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'94 Es, Rear End Rattle/vibration?


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Hello group,

Very trouble-free 94 ES300 w/ 109K miles on it.

Sometime this last week I started noticing a vibration coming from apparently the rear end of the car. It is especially noticeable on rough roads or when crossing expansion joints. There is the typical low-frequency tire thump from going over the joint, and following the rear axle i hear a 'thump-thump-thump-thump' of a higher frequency than tire noise (i would characterize it as mid-bass frequency as opposed to low-bass tire noise). This wasn't present before last week and I can't think of anything that has happened to bring it about.

I am the store manager of a quick lube where I have access to a pit. I have inspected the underside and see no signs of suspension damage. all the links in the rear end have undamaged bushings and seem ok. the exhaust system and all heat shields are in excellent shape.

I haven't emptied my trunk out because nothing has changed back there all winter. my trunk closes tightly but I suppose you can lift it up and down while it is latched about 1mm, and the rubber stoppers COULD make a noise but i highly doubt it. I suppose i could eliminate the trunk by driving with the trunk open tomorrow.

Any other suggestions before I bring it in and pay lots of money for trial and error diagnostics? I am very handy in the garage and can do most work myself but this one has me stumped so far.

Thanks for any insight,

Andy

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The rear struts wearing out are common on the 1st generation ES's. If you determine that they are the problem be sure to replace the isolators too. I've seen when only the struts are replaced & the isolators aren't you'll still end up with a less severe thumping noise. Hope this helps.

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Andy you're not alone. I have a '95 w/ similar mileage and I have the same problem. I don't think it's the struts. I had the noise problem before getting my rear struts and strut mounts replaced and I still have it. It sounds ike a series of med/low pitched "thunk/clunk" noises that ususlly occur when you drive over some rough road, RR tracks, etc. I'm guessing that it is probably more frequent/pronounced at slower speeds (around town) than when on the interstate?

My rear suspension was legitimately shot on the passenger rear side and I was hoping that the new struts would take care of the noise problem as well but they didn't. My mechanic suggested that I replace the rear sway bar links when I had the suspension work done. He was able to get one from the dealership, but he had to wait a few days before he could get the other one so I drove around town for a few days with only one side of the sway bar connected to the strut via the sway bar link. I noticed a significant change in the level of noise when going over bumps (less noise) with one side disconnected. Once the other link was connected again the noise returned.

I'm not familiar with the "isolator" that cruznroadking is speaking of unless he is referring to the strut mount (cup that goes on the top of the strut assembly).

I have taken everything out of the trunk (spare, jack, CD magazine, etc.) and driven around with no success. I am considering selling my car soon so I was going to take a hard look at it this weekend (weather permitting). I'll probably take out the back seat and just make sure that the rear deck isn't rattling around, but I don't think that's it. I have already checked to make sure my rear speakers are in tight (and they are), so I know that's not it either. I am convinced that it is something in the sway bar assembly somewhere, but I haven't had the time to isolate it yet. I'll try to post back on this thread after I get the chance to look at it. (I probably won't want to sell the car after I get the noise to go away.)

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I have taken everything out of the trunk (spare, jack, CD magazine, etc.) and driven around with no success. I am considering selling my car soon so I was going to take a hard look at it this weekend (weather permitting). I'll probably take out the back seat and just make sure that the rear deck isn't rattling around, but I don't think that's it. I have already checked to make sure my rear speakers are in tight (and they are), so I know that's not it either. I am convinced that it is something in the sway bar assembly somewhere, but I haven't had the time to isolate it yet. I'll try to post back on this thread after I get the chance to look at it. (I probably won't want to sell the car after I get the noise to go away.)

Hey there,

Today I got under the car in the pit at work and looked more closely at the rear sway bar. There seems to be some play in it, such that I can move the sway bar from side to side, and it slides thru the two mounting bushings perhaps 1/2 cm. I see no damage to any bushings or connections, but maybe this play is causing some noise? Is yours like this too? This is so odd because it never made this noise before. I have checked every bushing in the rear suspension and all appears to be in good order with no cracks or brittleness. I can't make the car even squeek when i push down on the suspension, so it's hard to simulate the jostling that causes the noise in the first place while driving.

Any other thoughts?

Andy

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Hey there,

Today I got under the car in the pit at work and looked more closely at the rear sway bar.  There seems to be some play in it, such that I can move the sway bar from side to side, and it slides thru the two mounting bushings perhaps 1/2 cm.  I see no damage to any bushings or connections, but maybe this play is causing some noise?  Is yours like this too?  This is so odd because it never made this noise before.  I have checked every bushing in the rear suspension and all appears to be in good order with no cracks or brittleness.  I can't make the car even squeek when i push down on the suspension, so it's hard to simulate the jostling that causes the noise in the first place while driving.

Any other thoughts?

Andy

You're right - it is hard to re-create the noise that you hear w/o driving the car. The weight of the vehicle has something to do with it.

I am assuming that you were able to get a good look at the sway bar setup from underneath. If so then you should have seen the links that attach the sway bar to the struts and also the sway bar mounts/bushings that attach the sway bar to the body/frame. The mounts/bushings are metal brackets that hold two rubber bushings that surround the sway bar.

The sway bar should have some play going from left to right (or vice versa). It was designed that way to allow for some movement when cornering. That "give" should be in the movement of the sway bar links going side to side. The sway bar helps keep the struts aligned and assists when cornering under force/speed. The play should be from side to side and not up and down. If it is up and down then it is possible that is the cause.

Pick one side of the car to start on. Grasp the sway bar firmly on each side of the mount/bushing and push it up and down a few times (towards the bottom of the trunk and then towards the street) using a little force. If you can push up on the sway bar and have it move up and down (even slightly) within the rubber bushings that hold it in place, then that is most likely the cause of the noise.

I changed my oil pan gasket this weekend and didn't get much time to look at the suspension, but I was able to put a thin wood wedge/shim betwen the bushing and mount to see if that made any difference. It did. Most of my noise was coming from the passenger side and I put the wedge on the driver's side, but I did notice a reduction in the noise. I will probably put one in the passenger side later to see what happens. (This is in no way an appropriate fix and the wedge will probably work its way out eventually).

My bushings are intact so I am guessing that the bushings inside the mounts have shrunk over the years as the rubber has dried out. This allows for play in the sway bar up and down in addition to side to side. I think this is what is causing the noise. There are only four bolts (two each) that hold the sway bar mounts/bushings in place so it should be an easy fix if you wanted to go ahead and replace the bushings and tighten everything back up. The cost of new bushings at my stealership is $14.40 each. I will probably get around to this sometime in the next few weeks, but if you get to it sooner, let me know how it turns out.

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Thanks for the responses, guys. I believe I have found the solution. I talked to Lexus of Wayzata, MN today over the phone and they recommended lubricating the sway bar bushings. I removed the bushings and layed a thick bead of NAPA Sil-Glyde silicone weatherstripping cream to the inside the bushings. I wiped the sway bar off where the bushing goes and rubbed Sil-Glyde all over where the bushing goes, and put it back together. I did this to both bushings. That was this morning. I have driven all afternoon with NO vibrations or odd noises!!

I believe this is the solution. It has so far worked 100% for me and I haven't been able to drive the car w/o hearing these noises for at least 2 weeks now. The dealer recommended silicone-based spray, but when I asked if silicone cream would work, the tech said that would be even better because it would be more permanent.

Try it and see! I think I will add this to my list of yearly maintenence.

Andy

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I'll kick myself if that's all it takes.  I bought some new bushings today and I'll probably put them in on Sat - apparrently w/ a little lube on them.

Good luck! Today is Saturday and I have driven ALL WEEK w/o a single odd noise from the rear end. This was exactly what my car needed. The funny thing is, it sounded like something was broken or loose back there. Weird how all I had to do was grease up these bushings so the bar slides easier.

Andy

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i just ordered new bushings for the sway bars ($7ea for fronts, $9ea for rears) from newlexusparts.com and will be doing the changing and lubrication as suggested when the bushings arrive and time permits. thanks for the info. hopefully it will solve my suspension rattling too.

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I put the new bushings in this past weekend and it fixed the problem completely. It took all of 20 minutes. I did notice that the inside of the new bushings has a series of ridges running around it. On my old ones the ridges were worn away which was probably part of the problem. Lubrication of the old bushings may have helped, but it would only have been a band aid to the worn out part.

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I put the new bushings in this past weekend and it fixed the problem completely.  It took all of 20 minutes.  I did notice that the inside of the new bushings has a series of ridges running around it.  On my old ones the ridges were worn away which was probably part of the problem.  Lubrication of the old bushings may have helped, but it would only have been a band aid to the worn out part.

Branshew,

Thanks for the tip. I am pretty sure mine were completely smooth inside too. I will order new bushings as well.

Andy

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I put the new bushings in this past weekend and it fixed the problem completely.  It took all of 20 minutes.  I did notice that the inside of the new bushings has a series of ridges running around it.  On my old ones the ridges were worn away which was probably part of the problem.  Lubrication of the old bushings may have helped, but it would only have been a band aid to the worn out part.

ah that's good news.. can't wait to replace the bushings.

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I put the new bushings in this past weekend and it fixed the problem completely.  It took all of 20 minutes.  I did notice that the inside of the new bushings has a series of ridges running around it.  On my old ones the ridges were worn away which was probably part of the problem.  Lubrication of the old bushings may have helped, but it would only have been a band aid to the worn out part.

bushings arrived yesterday. do you have to unbolt the whole sway bar or just the brackets holding the bushings?

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Ok I'm not a mechanic at all. I'm like a idiot when it comes to cars. I'm buying a beautiful pearl 92 Lexus ES300. My only problem is that it makes that bumping noise. I can feel that its not in the front. More of a rear problem. What I'd like to know is if I bring it to a shop, what should I suggest is the problem? The person I'm buying it from says she had it checked out and it was something loose in the undercarriage... I'm clueless as to what that means. I have a cd changer issue too but I'll see about that myself. This thumpy bumpy thing is my only urgent issue.:cries:

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