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Axle problem Camry 90
May 17, 2010
Question related to Camry 90, V6 wagon 194K. Recently, I had to replace left front axle because I broke it while tightening LOCK NUT. I am not extremely strong, at least three times older than my car and did it with just torque wrench. After the new (rebuilt ) axle was installed, I had a feeling that something was wrong . There was rythmical noise, bouncing and pure handling. First I inspected brakes and replaced front pads and rotors, which I was planning to do anyway although not so soon. Than I rotated tires (tires are no more than 10k old). Took the car back to the mechanic and he told me that car is tired and both bearings, left lower arm bushings and rear shocks needs to be done. The noise could be from many sources but it was the same whether turning right, left or straight. Also the same when switching to neutral. I knew about shocks , but I was reluctant to put more money before solving source of noise from the front wheels. I raised the wheels from the ground, turn the engine on and put on drive. There was very distinctive noise, low in tone and grinding, from the inner joint of the left/replaced axle ONLY. Checked with stethoscope , there was no any noise coming from the hub/bearing . I was able to touch stethoscope to the rotating inner boot and clicking noise was coming exactly from there. It is much more pronounced while putting on REVERSE and with small revs. I took it to the garage again, left for checking overnight and was told the same, which is struts and bearings. During the last weekend I replaced struts. Took for the ride and as I expected it was much better in terms handling and bouncing but the noise was still there. I jacked up the car and sneaked under again. I was looking for any difference in loose and playing of the right and left axle. At that time I put close to thousand miles since replacement. I found that all six bolts on the replaced axle were loose. I could tighten them with my fingers!!! I tighten them using pipe as the extension. And took for a ride again. The rhythmic noise was still there. Tested with wheels above the ground noise was still coming from the inner boot. Talk to the mechanic he still claims that the noise is coming from the bearings and the reason that I don’t hear it from the hub is that by raising car I took all the load. And finally he is not going to test it again. He can replace the axle but it will cost me another $200. I just took the car to other garage and they confirmed that there is some problem with inner joint, they didn’t find any problems with hubs bearings. They suspected some problem with differential which I am afraid most, but they said that axle must be done first
Have the following questions: 1. if this is inner joint how serious problem it is to drive. 2. what else it can be? 3. How I can have the mechanic to cooperate with me?

May 21, 2010#1
1. if this is inner joint how serious problem it is to drive.
- Like any rotating component, letting it go will just make the problem worse. Could have been a faulty replacement part to begin with - it does happen from time to time.

How serious of a problem could be it - worse thing that could happen would be complete separation from the joint - depending on when that happens (stranded in the middle of nowhere, breakdown middle of an intersection, breakdown while merging with traffic, etc.) - could be a very bad situation for you and other motorists.

2. what else it can be?
- Very possible that other worn components are causing accelerated wear on the axle. This could explain why the bolts have worked themselves loose. Possible other culprits - bent wheel, worn strut, worn bushings, worn motor mounts, worn transaxle.

3. How I can have the mechanic to cooperate with me?
- That is the million dollar question, greatly depends on the rapport that you have with mechanic. Remember, they were trained for this work. Even though you may have better diagnostic approach or have intimate information that could be useful - the mechanic is the "expert". Some may take your diagnosis of the issue and extend upon it - some will completely ignore you. Unfortunately. it is really hit or miss with mechanics.

May 25, 2010#2
Thank you Fishexpo,
Meanwhile I decided to replace the axle. It helped to some degree. Now when I raise the car the low in tone sound and clicking are not there any more. But there is still rythmic noise while driving. The noise becomes stronger with speed but is the same while turning right left or straight. It is also the same when drive or neutral.

May 25, 2010#3
If the sound doesnt change frequency or sound in a tight left or right hand turn (can try circling to the left and right) - then you are looking at something in the transaxle or coupling between the engine and transaxle.

Since replacing the axle helped change the noise - you've got it narrowed down to the drivetrain. Did you make certain it wasnt as simple as bad tire/wheel? If you havent already tried, rotate the front wheels to the back. Drive normally and note the sound. Raising the car and noting that the sound has gone away could point to several things - could be a bad wheel bearing / wheel hub, bad tire, or bad axle. If there is too much slop on the transaxle side, it would also cause some problems. Not much you can do in that case, other than replace the transaxle.

If you dont notice any binding the drivetrain - I'd keep driving it until it decides to let go. I've seen quite a few transaxle with bad input shaft / output shaft bearings go 50K miles or more.

May 26, 2010#4
Thanks again,
Yes I rotated the wheels before changing axle. And also tires are quite new (about 10K). At that point I suspect left bearing except, as I wrote before, no difference in sound while turning. At that point I decided to wait and observe. By the way what can be wrong with the wheel hub itself?

May 26, 2010#5
Wheel hub could be out of spec (warped or does not turn true). I cases where there is unusual tire wear that resists all balancing and alignment checks and/or vibrations that do not go away - usually ends up being a faulty hub.

Those symptoms could translate to audible issues as well - the conditions have to be just right. Definitely sounds like a driveline problem - you've looks at all the pieces and have pretty much ruled out the tire, axle, and bearing - only things left are the hub and transaxle. A bad bearing will get pretty bad quickly, so it should be pretty obvious if the bearing is bad. Unloading that corner and changing the sounds sounds like a bearing issue - but since the bearing sits in the hub - could be hub related.

May 26, 2010#6
Thanks, it fits the picture. I suspect that mechanic who replaced the axle first time overtorque the spindle nut. I broke two breaker bars while attempting to untighten it. Could this be a cause of the warped hub?
Also the original reason that i needed new axle was that I broke spindle. Spindle nut was becoming loose and after 3rd or so attempt I broke it . I used torque wrench which was for max 140 lbft, so the spindle had to be tired anyway. By the way, while having wheel of the ground, I can spin it smoothly, ther is no any binding or grinding or rocking. I tried to rock the wheel and hub itself and there is no any noticable ply.

June 2, 2010#7
Too much torque is one of the most common causes of warped parts. Nut should be on tight, but not tight enough to snap in that manner. Sounds like the shop just blasted it on with an impact wrench and torque tube, instead of a proper torque wrench.

June 6, 2010#8
Thanks a lot again. Means that my suspitions are not so ureasonable. I am out of the country now, but after return I will have to address it.
Should I wait for more obvious or clear syptoms? Also should I buy and replace the HUB Assembly as a whole or rather dissaseble everything and examine step by step? Thanks for any sugestion and encouragement. I lost confidence to any mechanic and will most likely try to fix it myself.

July 31, 2010#9
I'm back with my axle/bearing problem. So far I took out of the car steering knucle and pull out the hub out of it . Based on the manual and all sources (from internet ) I shoud have DUST DEFLECTOR from inner side. I didnt have it. I am doing this job the first time in my life and however exciting it is I have no idea if this is important or not. Local stores dont cary that stuff and I couldnt find anything through internet. Any help will be very appreciated. I am not in a hurry and want to do it correctly. Also I noticed that ball joint boot is ripped The joint itself seems to work well. Should I replace it given that I have everything appart?

August 3, 2010#10
Definitely replace the ripped boot. Even if the joint is OK, once the boot rips, dirt and moisture will quickly work into the joint and destroy it. Dont think they make just a replacement ball joint boot. Given the age of the car - I'd just replace it and be done. Same goes for the other side, generally want to do suspension/drivetrain/brake repairs in axle pairs.

As for the dust deflector - that should be part of the rebuild kit and/or replacement hub. There could be several running changes and some have an sealed design that doesnt require the OEM dust deflector.

August 12, 2010#11
Actually I finished the whole job and so far I am happy. All works fine. I replaced bearing, hub and since bushings were really bad, entire lower arm (got it on internet for less than $60 with new ball joint). At the end, since the tie rod was disconnected, I decided to replace the end (boot was raptured) and steering rod boot (the same reason). Passanger side looks much better. But 2 years ago I replaced lower arm with ball joint.

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