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Toyota Avalon 2004 and earlier



  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    If you had an axle or CV joint problem, common to front drive vehicles, you would start to get a clicking sound for the outer CV joint, or a vibration if it is the inner CV joint. How many miles do you have. Usually occurs from 80-100K. Transmission is still smooth on mine but I change the filter and fluid about every 30-40K.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    Hi AB. I haven't been here in awhile. I did one of my favorite things today and went to the BMW/Susan B Komen cancer drive and drove the Bimmers again, and it makes me want to put better struts etc. in our 03 Avalon. Two questions.

    1. Does Tokico have a website with info on their struts. I see KYB's are cheaper - IF I'm looking at the correct ones. You thought the Tokico's were firmer, didn't you? I would consider KYB's if cheaper, but not if only a bit firmer than stock. I want BMW stiff. ;-)

    2. Have you tried silicone plumbing grease available at Home Depot (not the regular stuff)? It has a heavy consistency and is waterproof. I'm going to try it for squeaky door rods too.
  • jesch1jesch1 Posts: 9
    Miles are under 57000. Service says no to CV joint problem. It is in garage now. We'll see tomorrow. Since it is only noticeable at lower speed accelerations, perhaps because with road or wind noises overcoming my noise.
    I thought it might be caused by dirty fuel filter, but service advises that is in the gas tank! Still I think it could be the trouble if noise is only with feed at seemingly lower gas.

    Perhaps this posting belongs on other than start up now!

    Appreciate your interest and response. Thanks. I use 89+ Octane with gasahol as the state subsidizes through lower taxes, but I have tried several tanks of premium with no affect on this problem, even three tanks in succession on highway trip at 70+ MPH.
  • Thought others might like to know that this problem is associated with the Check Engine Light. My wife bought me a code reader and cleared the codes and the TRAC OFF light works fine now with the switch. What I was wondering about though was if anyone knew anything about code P1142. It also gave me a generic code of P0402. I think the later is for an EGR valve or component. I've done a lot of work one cars but never any major engine work. Is the EGR system hard to work on?
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    You will not get BMW stiffness, if that is what you want to call it. I own a fairly new BMW too, 04 325ci 5 speed Sports Package, and believe it or not, it is not very stiff an more, more refined, and ofcourse handles like a BMW with the sports suspension.

    My Avalon is notably softer, although much less so than how it came. TokicoHP's or KYB GR2's either one are good. Both have websites. I bought Tokico but really there is not a major difference between them. The BIG difference is getting one of them( a twin tube, low pressure, gas strut) versus the conventional strut. Further, depending on the mileage, I would recommend changes the rubber bushings at 5-6 years into the car, and changing them to PU type bushings. Energy suspension makes the specific parts for the Avalon, both the sway bar bushings and the control arm bushings. Believe it or not, the cornering capacity of the car is much improved with minimal harshness tranmitted through the cabin. The only time I can detect harshness remotely transmitted is when I go over railroad tracks, otherwise the front stays flat around 45mph corners. OEM tires to boot. Same size. That is all I would do. It is enough and expensive, so consider keeping the car awhile. The bushings are much less expensive but together, you have a car that probably rides more sporty but not a sports sedan like the 5 series BMW.

    Make sure you replace the shock top mounts too. Just get the Toyota replacement part for that. Bring it to people that are capable of doing it, and do it everyday.

    Blue Marine grease is cheap enought, hydrophilic and works well. The sway bar bushing are the one that have to get re-lubricated every year or so, as the sway bars twists inside the bushings.

    Good luck.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    I tried to find specs on Tokico's, but can only find links to parts suppliers. Does anyone know where I can fund the Tokico manufacturers web site? Or someplace that has specs?
    I want to know how much stiffer than stock their struts are.

    Looks like I can get a set of KYB GR2's for a bit over 200 bucks. Cheap enough, but I spoke to a performance parts guy who told me - as earlier posted - that KYB makes OEM struts for Honda, Toyota and others, to MFR specs. He said that a Honda Civic had struts designed to Honda specs that had a 30k life. He also said KYB GR2's were 15% stiffer than stock. Not much. Another supplier said Tokico's would be stiffer than KYB, but of course they are about $400.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Ummm. No and Yes. The site is You should have been able to look that up rather easily.

    Depending on if they are stuts or shocks, makes a moderate difference in the price. In the AValon, it is struts on all four wheels. Third, just because Toyota or Honda contract with KYB or Tokico or Bilstein, doesn't necessary mean that you are getting the same part, as far as quality. For instance, some of the Bilstein shocks coming as OEM equipment are not the monotube high pressure shocks for aftermarket.

    Fourthly, stiffness is rather a vague term. There are basically two ways a strut/shock goes, one is compression and the rebound. If you note some of the graphics, the compression stroke should be about the same, but the rebound will be different. None of the OEM shocks that I know of anyway, come as a twin tube low pressure gas design. Usually they are oil with gas hydraulic. Stay away from, unless you are racing your Avalon, the high pressure gas shocks. They ride terrible IMO. The twin tube low pressure gas shock gives you the best of both worlds, a compromise, but a good compromise. The ONLY caveat to this is that KONI, have come out with a strut/shock twin valve design, instead of a single valve design. Tested on a BMW(not an Avalon) 330ci coupe with the sports suspension, they compared the OEM sports shock, to the KONI FSD(frequency selective dampening?)and the Koni sport. You can go to the TIRERACK website and see what their conclussions are.

    You cannot really compare stiffness as a global sense, as I have had the experience of having TokicoHP's on a 90 Honda Civic and then on a 02 Avalon. All stock springs and tires sizes although the tires themselves were upgraded. Both provided a remarkable increase in handling characteristics but I remember the ride of the Civic and the vibration to be transmitted into the cabin. Not so with the Avalon as it has so much sound deadening material and rubber bushhings underneath that with the standard tires 15 or 16", I don't think harshness or stiffnesss most would feel or find. You will notice a decrease in floating at freeway speeds and a marked decrease in front end nose dive during braking, unloading the front brakes a bit. It still feels like a big luxury car but that is much more taut.

    I hope that helps. Either brand KYB or Tokico will bring remarkable differences. If you are in the NY area, you are welcome to come and drive my Avalon to see. If you need a percentage, I guess 15-20% more taut would be accurate for this model. Don't be fooled by the performance parts guy though, OEM Honda shocks, unless on a specific model are not twin tube low pressure gas.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    Good information. Thanks for the URL.

    "The site is You should have been able to look that up rather easily."

    The problem was that I did a search on Tokico struts, and that didn't show the URL. Shortened to just Tokico, it did.

    Notice that I did say OEM's were 'designed to manufacturer specs'. If designed too well, there wouldn't be that profit on replacements, and it may add a buck or two to the production cost.

    You are correct on the details. I just used a general term. We used to run 90/10 shocks on drag cars for low resistance on launch for weight transfer off the line. These would be totally unacceptable on the street.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Agreed. Most, not all, are not interested in "The Launch" although "The Launch" is pretty neat, for fun. I am talking about a well balanced compliant but stable suspension that retains most of its geometry at legal or just above legal speed limits. the struts mentioned and/or PU bushing replacements (Sway bars and control arm) will achieve that objective nicely in older Avalons.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    "Make sure you replace the shock top mounts too. Just get the Toyota replacement part for that. Bring it to people that are capable of doing it, and do it everyday."

    I was thinking this would be an inexpensive item. NOT. I can buy all 4 KYB-GR2's for $209 (List $485) plus $28 shipping. BUT, the strut mounts, (SM5179 for RF) are $70 each front and $52 each rear. Are these the parts you are talking about? That's another $244 + shp, plus $400 for someone to install them plus a wheel alignment, plus Energy bushings if I go that route, and I would like to. Damn, it's getting to be real money. Are these the strut mounts you mentioned? Can't just replace the rubber parts?
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    That sounds a bit on the hight side. Shop around for more inexpensive but not necessarily cheaper parts for the mounts. Yes, those are the parts I was taling about. Older Avalons, were known for those to fail. Depends on how much mileage you have on the vehicle, how much you have on hand, and how long you intend on keepin it. If you have near 100K on it, you probably should. Even if things come out to $1200 or so, what car like the Avalon could you buy for that???

    Mine has about 84K, rides better than the day I bought it and I have not intention of getting rid of it. Although, I need to change the front rotors and pads again, but that is another story. We use this auto as our staple. It takes us on long trips with grace and comfort, tows a utility trailer constantly, gets us through whiteout conditions with 4 snows in upstate NY, etc. It would be the last car we would get rid of, but it hasn't been the cheapest to own, unfortunately(some parts are cheaply made).

    You could forego the bushings, but if you have play in the control arms, a Toyota dealership will charge you to replace the entire arm I believe, not just the bushings. And the bushings are what go, not the arm. Cannot stand it. Most of these makers what you to replace the entire arm instead of just replacing the bushings.

    Our year Avalon is not replaceable by the new one. Although nice, it does not afford a bench seat, and the towing capacity is reduced in half even though it has much more horsepower. What is that tellin you. Different car than before applying to different buyers. I am sure Toyota knows what they are doing, but they lost me as a customer a long time ago. Nevertheless, I hope this forum helps other owners out as their cars age.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    You mentioned to stop by and drive your Avalon. Well, I'm in Rochester. Unfortunately, that's Rochester, MN. Guess I'll have to pass, but thanks for the offer. ;-)
    Yes, I found the mounts a bit cheaper, but I spoke with an alignment guy here and he said they usually don't replace them unless high miles, you hear clunking noises or they have deterioration. Ours only has 50k on it, but it has lost it's cushion on small road imperfections and it feels used and vague, although it has fairly good rebound control. I may have mentioned that we just bought a winter place in Arizona. Unfurnished, so the first trip will be with a full load. Maybe a trailer, so thought it may be a good time to upgrade. I guess I would go for the new Camry instead of another Avalon. I like the size and styling better. Or, an ES350. With BMW always in the back of my mind though. My buddy and I just drove an 06 330i and a 650. The little 330 will run right with the 650 up to 80-90 where the 650 will gradually pull away. That's a fun little car.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    Well, I just bought a full set of KYB GR2's for my 03 Avalon. I wanted tokicos, but they were about $400. The GR2's list for $562.90. I bought my set for $209. STEEP discount. Couldn't resist. I also found Energy bushings for $6 rear and $12 front. I'll order those too. $29 with shipping. How can ya go wrong? I think these are great prices. The first auction for the struts was for $220, but had ended, so I called about them. Only available through their web site for $260, so I said "If you want to re-list, I will bid". Pretty soon, there they were,. but not for $220. He lowered the price to $209. Very nice gesture. Anyway, there were 5 sets available, so now there are four. If anyone wants a set, check ebay here: Performance Parts Store, OH. KYB GR-2 SHOCKS 95-03 TOYOTA AVALON - BRAND NEW! Item number: 200016615765 Give us feedback if you buy em. Check Froogle for the bushings. Jerry
  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    When trying to find which urethane sway bar bushings to order for my 2003 Toyota Avalon, I see 18mm (#9.5122) or 19mm (9.5123) listed for the front, and 16mm
    (8.5120) listed for the rear. BUT, when I crawl under the car and measure the sway bar, it measures 17mm front AND rear. So, I pulled a rear off. The bushing has the number 17 molded onto it. Do you recall what yours were AB? This was an Enterprise Rental managers car. I wouldn't think they would put a lesser part on for them. It would be more trouble than it was worth to track them, but I could see them doing an 'off spec' approval is there were a parts shortage holding up build. Any thoughts? Anyone else run into this? I wonder what size a Camry SE uses and id they are interchangeable with the Avalon.
    Jerry in MN
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    This is what you do. Call Energy Suspension. They make a paper measuring device (FREE) that they can send you in first class mail, easy. You get under the car without hurting you head, and measure you bar, near where the bushing are located in 2 different places, just to be anal. Do the same for the rear.

    Mine, an 02 XL, made in Ketucky measured 18mm for the front and 16mm for the rear. As far as I know, Toyota does not make a 17mm bar for this car or the Camry. But it is some easy to do with the device that they send you for free, that it really is a no brainer.

    The rear bushings are simple to put on and easy to access. Make sure you take every safety precaution you need to when working under vehicles, and wear protective eye and gloves. The front bushing are a little more of a pain in the backside. In order to have enough room to access it, you really need to take the front wheels off and have an offset racheting box wrench, not just a plain box wrench. Easy enough at Sears. Get an extra tube of Blue Marine Grease and lube up the outer and inner diameter after cleaning the bar off of rust.

    That is all that is to it. Just not that difficult if you can turn a screw and getunder the car. The control arm bushings are a different story unless you have an ultimate garage. The back ones seemed to make another jump difference but vibration is transmitted in the car a little now at bumps like railroad tracks, etc. This is with the standard 15" tires on. So make your own decisions.

    The sway bar bushings are cheap enough and give you alot more cornering capability. Will premium stuts, it is almost a different car.

    Have fun.

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I have similar interests and useage, although not in Arizona. If you only have 50K on the car, yes, I would agree with the mechanic, just have him look at the mounts before replacing struts and then wind up going in there 30K later to do so. A waste of time and labor. Yours and his. The KYB GR2 or TokicoHP would be both applicable to sure up the ride without gettin harsh.

    I trail with my Avalon, a utility trailer, with a ClassII hitch. Actually, I use it quite a bit, more than I thought. A small trailer should be not a problem, unless you push the 2K limit above its limit(like me). Then, you could run into tranny problems or like me, axle problems. My bad.

    My other car is 04 BMW 325ci with the Sports Suspension, bought used from a solier brought back from Germany. 5 speed with no electronic gizmos other than rain sensing wipers and upgraded stereo, not even a sunroof. Perfect for me. Enjoy it during the three seasons and store it in the winter. Have had less problems with the BMW than with my Avalon to date. Both plan on keeping and enjoying.

    If you are going to buy a ES350, go drive a 330ci sedan, 6 speed, dark grey metallic with cinnamon bark leather interior with a sports package. You only live once.

    Enjoy your Avalon. A good car, but mine not the cheapest car to own I ever had. Would be lying. Changing my brakes again, all rusted out for the 4th time but some of this is my own fault. I wash the car in a touchless car wash twice a week during the winter months, with the undercarriage spray and I know it corrodes the heck out of the brake rotors.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    I see the local GM dealer has an 06 325ix all wheel drive on his used car lot. AWD would be nice, but not sure how it affects driving and handling. Too small to replace an Avalon anyway, and I would definitely want the 330. That has the highest fun factor. I had an Audi. Solid car. Great road car too, but not much 'fun'. The Europeans have had a worse quality rating lately - especially Mercedes, than when I had my Audi, and that was bad enough and parts were out of sight. Almost as bad as the Saab 99 that I owned way back when. Never believed in lemons til I owned that car. It was like a snowmobile in winter though.
    I see the billing finally went through on my GR-2 struts, so should have them soon. I have sent Energy 2 emails about sway bar bushings. Guess they can't be bothered to reply. I was surprised that local parts stors have their catalog, so will have to go in and try to find out what I have to order. I called Toyota Parts, and they only have one number listed for an 03, but it does not give a size, so no help there. I intend to find an Avalon on the lot so I can crawl under it with my caliper to check the size. As I mentioned, my rubber bushing is even stamped with a 17 which matches my measurement. Everyone else thinks it should be 18 or 19mm. I always get these strange deals. It looks like I will have to custom size it. I did notice what a pain in the [non-permissible content removed] those front bushing bolts are. I can see why you have had problems with your Avalon. Sounds like it is your work horse. I do notice some clunkiness from the struts, so will pay close attention to the condition of the mounts. Maybe even boil em in water and then spray em with Armor All and place em in a baggie for a period of time to rejuvinate the rubber. Would probably have to flush them off before reinstallation as Armor All makes em slippery. And then again, probably not. That's just automatic mode and the way my mind works. Too much labor involved to gamble on results.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    You will notice quite the difference with the KYB GR2's, big bang for the buck. I am genuinely interested in your comments once you get the car back. Again, I do not think Toyota makes a 17mm front sway bar bushing, as they are 18 or 19mm. Mine was 18mm (XL) and besides being a pain to get at, it fit perfect. As long as you genorously clean and grease the ID and OD (inner and outer diamter) of the bushing and bar interface.

    Let me tell you about the difference in the 325 and 330. Again, it is somewhat subjective. My best friend, among other autos, bought a brand new 04 330cic 6 speed with the performance package/sport package . I bought a used 325ci 2004 325ci (coupe) with the sports package. He paid 50K, I paid 28K. He drove both. Although, I cannot put the top down, he looked at me and said that mine drive better. Only a friend would say that after spending 50K on a car. Now you know, you have to drive these vehicles before really buying them. A convertible, along with 18" rims(instead of the 17") is way heavier and much less rigid. Even with the extra thrust of the 3.0 motor, it doesn't make up for it. Then laden it with all the motorized seats, top, etc. and you could have a weight bias easy exceeding 500lbs. The same with the Xi. Your are pushing another transaxle, 200lbs. You can also bump up the price another 5K, and more maintenance costs. So.....just may two cents. In the year and 1/2 I have owned my BMW, it has been much less maintenance than my Avalon. Every year, I have to redo my Avalon's brakes. And it is garaged during the winter up here. This year, the freakin rotors were frozen to the rear E brake drums, and I had to wind up having a military mechanic help me physically bust through the drum hats with a sledge hammer to take off the rear rotors. Fun huh. Not at all. Every year I have to do those Avalon brakes. The metal is inferior. And Toyota knows it.

    Believe it or not, the mechanic even said that my Avalon under 50MPH, handles as good as my BMW. So the struts and the bushing will make a big difference without changing the ride height, something I do not like to do. They do make springs now that can lower the Avalon, but that is not what I use it for. I need the ride height to remain for the snow and tranversing the trailer across the lawn.

    Let me know how things turn out.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    Interesting. I selected to be notified by Spybot if there is a download. Guess what? When I went to this forum, I got a message that says "Spybot S&D reports that you want to download DoubleClick. This is a known threat" What are you tracking in our PC's Edmunds? I do not appreciate spyware being installed on my PC. How about the rest of you?
  • 5539655396 Posts: 530
    AB. Finally got a reply from customer support on what sway bar bushings to order for MY application, which appears to be unusual. I just did a search for used Avalons in my area so I could measure their sway bars and could not find one less than 100 miles away. I'm still going in to check the parts catalog. I see some have grease zerks. It wouldn't be difficult to install on your brackets. Have you considered it?

    Here is my reply.


    That is a strange combo your Avalon has. Order a 9.5121 for the front. For the rear, I would just order the 16mm set and sand the bushing out to 17mm using a dremel type tool with a 60 grit drum on it.

    You need to grease either color, so get what ever color you like. There is no graphite in swaybar sets.

    Steve, Customer Service"
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