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Toyota Avalon Suspension Questions



  • jwadle1jwadle1 Posts: 3
    Thanks to both responses.. I was using jackstands and it seemed a little diffivult to get the bolts out.. Looks like I am going to get a set of jackstands and try that out.. In case anyone else wants to do this int he future, I will try to take some pictures and document what I did.. Wish me luck..
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    "Stiffer sway bar bushings will assist in body roll but I don't know how much they will help excessive up/down motion."

    It may help due to the fact that there will be a better, or more rigid connection to the other strut, forcing it to contribute more.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    "I have the car on jacks stands"

    Make you have both sides on the same plane. If only one side is raised, you will preload the sway bar.
  • smith1smith1 Posts: 283
    I have a 2007 XL (4000 miles) and am disappointed in the ride quality. I feel that minor road irregularities cause more disturbance of the car than they should. E.g. when one wheel encounters a small depression the entire car rocks from side to side for several seconds. I never expected Buick-like isolation, but I feel this Avalon is significantly inferior in this aspect to the B5 Passat I drove previously.

    It seems to me this has something to do with the OEM struts being too sloppy, not being able to damp vehicle movements effectively or quickly enough. I'm not really looking for a "firmer" ride, just a more composed one with less rocking, porpoising, etc. when road imperfections are encountered. Would changing to KYB or Tokico struts help with this?
  • bigpaul35bigpaul35 Posts: 7
    I agree that the ride is less than spectacular. I tend to notice more of the road imperfections than i would like. As to your question on the struts, if you search back through this thread (i believe its this one), there is a short series of exchanges that deals with the strut issue and a recommendation on which ones to use as replacements.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Yes.yes. yes. TokicoHP or KYB GR2's. Do NOT change the tire sizing. Have them change the mounts and bump stops too, either OEM or KYB.

    Have had TokicoHP for 70K on an 02 Avalon, with Energy Suspension PU bushings, regular springs and Toyota OEM wheels. My other vehicle is a BMW 3 series with the sports suspension. While two different cars, you would be very very surprised. I took the BMW yesterday, but I took the Avalon today, more comfortable for a large person.

    Not inexpensive to change, but worth it if you intend on keeping the vehicle.

    Bigger sway bars I do not find necessary on this vehicle. The PU sway bar bushing, act the same as putting on a bigger sway bar, and the vehicle rides markedly well controlled while still balancing out for comfort.

  • smith1smith1 Posts: 283
    Many thanks for the information, much appreciated.
  • Aloha, all...been lurking but haven't posted in a looong time...I've reached the 120K mark on my 2000 avy, am considering changing sway bar bushings to PU. Am NOT clear on the support positions- where do the jackstands go? In the manual (page IN-8) it says the support positions are on the edge, same as 4 of the jack positions. I read here that doing so would load the struts and springs... Considered ramps, but manual says the wheels must be removed to remove sway bar.
    So somewhere along both axles,Isee, but do I put them as near as possible to the wheels? Can they be put in the wrong (non-supportive) place?
    Jwadle1, did you ever take the pics you promised?

    To clarify, I am no mechanic, but I do change my own oil and struggled through a recent sparkplug change.

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Haven't checked in in awhile. Sorry. The PU bushing replace the OEM rubber ones, and attach via a brace to the chassis. It is not necessary to take the wheels off, although the front ones are hard to get at, the rear ones are quite easy. The support jacks are suppose to go on the side of the car, you are correct at the jack positions. Their is also a jack position in the middle of the front and in the back. An easy way to have the wheels loaded while accessing the underneath, is to buy a 2x10x12 board, cut it on a diagonal into 4 pieces, place each before the tire, and then roll the car onto the boards. It gives you a little extra clearance for working under the car, or alternatively, you can lift the car up from the central lift points and put the either front or rear axle wheels on ramps. You can easily work on the bar mounts from there, it is safe,if the ramps are safe, and the suspension is loaded.

    That is what I have done in the past, carefully, and it has worked well, using every safety procaution possible. Grease the bushing well. Do not over tighten. Using a stubby ended rachet wrench made things much easier in front.

    Hope that helps.

  • Thank you for replying, it is clearer now. I am going to recheck the diameter of the sway bars but I think the front was 17 mm. I do have ramps made from railroad ties, but may borrow some metal ones as I don't want to take chances beneath the car.

    Thanks again!
  • Just a few more questions:

    Do I have to take the sway bar links off also? It seems that the the upper end of the link would be hard to remove unless the wheel was off. So if no wheel removal, are you saying to just unbolt the lower end of the link in order to remove sway bar?
    Also if I do have to remove the links, do they have bushings or washers or anything else that may need changing?
    If so I'll have to get them ahead of time from the dealer.

    thanks again, i really appreciate it.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    If you are only changing the sway bar bushings, you don't need to remove anything but the brackets for the bushings themselves. Just keep both sides of the car at the same height to avoid preload.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,728
    I'm considering a new Avalon, and was thinking about getting the touring suspension. Only problem is the lower-profile, shorter-life tires. Anyone have a preference on touring vs. XL+aftermarket shocks?
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    What a great question. I am not sure exactly what you get with the touring besides lower profile tires, and larger wheels. And, how much extra it is. When I bought my Avalon in 02, they did not have that option. And the diff. in the XLS, and all the electronic gizmos I really was not interested in anyway. Sometimes touring models, have more motorsport oriented parts, sometimes not.

    If you don't want to mess around, I would think that the touring model is the way to go. I probably spent close to 2-3K modifying the Avalon, the way I wanted it. TokicoHPshocks, Energy Suspension PU bushings for the sway bars and control arms and obviously a new alignment, tax, and the hassle factor. The shocks I could not do myself, nor the control arms. The ride and handling are definitely unique, that is for sure. It doesn't ride like my BMW with the sports package, but I had a choice today and took the Avalon. I just wanted to put her in drive and go. Nothing more comfortable.

  • texasestexases Posts: 7,728
    Thanks for the info - I got interested in the touring when CandD had it finishing first among 6cyl sporty but mainstream sedans.
  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    "Anyone have a preference on touring vs. XL+aftermarket shocks?"

    You may want to check resale values. People don't usually consider that. Also depends if you like to do things in stages to see the result. That's me. I like to make something the way I want it, and I can take it as far as I like. Like AB says, we now have something unique. I'm quite satisfied. If you want to float like a butterfly - or a Buick, stock struts are probably OK. Maybe just do bushings. I like more control, albeit with a bit stiffer ride, so did bushings and KYB GR2 struts. Come to think of it, I haven't installed my rear bushings yet. The fronts made a noticeable difference. Check bar size before ordering. Mine, on our 03 were an odd size. 17mm, and I could only get 16mm bushings for the rear, so I need to resize the holes.
  • Ok, thanks!!! I see now it must mean the bushings are split to allow removal and wasn't so obvious from the pics in the factory manual, nor I haven't gotten my order yet.
  • toyota12toyota12 Posts: 8
    This is in follow-up to the problems of many others including myself with strut mount noise over bumps and rough surfaces. Despite new shocks, mounts and anti-swaybar bushings, I still had excessive noise soon after each repair. Not as bad as the original clunk over a pothole of the rear-left but enough to be annoying and aggravating. Once having the rear seat out completely and exposing the upper mount assembly, I was able to tell, see and feel that the strut mounts were "loose" while in the rear seat area with another person driving and all it took was a slight amount of pressure to quiet them down. I am sure there is suppose to be a little play however for after all the top of the strut is moving up and down and the mount is like a ball-joint. I have seen that with the struts, as an accessory one can obtain a bump guard or jounce bump which helps with bottoming out but in my case the noise was generated with even 15 mph over a slightly irregular residential street that caused the suspension to "jiggle."

    "abfisch" had noted a few times that all was needed was to tighten the 3 retaining bolts down. This sounded reasonable but in my case they were already as tight as they could be and were already flush.

    I experimented and built the area up using some towels and foam rubber and replaced the rear seat and this took 80% of the noise away. Although this was good, I wanted a more permanent and gratifing fix to this few year old problem that I had spent considerable money and time on to replace all the possible offending parts. I had Monroe Sensa-traks struts and mounts placed since the Toyota dealership wanted twice the amount. It may be that it takes a true Toyota OEM strut and mount that may fit somewhat different and be "tuned" for the way the car was set-up but I had my repairs done piecemeal and this thought is in retrospect.

    I just did get a can of "Great Stuff" for cracks and gaps--a spray foam that expands and binds and squirted this on top of the mounts in hopes this would create pressure and a seal and reduce the noise and bind-up that little bit of movement from the upper aspect. So far this worked like a charm. I replaced and tried every other bit of repair and this less than $5 fix seems to be the best. Hope this helps someone else.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    I don't remember writing about the top nuts but maybe I did. The main thing with the noise though is the strut mounts themselves, which should be replaced when the struts are replaced. Toyota has had problems in the past with the wear of these parts. Just go to any Spring and Axle place, and they should be able to give you a fair assessment.

    The spray foam sounds like a messy but fair idea. Usually the noise is caused by motion, something that "Great Stuff" would be able to suppress but not eliminate. Whatever works though. Good enough.


  • dreameraldreameral Posts: 4
    How do you remove the rear seat cushion section. It seems attached and I don't see and screws holding it in place. I don't want to force it
  • toyota12toyota12 Posts: 8
    The rear seat consists of the seat itself cushion and the rear back rest.

    The seat portion is snapped-in place. Just pull up on one end near the front portion of it and it will come loose--do this again for the other side. There is a stronger snap-in for the mid-portion--again use steady force in the front rear and this will come out. Don't worry--you will not break anything (my same thoughts initially). The fasteners to the seat are very sturdy and I have taken it out several times now without difficulty.

    After you get this out, the rear portion is bolted down by 4 bolts that secure a U-shaped metal hinge to the rear chassis. There are two in the lower center which are the larger ones and two on the lower aspect at the very ends. A hex wrench is useful for the 2 center ones and either that or just the right type of wrench is needed for the outer two.

    Now be on the lookout that the seatbelt fasteners are attached to the two most-centered bolts and the seat-belts from the rear deck also cross over the rear cushion backrest but they are easily moved aside.

    The rear back is held securely by three rear hinges that fit in a socket-like assembly but doesn't snap in place.

    I found it best as it is awkard to remove it--I stand where the rear seat that was just removed--position myself centrally, squat down (thanks to the amble rear passenger seat and leg room) and put both hands underneath it and lift upards. Best to have two people do it from each side of course but if you don't have a helper, one can do it just barely!!

    You can either slide it forward to get to the rear strut mount upper assembly or if you want to remove it entirely, then move the seatbelts out of the way and tweak it out (bit cumbersome but after a few times it gets to be old hat.

    The putting back the two cushions is essentially the reverse--just be sure that the three rear fasteners go up and over and into the 3 slots so it fits flush with the rear. Also, when putting the seat portion back in, you have to thread the three seatbelt fasteners--one is a double through the appropriate holes in the cushion.

    You cannot break anything or do any harm. Many car parts such as carpet fasteners in the trunk or headlamps or door panels have these plastic snap-like material that after a car gets some age on it, they may become brittle and caution and easy-going is the key. But the snaps for the seat are heavy-duty--it is only the seat cushion itself that snaps from three points and yes the first time you have to give a little heave-ho. The rear cushion just fastens into a holder and then bolts in from the front area.

    And by the way, my spray of Great Stuff so far has solved my problem of the upper strut mount assembly having too much play and annoying noises over rough pavement. My $5 can fix (only used probably 50 cents worth) has done a much better job than the $700 I spent replacing the strut mounts, struts and anti-sway bar bushings. It took me some repairs, going to several places, etc. but I essentially finally figured it out myself and have a better knowledge of it than most mechanics who offered their recommendations.

    Now granted the first one had replaced the strut mount and that was essentially the problem the whole time. Initially it really made a metal-to-metal noise over pot-holes, manholes, etc. But I don't know why it didn't fix it 100%. Unless the Toyota strut mounts are somehow different that other manufacturers. My car has 170,000 miles on it and I am sure the springs are soft and the rear doesn't sit up as high as it did when new (since my Mom has the same exact car and year but with 30,000 miles on it and hers sits up higher)--but all the mechanics noted that this shouldn't have anything to do with it--and normally springs do pretty good and rarely need replacing so unless it is broken or something, they will not recommend replacing it. Perhaps ideally I need to replace those too or perhaps get a new Avalon!!!

    But it is running good and there is no noise now so things are good for now. I bought it new in 1996 with the hopes of getting 200,000 miles on it or more and so far still trying to achieve that goal.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Great post. Don't sell it; the new ones are not the same.

  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 6,359
    "Don't sell it; the new ones are not the same"

    That's right they are roomier, more powerful and get better fuel economy.

    I loved my '03 XL but the '06 XLS I own now beats it in every way with the exception of the front seats. The '03s were a bit larger.

    2015 Buick Enclave / 2017 Hyundai Elantra

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    You know I feel just the opposite. I guess that is why they changed it. I have an 02 with a bench seat. Like seating in a living room. I sat in the new one. Not only did the console hit my knees when my foot was on the gas with the seat all the way back, but I hit my head getting out of the car on the roof line. And then the trunk is much smaller, and then although the stats are greater, it cannot tow over 1000lbs. Soooo. I walked away from it, going, numbers can be deceiving, but this new one does not do it for me. And for the 30K, I found something that was alot more fun, from a fun standpoint. If that is what you mean by "beat it". The new one is a very nice, comfortable cruising car, people on this thread still complain time to time about the suspension. But suspension issues usually arise with the age and mileage of the vehicles, not with someone that is I guess lucky enough to change vehicles every three years.

  • 5539655396 Posts: 529
    "And then the trunk is much smaller"

    I assume that was the trade off for the reclining rear seats - which I would never use. Sounds like a sales gimmick to me. They may work fine, but when I own a car, I drive it or ride in the front. If someone wants to ride along, they can damn well sit upright and suffer. There, I said it and I'm glad. Seriously, does anyone use this feature? How? For Grannie?
  • nimiminimimi Posts: 249
    So far, I've only taken a few longer trips with more than two people in the car. My daughter and much younger sister-in-law praised the comfort and room of the rear seat. So, if all your trips are by yourself, the back seat is useless -- use it the same way you do your trunk and carry golf clubs, suitcases, bags, etc. back there. But if you have friends and relatives that accompany you anywhere, they'll praise your car for its comfort and convenience.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Never use the recline feature. The back seat is almost excessive.. Agree, the car needs a larger trunk as this one is smaller than the prior generation trunk.

    The bottom line here is that no car has it all. Not even the "next generation" of the same car has it better than it was in every area. Another ex: The '07 Limited seats are truly inferior to the '03 XL seats in comfort. Yes, the 07's are heated and cooled, but the '03 was more comfortable as a daily driver.

    Overall, if a better family sedan (for us) were out there, we would have it. For now, Avalon wins. Been that way since '98. This is our third one. Enjoy the Avy..... :)
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Well said fin. It was a good car from the get go and continues to be. Unfortunately, they seem to want to push the electronic gizmos that some enjoy, and take away practical features that others enjoy.

    My avalon did not come with a mist feature for the wipers. I know they make it and probably does now. The double unlock feature on the German cars, that roll down all the windows at the same time while the car is in the sun is priceless to me. I was wondering if the new Avalon has this feature.

  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    To abfisch: After reading the owner's manual and even trying the remote key fob in several random patterns, just for fun, it's apparent that there is no function to put down the windows or open the moonroof by remote on the '07 Avalons.

    This feature is available on some Lexus models. And if you read the Lexus forums you see reports of "openings" happening by themselves for no obvious reason. That's not good. Never heard anyone say this in person, but... maybe. It's wireless signal, so, as you say, more electric gizmos....

    Enjoy your Avy... great cars.. :)
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 6,359
    The Avalon is close enough to a Lexus that I think they leave features out on purpose just to give Lexus that little "leg up". For example that window down function when unlocking the doors can't be more than just a relay or two and cost a few bucks. However, it is just a little extra touch the people who buy Lexus would expect. Same thing goes for the power tilt/telescopic wheel on the ES. They do the same thing with the Avalon and Camry. For example I love that both my Driver and Pass windows are Auto Up/Down on my Av and that my (seldom used) heated seats are variable temp. On the Camry the seats are one setting and the passenger window is manual.

    2015 Buick Enclave / 2017 Hyundai Elantra

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