Mike fixes his 2007 Toyota Sienna (intermittent clunking – snapping sound from front end)

If anyone read my strut/spring replacement post, you’ll know that there was a sound that I was hoping would go away (although I needed to do that work anyways since I had a spring snap in half). The sound was very similar to a binding strut mount bearing: it would only clunk once or twice, and only when the van is turning left, usually while slowing/braking at the same time. It really could have been ANY suspension part in the front of the van, but I could literally feel the snap/clunk through the floor board while driving. I thus knew that it was coming from the front driver side.

Two different Toyota dealerships could not find the problem – and I was quite upset since it only started after they had replaced a spring on that side (about a year and a half ago). I was certain they had caused it. At any rate, having installed complete new parts on both sides (spring/struts/mounts/bearings/suspension links…) I decided to take another very close look under there.

This is what I found (see the red circle):
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Here’s an even closer look:
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A bloody ROCK was wedged in there (not sure what part: lower control arm?). A closer look at the rock reveals it’s been in there awhile: rust stained and grooved!
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It might have been further back around at times, out of sight (since I could move it back and forth), so I guess there MIGHT be an excuse for the mechanics not seeing it. But this thing bugged me for a year and a half!! My hypothesis is that when Toyota originally put in the spring so long ago, this rock fell into the space while the suspension was expanded/loose, only to be caught in there when the van held its own weight again. This would explain why we started hearing it the instant we picked up our van after the service.

My lesson is that simply having a close look at things may reveal the problem – do this first! 🙂