRD Doublecab 4x4.

I first started hearing a "clunk" upon acceleration, but only occasionally. It started getting worse and would happen pretty much every time I accelerate. It usually only happens after a full stop (or near stop in in stop an go traffic), and I'd hear it pretty much right when I step on the gas. It seems like it has something to do with the A arms moving. When you accel, the rear wheels push the vehicle, essentially "sucking" the front wheels back slightly. When in 4wd, the noise is still there. It is quite obvious it's coming from the front right corner.
I'm usually pretty handy with a wrench, so I decided to swap the upper A-arm bushings and upper ball joint (ball joint was leaking grease). Noise is still there. I ran out of time/motivation, so I took it to the dealer. Here's what they did:

-replaced front right coil-over, said it was "loose" didn't work, so they put the old one back on.
-tightened bumper etc..., didn't work.
-then they removed the REAR drive-line and put it in 4x4 and drove it around. They say that "fixed" the problem since the noise went away. They were pretty adamant it was the drive line, but I didn't believe them since the noise is OBVIOUSLY coming from the front right.

It just seems odd that it'd be the drive line. I took it home and tried what they said, I took the drive line off and drove it around in 4wd. They weren't lying, the noise went away. But since a good friend has an identical truck (but an '03) I switched our drive lines and the noise came back (HA! I was right!!).

Driving in "front wheel drive" (no drive line) makes the front wheels "pull" the truck forward, vs in rear wheel drive, the rear wheels "push" the truck, and thus the front wheels will move backward slightly because of wheel/bearing friction. I think it has something to do with when the front wheel is forced "backwards" but as far as I cal tell, all the suspension components are intact and show no signs of looseness.

I can now occasionally hear the noise when under slight accel going over studder bumps like street reflectors or something (but only rarely, it's almost impossible to duplicate that on command. Makes me think a suspension piece is loose (shock/spring or loose bushing), but I NEVER hear the noise under braking, and rarely hear it on those studder bumps (and only for a split second). If it were a loose bushing, wouldn't I hear the clunk under accel AND decel (A arm moving back and forth)???


So I'm basically stumped (so was the dealer!). Ball joints appear fine, wheel bearing has no slop (that I can tell), and it has brand new upper urithane bushings and a new upper ball joint. I KNOW it's not the shock/spring, b/c I even swapped the left/right, and the noise is still there (and didn't move to the other side).

Any Techs out there who have Jedi abilities would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for looking and taking the time to read.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:10 PM   #2
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Are the bolts on the upper arms on tight? It might also be the lower ball joint. Jack up the passenger side, grab the wheel at 12 and 6 and rock it and see if there's any play in it.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:21 PM   #3
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did that, no play. I'm sure the A arm bolts are tight. After I replaced the bushings, I let it down off the jacks, then tighten the A-arm bolt.

The odd thing is that when I replaced the upper bushings, I thought I fixed it. Backed out of the driveway and drove it around - starting and stopped several times (bet my neighbors were like "WTF?!"). At first, I didn't hear the sound, then about a block into it (several start/stop cycles) it came back.

Should I bother replacing the lower A-arm bushings? They don't appear bad...
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Old 02-12-2011, 11:06 PM   #4
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What you are hearing is actually axle wrap. I have an 04 D-cab and it does the same thing. You come to a stop and take off, it clunks. You can feel it as well as hear it. It is a pretty common thing in all Tacomas. The rear leaf springs are weak enough that the axle twists when taking off.

If you really want to see it, park your truck on level ground. Grab the back tire and try rocking the truck back and forth by the tire. Watch your axle and springs. You should see the springs flex and the axle shift. Do a search for axle wrap, there is quite a bit of information about it.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:51 AM   #5
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you sure about that? It would totally make sense if the noise was coming from the back, but I'm SURE it's form the front passenger side. I've even had my wife stand outside, and I'll "make the noise" and she points to the front right side. I guess it could be resonating thru the frame?

I've never heard of that being a problem on 04's before (at least making the noise). I know several people with 02-04 4x4 Tacos, and they don't have that problem.

How did you fix the problem?
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:10 PM   #6
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Replacing the springs is the best solution, although I have always wondered if adding a sway bar would stop it from happening.

Another way to tell is to grease the slip joint on the rear drive shaft. This takes slop out of the drive line and will prevent it from happening temporarily.

I have just learned to live with it. I might replace the springs one of these days, but for now it isn't a big deal.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:25 AM   #7
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I'm not sure about the rear drive line thing. Early on, I took it to a Toyota dealer and after several days of "swapping parts" they determined it was the rear drive line and wanted $1700 to replace it.

I didn't really believe them (and didn't want to spend $1700!!), so I took it home. Luckily, my buddy has an identical truck so I bribbed him with beer to let me swap the drive lines (his does NOT make the noise). The noise was still there, so I know the drive line isn't the issue. I even drove it around like the dealer did (without the rear drive line) and yup, it in fact doesn't make the noise.

So... Can anybody recommend a trust worthy shop in Sacramento, CA?
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:15 AM   #8
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I'll go out on a limb and say "i've fixed it".

Nah.. where you live? Sacremento? Winter? Well.. there's defogging I guess.

Ok.. my 99, had a clunk starting out and making turns.
Horrible.. like someone was striking the floor with a ball pene hammer. Took it to the dealer "could not duplicate customer complaint". Eventually I noticed it would only clunk if I had the A/C compressor running.

Turned out, the rubber bushing on the anti-sway bar is right under the drain for the heater box. Water would get on the rubber and make it "stick" rather than slide. It would give way every turn with a "thunk". Sprayed some silly cone spray on it and it solved that problem.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by island808 View Post
I'll go out on a limb and say "i've fixed it".

Nah.. where you live? Sacremento? Winter? Well.. there's defogging I guess.

Ok.. my 99, had a clunk starting out and making turns.
Horrible.. like someone was striking the floor with a ball pene hammer. Took it to the dealer "could not duplicate customer complaint". Eventually I noticed it would only clunk if I had the A/C compressor running.

Turned out, the rubber bushing on the anti-sway bar is right under the drain for the heater box. Water would get on the rubber and make it "stick" rather than slide. It would give way every turn with a "thunk". Sprayed some silly cone spray on it and it solved that problem.
Interesting, and I wouldn't have thought of that. I took off the sway bar links (at the A-arm), and the noise was still there, so that's not it in my case.

The next thing I'm going to try is the body mounts. As I was changing the oil a few days ago, I spent a few minutes on my back looking around, and noticed the front pass. side body mount bushing is looking pretty cruddy. I'll be ordering a urethane bushing kit this week to compliment the urethane swing arm bushings I installed a few months ago. It's a slow process, I don't have a lot of spare time, and I don't drive this truck a lot, so it always seems to get pushed down the list of "things to spend money/time on."
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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I had a clunk that devolped on my 06, but mine was when you would hit the brakes and let off it would clunk, had my friend who's a mechanic look at it and after about an hour of trying different things he tightened the lower control arm bolts where they attach to the frame[ he barely got the wrench to turn] and the clunk was gone
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Old 08-01-2011, 12:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparkystaco View Post
I had a clunk that devolped on my 06, but mine was when you would hit the brakes and let off it would clunk, had my friend who's a mechanic look at it and after about an hour of trying different things he tightened the lower control arm bolts where they attach to the frame[ he barely got the wrench to turn] and the clunk was gone

Very interesting. I've since gone back and re-tightened the lower A-arm bolts, and it actually made the clunk "better" but it's still there. I fear I may have damaged the bushing sleeves: it's been FAR too long letting this noise go, especially for what turns out to be very likely a pretty simple fix.

Does anyone know if I can get just the lower control arm bushing sleeves from somewhere? I have a set of Energy Suspension urethane bushings, but they require using the OEM sleeves (ones that go inside the bushings). I don't think replacing just the bushings will help, since the clunk is still there no matter how tight I make the bolts.

If not, I may just have to order a whole new lower control arm, with the OEM rubber bushings installed and leave it at that. Although I'd be torn at this point. If I get a whole new control arm with OEM bushings, should I still replace the rubber with urethane bushings? I hear a lot of people don't use the urethane on the lowers anyway... If I can get just the bushing sleeves, I'll throw the urethane bushings in, though.

Of course, I couldn't get the control arm out last night anyway to inspect it (or even replace the bushings). One of the bolts to remove my steering rack was seized(have to remove that to get the rear control arm bolt out). I couldn't even get it off with my impact driver! I'll have to try again once I can let some penetrating oil sit for a while, then try again with the impact driver or a manly breaker bar...
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:42 PM   #12
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I had an issue like that with my '03 Tacoma. Probably totally different from yours but mines ended up being the transmission mount. I'd hit the gas and the trans wouldlift then sit due to the torq of the drivetrain and make that "clucking" noise. By looking at it you couldn't tell, I actually had to put a jack under it and jack it up to see the mount was seperated.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:14 PM   #13
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Okay, just received the entire lower control arm from PartsGeek.com.

Um, yeah, it's the wrong part.

The website says this LCA will work for my truck, but the included lower ball joint doesn't have the connection for the tie-rod, and there's no place to mount the swaybar. So it's going back, but I'm stuck with paying the shipping. I better not get charged a restocking fee for the part THEY SAY is supposed to fit my truck, but clearly doesn't...

Back to square one, I guess. I *really* don't want to pay retail for this part (from a dealer) as it'll cost ~$200-300!!
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:26 PM   #14
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The tie-rod and sway-bar should connect to the knuckle which is connected to the upper and lower control arms
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Old 08-17-2011, 07:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparkystaco View Post
The tie-rod and sway-bar should connect to the knuckle which is connected to the upper and lower control arms
nope. It's a 2004 TRD 4x4 Double Cab. The website I got it from said "2004 Tacoma 4x4". I've never seen a difference between any of the cab styles or option packages (TRD etc...) at least as far as the front suspension - aside from the brand of shock. The FSM does not make a distinction, either.

I took this pic this morning of the passenger side, looking forward. Red circle is the sway bar mount, and the green is the tie-rod connected to the ball joint.


Also seen here:

ball joint:
http://ncttora.com/fsm/2003/Repair_M...j4wdp/comp.pdf
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Old 09-05-2011, 05:37 PM   #16
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Okay, after dealing with returning the wrong parts, I decided to just get the ball joint (moog from rockauto) and some raybestos LCA bushings in case the original metal sleeve were too badly damaged. I was able to replace the LCA bushings with the urethane ones I already had (metal sleeves were fine) and the lower ball joint.

When I got the passenger side out, though (side where clunk appears to be coming from), it looked like this:



My thought: I found it!!!!

When I got it all together (thinking that HAD to be the problem) I took it for a quick test drive and the clunk was STILL there!!! Then I got the other side (driver side) apart, and both the lower bushings looked like this!! OMG!! I thought for sure that was it. Now it's got ALL urethane bushings (finally), but the clunk is still there.

What's next? Trany/engine mounts and body mounts maybe?

Another random thought: anyone ever have the rubber bushings that mount the front diff to the frame wear out (where you install a diff drop)? Mine look relatively intact, but the passenger side seems to move a little too easily.

EDIT: Okay, apparently I'm an idiot. This is how the OEM bushings are *supposed* to look. Makes sense now that's why the clunk didn't do away. Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled program...
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:18 PM   #17
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any solution to this guy? what finally happened?
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:34 PM   #18
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OK people, it's been a while, so I figured I'd update this thread:

IT'S FIXED!

I finally took it into a shop that was recommended by a couple friends. They had it for about 3 days trying various things, troubleshooting, etc...

The mech finally figured out what it was. My K&N cold air intake. Yup, that's right, it had NOTHING to do with my suspension, the drivetrain, etc...

Basically, what happened is one of the mounting bolts had come a little loose, allowing the air intake tube/cone filter to move relative to the heat shield, enough so that the tube was clunking on the shield, and also causing the shield to move around on the fender. I have to say, though, that I did NOT install the air filter, it was there when I bought it.

The sound would resonate on the fender, making it sound a lot worse than it actually was.

So, in the end, I feel kinda dumb that it was such a simple thing to fix, and had nothing to do with the normally bomb proof Tacoma suspension, but I also wasn't the only one over complicating the problem (and the solution). The dealer I originally took it to thought it was everything form the rear driveline to the coilover, THEN it took almost 3 days for the guy who eventually fixed it to figure it out too.

In the end, at least I got a full set of urethane bushings and new ball joints out of the deal.
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Old 02-10-2012, 06:03 PM   #19
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The factory air intake that goes into the fender on my 06 one day started to develop a knock or thud when backing up my truck but only on cold mornings.

I just took off the elbow going into the fender. Too damn cold to work on the thing. Will play with it when it warms up.
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