By December 20, 201010 Comments Read More →

Noise In Dash of My Toyota Avalon

Reader Question

Hello Austin,

I am new to your site, but have enjoyed getting a chance to read your answers to many common car problems. I am writing to you about a perplexing noise I am getting in my 2000 Avalon. It has 127,000 but has been maintained very well from day one and runs like a dream. Just recently I started hearing a noise behind the dashboard. It sounds as if it is coming from directly behind the steering wheel. It sounds like grinding gears or like something is scraping against something else inside there.

I almost blamed it on the tape deck at first since it resembled a tape being stuck or stripped in the deck but I ruled that out by turning off the radio and the sound continued. It has nothing to do with speed or the steering mechanism itself. I almost think that I have it pinned down to being related to the AC somehow but I am not certain that is it. It does not happen all the time and generally increases in volume when the auto AC is trying to adjust to a really low setting. When I turn off the AC when I hear the sound, withing two minutes or so it stops. The sound is only coming out of the dash on the drivers side as well. It is not audible from outside the car. I am really stumped as to what may be causing the noise and have never pulled the dash out on this car and am hesitant to do so. Do you have any ideas on what this might be? Thank you!

Stephen M.

Howdy Stephen,

Wow, you got me stumped. The only thing that really comes to mind that might be able to cause the noise you describe would be the A/C blower motor, which is inside the dash…..kinda more towards the passenger side than driver side but its about the only thing that is rotating inside the dashboard.

The blower motor has a hamster wheel attached to the end to push the air into the cab. This wheel could be loose or rubbing on something? Taking the dash apart is not going to be easy or cheap. If you wanted to guess at something you might want to have your mechanic check into the blower motor/blower motor wheel “cage” and see if there is a problem there.

Wish I could help more, keep me posted if you dont mind. I would like to post your fix on the site for others.

Thank you for your response Austin!

This problem has stumped me and my mechanic friends for the past 4 months. The problem is that half of the people I tell about it never hear the sound because it is not an every day thing. I cannot tell exactly what sets it off so it may go four or five days and make no noise at all and then poof one day it is doing it on and off all day. I decided to take a video of it so you might be able to hear it for yourself. I had to wait a few days for the sound to come back, but it did and I pulled into a parking lot, shut off the radio, and the ac and recorded this.

Any new thoughts on what this may be???

Thank you so much!!!

Posted in: Noises

10 Comments on "Noise In Dash of My Toyota Avalon"

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  1. Mdarr says:

    I am the same problem with me 2000 Avalon. I beleive it is the air mix servo because it occurs the worse when the A/C is on and the temp. setting is in the lower 70’s. Upon turning the A/C off it goes away within a minute.
    I have found the following fix on Toyota nation website and will be checking mine out next week.

  2. Allen says:

    My wife’s 2000 Avalon has 134,000 miles. Just recently a intermittent grinding sound has begun behind the driver’s side dash. I would equate the sound to a faulty speedometer cable but, I don’t know if an Avalon (newer cars) still use a speedometer cable; they may use a servo motor? The noise is becoming more prevent and irritating. Appears many cars are having this issue thus I suspect a Toyota Mech would know of or have a likely part suspect. Just need someone to provide the low down. Getting behind a dash likely won’t be easy thing to do…but if there is no speedometer cable then I suspect that will be the next step?

    • Austin says:

      I actually don’t know off hand if this vehicle has a speedometer cable or not….it might. You can call a Toyota dealership parts department and ask if it does. The noise if its a speedo cable will only be present if the vehicle …and the cable are moving. it could be something with the speedometer HEAD, the actual speedometer instrument panel display, that is causing the noise…but again would only be present when vehicle is in motion.

      I would try to rule out other things first, does it make the noise in park, with the hood open can you hear it under the hood, does it make it in neutral or any other gears, only on turns, only on braking, only with AC on and AC blower fan on high, only on defrost position, etc. etc. to see if there is a correlation with something else that might help you track this down. I agree taking the dash apart is not going to be cheap or easy and might not reveal anything.

  3. Sally says:


    I just bought a Toyota Avalon XLS yesterday. It is a really nice car! Driving around with the AC on auto with the fan on low, I noticed a sporadic noise like someone described as grinding or scraping like a coffeemaker at the end of a cycle. After I turned the AC off, a couple of minutes later, the noise stopped. Even with the AC on, the noise only happened occasionaly. I just called the dealer about the possibility of the problem being a “gear in the air mix servo actuator worn”. He mentioned that part was behind the glovebox. Would the noise be coming from behind the steering wheel in the dash if the part is on the other side of the dash? Also, could the speedometer cable need greasing? This car has not had the steering wheel recall fixed yet. Could that cause a noise? The noise is not really bad, but I do not want it to get worse and something to stop functioning. Thanks for your input!

    • Austin says:

      Hi there. Hummmm, not real sure what is going on here. I have seen paper, pencils, paper clips etc. etc. fall down the defrost duct holes in the top of the dash and fall into the blower fan and cause all kinds of funny noises. The fan and the actuators are more towards the glovebox area on the passenger side than on the driver side. Maybe you can get your head under the dashboard on the passenger side and listen for this noise to see where it might be coming from? If everything seems to work properly I would not be very concerned with it. I have heard hissing noises coming from the A/C expansion valve in Toyota’s that drove people crazy but caused no ill effects. I would not take the dashboard out to find a faint sometimes there noise……way too much work and could cause additional problems just to do the complexity of wires etc. etc. inside the dash.

  4. John says:

    I found this post on another site:
    I had a similar issue on my 2000 XLS. Dealer found grinding noise was ” found gear in air mix servo actuator to be worn”. $350 later good as new. The auto climate control is trying to adjust and the gears grind away. Good luck

  5. Maureen says:

    I have had the same problem with my 200 Toyota Avalon. It is definitely related to the auto AC adjusting to a very low setting. I’ve asked the Toyota dealer to look at it twice and they have never heard of this problem before and are unable to resolve. I’m not sure they were ever able to hear it. So far, no AC problems though. I decided to see if anyone on the Internet had the problem because I doubt it is isolated to one car. Let me know if you ever find out what it is.

  6. Paul Shroyer says:


    I am looking at purchasing the 2011 VW Jetta for a company car. I will put 80,000 miles on this car in 2 years. I am thinking about purchasing this car at the end of 2 years for my daughter. I am debating which engine is the best choice. The diesel gets great gas mileage and in theory should last much longer than a gas engine. The flip side is that diesels can be very expensive to work on when there is a problem. Considering better mileage and cost of ownership, which engine would be the better choice for such high mileage in a short amount of time? The 2.5 5 cylinder gas engine or the 2.0 4 Cylinder Turbo Diesel



    • Austin says:

      I am not a diesel mechanic, but like the diesel engines options over gas in most cases. I am not that familiar with the smaller diesel that is used in the VW, although they are quite popular in Europe and have been for some time. Diesels in general will last longer, run smoother, more efficient and cost effective in the long run over the gas counter part.

      Things to consider if buying the diesel

      1. Availability of fuel in your area, some large city fuel stations do not offer diesel as often so you might have to travel farther to fill up
      2. Do you have a mechanic in mind that is diesel capable? Although ANY mechanic can work on the rest of the vehicle, brakes, maintenance etc. etc.
      3. Is the dealership close by or do you have to drive across town or to another town
      4. How much more is the purchase price with diesel over gas, is the fuel economy much better, will you get your money back over time in fuel and maintenance savings?
      5. How much more expensive is diesel going to get in the near future? I would not be surprised to see diesel over $3.75 a gallon real soon.
      6. How much more is an oil change for diesel over gas?

      I think another alternative, and could be a much more cost effective alternative is Electric or Hybrid vehicles

      I don’t think you could go wrong buying a Toyota Prius, and would be my suggestion over the VW. I have not seen a Chevy Volt yet, but looks like a great car for what it is. Check out the used car prices for Toyota Prius, they hold their prices well and people usually hold on to them as well so there are not that many for sale used which is a good thing…..people want to keep em.

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