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Rear Noise, Seems Like From Rear Struts ?


lexusnow
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01 Rx300

Lately I noticed that there is a creaking noise from the rear, this creaking noise gets louder if I hit a bump or drive up hill. I checked my tool box and so on. My first thought would be bad struts. So I stopped by the Lexus dealer and they told me that there is a bad rear height sensor, this rises the rear suspension little bit higher. It cost $350 for the parts and $100 labor. So is this true that there is a sensor for it?? Im affraid theyre just going spray something and then I have to replace my rear struts or something? Please let me know if you have any infornation?

thanks all

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You very possibly could have the same thing I have, which is caused by dry, creaky rear control arm bushings... nothing else. I've gotten under my vehicle when changing out the struts and with the struts removed, I could move the control arms up and down and get a nice creaking noise from them as they moved. They look good... not worn or anything, but they are just noisy. They make the exact same sound with the new struts in there as with the old struts I replaced.

There's no ride-height sensor on my '99, and I don't know of a ride-height sensor nor adjustable suspension on the '01. I'm not sure what sensor the dealer changed out, unless you have an auto-leveling headlight system (I think the sensor for that is in the rear of the vehicle). There's an Air Suspension available on the second generation (2004-2009) that varies ride height.

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You very possibly could have the same thing I have, which is caused by dry, creaky rear control arm bushings... nothing else. I've gotten under my vehicle when changing out the struts and with the struts removed, I could move the control arms up and down and get a nice creaking noise from them as they moved. They look good... not worn or anything, but they are just noisy. They make the exact same sound with the new struts in there as with the old struts I replaced.

There's no ride-height sensor on my '99, and I don't know of a ride-height sensor nor adjustable suspension on the '01. I'm not sure what sensor the dealer changed out, unless you have an auto-leveling headlight system (I think the sensor for that is in the rear of the vehicle). There's an Air Suspension available on the second generation (2004-2009) that varies ride height.

Though I cannot state that I know this: I would doubt that the height sensor on the rear suspension for the HID lights woudl 'creak' so loudly. I has a 'creaking' of the rear struts on my RX300 and also a creak from a torsion bar in the front of a (long gone) MB190 2.6. In both case a little lubricant spray solved the problem. The MB required several applications... Maybe you could re-check what Lexus says it is... and... to be frank.... they usually know what they are talking about.....

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So in order for them to make normal level they must replace that height sensor, and they cannot level it manually? like without the sensor, I think that this bloodsucker dealer just want my money and maybe they will spray something on the strut and that is or after repalce this sensor then my struts go bad and make me pay another $1000.....thanks alll

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You very possibly could have the same thing I have, which is caused by dry, creaky rear control arm bushings... nothing else. I've gotten under my vehicle when changing out the struts and with the struts removed, I could move the control arms up and down and get a nice creaking noise from them as they moved. They look good... not worn or anything, but they are just noisy. They make the exact same sound with the new struts in there as with the old struts I replaced.

There's no ride-height sensor on my '99, and I don't know of a ride-height sensor nor adjustable suspension on the '01. I'm not sure what sensor the dealer changed out, unless you have an auto-leveling headlight system (I think the sensor for that is in the rear of the vehicle). There's an Air Suspension available on the second generation (2004-2009) that varies ride height.

Though I cannot state that I know this: I would doubt that the height sensor on the rear suspension for the HID lights woudl 'creak' so loudly. I has a 'creaking' of the rear struts on my RX300 and also a creak from a torsion bar in the front of a (long gone) MB190 2.6. In both case a little lubricant spray solved the problem. The MB required several applications... Maybe you could re-check what Lexus says it is... and... to be frank.... they usually know what they are talking about.....

Hi. So how did you spray it? what kind ? thankss

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You very possibly could have the same thing I have, which is caused by dry, creaky rear control arm bushings... nothing else. I've gotten under my vehicle when changing out the struts and with the struts removed, I could move the control arms up and down and get a nice creaking noise from them as they moved. They look good... not worn or anything, but they are just noisy. They make the exact same sound with the new struts in there as with the old struts I replaced.

There's no ride-height sensor on my '99, and I don't know of a ride-height sensor nor adjustable suspension on the '01. I'm not sure what sensor the dealer changed out, unless you have an auto-leveling headlight system (I think the sensor for that is in the rear of the vehicle). There's an Air Suspension available on the second generation (2004-2009) that varies ride height.

Though I cannot state that I know this: I would doubt that the height sensor on the rear suspension for the HID lights woudl 'creak' so loudly. I has a 'creaking' of the rear struts on my RX300 and also a creak from a torsion bar in the front of a (long gone) MB190 2.6. In both case a little lubricant spray solved the problem. The MB required several applications... Maybe you could re-check what Lexus says it is... and... to be frank.... they usually know what they are talking about.....

Hi. So how did you spray it? what kind ? thankss

WD-40 - !!! [i was understating-- I spray quite liberally]. I cannot affirm that that will work, however. It's an easy try, though. Let me (us) know?

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Hmm, just so we're all clear here, I'm quite sure the headlight leveling sensor has nothing to do with the creaking in the rear suspension... two totally unrelated things. I'm guessing the dealership found the sensor wasn't working properly when they inspected the rear suspension.

As to the lube-spray... it won't work. The problem is in the press-fit bushings and their movement against the control arm end eyelet. If you look at the assembly, which looks similar to this http://toyheadauto.com/J-pegs/CamryNo1Arm.jpg ...you can see the eyelet bushing has a steel core on the inside diameter... this hard-bolts to the frame mount and it doesn't move. The movement is between the outer ring of the eyelet, the inner ring of the eyelet, and the rubber bushing itself, and that is seriously pressed in tight... you aren't going to get any lubricant in there (I tried like mad with multiple products when I had my rear suspension apart). I'm guessing the only way to do it is drill a hole in the end of the eyelet and install a zerk fitting and pump some grease in there. I don't know if that makes things too slippery and therefore dangerous (although I've seen them add zerks in aftermarket control arm applications like these http://www.streetperformance.com/ART/PRODU...1376/hp2521.jpg ). You may want to just get new bushings pressed in there, or look for some replacement control arms (which are freakin' hard to find... I can't find bushings for the rear nor replacement control arms... weird).

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Hmm, just so we're all clear here, I'm quite sure the headlight leveling sensor has nothing to do with the creaking in the rear suspension... two totally unrelated things. I'm guessing the dealership found the sensor wasn't working properly when they inspected the rear suspension.

As to the lube-spray... it won't work. The problem is in the press-fit bushings and their movement against the control arm end eyelet. If you look at the assembly, which looks similar to this http://toyheadauto.com/J-pegs/CamryNo1Arm.jpg ...you can see the eyelet bushing has a steel core on the inside diameter... this hard-bolts to the frame mount and it doesn't move. The movement is between the outer ring of the eyelet, the inner ring of the eyelet, and the rubber bushing itself, and that is seriously pressed in tight... you aren't going to get any lubricant in there (I tried like mad with multiple products when I had my rear suspension apart). I'm guessing the only way to do it is drill a hole in the end of the eyelet and install a zerk fitting and pump some grease in there. I don't know if that makes things too slippery and therefore dangerous (although I've seen them add zerks in aftermarket control arm applications like these http://www.streetperformance.com/ART/PRODU...1376/hp2521.jpg ). You may want to just get new bushings pressed in there, or look for some replacement control arms (which are freakin' hard to find... I can't find bushings for the rear nor replacement control arms... weird).

If the control arms are the source of the creaking noise, you may well be right. However, the torsion bar I has referred to earlier (front suspension of the old MB190E2.6) was a somewhat similar design and several sprayings did solve the issue. Also, sometimes creaking can come from some other area (e.g. 'higher up'). The best thing to do, of course, is to locate exactly where the creaking originates, and then take remedial action. Not always easy. I would try a shot (pun intended) of lubricant - alternatively to the WD40 which was so helpful, there is a lubricant I have not tried in such applications (which is a Dupont??? (not sure) Teflon / lubricant that worked on other things remarkably well - sold at Ace Hardware in Michigan, FWIW). Cost is low, time spent is low, penalty for failure close to nil.

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Very true, Paul... it could be the torsion bar bushing squeaking, and a good spray of some lube will penetrate down in there. One could also take off the bushing cover and the bushing is split where you can slide it off and put some grease directly on the interface.

You are also right that it could be something in the strut area itself, namely like a spring perch isolator that is worn down/through and allowing contact/rubbing... or the top of the strut tower not completely tight.

For my situation, it is clearly the control arm bushings, and nothing I did made any difference... I can't even seem to find a replacement (other than from the stealer or salvage supplier).

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Very true, Paul... it could be the torsion bar bushing squeaking, and a good spray of some lube will penetrate down in there. One could also take off the bushing cover and the bushing is split where you can slide it off and put some grease directly on the interface.

You are also right that it could be something in the strut area itself, namely like a spring perch isolator that is worn down/through and allowing contact/rubbing... or the top of the strut tower not completely tight.

For my situation, it is clearly the control arm bushings, and nothing I did made any difference... I can't even seem to find a replacement (other than from the stealer or salvage supplier).

Thank you for your kind reply...

In the MB, the weird thing was that the noise was noticeable mainly when it rained.... The dealer would not believe me (that when it rained the torsion bar 'creaked'). That is why I thought I would saturate as much as I could with WD40 ! Could have been blind luck, or it could have been that the creak was going to disappear anyway!

On another note - You will recall that I had had the rear engine seal leak on the 99RX, was pretty upset that Lexus 'respectfully declined to assist', and swore I would not get another Lexus.... Well, faced with a discount of $10K from list, I finally bought a 2009RX350. If one can forget the aesthetic (or non-aesthetic) excesses, I must say that Lexus did a great job of addressing the issues that drivers had with the 'old' RX. Turning radius is great, you've got some horses under the pedal (excuse the metaphor), a/c is improved, wind noise, roof open or not, is substantially reduced, etc.... Some of the 'improvements' can be argued with, but overall they did their homework. Unfortunately, they reduced the width of the front armrests and we miss the older RX's more comfortable rests. We'll use them again this summer when we go to MI, where the old RX is waiting for us. [The above comments are really beside the point, the point being that it is amazing how much a $10K 'discount' helps one discount the past....]! I'm just crossing my fingers tha tthe old RX will hold up without too many repairs... but it seems the least expensive route to take (leaving it in M I and using it when we go) vs. getting another car for MI.

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Lexusnow, in your case, it sounds like your headlight auto-level sensor is in need of replacement. From what I know (if you are even slightly mechanically inclined), it's a pretty easy replacement. The part should be about $350 (and seems to be a dealer-only part), and $100 in labor seems pretty steep for a remove/replace process for the sensor. Here's a great write up on the topic (with great pictures, too!)... this should tell you all you need to know: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...ling+headlights

Pauljcl, so you opted for another new RX, eh? I was wondering what you would end up getting. It sounds like you made an excellent choice, especially at the price... and I would hope improvements would be made over the earlier years (sometimes that doesn't happen in model progressions). My wife and I looked at the newer RX's at the auto-show last year... they seemed nice, but not leaps and bounds above our old RX, plus the seating position/feel seemed off, or at least a bit different. We really gravitated to the Infiniti FX for the 'cool' factor, and even the Murano was impressive and felt good and solid. We're thinking about maybe replacing our old ES300 with a newer Murano... it's that time in life where we're thinking about having kids, and the old ES300 isn't my wife's first choice for loading in baby seats and such. I'm just concerned about the CVT in the Murano. I recently helped my sis and her family purchase a newer Acura MDX, which is a nice vehicle, but drives like a bus compared to our RX. It's hard to beat the RX... maybe we'll just get another one... like you did ;-)

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Lexusnow, in your case, it sounds like your headlight auto-level sensor is in need of replacement. From what I know (if you are even slightly mechanically inclined), it's a pretty easy replacement. The part should be about $350 (and seems to be a dealer-only part), and $100 in labor seems pretty steep for a remove/replace process for the sensor. Here's a great write up on the topic (with great pictures, too!)... this should tell you all you need to know: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...ling+headlights

Pauljcl, so you opted for another new RX, eh? I was wondering what you would end up getting. It sounds like you made an excellent choice, especially at the price... and I would hope improvements would be made over the earlier years (sometimes that doesn't happen in model progressions). My wife and I looked at the newer RX's at the auto-show last year... they seemed nice, but not leaps and bounds above our old RX, plus the seating position/feel seemed off, or at least a bit different. We really gravitated to the Infiniti FX for the 'cool' factor, and even the Murano was impressive and felt good and solid. We're thinking about maybe replacing our old ES300 with a newer Murano... it's that time in life where we're thinking about having kids, and the old ES300 isn't my wife's first choice for loading in baby seats and such. I'm just concerned about the CVT in the Murano. I recently helped my sis and her family purchase a newer Acura MDX, which is a nice vehicle, but drives like a bus compared to our RX. It's hard to beat the RX... maybe we'll just get another one... like you did ;-)

Yes, hard to beat the combination of 'luxury feel' and price, and I hope the fundamental issues of engine seal/transmission etc.. have finally been resolved. I had tried the EX35 - a little too flashy for me, but mainly a little too small inside. Real fun to drive though, and they were giving $8K off the unsold 2008 'Journey' model. I would have gone for it... then Lexus came with the $10K off... My partners' father had a Ford 500 (AWD?) with the CVT - didn't mind the transmission (but he used to work for Ford, so he is biased in their favor)... Of all of them, though, the old RX is most 'real'. Yes, it's slow; yes, it can't get out its way on turns; yes, many things, but it was (is) a great concept and I still enjoy it. It's too bad it had the design flaws it had. After 6 weeks with the new RX350, I think - at the price - that it is very good value. Lexus is still continuing their 'support' 'til 3/31; no-one seems to know if they will extend it thereafter. It's got to be cannibalizing the new 2010 sales though, and several dealers are now 'out' of the 2009s. Good luck on your decision - let me know what you do!

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Im little bit confused in here...SO for my case, should I let them replace that height sensor?? thanks alll

There is a thread elsewhere where someone seems to have a problem with the sensor. I advised replacement (or repair) because I believe it is unfair and dangerous to shine HID headlights into incoming trafiic's eyes, but another writer believes one should simply save the money and 'fix' the headlights at an agreable height. Again: I do not believe that replacing the sensor will solve the rear noise problem.

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Ah yes, I forgot about the EX35 in the line up. From what I've read, it's everything the FX is without many of the compromises (one comparison downside of the FX is that it wasn't nearly as roomy and functional as the RX). It seems all vehicles have their issues... the trick is to find one with issues that we can live/deal with ;-) We've also thought about the Acura RDX, but question the durability of the tightly-wound turbo 4 it uses. It sounds like a fun little ride, though.

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Lexusnow, in your case, it sounds like your headlight auto-level sensor is in need of replacement. From what I know (if you are even slightly mechanically inclined), it's a pretty easy replacement. The part should be about $350 (and seems to be a dealer-only part), and $100 in labor seems pretty steep for a remove/replace process for the sensor. Here's a great write up on the topic (with great pictures, too!)... this should tell you all you need to know: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...ling+headlights

Pauljcl, so you opted for another new RX, eh? I was wondering what you would end up getting. It sounds like you made an excellent choice, especially at the price... and I would hope improvements would be made over the earlier years (sometimes that doesn't happen in model progressions). My wife and I looked at the newer RX's at the auto-show last year... they seemed nice, but not leaps and bounds above our old RX, plus the seating position/feel seemed off, or at least a bit different. We really gravitated to the Infiniti FX for the 'cool' factor, and even the Murano was impressive and felt good and solid. We're thinking about maybe replacing our old ES300 with a newer Murano... it's that time in life where we're thinking about having kids, and the old ES300 isn't my wife's first choice for loading in baby seats and such. I'm just concerned about the CVT in the Murano. I recently helped my sis and her family purchase a newer Acura MDX, which is a nice vehicle, but drives like a bus compared to our RX. It's hard to beat the RX... maybe we'll just get another one... like you did ;-)

Yes, hard to beat the combination of 'luxury feel' and price, and I hope the fundamental issues of engine seal/transmission etc.. have finally been resolved. I had tried the EX35 - a little too flashy for me, but mainly a little too small inside. Real fun to drive though, and they were giving $8K off the unsold 2008 'Journey' model. I would have gone for it... then Lexus came with the $10K off... My partners' father had a Ford 500 (AWD?) with the CVT - didn't mind the transmission (but he used to work for Ford, so he is biased in their favor)... Of all of them, though, the old RX is most 'real'. Yes, it's slow; yes, it can't get out its way on turns; yes, many things, but it was (is) a great concept and I still enjoy it. It's too bad it had the design flaws it had. After 6 weeks with the new RX350, I think - at the price - that it is very good value. Lexus is still continuing their 'support' 'til 3/31; no-one seems to know if they will extend it thereafter. It's got to be cannibalizing the new 2010 sales though, and several dealers are now 'out' of the 2009s. Good luck on your decision - let me know what you do!

what HID headlights ? Im talking about height sensor problem?

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You don't have a ride-height sensor. That sensor controls your HID headlight alignment/movement. Nothing on your vehicle controls suspension height other than the coil springs... it's a normal, basic strut suspension set up... unless you've got an RX330 with the optional adjustable air suspension.

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Ah yes, I forgot about the EX35 in the line up. From what I've read, it's everything the FX is without many of the compromises (one comparison downside of the FX is that it wasn't nearly as roomy and functional as the RX). It seems all vehicles have their issues... the trick is to find one with issues that we can live/deal with ;-) We've also thought about the Acura RDX, but question the durability of the tightly-wound turbo 4 it uses. It sounds like a fun little ride, though.

I tried it. Good 'feel' but motor is nervous and the one I tried was a little 'jerky', both in the suspension set-up and the response to change in the accelerator position. I felt it was a car that should have priced 15% lower than it was... To me, the EX35 felt a little like a nicely set/handling VW, with good power. Didn't like the dash though and, yes, the space is restricted. I didn't try - but wanted to - the Tiguan, until I found out that AWD and luxury edition was unavailable here in FL. [CAR magazine just showed a new European version called "R-line" which is more luxurious]. When all is aid and done, the combination of luxury, reasonable performance and space (and - agin - discounted price) favored the RX350. A lot less fun thatn the EX though. The MB GLK is OK size-wise, but I can't get excited at the Teutonic grace it displays. Let me know....

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You don't have a ride-height sensor. That sensor controls your HID headlight alignment/movement. Nothing on your vehicle controls suspension height other than the coil springs... it's a normal, basic strut suspension set up... unless you've got an RX330 with the optional adjustable air suspension.

So you mean the dealer is lying? that what they told me I need to replace hight sensor for my 2001 Rx300. My brother LX470 has ride hieght adjustment, but not my 01 rx300...

Im sure that the main source for this creaking sound must be from struts or rusted bushing. I dont think this sensor thing has to do with the creacking sound...Man im so worried that they are playing game with me..any help????

thanks allll

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No, I don't think the dealer is lying to you... I think there was probably a miscommunication somewhere. I'm guessing the tech started to inspect your rear suspension to find the root cause of the creak and while he was back there he saw that the auto-leveling sensor for your HID headlights was mucked up and in need of repair. (you may want to test it to see if it's still working, or if the tech just thought it looked worn enough to warrant replacement).

The LX470 is a different animal... more inclined for off-road (since it's built on the Land Cruiser platform). Plus, if it's newer, then that's another reason it has it... the newer RX's have the height-adjustable suspension, too, but not your '01 RX300.

I don't think the dealership is playing any kind of a game with you... you very well may need that headlight leveling sensor replaced, but it won't address the creaking sound in your suspension. It's hard to do anything to the rear suspension and "make it go bad", so I doubt they'll mess anything up with what ever they do to it. The thing is, finding a creak in the suspension is not a straight-forward thing. One needs to start disassembling things, check their movement/alignment/fit and track down the source of the creak. I took mine apart and found it was clearly the bushings in the control arms. The source could be something else with yours... someone will have to do a little exploration to find it. I wouldn't recommend the dealer for this effort, for they'll charge you out the back side, since most of the work in in the labor. I would go to a good, insightful independent shop that specializes in JDM vehicles and knows the RX. They can find the source of the issue just as quickly (if not quicker) than the dealer.

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No, I don't think the dealer is lying to you... I think there was probably a miscommunication somewhere. I'm guessing the tech started to inspect your rear suspension to find the root cause of the creak and while he was back there he saw that the auto-leveling sensor for your HID headlights was mucked up and in need of repair. (you may want to test it to see if it's still working, or if the tech just thought it looked worn enough to warrant replacement).

The LX470 is a different animal... more inclined for off-road (since it's built on the Land Cruiser platform). Plus, if it's newer, then that's another reason it has it... the newer RX's have the height-adjustable suspension, too, but not your '01 RX300.

I don't think the dealership is playing any kind of a game with you... you very well may need that headlight leveling sensor replaced, but it won't address the creaking sound in your suspension. It's hard to do anything to the rear suspension and "make it go bad", so I doubt they'll mess anything up with what ever they do to it. The thing is, finding a creak in the suspension is not a straight-forward thing. One needs to start disassembling things, check their movement/alignment/fit and track down the source of the creak. I took mine apart and found it was clearly the bushings in the control arms. The source could be something else with yours... someone will have to do a little exploration to find it. I wouldn't recommend the dealer for this effort, for they'll charge you out the back side, since most of the work in in the labor. I would go to a good, insightful independent shop that specializes in JDM vehicles and knows the RX. They can find the source of the issue just as quickly (if not quicker) than the dealer.

thanks, ok I will let them replace my height sensor from now, and i will ask them about it.

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So they replaced the rear height sensor and adjuster arm frozen. They showed me that unit, the height sensor box is connected to the adjuster arm, this whole thing is about your palm size. Well I think they could just replace that adjuster arm only. costs me $480 + labor. :(

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Yeah, that headlight height sensor thing is kind of a bitter pill to replace with it being a dealer-only part, being pricey, and getting charged $100 for a 5 minute remove-and-replaced labor requirement. At least all is good now... other than the creaking suspension.

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  • 1 year later...
Yeah, that headlight height sensor thing is kind of a bitter pill to replace with it being a dealer-only part, being pricey, and getting charged $100 for a 5 minute remove-and-replaced labor requirement. At least all is good now... other than the creaking suspension.

I just found the same problem on my 2001 RX... I sprayed by ball/socket joint on the adjuster arm with lubricant. The ratcheting sound disappeared. I don't know for how long though.

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