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Lexus ES Engine Questions



  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    Excellent! Thanks for your help. I can assume this test can be performed by Lexus. Can other mechanics specializing in foreign cars perform this test, too?

    Thanks, again!
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    Yes any mechanic who found his or her way out of their house this morning should know exactly how to do this test. I'm sure a Lexus dealer has this tool in their required tool shed they buy from Lexus when they open a dealership. It might be dusty (sounds like it) but they have one.

    But any good import shop knows how to do this.
  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    Thanks for your timely response.

    I called the dealership today and they have yet to return the call.

    Say that they did use this test and it does in fact reveal the rings need to be replaced. I know prices vary from shop to shop, but what is a reasonable price for this kind of repair? I need to decide whether to invest further in the vehicle or to trade it in.

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    It will all depend on the condition of the pistons themselves and on the true-ness of the cylinder bores. Re-ringing an engine with 87K on it is tricky because you may want to do work on the cylinder heads as well, and the bearing clearances should be checked as well. It's one of those "while we're in there" kind of jobs where the costs are hard to control.

    But since they haven't really tested it they don't know yet, or they didn't tell you properly what they found. Perhaps you have worn valve guides or valve stem seals, which would give the exact same symptoms but only require removal of the cylinder heads---perhaps a $1,500 repair.
  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    I'm learning so much from your responses.

    Do you think the rings or seals or guides could have been caused from not having enough oil? There was a lot of steam and heat built up in the engine when I took off the oil resevoir cap and noticed the singed oil on the underside of the cap.

    I'm assuming that the cost of replacing the rings and/or the other ancillary things you mentioned would cost more than the $1,500 for guides or stem seals? Much more?

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    I think engine wear from lack of oil is pretty rapid and catastrophic. I don't think being low on oil causes subtle wear issues like worn rings or loose valve guides...if an engine is starving for oil, it will destroy itself pretty fast, not keep running in a mildly degraded state like yours.

    The wear on valve guides could be construed as within "normal" wear at 87K....quite premature but not unheard of...maybe there should have been more frequent oil changes. I have no idea of the car's previous service records.

    I think if they bust open the entire engine, that is "go into the lower end" rather than just stay on the "upper end" (cylinder heads", then you will surely exceed $1,500 unless it's some kind of down and dirty patch job. Most of the cost is a) the labor to disassemble and assemble the engine and b) the machining costs. The actual parts are not very expensive---rings, gaskets, hoses, clamps, belts, etc.

    Offhand, I'd say your car is an excellent candidate for a used engine, should the cylinder leakdown test show excessive ring wear. Remember, you cannot successfully install a new, perfectly round ring on a worn piston running in an oblong cylinder bore. It won't last but a few thousand miles before burning oil again. Everything must be "trued up" and made factory tight again.
  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    I just LOVE what I'm learning about this whole procedure. Of course I'm less excited about how costly this is turning out to be :-(

    I finally heard back from the Lexus Service Manager.

    He stated that they didn't arrive at the ring failure determination from performing a cylinder leakdown test. Instead, they determined that it had to be the failure of the rings because oil was 'fouling out' the spark plugs, even the newly installed ones, and the only way that oil could get to the spark plugs was if the rings had failed.
    He said the rings were failing on multiple cylinders.

    Like you, he also told me that is was highly unlikely on a "Lexus engine" that the trouble was being caused by a valve problem.

    He went on to articulate what is involved in rebuilding the engine and said that with the labor involved (40-50 hours), it would exceed the cost of even a factory new engine from Lexus ($7,000).

    So, now I guess my only option if I'm going to keep the vehicle is getting a used engine.

    My only experience with such an endeavor is when I had a new transmission put into a Hyundai Excel. I shopped around at auto salvage yards and found a mechanic to install it. I then promptly drove it from his shop to an auto dealer and traded it in.

    Should I just start calling auto salvage shops and shop around for engines? Are there internet sites where I can shop for the engines?

    I know the price will vary depending on the mileage, but can you give me a ballpark figure of what is a good price given a certain mileage range? Also, what should be a reasonable labor charge for removing the old and installing the new engine?

    I remember when I had the transmission done, the warranty for the transmission was only 90 days and the mechanics work was only guaranteed for 30. Would the warranty be much the same on engines?

    I know I'm probably asking a lot of you, but any help you can provide will help me make a decision.

    Thanks for all of your help and patience.

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    "Instead, they determined that it had to be the failure of the rings because oil was 'fouling out' the spark plugs, even the newly installed ones, and the only way that oil could get to the spark plugs was if the rings had failed."

    I'm sorry, but they are wrong about that.

    Bad valve guides or valve stem seals could certainly foul spark plugs, and in fact could do so more easily than bad rings. Why? Because with bad valve stem seals or guides, the oil can drop into the combustion chamber with the engine shut off, putting a lot more oil onto the cold plugs than bad rings can do on warm plugs.

    I'd still say that without a cylinder leakdown test, Lexus is just walking around with a blindfold throwing darts at your checkbook.

    One step at a time. First, "nail" the problem. Automobiles are science, they are not sessions with a psychic.
  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    I'm so glad I asked you. As stated before, I didn't have much confidence in the service manager at this point. I can easily see him saying something HAD to be the problem and it not necessarily being the case.

    In the meantime, I talked to a company that specializes in engine auto parts. Their rep told me that the engine on the Camry and Avalon is the exact same engine as the Lexus ES 300 and can be used interchangably. Is that correct?

    He told me he could get me a Certified Used Camry engine for $1,650 (no tax)delivered to a commercial address. He said that engine has 41K miles on it.

    He had a certified Rebuilt Lexus engine he could get me for $3,500.

    He also had a certified Lexus engine remanufactured by Jasper, for $2,800.

    According to them, each engine is thoroughly inspected, leak-down and run-tested. Their warranty covers the ‘long block’(cylinder block, cylinder heads, valves, crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, bearings, rocker arms, camshafts and all of the internal moving parts).

    Can the Lexus, Camry and Avalon engines be used interchangably? Since I have a baseline for the engine prices, what is a ballpark figure for labor for installing the engine?

    I will call the Lexus dealer back and see if I can't get a leakdown test, free of charge, since they misdiagnosed the problem the first time (charging me $400 for new wires) and just guessed the second time I brought it in.

    I think I'm getting close to being able to navigate these waters.

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    I would want to speculate on engine swapping from different models. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it because you will invariably find differences in how things hook up in the different cars. So you'll need a shop that can improvise that kind of thing....wire too short, bracket in wrong place, hose too long, red wire meeting black wire instead of two red wires, coupler A not mating to coupler B, that sort of thing. So it might add 10 hours to the job. I really don't know.
  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    OK, I understand. Well, last question: If I got a Lexus engine, about how much or how many hours should the installation take, if there are no unforeseen problems?

    I need to get a range on either the hours or the dollar amount so I can shop with some knowledge of what is reasonable and what is outlandish. As a woman, some auto personnel will often try to take us to the cleaners, assuming we know nothing about cars, which is why I'm trying to learn before actually shopping for what I need.

    You assistance has been invaluable.

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    I'd guess that a used engine replacement will be running you about $3,500 if all goes well. The hidden costs are what you choose to replace while the engine is going in, and that's hard to estimate. This type of installation requires you to keep a close check on costs and to require approval from the shop for any unanticipated costs. For instance, do you want new drive belts and hoses? How old is the battery and the cables.

    Then you'll probably want a coolant flush for the "new" used engine.
  • shelloshello Posts: 8
    Wow, thats pretty pricey. I had said I'd invest up to $3K in it to keep it.

    When I took it in, Lexus said I only had @ another 500 miles on the drive belt. They wanted $500 bucks to put a new one on. I wasn't sure I was going to keep the car so I took a pass.

    Luckily I have another car I can borrow so I can afford to spend some time shopping around for a reliable shop that's not going to steal me blind.

    The company I called about the used engine recommends that new spark plugs, water pump, thermostat and fan belts be used. They also recommend using the car's existing oil pan to minimize problems.

    Does all that sound necessary to you?

    OK, so I guess I lied when I said I had no more questions :-)

    Thanks for your help.

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    Yes that all sounds like good advice to me.
  • hello
    I have a '98 ES with 135K well taken care of miles. How many of you have had your belts replaced? Some mechanics have said the belt does not need to be replaced.
  • can someone tell me or give me some kinda clue on how the pwrsteering pump an the high pressure hoes work wit the cooling or radiator for the engine. becuz im leaking fluid, an after awhile the car starts to overheat. someone help!!! by the way i
    got a 93 es300.
  • I have 1995 ES 300. Runs very well. The cooling fan is always on when you the car is running, because it runs on power steering pump (no electric or engine attachment).

    It supposes to rotate slowly when the car is idle and as you push the gas paddle, it will go faster.

    The fan in my car is running fast on idle and will run even faster when I push the gas paddle. It is noisy, no heat problem.

    What is the problem?

    I heard there is a solenoid mounted on the steering pump that controls how much hydraulic fluid gets to the fan motor.


    Is there a control valve, and where does it sit?

    Any help

  • Check to see if you have a hydraulic cooling fan or (electrical )that uses the power steering fluid to run.
  • OK. The previous discussion helped me solve the problem.

    It was the solenoid mounted on the steering pump that controls how much hydraulic fluid gets to the fan motor.

    I replaced the steering pump with the solenoid mounted on it. It solve the problem. The fan now runs normal.

    I bought the power steering for $230 (Remanuf.) with shipping from the auto parts at
    1888-231-5286. The dealers price is in the range of $500.

    Yes you can buy the solenoide sepratre, but the dealer price is about $200.

    Maval P/S Pump
    1994-1996 Lexus ES300Complete with hydraulic cooling fan solenoid.. FITS (ENGINE/CHASSIS) SKU PRICE QTY
    1994-1996 Lexus ES300 W0133-1604107 $208.99
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Glad you got it fixed. Thanks for reporting back.
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