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Lexus LS: Problems & Solutions



  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    My personal one, a 92 bought new, had a failed oxygen sensor at about the five year mark (DIY) and otherwise only brake pads, oil and filter changes. No ATF, no brake fluid, no diff'l 90 weight. Only exception was OEM anti-freeze was removed about 2 years ago due to being a bit murky. Alternator failed just a few months ago but leaking PS had nothing to do with that failure. Soft slip rings was ther apparent problem. Both solved DIY.

    Three more LSes in the "family", two more 92's and a 95. Same story with those xcept the intake manifold exhaust line broke, another DIY.

    One of the 92's was totalled by the insurance company and I repurchased it and it is being repaired for about $8,000.

    Personally I would buy a used 98-2000 LS before even considering a new one.

    Even if you use the dealer for scheduled maintenance the expenses can be kept well in line by forcing the dealer to abide strictly by the factory recommendation guidlines.

    Don't let the do ANYTHING (scheduled) that isn't recommended in the owner's manual, PERIOD!
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    There should be a diagram on the underside of the hood , just behind the grill . If your's is gone go here
  • I fully understand the cost of repairs would be on the high side, as well as parts, but the fact that they seem to need so much fiddling around with is what bothers me. Indicator lights that fail, and little things like that don't strike me as quality built to last. Even when I was working and had to tolerate a new Taurus company car every other year, I never had an indicator light failure of any kind, but transmissions were another matter. The piddly, annoying failures in Lexus' systems seem inappropriate for a car of it's perceived quality. Why in hell would it be a design advangage to locate the steering pump above the alternator when it is known that frequent pump seal failures would result in replacing both parts? Why is the water pump such a weak link it is suggested it be replaced with every timing belt change? Maybe I expect too much, but I have been turning wrenches as a hobby for over 40 years, and seldom hesitate to question engineering anomalies. Common sense just doesn't seem to be in fashion these days.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I've been a DIYer since learning to drive a Ford Ferguson (then Farmall, John Deere, etc.) back on the farm in the fifties.

    Water pump failures have been a constant, persistent, failure in all cars for as long as I can remember. Drive belt side pressure on the one single shaft bearing is a part of the failure mode as is the rubber seal that prevents the water pressure from getting to the bearing.


    The PS stearing pump location and the fact that it develops a leak has absolutely NOTHING to do with the alternator failure!

    Until the alternator failed in my 92, and the PS was leaking, I assumed that the leak story was well founded.


    Having been through a few a alternator "failures" previously I purchased a set of slip ring brushes for it at the same time I purchased the PS overhaul kit. In the end I could have left the PS pump intact, leak and all, and it wouldn't have mattered.

    It turned out that the slip ring brushes were in quite good shape but the slip rings themselves were worn through all the way down to the metal shaft.

    I suspect Lexus would very much like us to believe that these alternator failures are due to PS leaks. Other than a manufacturing flaw how is it possible for a set of "soft" graphite slip rings brushes to wear the solid copper slip rings out in ~100,000 miles?
  • It makes sense to me. Misinformation seems to run on about almost everything, which leaves only the water pump issue. I haven't replaced a water pump on any vehicle since I had a 1969 International pickup, so I'm lucky, I guess. I was in the auto parts business during the '60's, and at least at that time water pumps were a real weak spot on everybody's engines. Most failures are due to over-tightening of the belt, in addition to a too-small bearing. I never could understand why manufacturers used such tiny bearings for water pump shafts. I never saw the data but I imagine there exists load versus failure frequency on those things. Cost savings at the manufacturing level, I presume.
    I have done a lot of reading over the years about Lexus, and until reading this forum was under the impression they are nearly fault-free if maintained properly. If I do eventually buy one, I can look forward to it being at least a little like working on my old motorcycles; a hands-on bonding experience.
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Posts: 3,475
    But expensive to get to. I know on Hondas they are driven by the timing belt and will ruin the engine if they sieze. So as a rule of thumb, you replace the water pump with the timing belt. On the LS, the timing belt is not even a wear item. At least not on my '94. So if I decide to change the timing belt , I might as well change the water pump, seals, tensioners, and all related parts since it may be a one time service.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
    My wallet sure took a beating at the dealer today...I have to spend $2500 on the 92 to replace the following things: Upper Control Arm (Right Side) Strut Rod Bushings, Power Steering Rack, Power Steering Pressure Hose, Rear Assembly Bushings, and possibly some more depending on whether they can find what is causing the clunking noise in the front side suspension...Initially they quoted me $3700 and I promptly told them where to go..Their attitude was beyond comprehension, "We have customers that spend $9-10,000 on these cars..It depends how much you really like the car.."

    I told them that this was one of the most absurd things I've ever heard...What is the point of purchasing these cars if they fall apart within 13 years? They gave me a 15% discount on parts so we agreed to $2500. Maybe it's time for a Mercedes. There are plenty of Independents who can fix those..

  • I took that grey diagnosis box off and seen the codes under the cap, what do you use and how do you get the codes to flash on the dash once the car switch is on?
  • mfprmfpr Posts: 41
    I understand that spending $2500 on auto repairs can get someone upset, but after all, your car is a '92. Maybe you should read your own post once again, especially "What is the point of purchasing these cars if they fall apart within 13 years?". Then re-read your other statement 3-4 times, "Maybe it's time for a Mercedes" then go to the Mercedes forums and check out their reliability (on NEW ones much less 13 year old cars) and the cost to repair them.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Thanks for your post...I am used to Mercedes cars that run for nearly 20 years without a problem. My brother still has an ancient 300D that runs like a charm. It hasn't needed much nor has his old 420 SE..He swears by these old Mercedes cars. Look at the mileage of this car: 96,000 miles. It's been garaged and babied to no end..I am just disappointed with the overall experience I had at the dealership today. They added in unnecessary labor charges (Overlapping jobs) and work that the mechanic said did not need to be done. Initially they told me $4200. After making an appointment to come and see the car they made me wait for 40 minutes while they aimlessly tried to locate the mechanic and then the car....Not what I'm used to, and I've owned Lexus cars since they came out..

  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    Take a paper clip , straighten it out , bend in half , this is now your jumper, lift the cover on the grey diagnostic box and stick the two ends of the clip in the the positions previously stated do not make an error , now turn on the ign ( do not attempt to start ) . If you are not sure of your ability to follow this , perhaps you have a friend who is car savy and can help , the responsibility is completely on you . If there are codes stored in the engine computer the check engine light will blink out the codes . Do you know how to read them ? If you post the codes , someone one this board or myself will tell you what they refer to .
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    You seem enamored with Mercedes , and yes they are a good car , a great car , imo no. This comment is specifically referring to the two models you mention . Is the 300d you refer to an normally aspirated or turbo diesel ? You are talking dealer prices on the Lexus repair and independent prices on the Benz . If you have any Benz model ( not that 20 yr old stuff ) that is as sophisticated as your Lexus you will have to take it to a dealer also , as very few people can diagnose the problem , let alone fix it . ( try pulling the engine codes from a pre 1996 Merc , it will cost you at least a hundred at the dealership , with the Lexus you can do it yourself ) . Most Merc dealers have the customer hosing routine down to a science .
  • walkjcwalkjc Posts: 6
    Hello All!
    I'm thinking about buying a 98 LS 400 with 80,000 miles. I'd be getting rid of a passat to make this move. I'm a pretty tall guy and am excited about all of the leg room and decent 25 mpg HWY. I have a couple of quick questions:

    1. Is it relatively easy to find private mechanics to work on these vehicles (who actually know what they're doing)? I live in Houston and found that I have to get the VW serviced by the dealer since no one else will work on it and the dealer does an extremely pricey yet lousy job 98% of the time.

    2. I'm assuming the LS 400 will need the usual 80,000 - 100,000 miles tlc as I am buying it on ebay without maintenance records (CARFAX looks good). Any ball park maintenance figures out there?
    I found out that the complete VW passat 60,000 mile service was $1,100 (too much for that car). A passat timing belt (which I haven't done yet) is $800 - $900 and can only be done by the dealer since only they have the magic tool with which to do the job.

    3. Anything anyone can think of as words of caution/encouragement? I'm really looking for a classy, well made, reliable auto with relatively infrequent maintenance issues, but I also realize that this sort of car may sometimes have costly upkeep.

    Thanks for reading and if you would, please throw in your 2 cents, I'd really appreciate it.
  • I went and tried to jump it with a paper clip no nothing, question there is like some brown color grease glue all over that where you stick the clips at is that suppose to be there? how can I tell if the computer working or not.
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    The grease is supposed to be there it is dielectric grease , it is there to prevent corrosion , it is non conductive . Double check that you pushed the jumper all the way down and turned the key until the dash lights are on . the check engine light will flash the codes and also the o/d light will flash In the grey connector box there is a two row set of pins and a three row set . Are you are jumping in the three row block of pins towards the firewall , In this three row block you will jump the center one ( TE1 )and the forward (front) one on the driver's side within this 3 row block E1 . Do not jump any pins in the two row block. If this doesn't work there is another round covered TDCL connector under the dash approx where your left knee would be in the driving position .. The pin locations are laid out differently in this connector ( layout on the cover ) but the procedure is the same . I always use the under hood one as it is easier to see but they both do basically the same function . If all your dash lights come on but no blinking you have not made proper contact with the pins or you may have more serious problems.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I suspect that should you take a good look at the ACTUAL factory scheduled maintenance requirements for your VW you will find that done "by the book" the cost for 60k service will be less than $100.

    And if you're gullible enough to swallow that $1,100 60k story from VW you absolutely don't want to ever hear a Lexus dealer's "recommended" 60k service.
  • I tried again under the hood applying pressure to the clip ends till it was a firm postion and turn the ignition to on, (not cranked) and the check engine stays on but do not flash I repeated this several times and the same out come. I tried inside the car but the space is to small for me and I can't get the clips in there. if i'm not getting any power to be able to check the codes what do that mean? Is there fuse/or circuit related to this that maybe blown?
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    Do you have a multimeter ? If so check voltage between TE1 and E1 with the ignition on . You should show 4-6 volts . If not ,then check for continuity between E1 and ground .
  • rcf8000rcf8000 Posts: 619
    I got the Lexus XM installation, and I observe that the "TEXT" display that shows the names of the song and artist is only 10 characters, even though there is space for many more characters. Is this normal? I have an aftermarket XM installation in my LX470, and it displays many more characters. Incidentally, I had the antenna installed in the middle of the front edge of the trunk lid, even though the service advisor swore that the accuracy of the nav system would be affected and strongly advised against it. (The recommended location is on the left side of the trunk lid, which as far as I'm concerned is aesthetically unacceptable.) As far as I can tell, there is no problem with the nav. It seems to be accurate to about 50 feet most of the time, which is about the same as the LX470's nav.
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