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Lexus LS: Problems & Solutions



  • thanks for your input, but what I dont understand is why my pads screech when I just replaced them-4 months ago. They are ceramix pads from NAPA. which I purchased because i have read that they are also good for Lexus LS400(96ls400). i only resurfaced my front rotors once,when i put the pads on. now, I dont mind buying the rotors , but the cost of resurfacing is half of what 1 rotor costs. how much do you pay for your ls400 rotors?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Your new pads squeech because they are HIGHLY effective at braking. You can go to less effective pads that will be quieter but I would suggest you try the 3 steps I suggested above first.
  • ange6ange6 Posts: 1
    new to the message boards and new to lexus with a 95 ls w/ 30k. this car also has what has been described as snap/crackle/pop sounds from the front suspension and only on the first brake application. from previous posts it sounds like tension rod, upper A arm bushing, and/or ball joint wear. question being, is this a problem that needs to be addressed asap or can it go awhile (car appears to drive, handle, and stop perfectly). also is 30k premature to have these symptoms or is age taking a toll on these parts as well? 2nd question. on cold starts there is a metallic clicking noise from the engine associated w/ engine rpm. relatively quiet and goes away in a minute or so. anything to be concerned with there? Thanks for any and all help. Lastly, anyone know any good indepentant mechanics in the phoenix area?
  • Sorry I do not remember cost for rotor's, pad's were $48.00 for each set front & rear. Go to and ask Ryan for a estimate on rotors, he sells genuine Lexus parts at discounted prices to the general buying public (Non mechanic, non dealer).
    Ceramic pads? I have heard they require special rotor's, have you asked Napa about this? perhaps the ceramic pads are not well suited for use with ordinary rotor's?
    wwest post #836 gave great advice, I wonder now if your technician put back the plates and shim's? I have seen people toss them out and not put them back in with new pad's this would certainly create a problem with screeching.

    Post 843 Congratulations, and enjoy your new auto! 30K is very very low miles for a 1995 year model. Have you performed a carfax check to verify the mileage is correct? When you first start a car the oil is cold and not fully distributed around upper engine parts. Some, although very little and very short lived noise might occur. If it is very loud or lasts more than a minute check it out with a pro.
    For supension noise, it will get progressively worse (Not better) and in any case the car should be put on a lift and the suspension components should be looked at. A tech will put force and pressure on the various pieces to see just how loose and worn they are. This must be done with the weight of the car off the wheels, (Thus on lift). So if the components are not super worn or loose you can still drive a while, or you might find them dangerously close to failing, causing the car to be unsafe to drive as is. I am on my third LS 400, all of them have had the popping noises etc., I did not replace the components car's drove fine. I did have them checked out thoroughly though.
  • My '90 LS was in storage until last week when I brought it to an qualified Lexus specialist who swapped the air suspension for a standard setup, replaced a rotted out EGR pipe, and changed the rear knuckle bushings. Then 50 miles after paying the $2,150, the TRAC OFF and CHECK ENGINE lights appear simultaneously. I'm thinking it could be a bad TPS. Could the problem be linked to the work done? Any ideas/approximate cost of repair? Thanks!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Is Trac off, it always does that with engine check.
  • I don't think it's meaningless, because I've pressed the TRAC OFF switch, restarted the car, turned the TRAC back on, etc. All I get is TRAC OFF and CHECK ENGINE lights on, no matter the position of the "TRAC OFF" switch.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    According to Lexus anytime the engine check indication is "on", Trac is automatically disabled. I don't understand the logic in this except maybe assumption that engien problem might be ECU not "talking"to Trac.

    By meaningless I meant fix the engine problem and the Trac gets enabled again.
  • Thanks wwest, for answering my question. But here's another.
    So after getting the air suspension removed and the standard suspension installed, I tried the "sport" button, and no light illuminated. Makes sense. The technician also removed the bulb in the "height" selection on the dash. So I thought everything was okay, because the technician said he would remove those bulbs, as obviously those functions no longer exist.
    But today, I start the car up and the "Norm" light on the instrument cluster starts blinking. I hit the sport button, and the sport light comes on steady.
    Then I hear what I think is the air compressor, going, like it used to when I would flip the "height" switch to raise or lower the car.
    So I thought the air suspension was dead, but now it's come back to haunt me.
    If anyone could shed some light on this bizarre problem, or tell me if it could be somehow related to the check engine warning, I'd appreciate it.
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    You will have to get the code or codes which have turned the check engine light on . It could be as simple as an oxygen sensor or even the oxygen sensor heater on the main OS. Your car has four OS sensors.
  • My 91 LS400 AC failed after 106K miles. It blows warm air. Compressor seems to kick in when AC is turned on... My mechanic told me it has enough freon... He told me I probably need new compressor. He says locally rebuilt AC compressor will be $475 total job. If I get the Nippon Denso rebuilt AC compressor, it will be $625 total job. He says you can't no longer get the new compressor even from the lexus dealer. He will have to take out my freon and put new stuff (R-135?) in.
    Should I get second opinion from another auto shop? or take it to air conditioning repair shop?
    What are my choices now? Who would give me best and honest opinion?
    Please help me.

    Dan from SoCal
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Does you compressor cycle on AND off automatically?

    Lexus A/C compressor will never cycle "on" unless there is enough refrigerant, freon, in the system to maintain the "high" pressure side at a minimum level. Once cycled "on" it will typcially cycle off once the high presssure side has reached a maximum pressure level.

    If your compressor does cycle off, typically within minutes, but on initial A/C system startup longer, then the compressor is working reasonably satisfactorily and you should look elsewhere.

    The "blend" door, probably.
  • hey i'm black. had my car inspected and turns out my rotors were not properly resurfaced . this time around the job was done right. now i have no more problems as i had described. thanks for all your input. btw, this is the last time i resurface my front.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Sounds like your mechanic is planning to reclaim your freon (it's against the law to just dump it) and sell it at a substantial premium.

    Another thing to try if your compressor does indeed cycle off.

    Move the setpoint all the way down to 65F (max COLD), that's supposed to over-ride all of the sensors and just move the blend door to lock out any heating.

    If the above works then have a look at the possibilty of an open cabin temperature sensor, just above the driver right knee.

    This sensor being open would indicate that teh cabin is SUPERCOLD already.
  • I found no one willing to work with freon...
    You mean by cycling off... the compressor turns off by itself? I haven't tried that. The air is blowing and the compressor kicks in but the air temp is warm. I am pretty sure I set the temp to 65F or lower.

    Today, I called a few Auto A/C shops...
    They all want diag. fee anywhere from $40 - $150.
    I may take it in to them for diag.
    In worst case, if it's a bad compressor, I think the part cost for compressor and clutch is close to $1000.
    Can I get cheaper part? What are my options?

    Thanks for your input guys.

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The job of the compressor is to pressurize the freon one it has vaporized into a gas after passing through the evaporator. Once pressurized the "gas" flows through the condensor (in front of the radiator) and is condensed back into liquid form by cooling.

    There is a switch that turns the compressor off once there is enough "reserve" freon in liquid form. And then back on again as teh liquid is depleted, etc, etc, etc.
  • I just had the A/C redone in my '91 LS. The total job (tax and everything) costed me around $1800 bucks. That wasn't even from the dealer.

    They replaced the compressor, the dryer, some hose that supposedly took 3.2 hours to change, and one other part. They charged me $800 for the compressor, which I could have boughten for $300 from the same place they did.

    Atleast I have peace of mind and a warranty and a cold car here in Phoenix, AZ.
  • I thought I had a bad AC compressor, but when I turn it on and leave it for about 5 minutes on the Freeway, one of the air outlet get's pretty cold, but other ones are warm... What gives?
    Maybe all I need is more freon?
    What are your thoughts?

  • q45manq45man Posts: 416
    When thinking about a repair after you have worn out the system [10-12 years old] and [never done any preventative maintenance on it - shame]! You never thought to change the receiver dryer after 3-4 years to extend system life by removing any moisture, you never thought to change the lubricating oil, you never even thought to clean the evap/condenser coils.
    AC has been available on cars for 47 years it has changed little in basic design until R134a [1994]and that was very minor.

    You have to decide the quality of the components you want to buy since all shops only give a 12/12,000 mile warranty. Are you going to keep the car another year or 6 more!

    The labor of changing an evaporator can equal the parts cost. Something like a heater/air mix door can require the whole dash to be removed and take 8-10 hours to replace a $50 part.

    Similiar situation with compressors there are different qualities of fully rebuilt to brand new standards, partially rebuilt, cheaply rebuilt, and just barely returned to function but noiser than new units available. And the wholesale price doesn't vary $100 from top to bottom.

    Many ac systems are repaired just ENOUGH to function and never meet as new cooling specs.

    Many just change the worn out compressor [using the same old clutch] when the evaporator has a small leak that allowed the R12 to leak out slowly overstressing the compressor to failure.....same with leaky o rings at compressor or receiver dryer. Then the higher pressure from the new compressor blows out the evaporator 6-13 months later.

    Strange that most wait till the middle of Summer when all shops are busy and rushed and overloaded instead of January when they are begging for business and deals might be cut or at least the time spent might result in a higher quality repair.

    When you change any component the system must be vacuumed down to remove the moisture that rushed in: cheapo 10-15 minutes or primo 30, 45 minutes processing is an option. Same with diagnosis rushed or leisurely precise. Same with PAO/PAG oils cheapo or premium with UV dyes, same with o rings [$1 or 10 cent ones].

    Worse are the ones who get talked into an R12 to R134a conversion [to save $100 worth of R12]....if you fix the leaks you don't need more R12 but every 4-5 years yet the half assed conversion never cools as well as the oem system.

    Spend a little time learning how the system works as you will have AC as long as you drive and the repair cost will reoccur every time especially if you don't do any preventative maintenance!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    And when was the last time you changed out the dryer on your refrigerator or your freezer?

    This preventative maintenance bit is getting "way" out of hand.
  • ...and making an analogy to household appliances that typically cost 1-2% of a new Lexus, run 10-15 years without a major failure, and then are tossed away as consumable items is not appropriate.

    Unless your rewired fridge can hit 0-60mph under 7 seconds while it takes you and your luggage to the airport.

    Q45man is a valued contributor to this board and while my own personal experience with two LS400s doesn't quite validate his position that one needs to spend upwards of $2k-$3k per year in maintenance to keep them up to spec (let's hear it for long OEM warranties!), I very much appreciate his many valuable, knowledgable posts in many different areas of Lexus repair.

    Unlike yours, to be candid.

    I mean, Wwest, who else would sue Lexus over the "defective" HVAC system in their early LS, lose the case, buy another Lexus with the same vendor's HVAC system, then complain ad nauseum about the same supposed defects all over again?

    And I'll bet that Q45man spends more hours working on Lexus models in a week than all your lifetime, Micky Mouse RX rewiring jobs combined.

    But that's just my opinion - yours may differ.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I was trying to address q45man's "campaign" for preventative maintenance on automotive A/C systems, ONLY.

    Really significant improvements have been made in automotive A/C to the point that the "dryer" spoken of is really only there to take care of the small amounts of moisture trapped within the system during manufacture.

    Now, if a leak develops in teh sysetm or it needs repair for some reason then I would agree wholeheartedly that the dryer be replaced, and then be replaced again within some short period.

    But basically I have the same position on preventive maintenance of A/C systems as I do brake systems, if it ain't broke, don't "fix" it!

    My analogy to refrigerator and freezers is not perfect, but both have quite thoroughly SEALED systems wherein absent some sort of failure there is no need to "open" them.

    Today's freezers and refrigerator's cooling systems seem to be lasting 20 to 30 years, 24/7 useage. Why shouldn't I expect that same kind of service, with NO preventative maintenance, from the Lexus cooling system?
  • This is an open forum where we post opinions. If you do not like a persons opinion that is your choice, however do ask others to back off.
    I appreciate both Q45 and WWEST, equally. They are from 2 different camps, and the opposing styles lend objectivity to the site and enrich its content.

    To fix when things break is just a style, and there is a good argument for its practice.

    To perform extensive preventive maintenance (Above & beyond the call of the manufacturer) is costly & in some cases causes more damage then good. The fact is that your auto will perform better with such thorough maintenance. Just how much will you invest into a 10 year old luxo car with 150k plus miles? when does the concept of drive her until she croaks kick in?

    I drained the tranny fluid from my 97 LS 400. My mechanic over filled the fluid, the drain plug was also stripped. I am not sure if it was stripped prior to the fluid drop. In any case I had to change the pan and fluid at dealer to the tune of $500.00 bucks. Now I know you will say my mechanic sucks and he is a moron etc etc. I will however say, I wish I never disturbed the tranny at all.
    I have friends who fix nothing, and spend little to zero on maintenance & their cars run fine. I am the anal retentive one constantly tinkering and concerned with all noises and parts replacement etc. I think they pay less overall and enjoy more. I am not about to change though, so it is a matter of personal style.
    As for my A/C I have decided to just leave it alone, if and when it breaks I will deal with it.

    Auto A/C and home appliances are a apples to oranges comparo. Think of the consistent amps, voltage and use of home apps. not to mention the compressor size. The car is a small belt driven compressor, cools a larger cubic foot area & should do so in short period of time, system sits idle 6 months a year, withstands potholes temperature changes and so many more issues, not a good example.

    Enjoy diversity
  • One is Fantasy Camp and the other is Real World Camp.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Perhaps I should start putting in more detail. Refrigeration systems are ALWAYS under pressure and therefore ALWAYS sealed, These days apparently very well sealed. Once the system is sealed at the factory it is much more likely that refrigerant and lubricant will leak OUT, rather than have moisture "leak" IN.

    I don't especially like the term "anal retentive" but I guess that's the term I would apply to myself also with regards keeping my vehicles up to snuff and in perfect working order.

    I don't work in the industry, not even remotely, my background is in electronics and for the past 20 years or so that even that trade has been secondary. I guess I have to admit that I "fly" a desk now.

    The information you see me put here is information I have gleamed from various sources over the years, and currently, simply because I do want the peak performance and reliability, long term, that I can get out of my vehicle ownership.

    I didn't drive two Ford station wagons for over 250K without always performing the "proper" (not frivolous) maintenance.
  • I thought the 'clunk' sound I was hearing was probably due to a bad strut or something. Turns out -not. The tech showed me the play that the left side ball joint has. As he did this , that sound was also heard. He pointed out that it needs to be replaced.(worned out) He said its easy, unscrew two screws, take out lower ball joint replace and u know the rest.Do we have to do both sides, since only one side has the damage? And does this really have to be done by the shop?
  • There is really no shame in doing too little or too much maintenance. Both ways have pros and cons. Ultimately, the owner/driver of the car has to deal with condition of the car and the their consequences.
  • Automotive AC system is sealed but not completely seal. With time, small airborne molecules will find their ways into the AC system via rubber hoses and O-rings. Thus, it is good to change the dryer at some intervals. Other than that, I would not touch the AC if it is not leaking or broken even though I have the skill and equipments to do a complete AC overhaul.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Since the A/C system is ALWAYS ABOVE atmospheric pressure, how is this possible?

    You seem to be saying the airborne (gaseous water) molecules will find their way into, as a for instance, an inflated balloon.
  • Blackout,

    How did the tech showed you a worn ball joint? I suspected my LS's ball joints were worn as well but had not gotten around to test them. Ball joints are not difficult to replace and you can DIY, and, no, you don't have to replace both sides.
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