Right fender area RPM rattle/buzz - FIXED

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by lindguini, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. lindguini

    lindguini Junior Member

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    I've been hunting a right front fender area rattle/buzz for a year on my 2013. My rattle/buzz is transmitted through the right front fender area and is directly related to engine RPM, usually making the most noise just after the engine turns on during the transition from electric-only mode under acceleration. It's most noticeable during acceleration from a stop when there's less road noise. The rattle/buzz noise is repeatable and can be modulated whenever accelerating through the initial electric-to-engine transition. It's clearly a mechanical resonance transmitted through the right front body area.

    Searching back over many posts, it appeared that some people were able to reduce or eliminate a similar rattle/buzz by stuffing old towels/rags into the chassis and fender cavity just behind the right-hand side hood hinge. I tried this method but the rattle was still present (if not a bit muted, more on that in a second). There was also a Toyota Service Bulletin for early 2010-11 models that addressed a possible rattle from the right front fender due to a fender clip design problem, but vehicles after 2011 had the new clip from the factory so this shouldn't be the source of the rattle on later model years. I tried the stuffed-rag method, packing the "rabbit holes" with towel strips meticulously (thanks for the tutorial, phoenixgreg!). However, even after the cavities were fully stuffed, I found the rattle was essentially the same but not quite as loud. I concluded that the rags might be dampening the transmission of sound through the fender area but they were not actually addressing the cause of the vibration. I extracted all the rags using a long wire "tool" and determined that my rattle could be unrelated to the fender clip issue.

    It was at that time that I remembered one lone post (somewhere on Priuschat) where someone had asked the dealer to fix the same rattle/buzz problem. The poster's photo of the fix showed that the dealer had installed some foam tape under the black plastic clip that secures the black rubber coolant return hose junction between the engine and the coolant tank mounted to the right fender area. Could it be that easy? This clip snaps into a metal bracket next to the right headlight and stares you in the face when you open the hood. It looked like a ridiculously simple solution that made sense the more I thought about it. So, I took a look at the clip on my car and noticed right away that the clip is very loose-fitting on the metal bracket. If you shake the hose back and forth, the clip rattles against the bracket. Considering that one end of the coolant return hose is mounted to the engine (which vibrates) and the other end is fixed to the coolant tank (fixed to chassis, no vibration) it made sense that if the rubber hose vibrates (resonates) under certain engine RPM, then the clip would rattle in the bracket, sending the rattle noise directly up the right fender and into the passenger compartment area. So, instead of using foam tape, I installed a black zip-tie to prevent the clip from moving on the bracket. Upon first test drive, the previous rattle/buzz is COMPLETELY GONE.

    It's been three weeks of total, silent, acceleration bliss. Just to check this solution, I clipped off the zip tie and drove my daily commute again --the buzz was back and as loud as ever. I came home, reinstalled a new zip tie and the buzz is once again gone. That is a problem solved. What a pleasure to drive again without dreading the buzz at every acceleration. See photo below for the clip and my single zip tie installation. I'm sure you could use any number of methods to stop the clip from rattling. I chose the zip tie for convenience but I can understand why foam tape would work, as well, if stuffed into the bracket to prevent the clip from moving. I hope this works for others!
     

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  2. phoenixgreg

    phoenixgreg Senior member

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    I just went out and looked at that clip on my car and found that it too was loose. I was the one who stuffed rags in the "rabbit holes" to solve the right fender rattle that was so prevalent on the 2010s. I was surprised to read your problem on a 2013 as we had thought Toyota had solved the issue with an improved fender clip. In fact, there is/was a TSB many members took advantage of to solve the right fender rattle/buzz.

    Anyway, the clip you have identified is far forward of the noise and is attached to the body just above the radiator. I have added a zip-tie around mine too even though the buzz/rattle has been gone now for years. Good catch, and if anyone is still having this noise issue, they should try it first before getting the TSB done.
     
  3. kronos89

    kronos89 CHRRYPRL

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    Been living with this issue for months. i just brought up the volume and didn't pay attention to it. Great to know there was an easy solution for this annoying issue. Many thanks
     
  4. Former Member 68813

    Former Member 68813 Senior Member

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    Sometimes, I think I hear something rattling while accelerating. The dealership refused the TSB repair. I'll check mine this weekend.

    Update: there was some movement and applied a zip tie too. Doubt it will make much difference. My main problem is lots of rattles under the dash and in the rear hatch.
     
  5. MMMpg

    MMMpg Junior Member

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    Thanks for your help! The right fender rattling was driving me insane and all it took to fix was a single zip tie. (y)
     
  6. lazkal

    lazkal Junior Member

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    Thank you . Great improvment . The rattling is gone !!!
     
  7. lindguini

    lindguini Junior Member

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    I'm glad to see others having success with this simple fix! Given the initial feedback it would appear that all Gen III years may be susceptible (this assumes lazkal has a Gen III in addition to the 2009 listed in the post above). Given the maturity of the Gen III production, it's surprising that Toyota doesn't appear to have identified this issue via a TSB. Perhaps there are simply too few cars that exhibit this problem or most customers just don't notice it.
     
  8. phoenixgreg

    phoenixgreg Senior member

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    Plus it's a very simple fix...most owners with some zip-ties could do it in 5 minutes themselves.
     
  9. mycnam

    mycnam Member

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    I tried the zip-tie. No, it doesn't fix my problem.

    I brought the car to the dealer, the service manager confirmed the problem, but Toyota financial services denied warranty coverage. Then I called both Toyota corporate office and Toyota financial myself. The corporate office cannot do anything nor a good-will gesture because it is "out of parameter of the factory warranty". The financial office referred me to the long list of exclusions which I should signed for in the certified pre-owned agreement booklet. Which is never mentioned at the Toyota Certified website: "The Limited Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship."

    I got a copy of T-SB-0064-12. It's a very complicated repair. I can scan and upload it later.
     
  10. mycnam

    mycnam Member

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    Here is T-SB 0064-12.
     

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  11. lindguini

    lindguini Junior Member

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    Indeed, the fender clip TSB is a complicated procedure. I looked through it in great detail prior to trying phoenixgreg's "stuffed rag" procedure and it made sense that if rags could be forced into the fender cavity just forward of the small, fixed window then this could stop the loose fender clips from rattling. So, if this is the likely source of your car's rattle, then the rag method is the best alternative. I'm sure the time-consuming nature of this particular TSB makes it even more unattractive for Toyota to want to honor it after the initial warranty is over.
     
  12. mycnam

    mycnam Member

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    I am also worried if the weather strips were not put back properly, there might be leak potential in the area...
     
  13. phoenixgreg

    phoenixgreg Senior member

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    mycnam, sorry to hear you have the original fender clip problem that many 2010s had. In order to take advantage of the TSB under warranty, you would have had to take your car in when the TSB first came out years ago. Since you are the 2nd owner, Toyota and dealerships will probably decline doing it for free now. The "stuffed rag" method work fairly well but I had to really pack rags in tightly in the lower "rabbit hole" to stop the noise. There are 2 holes: one goes up the windshield support beam and the other goes just under the triangular small window. I think the fender clip that rattles is in that lower channel or "rabbit hole".
    DISCLAIMER: This worked for me and if you try it, you do so at your own risk:
    Rabbit hole 03.jpg jam tool.jpg
     
  14. mycnam

    mycnam Member

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    Thanks, I noticed your solution long times ago. If I go this route, I would rather go for some non-water absorbent material such as sound deadening foam, etc...
     
  15. phoenixgreg

    phoenixgreg Senior member

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    Thanks for the update on the actual TSB pdf. It looks like the warranty coverage for most owners now is too late. The reason my solution works for me (and anyone in the Southwest) is that it just doesn't rain here anymore so no worries about moisture getting absorbed in the rags. The trick for any substance you try is to pack it tightly enough to stop the sympathetic vibrations from the defective clip(s) from developing at certain engine rpms. That's why I show a "jam tool" which is really just a long flat-head screwdriver with a felted end so you can pack the rags tightly and not do any damage to the fender just below the triangular window(s). (Yes, I actually did the driver's side too). The "rabbit holes" or channels are on each fender.

    I actually did some pouring water tests on the windshield to see if draining water would get to the rags and they stayed dry, but I could not verify if the rags would get wet if you were caught in a driving rain. Maybe there's a way to do this simple fix and plug the ends of the rabbit holes with some kind of impervious plug (plastic, tar, other sealant?)

    BTW, when I specify "rags", there were actually several smaller rags the size of washcloths jammed in the channel in succession so that each new small rag could be tightly packed against the last one jammed in. You get the idea.
     
  16. mycnam

    mycnam Member

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    What about cutting some foam pads e.g. yoga mats and scroll them tight and squeeze in?
     
  17. phoenixgreg

    phoenixgreg Senior member

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    It might work if you pack them tightly. At the time I did my fix, all I knew was that the noise was being transmitted thru the channels into the cabin. My goal was to block the channel openings since I thought it was engine vibrations coming thru. It was many months after that when it was discovered to be defective fender clips. My guess is that my "packing" stopped the fender clip from vibrating.
     
  18. boochi101

    boochi101 Junior Member

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    I did the zip-tie fix. As far as i see, i think the noise during acceleration is gone. I will keep monitoring.

    Thanks a lot!!!


    iPad ?
     
  19. Dark_matter_doesn't

    Dark_matter_doesn't Prius Tinkerer

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    I just did the zip tie fix. Thanks! I've had a loud buzz when accelerating from a stop but mostly in cold weather. The buzz would decrease and stop as the vehicle warmed up.
     
  20. Dark_matter_doesn't

    Dark_matter_doesn't Prius Tinkerer

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    What about using expanding urethane foam injected into the area instead of rags tightly packed?
     
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