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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a used 2010 RAV4 3.5L V6 at the end of October. It has 127,000 miles on it currently. I’ve been having this issue with the front suspension, or what I believe to be the front suspension. It sounds like a lot of rattling when I go over bumps at slow speeds. The faster I go, the less obvious it is. I took a look and noticed one of the struts was shot, so I went ahead and replaced them. Got back on the road, and the sound is still there! I was told it could possibly be the sway bars, so I went ahead and ordered those(they were pretty inexpensive)
Has anybody else had this issue or could somebody shed a little light on what the issue could be so I can try to narrow it down? I need to see if it’s something I’ll be able to fix myself, or if it’s something for more experienced hands. Thank you much!
 

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The most common thing to rattle is the joints of the sway bar links. However it’s best to check for play in the ball joints and tie rod ends before throwing more parts at it. Sometimes worn bushings can result in noise as well.

Sounds like you’re quite handy, but I suggest you have the front end diagnosed before going farther with parts.


2012 RAV4 Base FWD.
Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.
 
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If you are handy, lower ball joints would be the next on the list. I had found that they can be very lose even if the wheel doesn't move "by hand" (car lifted on a jack).
Actualy, depending on the ambient tempoerature in the Summer, and the roads that you usually drive (potholes), the rubber bushings of the front Lower Control Arm might be shot too. Driving with overinflated tires can wear out faster those bushings too.
Sometimes is easier to replace the whole LCA, especially when the OE ball joints are stamped in place and cannot be replaced easy.

Just get them online, cheaper that dealership. Rockauto has Delphi LCA w/ ball joint for $63 a piece. Or BECK/ARNLEY for $60 a piece. Both reputable companies.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Right on. Thanks for the tips. I’m going to install the sway bars tomorrow and take a look at the LCA while I’m under it. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get an opinion from somebody in the shop either, just to be positive. I think I can piece together how to put it in. YouTube is incredible for that 😂
 

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What could be bad if you replace the ball joint/LCA? Always my older cars felt "tighter" after replacing those... but then I also like to drive a bit more aggressive around the corners!
I usually do that around 150 k miles, but like I said, it all depends of what temperatures and road shocks they saw in their life.

Oh, wait, I hope you are not paying shop labor to do that? That can get expensive quickly... at $100/hour labor.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What could be bad if you replace the ball joint/LCA? Always my older cars felt "tighter" after replacing those... but then I also like to drive a bit more aggressive around the corners!
I usually do that around 150 k miles, but like I said, it all depends of what temperatures and road shocks they saw in their life.

Oh, wait, I hope you are not paying shop labor to do that? That can get expensive quickly... at $100/hour labor.
I think it’s a good idea you suggested all around to check out the LCA/ball joint and try to narrow the problem down. And no, I’m not going to have a shop do that. I think I’d have them diagnose it and then I’d take it from there if I can’t make a judgement call when I take a peek today. I’m new at working on cars, but I’m seeing how easy it is to install some basic components and avoid paying somebody inflated prices for a couple of hours of work I can easily do myself.
 

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Ball joints on the 4.3 are pretty straight forward- separate from the upper part, then three bolts from the lower control arm. But yes if you do the whole arm, then you get bushings and ball joints included sometimes (best to check the details!)


2012 RAV4 Base FWD.
Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ball joints on the 4.3 are pretty straight forward- separate from the upper part, then three bolts from the lower control arm. But yes if you do the whole arm, then you get bushings and ball joints included sometimes (best to check the details!)


2012 RAV4 Base FWD.
Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.
I found a pretty solid online store I’ve been ordering my parts from that has both the arms + ball joints for a little under $200. The thing that kind of sucks about the whole situation of that I want to put that Northwoods suspension lift on it, but these kinds of things are holding me back. Not sure if any of y’all have done a lift on your RAV4, but I’m thinking about going with the package that has the springs, spacers and the sway bar links, then buying the Bilstein shocks separately.
 

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I found a pretty solid online store I’ve been ordering my parts from that has both the arms + ball joints for a little under $200. The thing that kind of sucks about the whole situation of that I want to put that Northwoods suspension lift on it, but these kinds of things are holding me back. Not sure if any of y’all have done a lift on your RAV4, but I’m thinking about going with the package that has the springs, spacers and the sway bar links, then buying the Bilstein shocks separately.
That’s a decent price! But I’m firmly of the opinion to fix what’s wrong before mods (caused myself some headaches long ago because I put the cart in front of the horse.)

I didn’t do a lift kit on mine, only replacing the rear springs with the 3rd row parts, which gave me about 1/2-3/4” lift in the back. The springs are the same height but once loaded with the vehicle weight, the stiffer spring stays taller. There’s lots of info on here about the lift packages but it sounds like you’ve got this planned pretty well already.

Particularly with your miles, I’d strongly recommend you do the control arm bushings when you add the kit - your suspension geometry can get flaky otherwise, especially at the rear as there’s no camber adjustment.


2012 RAV4 Base FWD.
Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just installed the sway bar links, and the sound is gone. I’m very stoked and I’m not losing my mind every time I go over a bump. Thanks y’all for the insight and the great suggestions. This forum is awesome!
 

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Just installed the sway bar links, and the sound is gone. I’m very stoked and I’m not losing my mind every time I go over a bump. Thanks y’all for the insight and the great suggestions. This forum is awesome!
Glad to hear it worked, and thanks for reporting back. Lots of people treat us like “fire and forget” and don’t post a resolution.

Enjoy the sounds of silence!


2012 RAV4 Base FWD.
Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So, the noise is back after a few days. Spoke with my dad who knows a lot more about cars than I do, and he mentioned the CV axle. Since the car is in FWD when it’s not put into 4WD, then that could be the issue. What do y’all think? I’m going to end up replacing almost the entire front suspension by the time I’m done with this 🤦‍♂️
 

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CV axle joints almost never go bad unless the bellows boot gets damaged and opens up. But then you'd have noticed a greasy mess when doing the other work. A failing CV also gives a distinctive snapping sound when cornering but usually is silent driving straight.

Did you check for loose brake pads. If that was the case the noise would stop upon applying the brakes.

Another off-the-wall possibility - a tool or old part dropped somewhere in the front area.
 

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Did the replacement parts came with Zerk fittings? Those need to be filled with grease at installation time or they go bad in a week.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
well, I feel like a huge idiot. I took it in and they guy said I needed to tighten the nuts on the sway bar links. I did it by hand and thats it 😑
 

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well, I feel like a huge idiot. I took it in and they guy said I needed to tighten the nuts on the sway bar links. I did it by hand and thats it
You’re not alone. I did something similar many years ago and felt the same. It happens!


2012 RAV4 Base FWD.
Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.
 
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