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You are in the Toyota Avalon
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Toyota Avalon, Interior, Sedan
#3111 of 3629 Re: Avalon 1999 -- roadh handling - what to do? [abfisch]
Jul 31, 2005 (10:45 am)
Hi AB. We just drove an 05 Avalon. I had driven one before, but my wife had not. I really wanted to compare the Touring to the other models, but they had none. Of course, my wife loved it. The 05 feels more like my LS400, a heavier, more taut, buttoned up feel. I like the appearance of our 03 better than the 05, after I tricked it out (I posted pix here awhile back), so we are trying to decide whether to move up to an 05, or go the suspension route as you did. This investment would dictate that we keep the 03 for quite some time, giving us time to find a better price on a used 05 down the road.
This brings me to my questions for you.
1. Was this the effect you experienced when you installed the Tokico struts?
2. Have you driven the 05? How close is your 02 in this respect, to the 05, after the mods you have done?
3. How much increase in road/tire noise did you get after installing the bushings?
4. What does Energy recommend you use to lube the bushings that will not deteriorate them?
5. "In addtion, get the struts rubber bumpers, stock, from Toyota to replace when they change the struts so you will have new rubber on both sides of the struts."
- Did you mean the rubber bushings that cushion the strut from the frame at the mounting point? I have noticed a slight clunking in different cars, mostly on the rear, which I assumed was from the shrinking/hardening/compression of these parts, resulting in a bit of a gap, causing the clunk as the suspension changes direction. I assume these are the rubber parts you are talking about? What do you think about this? My dealer estimated $400 in labor to install the new struts. Seems high. I'll look elsewhere. Both service managers claim that they have never replaced struts on an Avalon, when I mentioned comments from this forum.
6. Any idea how the performance of a major brand of struts, like Monroe, compare to Tokoco? Are they cheaper? Did I read that Toyota replacement struts are made by KYB? I wonder who makes OEM? (Doesn't really matter, as they would build to the Toyota spec.) I don't suppose the 05 struts are the same physical dimensions as the 00-04 models. That would be too much of a bit of good luck, although they would probably be as expensive as aftermarket.
"Put the appropriate tire pressure in each tire when it is cold"
A year ago, we visited my wifes cousin. They had driven Cadillac's for years. I had just finished installing the spoiler, wheels, gold package etc. He was looking the Avalon over and asking all kinds of questions, so I tossed him the keys. At first he declined, but then changed his mind. When he returned, he said, "That was not what I expected. I'm glad I did that". I wasn't sure what he meant, but I thought it may have been negative. About 6 months later, we heard that he had purchased an 04 Avalon that the dealers mother had been driving and he loved it, but was disapointed in the ride. I mentioned tire pressure. I think he said they were at 38 PSI, and he dropped the pressure. He thought that made quite a difference, but I haven't spoken to him since. I'll find out this month at a reunion.
#3112 of 3629 Re: Cabin Air Filter [avolan]
Aug 01, 2005 (5:37 am)
Not usually. You will have to qualify your question. Are we talking about the cabin filter and the HVAC unit or the engine intake filter and fan belt in the engine compartment???
#3113 of 3629 Re: Avalon 1999 -- roadh handling - what to do? 
Aug 01, 2005 (6:10 am)
These are all very good questions. Realize, I have to qualify my responses and they are ALL in my opinion, although I have considerable experience with this car now, and most of the service managers give me a deer in the headlights look when I start popping specifications at them.
I will try to answer your questions in the order you have posted for everyone.
1. Yes, this was the exact effect of the strut replacement, which I did at approx. 18K. I bought the vehicle new, an 02 XL. However, in addition to your "button up" feeling, it markedly improved braking, as the front brakes are not overloaded as the struts stabilze the weight basis.
2. No. I have not driven an 05. Multiple reasons. #1. My head hit the roofline getting in and out of the new car on the showroom floor. #2. The 05 no longer comes with a bench seat. #3. The 05 only tows up to 1000lbs, while the 00-04 tows up to 2000lbs. I tow a very nice light 6 X 8 Worthington utility trailer weekly. We have a log home, and I do alot of work, around the house, mulching, carpetry, insulation, etc. so trips to Home Depot, 84 Lumber, the Dump, etc are a common occurence. Unfortunately, IMO, you may get more HP with the new car and more bells/whistles, but they obviously took things away. I would not buy a new Avalon. The Ford 500 is much more a useable daily vehicle although I am not a FORD fan as I think that corporation and its recent fire problem with the cruis control in the F-150 and their denial really show you the corporate mentality.
3. Road noise is more a result of tires, road conditions, weather conditions and the PU bushings do not affect this. The sway bars are support to the chassis clamps/links near the frame and links at the hub. They come from the factory as rubber. Over time, rubber gets very weathered especially in that place. Guess what happens??? In addition, rubber deflects some which does not keep the geometry of the sway neutral. Guess what happens. PU (Polyurethane bushings) are solid, although they give a little. The CON of them is, #1 they will squeak a little if not lubricated correctly which would drive anyone nuts but does not affect performance, and they very slightly allow the transmission of vibration rather than noise through the frame into the body. It is practically undetectable to the average driver, but on very bad runs, you can feel it. The PRO is that the sway bar works the exact way it is suppose to, and it is the same result as putting on bigger ones. The PU bushing comes with a small tube of lubricate grease, but I have found that it is sometimes not enough. Blue Marine Grease, which is hyrophilic and is used for boat trailer wheel beerings works very well, although every now and then, when you have the car lubricated, these probably should be lubricated also. No big deal.
#5(Skipped). Yes, I mean the "bump stops". That are on the strut towers. They deteriorate too, as again, they are rubber. Why don't they use PU, is because, probably it would just transmit too much harshness into the cabin, it is a hard place to lubricate, and they are a little more expensive.
I believe the going rate around here was $275-$300 including a 4 wheel alignment need after. I am not sure where you live. Toyota dealerships charge more, but I don't think that is totally unreasonable, just high. Try a wheel axle, alignment place to get another estimate.
#6. From what I remember, I believe it was Monroe who contracted to build your OEM strut. No positive on this but that is what I recall. The Tokico HP or KYB GR2 are premium struts, and you get what you pay for, or did not. You would expect the Avalon, their flagship to have premium struts, but they were the same struts the Camry/Solara had. How premium is that, you decide. Remember, Toyota does not make the strut, someone makes it for them.
#7. No, I would not think that the 05 takes the same struts, unless you check the item number and they are the same as past years. Would not count on that now. And, the touring model suspose to have different struts but I would beat they are right off the Camry SE(performance model). I would bet a piece of bubble gum.
#8. The last thing you want to do, is to change the tire size. Buying better tires than the OEM, which Toyota also does not make, is a very good idea. I do have multiple sets of wheels, one is a 16"" diameter instead of the 15" diameter that come with the car. The 16" (215/55 H 16) (same size as old Nissan Maximas and E class Mercedes) give a little better transient response but with the premium parts start to give you a much firmer, BMW like ride.
Bottom Line: If the suspension is doing its job, just put the tire pressure at the exact pressure the manufacturer states. They take into account the HP, Torque, and the weight of the vehicle. This is something that many persons do not think about. Such as putting let say 20" rims on a Avalon. Not smart unless you limit your driving to a smooth race track. Then why are you in the Avalon in the first place.
31PSI for the 15" and 32 PSI for the 16" I believe is what Toyota recommended.
If the 05 floats your boat, go for it. Just wait until 06 as NEVER buy the first model year. RESIST!!! However, my needs and wants tell me, I found the closest although not perfect car for a long time. I have 70K on it presently.
#3114 of 3629 Re: Avalon 1999 -- roadh handling - what to do? [abfisch]
Aug 01, 2005 (7:39 am)
Thanks AB. I knew I could depend on you for a detailed response. The 05 definitely 'floats my boat' once inside driving it, but I'm not crazy about the exterior appearance. I too went the same wheel/tire route as you. The American Racing Sniper 16" wheels really put the finishing touches on it. I have always felt that if I 'invest' in these things, I will like the vehicle much more, it will be unique and personalized to me, and most importantly, I will be satisfied in keeping it for many years. That's the investment part. I will probably go for these suspension mods as it sounds like it will give us what we want. That will allow us to wait at least a couple of years which will bring an 06 into the target price range. BTW, I live in Minnesota. Due to the harsh winters, road conditions tend to suffer, and that's why I have so much concern for road noise and vibration transfer. No big deal down south. Thanks again for the quality response.
#3115 of 3629 Re: Avalon 1999 -- roadh handling - what to do? 
Aug 01, 2005 (10:15 am)
Thanks for the good words. We live in very Upstate, NY, near the Canadian border. We have winters similar to yours, although last year was without much snow, but bitterly cold. I also run 15" H rated winter tires during the six months, same size as original equipment on all four wheels. I think between all things, you have to decide which car is of more use. I had just the opposite feeling about the new model although, as I said I sat in it but did not drive it. Mine could always use more low end torque for pulling the trailer, but with an automatic in the new one, it comes on at mid-RPM, and the weight limit has diminished. Maybe I should take a drive in the TOURING model and compare it to mine. That would probably be a nice comparison for those deciding what to do. Either way you'll have a nice vehicle. I am just gettin old and once I become familiar with my machines, I like to hang onto them. I do the majority of maintenance myself anyway.. Yesterday, changed the PS fluid, and today I may have to change the radiator fluid for the first time in 4 years since I bought it. No biggie.
I would wait until the 06 or 07 came out though. Stuff happens, especially with first year models, unless one has to be the first on the block to keep up with the Joneses. There are no Joneses where I live, at least on the 40 acres surrounding us, so ....You'd get a kick out of the PIAA 1500, FOG and DRIVING lights I retrofitted under the front bumper, relayed them separately, so the fogs come on with the low beams, and the driving set comes on with the high beams, good for winter storm driving. Since I got the XL, I had two dummy switch plates on the bottom right side of the driving fascia under the steering wheel. NO VSC in the XL that year. So I bought two Toyota lamp switches and they fit perfectly in there. Handy and lucky I guess. Changed the 9005/9006 bulbs to PIAA bulbs as well, and there is enough front and side road illumination on a rural highway up to about 65MPH. After that, I don't think my reflexes are all that good anymore.
Anyway, standard sizes for the winter tires are best for all the uneven road surfaces. While I wouldn't call any of these add on investments, I could agree with you more as to adding to the enjoyment of the ride and holding onto the vehicle. The dealers want you to trade in every four years, so I go by the way of how many cycles I can go before buying another one.
Anyway, let us know what you do. It should be interesting.
#3117 of 3629 Re: Avalon -- roadh handling - Tokico & KYB 
Aug 02, 2005 (10:19 am)
I believe Energy Suspension has their own web site with applications for different vehicles. I believe I purchased the bushing from Lightning Motorsports which also had their own website, and we nice to deal with. Wish I could say the same for the local Toyota dealership but their service dept. was inept.
#3119 of 3629 Re: Avalon 1999 -- roadh handling - what to do? [abfisch]
Aug 04, 2005 (8:00 am)
So far, it looks like around $800 for strut replacement and alignment done locally. I could probably shave that a bit, or quite a bit if I wrenched it myself. I found instructions elsewhere on how to change struts without a spring compressor, or just remove the strut/spring assembly, then take it to a shop to have the springs put on the new struts. At this point, to have the job done seems like pouring sand down a rat hole. Too expensive, unless I plan on keeping the car for many years. I would probably be better off selling my 03 outright and putting the strut money towards a new 06.
While at our one price dealer, we got a price on ours, to see what it would cost to trade. The appraised price was $17,800 with stock wheels, and $18,500 with my 16" American Racing Snipers left on. As a one price dealer, the trade price wasn't inflated, and they offered to buy the car outright at that price. Not bad, considering I paid $19.9 for it when it was less than a year old. Of course I added about $500 worth of stuff with the spoiler, wood grain, gold package, and other smaller items, all purchased online and installed by me. That's about as cost effective as you can get owning a nearly new car. The deal matters, but so does great resale values, something most people don't consider.
I could do still better if I sold the car myself. My yard backs up to a 4 lane county highway and I've sold many of our vehicles by just dialing them in and parking them there. I also type up a nice sheet with the history of the vehicle and why we are selling, as if I were speaking to the buyer. This seems to provide a bit of a comfort level people that it isn't something just being turned to make a buck.
When I say dialing them in, they end up looking sharper than cars on the dealer lots. Armor all is great stuff for this. Try pressure washing the engine compartment, then when it dries, simply spray the entire engine compartment with a light mist. It will migrate and cover everything to make it look like new under the hood. Try it, it's magic.
Thanks again for the feedback, AB.
#3120 of 3629 Re: Avalon 1999 -- roadh handling - what to do? 
Aug 05, 2005 (4:40 am)
Thanks. That sounds about right for strut replacements and alignment, in the ballpark normally anyway. You didn't says what the cost of the new car would be, so it is harder to assess which would be best. I personally don't think that $800 is alot for the premium struts once you ride in the car and see how it transforms it, but.....that depends on how long you really keep cars. If you turn them over, and you like the 05/06, then I agree, I would not spend the money. I think I would rather just have a new one.
However, I am much more comfortable upgrading, fixing and working on what I have. Maybe I am just gettin older, but I just started to get comfortable with this 02 after 70K. It took me 1.5 years just to get it correct anyway. My last car I sold at 236K and I would have no problem keeping this for 300K. The new one in addition does not fit my needs as this model does as I mentioned in the past. It does not have a bench seat option and has only 50% of the towing capacity, something I need for my LOG HOME/40 acres. NO...I don't really want a truck, I want a nice big car, that can pull a utility trailer so this worked for me.
Again, the new one is nice, and the speed of it, seems inviting, but it does not add up for some of us as they have changed it. I like the Ford 500 better, if it wasn't a Ford.