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Steering noise, is it steering rack or steering column? T27 Avensis


slc79
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As some of you may have already noticed from some earlier posts, I'm a recent first time Toyota owner. When I bought the car, I was made aware of a knocking sound in the steering wheel and the seller claims this to be the steering rack and knocked off a bit of the price for this for me to have it fixed later.

I am however not so sure anymore, because two others have tested the car saying it doesn't really behave like a failing steering rack. I'm wondering if it may be the issue I've seen quite often mentioned with older Toyotas than mine that have to do with the steering column might also be what I am experiencing. Also, I'm told that there are literally no failures with these electric steering racks at all. Is there an easy way to find out for someone not too technical when it comes to cars? If it's the column rather than the rack it seems that's good news in terms of repair cost 🙂

To describe what it feels like, there will be usually no more than two pops turning either direction (followed quite closely to each other, as if something actually slips). It can be felt in the steering wheel.

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I have same exactly same problem in my 2010 T27. I took my car to MOT last month and they didn't find anything wrong. I tried tighten steering column bolts with no luck. Last thing which came to my mind was strut mount bearing which is at top of a front shock. I took that rubber cap away (top of shock, under the bonnet) and noticed there was some dried grease inside. I cleaned it away and added new fresh grease in and drove a little and that annoying sound was almost gone. Now it has come again and I think my next task is change those bearings.

IMG_20210722_124919.jpg

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29 minutes ago, JiiN said:

I have same exactly same problem in my 2010 T27. I took my car to MOT last month and they didn't find anything wrong. I tried tighten steering column bolts with no luck. Last thing which came to my mind was strut mount bearing which is at top of a front shock. I took that rubber cap away (top of shock, under the bonnet) and noticed there was some dried grease inside. I cleaned it away and added new fresh grease in and drove a little and that annoying sound was almost gone. Now it has come again and I think my next task is change those bearings.

IMG_20210722_124919.jpg

So, was there ever any tests you did prior to disassembling things that would confirm it was the column? I am not that good at working on cars.. only removing the radio so I could install a DAB module behind it felt like a chore 😛 I may have to just bite the Apple and take the car to a work shop to have them tell me where it comes from, but afraid that can be expensive too if it's hard to find.

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That noise didn't changed at all when I tried tighten those column bolts. And I'm 99% sure column doesn't (in my case) make that noise and it is that strut mount bearing. It is easy to check that grease: just open Your bonnet and look under that plastic tray next to windshield and there You can see top of shocks. Fingers will fit there to take that rubber cap away and You are able to check has grease dried like in my case. In my case I filled that rubber cap about 5 times (pic above) and grease keeps disappearing every time.

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I had a light knock on mine when you turned the steering wheel slightly side to side at standstill. Turned out to be the intermediate steering shaft that needed replacing. Luckily it was covered under extended warranty. 

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8 minutes ago, Chris Nutt said:

I had a light knock on mine when you turned the steering wheel slightly side to side at standstill. Turned out to be the intermediate steering shaft that needed replacing. Luckily it was covered under extended warranty. 

Only at standstill? For me it's primarily while driving, haven't tried it at stand still. The steering is tight and does not have any play that I notice. Everything seems to be in order, but while turning there will be a few knocks. But if it is the same fault as yours, it's still cheaper than the steering rack. Part costs an equivalent of £1500 alone... but as I said, I'm starting to doubt that it is. I will have a car mechanic look over the car later to make an attempt to source the origin of the knock, so fingers crossed 🙂

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32 minutes ago, slc79 said:

 

Only at standstill? For me it's primarily while driving, haven't tried it at stand still. The steering is tight and does not have any play that I notice. Everything seems to be in order, but while turning there will be a few knocks. But if it is the same fault as yours, it's still cheaper than the steering rack. Part costs an equivalent of £1500 alone... but as I said, I'm starting to doubt that it is. I will have a car mechanic look over the car later to make an attempt to source the origin of the knock, so fingers crossed 🙂

There was lots of knocking noise on mine when driving, however it was solved with fitting updated brake calliper carriers. A known problem apparently. But I didn't feel any knocking on the steering when driving. Good luck in solving yours!

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No uplifting news from the mechanic.. or any at all, really. He could not figure out where it came from 😞
He could not for certain exclude the rack either... so.. back to square one. Wonder if I've done something stupid now with this purchase...

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I don't also have any kind knocking sound if I turn my steering wheel at standstill. Knocking sound appears usually when turning tight turn (intersection etc.) and there is even a little bump on a road. 

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Knocking through the steering is possible play in the inner or outer tie rod ends. This should be fairly easy to spot for an experienced mechanic and likely to manifest itself most when driving on a rutted road.

Wear in the rack is normally experienced as free play about the centre position.

If the steering system has no play in it, but a single click or knock is experienced when turning the wheel left or right when stationary or at low speed then that's most likely a little play in the column splined sliding coupling. Try moving the column to a slightly different rake/reach to see if it changes.

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11 minutes ago, mrfixer said:

Knocking through the steering is possible play in the inner or outer tie rod ends. This should be fairly easy to spot for an experienced mechanic and likely to manifest itself most when driving on a rutted road.

Wear in the rack is normally experienced as free play about the centre position.

If the steering system has no play in it, but a single click or knock is experienced when turning the wheel left or right when stationary or at low speed then that's most likely a little play in the column splined sliding coupling. Try moving the column to a slightly different rake/reach to see if it changes.

Hey and thanks for your input. It so happens that I was watching a few videos now, where I see that intermediate shaft replacements is very common on pretty much every Toyota. Is that what you refer to when saying column splined sliding coupling? The mechanic who checked my car today did not find anything wrong when inspecting the car from underneath, and I was also thinking what you said that a faulty rack would be causing a play at the center. I am actually quite convinced that it is the intermediate shaft now, but I am not finding any useful info what it will cost to have it replaced. By the looks of it, a Toyota garage shouldn't be using much more than an hour for the entire job, so I guess what will bring up the cost is the part. I am also unable to find a third party part, so any workshop I visit will more than likely insist ordering one from Toyota.

In all three different mechanics have driven the car now, and noone said it felt like the steering rack, so I am confident-ish that it can be ruled out now. If the fault indeed happens to be the shaft, I'll happily throw an equivalent of £500-£800 on it, though.. so if this can be diagnosed easily, I hope I can get away with that. I'll try adjusting the reach tomorrow too. Exactly what change will I notice from this? Again, thanks for your input. Much appreciated 🙂

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So.. my visit at Toyota didn't really make me much wiser. Just met with "this is normal", "I wouldn't bother fixing", "I have no idea what it is.. probably expensive to diagnose.", and with independent shop also being unable to tell where the noise comes from I'm really unsure how to proceed with this. Also said that he had never ever heard of a case on Avensis where this shaft had to be replaced. This knocking really does cause disturbance and takes attention away from driving for me for a brief second, so I would really prefer to have it fixed. Will test different rake/reach once I find out what changes I should be looking for.

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The steering column actually has two sliding splined couplings. One near the top to permit column 'reach' to be adjusted and then one on the lower shaft. Normally it is the lower one that knocks and it is not necessary to replace the shaft. Just disconnect the lower shaft, slide the coupling apart and coat the splines with some very thick grease such as Lucas X-TRA.   The grease gets into the gaps around the splines and damps the knocking sound.

Knocking from the column splines seems to be relatively common on Toyotas. Its annoying but not dangerous.

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So, I did an attempt adjusting the steering wheel. I was a bit puzzled about not being able to tilt the wheel very much but didn't think much of it at the point. I could only adjust the reach. Does this further confirm being the intermediate steering shaft?

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Was going to remove the post above, but I couldn't. Disregard that. It just needed a little more force than I thought.

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  • 4 weeks later...
1 hour ago, JiiN said:

Did You find what causes that noise? 

Not yet. Still trying to find someone to help me look at this. I promise I will post when I know, as I hate all these threads ending with no resolution myself 🙂

I am inclined to accept the possibility of it being the steering rack, though, because it does not seem to
be any play anywhere near the wheels. Also, I can feel a slight judder in the steering whenever this happens. I also noticed it does not happen when the car is stationary, not sure if that means anything.

Otherwise still trying to adjust to the car, as it's a very different driving experience with it being CVT and all from what I'm used to 🙂 Been having a bit of a nervous breakdown over some whining from the transmission, but found that this is perfectly normal for CVT transmissions of any type so I'm accepting that. All  in all, once I get used to the engine speed not being fully tied to the speed of the vehicle I know I'm going to be very good friends with it. It's still messing with my head that the RPM is constant, and sometimes even decreases, while the speed is increasing when flooring the pedal 😄

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I have had similar problems on two 2013 Auris.  On that car there is a TSB for the fault.

On one car, which was still under warranty, the complete steering shaft (including motor) was eventually replaced.  This was after the dealer had incrementally gone through the other potential problems (tightening clamps, greasing shafts etc.) over several visits.  This finally fixed the problem - its been 4 years now.

The second car was out of warranty.  For that car I bought a 2016 complete secondhand steering shaft/motor off eBay for a very reasonable price, around £55.  (The clunking fault on the Auris is on cars made from 2012 to 2015, btw.) I fitted the upper part of the column only (the part that attaches to the steering wheel).  I was lucky, the problem has not returned in the intervening 18 months [touches adjacent piece of wood at this point].  The lower part of the shaft (with motor) is still sitting in the garage, for if it is needed later!

What I did notice on both cars, was that if the steering wheel reach/rake adjustment control was left so the wheel was not clamped, as it always is in normal use, then the knock that I was experiencing from the splined shafts was gone.  Obviously trying the car without that adjustment done-up comes with some risk as you don't have full control over the steering!  This is best tried in an empty car park etc!   I think that driving with the reach/rake clamp adjustment loose allows the splined shaft to mis-align slightly, which takes up the spline slack, (if there is too much).

Perhaps trying this could help you determine where the fault is; rack or shaft?

HTH.

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4 minutes ago, Gerg said:

I have had similar problems on two 2013 Auris.  On that car there is a TSB for the fault.

On one car, which was still under warranty, the complete intermediate shaft (including motor) was eventually replaced.  This was after the dealer had incrementally gone through the other potential problems (tightening clamps, greasing shafts etc.) over several visits.  This finally fixed the problem - its been 4 years now.

The second car was out of warranty.  For that car I bought a 2016 complete secondhand steering shaft off eBay for a very reasonable price, around £55.  (The clunking fault on the Auris is on cars made from 2012 to 2015.) I fitted the upper part of the column (the part that attaches to the steering wheel) only.  I was lucky, the problem has not returned in the intervening 18 months [touches piece of adjacent wood at this point}.  The lower part of the shaft is sitting in the garage, for if it is needed later!

What I did notice on both cars, was that if the steering wheel reach/rake adjustment control was left so the wheel was not clamped, as it always is in normal use, then the knock that I was experiencing from the splined shafts was gone.  Obviously trying the car without that adjustment done-up comes with some risk as you don't have full control over the steering!  This is best tried in an empty car park etc!   I think that driving the reach/rake clamp adjustment loose allows the splined shaft to mis-align slightly, which takes up the spline slack, (if there is too much).

Perhaps trying this could help you determine where the fault is?

HTH.

Replacing the steering column is going to be a cheaper repair than the steering rack, so I will look into this. Thanks for the tip on how to test for this. I know exactly the location that would be suitable for this test safely. You just let the steering wheel rest at wherever it was when unclamping it?

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3 hours ago, slc79 said:

You just let the steering wheel rest at wherever it was when unclamping it?

Yes, that is it. 

It worked on our Auris.  I can't see any harm in trying it on your Avensis.

In a slightly different direction, I read a while back that someone (I think it was on a Russian forum that had been translated into English) had a broadly similar problem, but on a Prius - the steering arrangement on that car was very similar.

On his Prius, he removed this cover shown with the red arrow (it's a push fit), underneath there is a gear held on with a nut and it was not fully tight, so there was some slight play between the gear and the shaft it was sitting on.  He managed to remove the play (this might have been more than just tightening the nut, but it wasn't especially complicated) and the problem was fixed.  I don't think this is what you have, but it's worth keeping in mind.

s-l1600.thumb.jpg.dfc0e28c1009bef11ef0ec17a63dc2e4.jpg

This is a picture of a RHD 2013 Avensis PAS motor on eBay currently, by the way. 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/274426571725?epid=677803630&hash=item3fe5192bcd:g:PGcAAOSwbQNfDCqB

I have no idea if this part actually fits your car, but it'll probably look very similar.

As you doubtless know, the steering wheel is attaching on the right hand end, on the tapered piece with a thread at the end of it.  The splined end on the left hand of the picture attaches to the intermediate shaft, which attaches to the rack. IIRC.

.

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1 hour ago, Gerg said:

Yes, that is it. 

It worked on our Auris.  I can't see any harm in trying it on your Avensis.

In a slightly different direction, I read a while back that someone (I think it was on a Russian forum that had been translated into English) had a broadly similar problem, but on a Prius - the steering arrangement on that car was very similar.

On his Prius, he removed this cover shown with the red arrow (it's a push fit), underneath there is a gear held on with a nut and it was not fully tight, so there was some slight play between the gear and the shaft it was sitting on.  He managed to remove the play (this might have been more than just tightening the nut, but it wasn't especially complicated) and the problem was fixed.  I don't think this is what you have, but it's worth keeping in mind.

s-l1600.thumb.jpg.dfc0e28c1009bef11ef0ec17a63dc2e4.jpg

This is a picture of a RHD 2013 Avensis PAS motor on eBay currently, by the way. 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/274426571725?epid=677803630&hash=item3fe5192bcd:g:PGcAAOSwbQNfDCqB

I have no idea if this part actually fits your car, but it'll probably look very similar.

As you doubtless know, the steering wheel is attaching on the right hand end, on the tapered piece with a thread at the end of it.  The splined end on the left hand of the picture attaches to the intermediate shaft, which attaches to the rack. IIRC.

.

 Well well well... what about that. I did try just unclamping at first, and the knock wouldn't go away so I was a bit disappointed at first, but I wasn't about to give up just yet so just to try I pushed the steering wheel all the way in, then lowered it to the lowest position. And what about that... knock disappeared. I drove the car home, admittedly a bit awkward to drive, since I'm quite tall 😄 Not a single knock, which enabled me to completely rule out the steering rack.

Now I just need to find out exactly which of the parts in the column that is causing it, and I actually now consider it being likely it is that rubber part I've seen others having problem with as the car ages. Is there a way I could find out if it is the motor (I hope not, because that is the most expensive part) or either of the two rods that is causing it without disassembling anything, as I'd really want the opportunity to take my car to Toyota and just tell them "change this part" and be done with it.

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11 hours ago, slc79 said:

Now I just need to find out exactly which of the parts in the column that is causing it

When I checked the price of a new dealer-supplied telescopic/motorised part of the column for an Auris the cost was pretty horrific, around £700+ IIRC .  I think that part was only supplied as a single unit, even though it is easily split into two via the telescopic splines.  This seems to be the case with secondhand parts - you buy the whole unit.  The universal joint etc. that connects it to the steering rack is a separate part, obviously.

On an Auris, the splined assembly that was causing our problem looks like this:

P1120036.thumb.JPG.077ef95c659219f9251c88ab069b75dc.JPGP1120035.thumb.JPG.74eb2df297b97846dcb55b7c781fd0a0.JPG

This column assembly is made by JTEKT in Wales, the company is half-owned by Toyota, apparently.

I'm not sure why the height of the steering column adjustment might affect your 'knock', it's just affecting the working angle of the universal joint farther down, near the floor.  But the reach adjustment; that I can easily see could change the symptoms, particularly when the column is all the way in - greater spline overlap, redistributing what grease is in the overlapped splines, etc.

I'd be tempted to get the newest, lowest mileage column that you can find from a breakers and fit that.  It would be helpful if you could find what why and how the donor car was written off, just in case the column suffered some damage in the accident.  This could be difficult, although some breakers do show mileage details and pictures of the car before they are stripped.

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column.thumb.jpg.affe15632b2d533f5927c6d933f398cf.jpg

 

The part that I've pointed to using a red arrow is the one I actually suspect being the problem, which also matches with your assumption about lowering the steering wheel would change the load on those joints. I have been looking on youtube for various videos describing the same noise on the same kind of steering column, and those joints are very often the culprit. So I am now wondering whether or not I should just take a gamble and have that replaced. But of course, if I could somehow find a way to check it without having to disassemble much, that would be preferred (I'm not that comfortable with car fixing in general, which is why I need a workshop to do this to begin with, and also why I may have to be prepared to buy new parts as almost no garages in Norway accepts bringing your own parts).

If you wonder about those numbers written with pen next to the parts... it's the price in Norway currency for each of them, so I guess you can understand why I really REALLY don't want it to be the motor part. That price is an equivalent to £2100 GBP.

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That post makes this all more easily understood!

With that clarification, I would be inclined to replace the clamping bolts (90119 W0013) with new items, and whilst those assemblies are apart try to get some general purpose grease into/onto the splined area of each of those clamps.  In the past, someone (who? I have no reference, but anyway) suggested that some of these bolts left the Toyota factory with the incorrect heat treatment.  I don't know what time that was from, but the new bolts will be reasonably priced (by Toyota standards), and this should be a quick job from a labour viewpoint.

Whilst this may be inserting another step into the fixing process, I think this is worth doing next, for budget reasons if nothing else.  It has certainly fixed some people's similar Auris/Prius steering problems, and it is cheap to do.

The steering components in this lower area seem quite prone to corrosion (wet, salty shoes, wet floor mats?), but generally this is probably just superficial.  But with your living in Norway, this could be a problem that needs considering.  Viewing the part in the area you have arrowed is quite easy, (there is no trim dismantling required on an Auris, at least.), especially with pictures taken from a phone camera held at ankle/foot level.  It is only grease left from manufacture that stops the steel from corroding, there is no paint or plating that I have seen.

On a lighter note, when you are fairly certain that you have identified the culprit in all this, perhaps there will be a little less urgency to get it fixed.  That seems to be the case with me!

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27 minutes ago, Gerg said:

That post makes this all more easily understood!

With that clarification, I would be inclined to replace the clamping bolts (90119 W0013) with new items, and whilst those assemblies are apart try to get some general purpose grease into/onto the splined area of each of those clamps.  In the past, someone (who? I have no reference, but anyway) suggested that some of these bolts left the Toyota factory with the incorrect heat treatment.  I don't know what time that was from, but the new bolts will be reasonably priced (by Toyota standards), and this should be a quick job from a labour viewpoint.

Whilst this may be inserting another step into the fixing process, I think this is worth doing next, for budget reasons if nothing else.  It has certainly fixed some people's similar Auris/Prius steering problems, and it is cheap to do.

The steering components in this area seem quite prone to corrosion (wet, salty shoes, wet floor mats?), but generally this is probably just superficial.  But with your living in Norway, this could be a problem that needs considering.  Viewing the part in the area you have arrowed is quite easy, (there is no trim dismantling required on an Auris, at least.), especially with pictures taken from a phone camera held at ankle/foot level.

I will mention this for whenever I get this replaced. Looking at videos of replacing it also looks as if I potentially could have managed this myself, if I could just get the car off from the ground so I didn't have to lie on the ground to fix it. Maybe I should look into this possibility as that would enable me to buy the part myself from somewhere cheaper (I see Amazon is selling genuine parts for lower prices than Toyota locally).

Looking at that drawing again, I can now not really see how it could be anything else. Let me know if there are any flaws in these assumption (goes for anyone, really!) :

- The motor can be ruled out, because if it was that there is nothing to suggest lowering or raising the wheel would change anything that would impact this
- The intermediate shaft is the only part where anything actually changes with adjusting the steering wheel up or down

- There is nothing in the lower shaft that seems to be able to make any popping sounds at all, and since that is connected to the rack any noise from there would have appeared regardless of the wheel position

Again, I am no car mechanic so my assumptions may be very wrong, but I hope someone could chime in 🙂



 

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