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Toyota Avalon Steering Questions

ljparrljparr Posts: 2
edited April 2014 in Toyota
At 115k miles replaced at Kirkwood Mo dealer. At 173K miles replaced again while traveling at Concord, NC dealer. Anyone had this type problem with Avalon? Also, repaired leak in trans (front pump seal). Of course the second was on the road and the time was over a year so no warranty. Paid $952 first time and $767 second time.


  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    if there was really 58K between replacements, it surely would not have been under warranty anyway, right?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • ljparrljparr Posts: 2
    More concerned about the fact that I had 115k on the first one and only 58k on the second. Can one only expect 60k on a replacement? Or, was the 115k double the normal replacement miles?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    is that it should go more than 115K, not less. Unfortunately, what happens is they begin to leak, and no repairs can be effected, they just have to replace the whole thing.

    115K seems early for a leak, 60K seems way early. If I had one go at 60K, and I wanted to keep the car a while but not a decade, I would maybe think about just keeping it topped up.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • gslevegsleve Posts: 183
    to replace the pwr steering fluid at all as course of preventative maintenance, the second occurence could be dealer related maybe they did not flush the lines out to remove the abrasive material which could have caused the imminent failure of the second rack coupled with no fluid changes.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Thanks. I knew I was going to have to take the rear seat out as it says in the service manual, I just thought there would be an easier way. Oh well. I can do it like you say and and the manual. What a pain. How often do you change yours??? Every 30K???

    Any progression on reducing the "light and fuzzzy" steering yet from your car??? Putting on the Energy Suspension bushing this month. Will let you know my opinion. Thanks again for the advice. I really did not want to have to go back to the tank, but I knew I should.

  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    AB..the fuel line is all a "reinforced flex" line, because it is fuel and some pressure. DON'T pinch it. My Toyo/Lexus buddy says, if you don't want to pull the seat, remove the gas cap and let the car sit a little while. This will relieve alot of the pressure. You'll still have some spillage, but it should be manageable.

    Steering! I am excited about what I've learned thus far. My buddy(the racing guy) is going to see how easy/tough this is, from his, it may be a little while. But, I earmarked this one as a "winter" project. It is an adjustment to flow rate, servo's, torsion bars, and relief valves....all GREEK to me, but he says he'll find out! Excellent!
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    I consider you the "father" of the Avalon Maintenance section. See post above. Not sure. A couple of things going on here. Fan speed only one, not multiple. Believe it is the switch itself. Not super familiar with the Auto Climate Controls, nor the older ones. Do not think it is a engine leak.

    I think the "Light and fuzzy" steering can be fixed. I am almost convinced part of the problem may be the same soft bushing syndrome, and make it numb. Perhaps starting there, hoping an aftermarket company can come up with better bushing might eliminate some of the vagueness.

  • bconsibconsi Posts: 18
    I was recently advised by the dealership that my power steering and rack and pinion were both in need of substantial repair ($1900). I am the original owner of our '97 Avalon and have personally put the 76,000 miles we have on the car. I searched past messages and found a note from TiredMom2 who sounded like she had the same exact issues with her '97 Avalon. Is this just a coincidence, or does the '97 Avalon have a particular problem with power steering and the rack and pinion? Does anybody have some insight into this issue? Plus, any thoughts on the most economical solution to this repair problem? I had just been into the dealership considering the purchase of a new Toyota SUV (our family has grown since we bought the Avalon) when I got hit with this news. Kind of took the wind out of my sails for buying another Toyota. I had also just taken my mother (traditional GM buyer) into to look at buying a new Camry.

    I'd appreciate anyone's response. Thanks.
  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    bconsi-What symptoms yielded this diagnoses???

    What PARTS are they selling you??

    It is most likely you NEED the rack. I just did mine at 150k. $275 for the part and put it in myself. (NOTE: You will also need to realign the steering wheel. This requires an airbag reset tool.) Also, you WILL need an alignment afterwards.

    I wouldn't let a bad rack "steer" you away from Toyo... I have logged over 600k miles on three Toyo's. Even at 250k, I would suggest "I drive my car..." when going out with friends, 'cause I knew we would get there- and BACK! -nomad56-
  • I have a 97 Avalon, it's been a wonderful car except for the steering rack that went bad at 100k. What causes them to go bad are the seals inside them,and Toyota doesn't sell seal kits, just steering racks themselves. This was told to me by my mechanic and the Toyota dealer. I got lucky though because my wife hit a deer one week after we noticed it leaking fluid, and it got fixed by our insurance company. There's is a service bulletin at WWW.NHTSA.COM on the steering rack and other bulletins for the Avalon. I'm at work on their computer or I would post a link for you to look it up. The website also talks about the other service bulletins that are out on any vehicle. Bconsi if I were you I wouldn't let that one problem scare me off of Toyota. I agree with Nomad56 if you shop it or do it yourself you can save a lot of money. I love my Avalon and wouldn't consider owning anything less, the only problem is that TRD, nor anyone else offers many accessories for performance or looks for these cars. If anybody knows of some performance parts or upgrades for the Avalon please let me know.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Your low mileage probably indicates a lot of city driving at low speed and this is much more stressful to steering parts than open road touring. In any case, it is NOT the Toyota brand. The repair frenquency on Avalons, and all Toyotas in general, is quite low regardless of how you drive. Buy another if it suits your current needs.

    As for the cost, others who post here are more familiar with that...but for $1900. the dealer throws in a week in Cancun for you and your family while he repairs it. Right? Toyota dealers are much more of a problem than the cars.... Enjoy the Av. Find another dealer. And post the final solution and cost here, if you can, so others will be aware of what the choices are.
  • The 97 Avalon has a fragile front end. Mine had 52,000 on it this past April when I was told the steering gear rack had to be replaced. I have had several Nisson Maximas, driven also here in New Engand conditions for 8 to 10 years each with out any suspension/steering problems. This same Avalon had the front strut mounts replaced a year earlier. I am a senior citizen who drives carefully and I was not very happy at these two major repairs. I had bought the car from the servicing dealer and I had also bought a 2002 Sequoia Ltd from them.I reminded them of this.At my request they contacted some regional Toyota rep. and they discounted the rack 50%. The total bill for the rack/labor/oil change and aligning all four wheels was $742. The discounted rack was$407.
  • bconsibconsi Posts: 18
    I appreciate all the comments (even the puns!) regarding my post on the power steering/rack and pinion repair issues on my '97 Avalon. I had been very happy with my experience with the car, and knew that my experience was more the exception than the rule. I had also been stung early last summer with an $800+ repair bill for a failed air conditioning condenser unit (apparently it had a hole in it). I appreciate your comments regarding the repair options for my current issues, and what I might be able to target for repair costs. The dealer did offer that I could probably get the cost down $400 or $500 if I went with non-genuine parts. Normally, that isn't my style. I like to buy a quality car, then stay the course with the manufacturer's recommended service schedule and original parts.

    As for the type of driving the car has been exposed to, there was little regular city driving. For the most part, it simply was driven a relatively short distance to work and back in fairly small towns that we've lived in. I did run through the Chicago area quite a few times to and from O'Hare, and granted, that can't be the best thing for any car.

    Thanks for the tip on the NHTSA, I'm going there next. I'll follow your suggestions, get it repaired at a reasonable cost, and return to refining our strategy for our next vehicle that we've been looking for. We have an Odyssey van for our young family of six, but are strongly considering a second vehicle that can handle the whole bunch. I don't want another van, and I struggle with the poor mileage of the large SUVs and the lack of cargo space in the midsize SUVs -- not to mention the sticker shock from several of the options on the market. I've never had car payments, and I don't intend to start now.

    I think the Highlander and the 4Runner are too small and narrow, and the Sequoia is too large, pricey and poor mileage. The Land Cruiser and LX470 are nice, but probably a little more steepeep than I want to get into with our young family. We've taken a long look at the MDX and Pilot, and there's a lot to offer -- with Pilot being the most reasonable price wise. The only shortcoming is the lack of cargo space.

    I'd welcome any opinions about the best options in today's market for us. I'd like to make a decision in the next month or so.

    Again, thanks for all the terrific feedback.
  • bconsibconsi Posts: 18
    Thanks for the feedback blackdog4. I wondered if Toyota might entertain an adjustment, because I still believe my experience is a bit rare. Toyota has a great reputation, and one way to preserve it is to take care customers, like they apparently did with you. The insights into what the charged you is very helpful. Thanks.
  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    Bconsi-Toyo may offer some accommodation...Good Luck! It sounds like you won't do the work, so... If Toyo does not come through, Maval racks have a lifetime warranty, and saves ya' $$$ on the part ...then ask around, there is probably a real good independent guy who will save ya' on the install...get a referral.

    danbeth-This may be beyond me. I did NOT see a "blower motor linear controller". This sounds like a "variable" resistor to change the fan speeds beyond the FOUR settings you can choose manually. What I do know is-Toyo has an A/C "amplifier" which is perhaps "SYMANTECS", for a part that offers the same necessary variations in resistance. This piece is below the A/C control panel, perhaps behind the ashetray in the center console, according to the Svc manual. Probably something you can grab a U-Pick-The-Parts yard for a few bucks???? That's the best I can do. I haven't had to do any real work on my A/C, but let me know, I'll try to help. -nomad56-
  • bconsibconsi Posts: 18
    nomad56 - Thanks for the suggestions. You're right, I'm not in a position to do the work myself. Aside from marginal mechanical skills, I've recently relocated, new job, 4 small children, etc. . . .

  • If you need cargo space and seats for six at the same time your choices are limited to giant SUV or Odyssey size vans. MDX/Pilot will give about the same mpg as your Ody. A few more goodies available on the MDX and they are discounted now. There is no real difference in seating. The third row is small, though high school teens fit in the way back of my MDX. The Pilot has three seat belts in the third row while the MDX has two. The seat is the same width in both, within an inch or so.
  • bconsibconsi Posts: 18
    My apologies for leading everyone into a non-maintenance conversation. It's just that the repair issues with the Avalon occurred right as we have begun looking for something new. Thanks to fndlyfmrflyer for your comments regarding the MDX and Pilot. I originally looked at the MDX, and thought it might be a solid candidate. But, I have a hard time spending that much money without being a little more excited about the vehicle. As for the third seat, our oldest of four children is six -- so the Pilot or MDX should accommodate us for a good number of years. I liked the idea of a Sequoia orginally, but it just doesn't seem practical or luxurious enough for the money.

    Just to qualify this as a maintenance post, I'm still refining my strategy for repairing the rack and power steering on my 97 Avalon. I first want to validate the dealer's diagnosis, and then find a reliable party to do the repairs at a reasonable cost. In the meantime, I'm closely monitoring my fluid levels!
  • gslevegsleve Posts: 183
    Bconsi you can avert another rack replacement, all in all many rack replacements can be averted if indiviulas replaced the power steering fluid on an annual basis for, that matter if they use synthetic fluid can triple that change out, in most cars using a turkey baseter all that is needed to vacum out the fluid and replace most with tranny fluid done this little procedure adds longevity to a rack if any replacement at all for the life of the car. Noteworthy the manufacturers do not inform you to replace it because their intrested in replacing parts which can be big ticket items, some the more expensive german vehicles indicate a power steer fluid change. Hope this info helps out
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Good comments. If you need Toyota parts and you can replace them yourself for the hood struts, you can buy alot of the parts on the web. Of particular note, Larry at is very knowlegeable and has been selling Toyota parts for years as very good prices. That may help you some with the cost.

    Power steering replacement. Just want to make sure I am clear on this. Automatic Tranmission Synthetic fluid for the power steering rack??? Not brake fluid???? Just want to make sure.

    Winter note:

    For those of you who find the sprayers on the Avalon (00-present) not excellent, I discovered a little trick albeit time consuming. Notice the new Camry has the same sprayers ONLY now, the spray comes out in a fine mist, instead of two streams on each side. You can paint the new black ones or leave them black or get the same color and replace the old ones. It involves taking down the interior hood insulation. If you are not good with plastic, you will bust some of the clips that attach the interior insultaion but they are easy to replace. The nossles are a little tricky to get out but when compressed below (used a strong thin cord) they pop out. The thin (car wash) type of spray, covers much more of the front window instead of the stream, don't not scratch the window as much because everything is coating with fluid, and you use about 1/2 as much fluid. This is for those that constantly go through winter/salt/spray/dirt highway type driving. I found this very worthwhile, although initially painful. OEM look. You would not be able to tell as the only difference is the aperture hole where the spray comes out. Go the spray from

    "Feed the forum" with your good ideas.

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Can any of you skilled out there provide some tips on Power Steering Maintenance. How often, ease of doing it yourself, fluid type, etc.


  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    I pull as much as I can out of the reservoir with a large plastic syringe and refill it with factory specified fluid at each oil change.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,504
    Some power steering pumps actually have filters in them, so check up on that.

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  • Dealer replaced rack and pinion on my 1997 Avalon at 51,000 miles. I've now got 111,000 and dealer says I need another replacement. Two times in this amount of mileage seems very excessive. I've just written a letter to the regional distributor to see if they can provide some type adjustment. I'll refer to the previous message showing someone got 50% discount at only 52,000m.

    If discount offered, advise I go with dealer or find an independent?
  • Twice? Even once is unusual. One must wonder what is causing the failures. That said I am in a similar situation with a 2003 car (not an Avalon). The steering rack was replaced at 5000 miles and again at 10,000 miles. Miles will reach 15,000 in a couple of months. It will be interesting to see if the rack needs replacing a third time.
  • john609john609 Posts: 10
    Saw the posting on the Avalon Power Steering Rack and had to comment. I too have a 1997 now w/ 112K (1 owner) all highway miles. My 1st rack went out at 63K (4 yrs & 4 months) in Jan 2001.

    My mechanic (non-dealer w/ 25 yrs experience on Toyotas) called around and found out this is one of the few American made parts on the Avalons assembled in the US. The part was changed on the 2000 model year cars and newer.

    The seals are leaking from the inside of the rack into the "rubber boot" in the middle of the rack. When you turn the wheel, the saturated boot (full of fluid) squirts out of the side. In his words, it should never happen.

    At 63K (and owning 3 Toyotas) TMC reimbursed me for the full repair under "goodwill". Colleagues at work w/ Avy's 95 and 96 model yrs checked after my problem and had the same leak.

    Dealers in the Houston area were offering lifetime warranted rebuilt replacements at approx $1000 fully installed. It took 4 trips back to the dealer to get it right, so be patient. No problems since.

    Sorry to reply so late, but I did not log on for awhile.
  • mcescher1mcescher1 Posts: 37
    1) When this new (15000 mile) car starts up in extremely cold weather, below freezing, there is a distinct whistle or hiss for a half minute or so, which then stops. 2) When it starts in normal weather, when the wheel is turned, there is a hiss for a few seconds until the car warms up. 3) When it is fully warm, when the wheel is turned all the way to either side, it sounds like it is scraping against something a bit. Does anyone have any idea what causes all this? The steering fluid level is full. Thanks.
  • csv1csv1 Posts: 3
    My 2001 Avalon also has a slightly noisy steering column/wheel, most apparent in cold weather, and only when I am parking rather than driving. I liken the noise to a moan more than a squeal. The maintenance departments at two different dealers both have said they can find nothing wrong.
  • I posted on oil leaks thinking I had an unusual problem. A reply from Nomad 56 and after reading all these postings I see it's a common problem. I have added a sealer to the fluid and so far it seems to be working. I haven't seen any fluid on the ground so far and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'll post in a few days with the results. Probably to good to be true.
  • I added AT-205 RE-Seal and it worked for a few days but started to leak again.Found a after market rack with a lifetime warranty ($400) plus $200 labor and alignment. About how many miles will sludge problem start,if it's going to?
This discussion has been closed.