1998 Toyota Tercel Rumbling Noise on Highway

Tiny
BUDDHA
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 TOYOTA TERCEL
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 135,000 MILES
I have been noticing a rumbling noise on the highway for approx 6 weeks now.I had a flat fixed around the time it started and thought it was a wheel out of balance. Had the wheel rebalanced. Did not help. Tires had 50000 mi on them so I figured they were shot and since my winter tires would be going on soon I figured I would wait. Snow tires went on and still the same faint rumble noise at highway speeds. Noise is more noticable when driving on new pavement on the highway. Mechanic checked front end. It was fine. Checked wheel bearings. They were fine. Rebalanced tires. Replaced one slightly bent rim. Still having problem.I think it is drive train related he says he doubts it. Tranny fluid was drained and refilled every 20000 mi since I have had the car. Just draining the approx 3 quarts that come out when you remove the plug from the pan. It has never had a complete flush. Fluid last changed about 6ooo mi ago(at toyota dealer). Fluid is a nice cherry red but does have a slight burnt smell. Car has to be driving for approx 20 minutes or so on the highway before it starts and is more so on the new pavement. The odd time when the car is warmed up and I am stopped at a light with my foot on the brake the car rumbles/shakes. If you put it in neutral or park it stops. It has been doing this occasionally for 6 years and I had it looked at a couple of times and no one could find anything wrong.

Back to the noise on the highway. If I put in neutral the noise goes away by about 70% but is still faintly there. Seems to be a little noiser when going up a hill. Sounds like when you drive over rumble strips but no where near as loud. There is no vibration in the steering wheel only a very slight vibration at my feet

Any one got any ideas

PS other than slight burnt smell in ATF it shifts smooth and seems fine
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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 AT 2:06 AM

8 Replies

Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
I think your problem is going to be a bad engine mount that is grounding out. How I would check this is to put a tech in the car when warm in drive with foot on brake until the vibration is felt then hoist the car in the air and gently pry engine in different directions until the vibration is gone then look for the mount that may be worn just enough to ground the upper and lower half of engine mounts together causing the vibration.
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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 AT 6:07 AM
Tiny
BUDDHA
  • MEMBER
If it is a engine mount is it possible that it would only act up at highway speeds and when stopped at a light. When I drive around town the car is fine except when I stop at a light. Like I said this noise at while stopped at a light has been going on every winter for the past 6 years and 200000 km. The rumble on the highway just started a few weeks ago.

Wouldn't an engine mount make noise while I was accellerating around town?
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Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 AT 1:50 PM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
Yes. When you stopped at a light you are putting a certain torque on engine from it trying to move forward and you with your foot on the brake must just be the right combination for the mount to ground out. Its the only thing it can be. Something is grounding out. Possibly the exhasut is hitting somewhere. A power steering line is rubbing metal. Your engine is mounted through rubber mounts for a reason, (stop vibration) I have actually taken a 8 week course on vibrations through general motors so its very clear to me that your experiencing a grounding issue. I have seen it as minor as fuel pump vibration felt in the drivers seat from a fuel line rubbing against a emergency brake cable causing the driver to feel the electric fuel pump vibrations.
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 AT 4:54 AM
Tiny
BUDDHA
  • MEMBER
Ok thanks.I can understand it could be any one of these that could cause vibration however I don't understand why the car has to be hot before the vibration starts on highway or stop. Wouldn't any of the things you mentioned be happening all the time whether the car is hot or not. Oh well I will have to find a mechanic that can help figure out where this vibration is coming from. Car has already been to 3 mechanics and I have spent over $400 and I am still no further ahead. Next step according to the last mechanic was to take it to a tranny specialist

I called the mechanic that last looked at the car after I received your first reply and he said he checked the motor mounts.. All was fine

when I stop at the light the vibration is not heard all of the time. It is roughly 50-50. Seems to depend on outside temp. The colder it is outside the more vibration. But it happens only in drive or reverse. If I am stopped and the engine is vibrating if I hold the brake and just touch the gas pedal to increase rpm by maybe 200 while still in drive the vibration stops. Today it was 34 degrees here and no vibration at a stop. Lots on the highway but none at a stop.

The higway vibration is constant once the car is warmed up.

Last night when engine was warm I stopped and held the brake and reved the engine while in drive.I felt no vibration and heard no strange noises.
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 AT 7:49 AM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
Its fifty fifty because of how the engine is resting at that point. When you give it gas and hold the brake you are torquing the engine causing the engine to shift away from the grounding out spot. I deal with this sort of thing all the time and sometimes it takes a while to find but its always the same thing, something is grounding out.
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 AT 10:00 AM
Tiny
BUDDHA
  • MEMBER
Just want to understand. These vibrations will not be all the time but only when the engine/car is good and hot? Especially on highway

When the engine is cold I should hear nothing?

Because that is what is happening
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 AT 10:40 AM
Tiny
MASTERTECHTIM
  • MEMBER
Its very hard to diagnose a vehicle over the internet and not actually feeling the vibration. Anything is possible but were going on most likely. A transmission could possibly in some circumstances cause a vibration at idle with foot on brake in gear but in my 20 years experience I have never seen it.
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 AT 3:48 PM
Tiny
BUDDHA
  • MEMBER
I am more concerned with the vibration on the highway. That is the bothersome one. Like I said in previous posts the vibration at a stop only happens in the winter and has been going on for 6 years and 200000 km
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 AT 6:39 PM

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