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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2014 FJ Cruiser with about 18k miles.

I have a weird thumping and vibration that can be felt when braking, coasting, and even somewhat when accelerating. You can also hear it. It almost sounds and feels like there is something on the tire (such as a clump of mud/clay), as the thumping sounds like it occurs once per tire rotation, and speeds up / slows down according to speed. I have checked tire pressure, rotated tires, etc. You can also feel the vibration in the brake pedal.

First noticed last winter, but it didn't last long and the warmer weather seemed to have stopped it. Recently it started again, and has gotten worse in the last week.

Since it is under warranty, I'll be taking it in to the dealer soon. Anyone have any ideas what it could be?
 

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Your low milage and discription of occurring every tire rotation makes one of the tires the most likely source of the problem, a tread defect or belt separation could make a tire vibrate or thump. It could also be something stuck in one of your tires such as a large hex headed screw but the coming and going away of the symptom makes this less likely. You may be able see the problem yourself with a close inspection of the tires, either way your Smart getting this looked at as soon as possible. Report back when you find the problem
 

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Exactly when is the thumping detectable? In the first few minutes of driving after the vehicle has sat overnight, or continuously?

Are these the stock Dunlop AT-20 tires?

Almost assuredly tire-related.
 

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I have a 2014 FJ Cruiser with about 18k miles.
You're coming up on the 20K scheduled maintenance at the dealership, I'd go ahead and bring it in now and get them to do it early. When they rotate the tires, explain this problem then ask them to balance the tires while they're rotating. Putting them on the balancer should make it blatantly obvious which tire has the problem, then they can take a closer look to see what's wrong.

You need to do this ASAP, if this is the tread starting to separate then you risk flipping the truck if the tire disintegrates at the wrong time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Exactly when is the thumping detectable? In the first few minutes of driving after the vehicle has sat overnight, or continuously?

Are these the stock Dunlop AT-20 tires?

Almost assuredly tire-related.
The thumping is detectable continuously, but it is most apparent in the first 5-10 min of driving. Also, the feeling through the brake pedal is a vibration and almost a grinding feel.

Yes, they are the stock Dunlops.

I cannot take it in to the dealership till Friday. I swapped my front passenger tire with the spare to see if that helped, but it didn't. May try drivers front now if I have time today.
 

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You have not said how much of this thumping you can feel in the steering wheel?? Lot's, the steering wheel shakes constantly while driving, plus it shakes more or less depending on speed traveled, or you feel almost nothing in the steering wheel? If you feel little to almost no shaking or vibration in the steering wheel then likely your problem is not with the front end wheels.
 

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The thumping is detectable continuously, but it is most apparent in the first 5-10 min of driving. Also, the feeling through the brake pedal is a vibration and almost a grinding feel.

Yes, they are the stock Dunlops.

I cannot take it in to the dealership till Friday. I swapped my front passenger tire with the spare to see if that helped, but it didn't. May try drivers front now if I have time today.
What are the night-time low temps the truck is exposed to? Is it parked outside, or in a heated garage?

When you say the "thumping" is worst in the first 5-10 minutes of driving, do you mean the first 5-10 minutes after sitting overnight, or the first 5-10 minutes every time you start driving the vehicle during the day?

If its only the first drive cycle in the morning, it could be just low-temperature flat-spotting when the tires sit overnight, especially if any of your tire pressures are slightly low.

And you've checked lug-nut torque on all four wheels, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You have not said how much of this thumping you can feel in the steering wheel?? Lot's, the steering wheel shakes constantly while driving, plus it shakes more or less depending on speed traveled, or you feel almost nothing in the steering wheel? If you feel little to almost no shaking or vibration in the steering wheel then likely your problem is not with the front end wheels.
Thank you for this. I can't feel anything in the steering wheel.

What are the night-time low temps the truck is exposed to? Is it parked outside, or in a heated garage?

When you say the "thumping" is worst in the first 5-10 minutes of driving, do you mean the first 5-10 minutes after sitting overnight, or the first 5-10 minutes every time you start driving the vehicle during the day?

If its only the first drive cycle in the morning, it could be just low-temperature flat-spotting when the tires sit overnight, especially if any of your tire pressures are slightly low.

And you've checked lug-nut torque on all four wheels, right?
It's parked in a garage. On average it's about 50 degrees in the garage. It is worst the first 5-10 minutes anytime I drive it, whether it's been sitting all night or sitting for an hour. It could also be that I get more used to it after 10 minutes too. Tire pressure and lug nut torques are all good.

I am taking it in to the dealership tomorrow to get it checked out. Hopefully it's just a tire issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright guys, I have an update and need some help.

Took it to the dealership today. They put the car on the lift, and without even taking off the wheels, they said my rotors look fine but said that all 4 wheels were bent. Can they check rotors and wheels without even taking the wheels off the car? Plus, there is no way 4 bent wheels would make a synchronous thump and vibration that sounds and feels like a flat spot on a tire. If anything, wouldn't 4 bent wheels make the entire car shake?

Finally, when I got home I swapped out every single wheel, 1 by 1, taking a test drive in between each swap so that I can see if the issue was 1 particular wheel. After doing this, and taking 4 test drives, the sound, thump, and vibration remained the same every time.

So what the heck could be causing this? Alignment? Drive train issue? Is it possible that they didn't even check the rotors and it's a rotor issue?

Today was a very irritating day at the dealership. After 2 techs drove the vehicle, they tried to tell me the thumping and vibration was the tires gripping the pavement. I drove and had a 3rd tech in the car with me that could tell there was a problem.

I'll be back at the dealership next week because they also looked at a rear diff. whine that I have at 65 mph+. Turns out they have to replace the rear diff because they drained the oil and found a ton of metal flakes/pieces. I will definitely have them check out this issue again. I don't understand how I could possibly have 4 bent wheels, and even if I do, how it would make this sound.
 

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Maybe somebody torqued the snot out of the wheels with an impact wrench.

Your noises sound kinda similar to mine, though I don't have any thumping. I have more of a deep hum that is noticeable when decelerating. It is definitely associated with wheel rotation in some way, but I haven't been able to determine more than that so far. It is so mild I haven't felt it was urgent, but when the weather warms up I will do some tests for wheel bearings and tires.

The diff thing is kind of disturbing though. Maybe a bearing disintegrated...might even fix your problem when that is replaced.
 

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I highly doubt you have 4 bent Alloy wheels unless you have been running or sliding into curbs. No you cannot do an accurate test of your wheels or rotors without removing the wheels. If they have found metal in your rear diff it is very possible that is the source of your thumping. One damaged broken tooth will give a thump at lower speeds.
Sounds like a new diff will be the fix. Don't know what to tell about the wheels, I guess if they are going to replace with all new and no charge... Go for it. If you have to pay for anything, get another opinion.
 

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It is true that cast alloys don't bend easily, they break.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Alright, I still haven't figured out the source of the thumping. I also haven't had a chance to get the rear diff replaced under warranty to stop the whining. Today we got quite a bit of snow so I was driving some in 4wd and noticed the thumping was gone. I switched to 2wd and the thumping came back immediately. What could be the cause of this if it's only present in 2wd? Could this mean my new rear diff may solve the problem?
 

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^^^^ This really does make much sense, when you shift into four wheel drive you do not physically change any of the moving parts of the 2wd system... In theory you could be shifting some of the drive line forces away from the rear drive shaft, universal joints and differential, additionally you are now applying torque forces to the front drive shaft, diff and front axels.
This FJ is under warranty so I would make the dealer do the diagnostics, but you could jack the rear up on blocks and engage the two wheel drive and see if the noise or thumping persists with the wheels off the ground, this way the drive line is unloaded. It could still be a diff problem also it could be a drive shaft or universal joint problem, being jacked may allow you to get better informed of where the noise is the loudest and likely source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Awesome I appreciate it. I will make sure they check things out when they replace the rear diff. Just wanted to make sure it made sense that it went away in 4wd, so that may help narrow down the problem much more. Before I do anymore troubleshooting I'll let the dealer look at it since it's under warranty.

I've also noticed now that is is more temperature dependent, and much worse at cold temps (20 deg) than warmer temps (50 deg).
 

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I have a 2014 FJ Cruiser with about 18k miles.

I have a weird thumping and vibration that can be felt when braking, coasting, and even somewhat when accelerating. You can also hear it. It almost sounds and feels like there is something on the tire (such as a clump of mud/clay), as the thumping sounds like it occurs once per tire rotation, and speeds up / slows down according to speed. I have checked tire pressure, rotated tires, etc. You can also feel the vibration in the brake pedal.

First noticed last winter, but it didn't last long and the warmer weather seemed to have stopped it. Recently it started again, and has gotten worse in the last week.

Since it is under warranty, I'll be taking it in to the dealer soon. Anyone have any ideas what it could be?

Hi,
Regards from UAE
I have the same issue on my fj cruiser '21 model
Rotated the tires, balance them as well, stock dunlop tires but no difference.

Let me know what did you do for this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi,
Regards from UAE
I have the same issue on my fj cruiser '21 model
Rotated the tires, balance them as well, stock dunlop tires but no difference.

Let me know what did you do for this.
Hey! It ended up being my needle bearing that cause the issue. I got it replaced under warranty and it fixed it. A few years after I ended up doing the needle bearing bushing replacement from ECGS and it's completely gone away. Hope that helps!
 
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