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Old 06-02-11, 09:06 PM   #1
Goofaroo
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Default Front end slop

I've had my 96 400 for about 4 days now and I have decided that I would like to freshen up the front end just a bit. It doesn't have a lot of slop in it but at 130K I'm sure it could use a little maintenance. I'm going to install new sway bar bushings front and rear but I think it could use some other bushings as well. An internet search returned some info on the "strut rod" bushing. The opinion was that this is generally the most worn part and that there will be a big return for replacing it. Does anyone have any input as to what I should do to freshen up the suspension action? Also, where is this "strut rod" located and will I need to remove the entire strut assembly to replace it?

On another note, how would I know if I have air suspension on this car or not? The small section of the strut that is visible through the wheel well clearly has a spring and the appearance of a standard strut but the innards look rather beefy. How would I know for sure whether my car has air or coil suspension?

Either way the struts and strut mounts seem solid and working reasonably well so I'd love to just replace a bush or two and really get a big payoff.
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Old 06-03-11, 05:05 AM   #2
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I just bought a ,97 with 156k and am going through this also. To see if you have air suspension, look on the console just to the left of the "N" on the shifter. there will be a switch labeled "high height norm" Yes, those front struts do look beefy, don't they? Both regular and air units include a rebound spring inside on the inside, not a cheap design.

The strut bars are bolted to the lower control arm and angle forward. The bushing end of the bars attach to a frame bracket. Their purpose is to control fore/aft movement of the front suspension. These bushings are usually worn out at our mileage. Most people here replace these strut bars with new ones that include a bushing. Most folks here don't remove the strut assembly to replace the bars or the lower ball joints. you will have to unbolt the bracket that holds the lower strut mount to the lower control arm. The lower ball joints are the other big wear item at our mileage. Mine were really loose.I am doing all this stuff on my car next week. The suspension on these cars is easy to work on.
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Old 06-03-11, 07:10 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info. So are the strut rod bushings and lower ball joints the two primary causes of sloppiness on these cars? As long as I'm replacing those and the sway bar bushings does anyone else know of any other items that would be beneficial for me to replace while I've got it apart?

Also, what about the rear? Mine seems fine but is there anything that I can assume needs to be replaced?
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Old 06-03-11, 05:53 PM   #4
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I just bought a ,97 with 156k and am going through this also. To see if you have air suspension, look on the console just to the left of the "N" on the shifter. there will be a switch labeled "high height norm" Yes, those front struts do look beefy, don't they? Both regular and air units include a rebound spring inside on the inside, not a cheap design.

The strut bars are bolted to the lower control arm and angle forward. The bushing end of the bars attach to a frame bracket. Their purpose is to control fore/aft movement of the front suspension. These bushings are usually worn out at our mileage. Most people here replace these strut bars with new ones that include a bushing. Most folks here don't remove the strut assembly to replace the bars or the lower ball joints. you will have to unbolt the bracket that holds the lower strut mount to the lower control arm. The lower ball joints are the other big wear item at our mileage. Mine were really loose.I am doing all this stuff on my car next week. The suspension on these cars is easy to work on.
Please keep me posted on what you end up doing to your suspension and what kind of results you get. I'll do the same when I get around to it but right now I have to do some work on my wife's car so mine will have to wait. I have never been happy with the way her 2002 Avalon drives so I am replacing struts, mounts, and several bushings in an attempt to make it more tolerable. I'm not a fan of front wheel drive so I don't have very high hopes but it's gotta be better than it is now. I'd like to just postpone that project and work on my LS but I already have all the parts cluttering up my workbench so I need to get it done.

I'm leaning toward replacing the original strut rod bushings with polyurethane, new lower ball joints, and new sway bar bushings front and rear. I'm hoping that will get it handling and driving nice for a while until it needs more involved maintenance.
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Old 06-03-11, 07:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goofaroo View Post
Please keep me posted on what you end up doing to your suspension and what kind of results you get. I'll do the same when I get around to it but right now I have to do some work on my wife's car so mine will have to wait. I have never been happy with the way her 2002 Avalon drives so I am replacing struts, mounts, and several bushings in an attempt to make it more tolerable. I'm not a fan of front wheel drive so I don't have very high hopes but it's gotta be better than it is now. I'd like to just postpone that project and work on my LS but I already have all the parts cluttering up my workbench so I need to get it done.

I'm leaning toward replacing the original strut rod bushings with polyurethane, new lower ball joints, and new sway bar bushings front and rear. I'm hoping that will get it handling and driving nice for a while until it needs more involved maintenance.
you need to search some more.

poly strut rod bushings ride like crap and are known to be noisy.
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Old 06-03-11, 07:44 PM   #6
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I agree with PureDrifter here. Several people here have removed the poly bushings because of the harshness and noise. Looks like I'll be doing the front suspension next week on Wednesday. Lower ball joints,strut bars and sway bar bushings, all oe parts. I have some popping, thumping and squeaking now. I'll post up the results!
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Old 06-03-11, 08:51 PM   #7
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It sounds like I'll go with rubber instead of poly for the strut rods. I'll try some MOOG or Beck Arnley bushings and ball joints just to try something besides the OEM.

I'll probably place my order with Parts Geek unless someone has any suggestions for aftermarket sources.

I'm going to get my parts on order and I'll be doing mine shortly after you do yours so I'm anxious to see how it works out for you. It would be great if the rest of my suspension is in serviceable condition and I could get a few years out of it before I need to do a thorough upgrade.

I also need to do brakes while I'm at it. Tons of meat on the pads but they feel like to metal to metal. I'm going to turn the rotors (or replace them) and put on some nice organic pads. I also need to change the brake fluid even though the printout from the Lexus dealer shows that it was done a few months ago. In fact, the printout shows that it has been done several times but it looks to me like it hasn't been changed for a very, very long time. Hmmmm.
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Old 06-09-11, 05:09 PM   #8
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Well, I got the lower ball joints, strut bars, sway bar bushings, timing belt w/ water pump, tensioner and idler, new rotors,caps and plug wires and plugs. Absolutely took care of all the squeaking, popping and banging from the front end. I did my own alignment to the factory preferred settings. All this combined with a new set of Bridgestone Ecopia 422 tires gives a super straight tracking serenely quiet ride. Also replaced a cracked/broken drivers outside door handle. Surprisingly, these are still available in body color and not too expensive at $133 list.
I have found numerous mentions here about brake noise on these cars. Even with thick oem pads, mine too make some "shushing" and mild grumbling, not at all loud and the brakes work VERY well so I'm gonna leave them alone, just a very thorough flush.
Vacuumed down the AC, pulled 1.11 lbs of refrigerant out. That's about .4lb loss for 14 years in service. AC was working fine, I just wanted to check it. We put in 1.54 lb (700 gr).
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Old 06-10-11, 08:14 AM   #9
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Thanks for posting the results. It clinches it for me that I need to order the strut rods, sway bar bushings, and lower ball joints. I am also going to order the transmission mount. What about the rear? I am going to go ahead and order sway arm bushings but did you notice anything else while you were working on yours that might be benififcial to replace on the rear?

As for the brakes, it sounds like the noises are a fairly common problem. My brakes also work well but I sure would like to quiet them down. I am guessing that if I get rid of the ceramic or semi-metallic pads that it probably has and replace them with a set of organic pads it will not only improve their effectiveness but quiet them down as well. I will report my results.

Where did you purchase your strut rods? I have searched online and the bushings are easy to find but if I can get a deal on the entire rod ready to install I would like to go that route and then keep my old rods so I can rebuild them for next time.
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Old 06-10-11, 06:58 PM   #10
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I ordered factory strut rods, ball joints, and front and rear sway bar bushings from www.discounttoyotaparts.com It was $406 including shipping

I ordered Beck Arnley organic brake pads front and rear and a transmission mount from Parts Geek for $102 including shipping.

I'll post results when I get it all installed and aligned.
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Old 06-24-11, 08:58 AM   #11
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I finally got a chance to install my new strut bars, lower ball joints, and transmission mount. It made a dramatic difference in the ride and the straight line stability. It turned out that there was nothing wrong with my sway bar bushings so I saved the new ones for a later date. I just wanted to pass along to anyone having front end problems that on my 96 model with 130K on the clock, the those parts brought the front end back from the dead and the tranny mount tamed the vibration.
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Old 06-24-11, 07:26 PM   #12
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Those front end parts make a real difference, don't they? My old sway bar bushings weren't bad either. If you haven't yet, check/set the alignment.These cars will drive just fine with some real tire eating toe and camber angles. My car had the alignment set in Oct. '10 when the former owner (my sister) replaced the ps pump & rack. The new parts I installed made a fair difference in the toe and caster. These cars have big-*** cams for rear camber and toe adjustments and front camber/caster. All of it is easy to adjust over a very wide range. It's amazing how nicely it tracks down the road with good tires and alignment!

I checked my rear suspension carefully. All bushings, links, axles and control arms are good (thank God). This car lived it's whole life in west Texas, a land of mostly smooth roads, no road salt, very few pot-holes and a nice, dry climate. An easy life for a suspension.

I bought all my parts at the Lexus dealer in Austin. They got within 10-15% of most on-line pricing. Dealing with a good parts man directly is worth it for me plus they had most parts in stock.
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Old 06-24-11, 10:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert1408 View Post
Well, I got the lower ball joints, strut bars, sway bar bushings, timing belt w/ water pump, tensioner and idler, new rotors,caps and plug wires and plugs. Absolutely took care of all the squeaking, popping and banging from the front end. I did my own alignment to the factory preferred settings. All this combined with a new set of Bridgestone Ecopia 422 tires gives a super straight tracking serenely quiet ride. Also replaced a cracked/broken drivers outside door handle. Surprisingly, these are still available in body color and not too expensive at $133 list.
I have found numerous mentions here about brake noise on these cars. Even with thick oem pads, mine too make some "shushing" and mild grumbling, not at all loud and the brakes work VERY well so I'm gonna leave them alone, just a very thorough flush.
Vacuumed down the AC, pulled 1.11 lbs of refrigerant out. That's about .4lb loss for 14 years in service. AC was working fine, I just wanted to check it. We put in 1.54 lb (700 gr).

did you buy that door handle straight from lexus? mine is also cracked, do they match your lock or how does that work?
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Old 06-25-11, 04:34 AM   #14
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did you buy that door handle straight from lexus? mine is also cracked, do they match your lock or how does that work?
Ordered the handle from Lexus. You re-use your old lock, the new handle comes already painted and has the hole where the lock goes. Our shop foreman installed mine in about 45 minutes. Looking at the old one, I can see why they finally crack. The pulling lever that works the door latch is on the hinge nearer the key hole. Since we tend to pull the handle at the middle or forward end, there is a fair twisting force on the handle.
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Old 06-25-11, 07:25 AM   #15
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I got the front end aligned and it tracks really nice now. I forgot to mention that I replaced the brake pads with some organic pads and the brakes are nice and quiet now and have a lot better feel. I'm not sure what it had on it but I would guess they were ceramic.
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Old 06-25-11, 07:25 AM
 
 
 
 
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2000, 2002, avalon, bushing, end, front, is300, making, mounts, noise, popping, replace, rod, strut, struts, upgraded

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