Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?! - Toyota Tacoma Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

On a recent road trip a new problem popped up. We'd been moving along at about 80mph for a good hour or so when a dull popping sound starting coming from what sounded like the rear end. It was not accompanied by any vibration or loss of power. I pulled over and noticed a smell but could not identify it. Not tires, or oil or brake smell as far as I know. I had a shop look it over to make sure nothing was loose or rubbing and all was good. They were unable to diagnose the noise though. They couldn't reproduce it on the small roads around the shop. So I carried-on on my way keeping the speed down in the 55-60mph range and there was no further problems. Soo, there is a problem but it only seems to be an issue when the engine has a load for an extended period of time, ie. 3000rpms in 5th gear in FL summertime heat. I suspect maybe what I was hearing was a very intermittent engine misfire? No check engine light. The truck has 241k miles and probably hasn't had a plug change in 140k miles. Just throwing that out there. Where should I start looking?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 12:07 PM
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Welcome to CT!

Some clues would be nice for starters ...

What are the specifics on your Taco? (year, engine, transmission, any mods, etc.)

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

There's not much to tell unfortunately. It's a 2003 2.4L w a manual transmission. No mods other than the addition of a rear sway bar and upgraded wheels/tires.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 05:39 PM
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Thanks for the background ... Hmmmm ...

One thing that comes to mind would be heat expansion effects affecting the rear swaybar or its mounts causing a binding that resulted in "pops" as it was released. A hot day on asphalt can cause a lot of heat buildup underneath a vehicle.

Did it sound like it might be the exhaust 'popping'? It's conceivable an overheated catalytic converter or exhaust pipe joint might allow transient bursts of pressure to escape either within the exhaust line or into the outside air. I mention this possibility because it would explain why the popping stopped after the truck was stopped and allowed to cool down.

Unless you felt a jerking or hesitation I tend to doubt it was something in the driveline or a misfire. An engine misfire should have triggered an engine code warning light. An exhaust 'burp' wouldn't necessrily cause a CEL.

The only other thing that comes to mind is some sort of binding or slippage in an overheated / under-lubricated rear differential. Did the shop check the differential and / or its oil level?

"If i saw a old dude with what appeared to be a cat over his mouth driving faster than me I'd stop driving fast." - Firdaddy
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 05:39 PM
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Thanks for the background ... Hmmmm ...

One thing that comes to mind would be heat expansion effects affecting the rear swaybar or its mounts causing a binding that resulted in "pops" as it was released. A hot day on asphalt can cause a lot of heat buildup underneath a vehicle.

Did it sound like it might be the exhaust 'popping'? It's conceivable an overheated catalytic converter or exhaust pipe joint might allow transient bursts of pressure to escape either within the exhaust line or into the outside air. I mention this possibility because it would explain why the popping stopped after the truck was stopped and allowed to cool down.

Unless you felt a jerking or hesitation I tend to doubt it was something in the driveline or a misfire. An engine misfire should have triggered an engine code warning light. An exhaust 'burp' wouldn't necessrily cause a CEL.

The only other thing that comes to mind is some sort of binding or slippage in an overheated / under-lubricated rear differential. Did the shop check the differential and / or its oil level?

"If i saw a old dude with what appeared to be a cat over his mouth driving faster than me I'd stop driving fast." - Firdaddy
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

I would rule out the suspension, ie. the sway bar just because there was no irregularities on the road. It was completely smooth. My theory was that the noise was coming from the exhaust. I was thinking maybe misfire but as you mentioned there was no engine codes nor any jerking or hesitation. I imagine if the catalytic convertor had any real issues there would be noticeable power loss at all times? The shop did not check the differential. I did replace the oil 40k miles ago and it hasn't leaked a drop since.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 06:08 PM
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Can you describe the popping sound in any more detail? For example - continuous versus now and then? metallic sound? mushy sound (like bubble gum)? random pops versus rhythmic pop-pop-pop?
etc. ...

"If i saw a old dude with what appeared to be a cat over his mouth driving faster than me I'd stop driving fast." - Firdaddy
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 06:08 PM
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Can you describe the popping sound in any more detail? For example - continuous versus now and then? metallic sound? mushy sound (like bubble gum)? random pops versus rhythmic pop-pop-pop?
etc. ...

"If i saw a old dude with what appeared to be a cat over his mouth driving faster than me I'd stop driving fast." - Firdaddy
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Dull pops. Not metallic. I did not keep driving long enough for them to be continuous, but while it was going on they were random, not rhythmic.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 07:14 AM
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Re: Mystery popping sound from rear end at interstate speeds?!?!

Thanks for the additional details ... Nothing jumps out at me as a definitive diagnosis.

Unless your tires were picking up some sort of debris or sticky stuff, I don't have any new theories.

I still think something about the exhaust line and / or the rear swaybar mounting are the most likely explanations.

"If i saw a old dude with what appeared to be a cat over his mouth driving faster than me I'd stop driving fast." - Firdaddy
Line-X, ARE, Recaro, Team Voodoo, Husky, Lund, Optima, OMP, Aesthetic Finishers Inc.,Michelin
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