The Toyota Avalon is sometimes called the “Japanese Buick” due to its size and plush ride. However, the Avalon’s overall suspension design does not vary that much from Toyota’s smaller vehicle platforms.
The Avalon comes in four trims: a standard XL trim, a sporty Touring trim, an XLS trim and a premium Limited trim. The XL model comes standard with 16” alloy wheels, while other trims come with larger 17” wheels. Performance-oriented tires were fitted to the Touring and Limited trim. The alignment specs are different for some trim levels, so make sure you select the right model.
First, ask the customer if they are experiencing any problems. This can save you from chasing your tail and missing why the customer came to your shop in the first place.
Second, sell front camber bolts at the time of the write-up. If they are not needed, you have at least saved everyone some time. You can charge an hour or more of labor to install the kit on both sides. Aftermarket kits are available that can give ±2º of camber.
Third, make sure you can calibrate the steering position sensor. If you can, charge the customer for it. If you cannot, make sure you read the section in this article titled “Steering Position Sensor Recalibration.”
The front suspension is a conventional strut arrangement. The lower control is robust and mounts to a subframe. Ball joints should have zero play.
Pay attention to the side-to-side differences in camber and caster. Combining those measures with the SAI and front setback provides a powerful tool for diagnosing bent parts like strut rods and control arms.
Camber can be adjusted by installing a cam bolt in the lower bolthole of the strut mount. Depending on the kit, camber can be adjusted up to ±2.5º. Toyota recommends bolts that can change the camber in fixed amounts.
Caster is not adjustable. If you see that the cross-caster specification has exceeded ±0.75º, start looking for damaged parts.
The rear suspension uses a strut with one trailing link and two lateral links. The bushings are the main area of wear, and worn bushings will change the camber and toe, which will produce uneven tire wear. Camber can be adjusted with aftermarket cam bolts. Even negative camber on both sides exceeding 2º can indicate worn springs.
Rear toe adjustments should be performed using both lateral links on each side. Toyota set a specification that says the links should be within 1.5 mm of each other. The toe angles on both sides should be close to equal. Unequal angles may cause unwanted bump steer from the rear wheels. One turn of each adjusting tube will alter toe-in by approximately 1.2°, 10.8 mm (0.425”).
Like a lot of Toyota vehicles, most front suspension and steering noise can be traced to two components. First, the Avalon has had several TSBs issued about the shaft linking the column to the rack. Most of the TSBs call to lubricate the shaft where it passes through the firewall.
The next area of noise problems is the strut mounts and spring insulators. Toyota took a belts-and-braces approach to reducing noise, but over time the rubber in the insulators can deteriorate. In the rear, the upper strut mounts are under the package tray. When the rubber wears out and separates, it can cause a clunk or popping noise. These noises are most noticeable at low speeds.
Steering Position Sensor Recalibration
The recalibration of the steering must be performed after any front or rear toe adjustment. It is highly recommended to do this through the OBDII port. A scan tool can be used or Hunter’s CodeLink tool, which is programmed to address Toyota’s requirements relative to the VSC zero-point calibration. Hunter has simplified the process with a seamless transition from the final front toe adjustment to the required reset.
Disconnecting the negative battery lead is a required step when recalibrating the steering angle sensor. Hunter’s CodeLink device offers instructions on how to reset the vehicle’s equipment that relies on memory settings. Resetting the seat position settings, however, will be a problem.