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Lexus LS: Problems & Solutions



  • lexkinglexking Posts: 10
    Good advice on the Mobil One, I read most of the posts on the Starters that were failing. Lexus had a Recall out a few years ago on the 98,99 LS and it had to do with only the starter contacts. This is not a big Lexus problem. My first LS went 275000 miles and is still being driven by my friend and the starter has never been changed. I read on Club Lex that a Toyota certified Tech can change them in a half hour.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    First I've heard of a "recalibration" needed. But there is a screen option for doing that, and the manual says hitting it and driving will do that, if necessary. But that is only necessary, after you install new tires.

    I think your dealer is trying to get an extra $250 out of you to install it. I put mine in myself, and it works just fine - shows all the new streets in my town, etc. You can get them for $299 from, and put it in yourself. Previous posts explain how to. It's painlessly easy. Takes 5 minutes. I did it on a coffee break at work.
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    I saw your message about the club lex toyota certified tech can change a starter in a lexus in about a half an hour. Maybe on the ES300 he can, but not the LS400. On the LS400 you have to take out the whole intake manifold and all the upper parts of the motor. A fast person could do it maybe 2-4 hours but if I am wrong on this where is the tech who can do it. Speaking of mobil one oil I run the synthetic mobil automatic transmission fluid in my lexus transmission I want to see if it makes a difference for making it last longer. BMW Mercedes, cadlliac,porsche and several other car manufactures are now using synthetic ATF in the transmission going 100,000 miles before changing the fluid. This should prove to be interesting if they hold up!!!!
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    Your LS auto trans was designed specifically to use the Toyota type auto fluid , it has specific friction modifiers for specific Toyota transmissions and not all Toyotas are to use it . Perhaps you should verify if Toyota recommends/oks this fluid in your Lexus . I know they recommend Mobil 1 motor oil for their engines ( saw a toyota promo at the dealer recently ) but their auto transmissions are a different story .
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    your are right the LS does use a type 4 fluid and since mine is a 91 LS the trans can still use mobil one auto trans fluid so far no problems I also put in a transmission cooler and a small power steering cooler to help keep down heat to these parts. As a salesman I spend 9-12 hours daily on the road including the south west desert and it really get hot there. I also pump the synthetic trans fluid every 20,000 miles just to make sure the trans always has fresh fluid as I do the power steering at the same time. As far as the engine oil I change it every 10-12 thousand miles since it is synthetic oil with no problems. My last toyota cressida went 400,000 miles same motor and trans using mobil one.A friend of mine pushed his 90 LS400 to 568,000 miles and still running using mobil one. And the car is still on the road past 600,000 miles with very few problems. There is a guy in the Southern California with 800,000 miles on a 90 LS400 same engine and 1 trans at 550,000 changed out now lets see some other car manufactures that can do that. :P
  • My aunt has a 94 LS 400, and recently, the intergrated phone in the center console has been beeping. She got really annoyed, and thought that just cuting the cord would make it go away. Aparently, that didn't work. Now it beeps everytime she leaves the car. Anyone know why it's doing this? The car was bought in '99, from a dealer, and it wasn't known if the phone was ever activated. If I try and just disassemble the center console and unplug all the phone's components, will the beeping go away? Any diagrams/instructions on how to disassemble out there?
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    On the early LS the main phone unit which controls the center console handset is in the trunk on the LHS below the tool kit and behind the trim cover . The unit is locked in and mine came with a key to release . The key was in the center console .
  • I bought this car in June, I personally have taken it to get oil changes regularly. In November after taking it to a shop for glass work, my car couldnt even make it from the auto glass shop to my house. It was knocking badly and was slowing down on the highway, of course I pulled over and called the shop that it was at. They towed the car, and I took it to a lexus dealership to get it inspected. Lawrence Lexus basically told me I need a new engine. I called the used car dealership that I purchased the car at and they said that it was the auto glass shops responsibility. Long story short, Lexus told me that the amount of sludge that was built up in the engine, could not have been caused during the 6 months that I had the car. Basically whoever had it prior to me did not maintain it. The car had not been into lexus to get maintenance done in years.

    I am currently looking for a reputable company to purchase a used or rebuilt engine in good condition. My lawyer said that the dealership will pay for half.

    So If anyone has any recommendations on where to get a rebuilt/used engine in good condition, I would really appreciate it. Thank you.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I just had my Lexus serviced at the dealership -and the invoice states that they used Shell 10W-30. That doesn't sound like a synthetic oil to me. I would have thought they would use synthetic oil, as even Ford uses a synthetic blend oil at the dealerships. Any light and knowledge on this issue?
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    The auto glass company is definitely not responsible for a sludge build up in the engine!

    Did you have any warranty from the used dealership? Any maintenance records from the previous owner?

    Toyota/Lexus has an 8 year unlimited mile warranty to cover engine sludge, however, they require that you provide proof of reasonable maintenance. It also covers specific models and I don't believe the LS430 was one of them. I never understood why Toyota/Lexus limited which models were covered, because they never admitted that it was a problem with the design. The subject engines can get sludge with maintenance as prescribed by Toyota/Lexus, so the fact that you have sludge in the engine does not necessarily mean it was poorly maintained by the previous owner, but it could have been -- without their records you really won't know. Also, just because it wasn't serviced by Lexus doesn't mean that the previous owner didn't do his own oil changes or take it somewhere else.

    From what I understand, the sludge warranty covers the specified models for the full 8 years, regardless of whether ownership changes hands. The question is, can you show it was maintained properly by the previous owner(s)?

    It is a long shot, but before you buy an engine, I would suggest that you check into the sludge policy further. There used to be a Toyota and Lexus phone number you could call, sort of a sludge hotline, but I don't know if it is still active. Start by trying the 1-800 customer service number to see if you can speak to someone about a sludge problem. Good luck. Since this isn't one of the models in the sludge policy it is a long shot, but worth a try.

    Also, if it can be proven that it was likely sludged when you bought it and the used dealer somehow knew and didn't disclose it, you could have some recourse with them. They may not have known about it -- sometimes it is hard to spot unless you pull the valve cover. Sometimes the check engine light will come on or there will be smoke in the exhaust.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Wow--what a Bummer. Sorry to hear about your problem.
    LS 430s with their V8 engines are about the best there is out there. That engine has a great reputation for being bulletproof.
    I'd be willing to bet you've got a formerly leased car, and the previous owner ignored maintenance altogether. That was, and still is happening with leased cars, altho' the car companies are now trying to get lessees to be more accountable by charging premiums for improper maintenance.
    Like you said,, whoever had it before you didn't maintain it, and it was never in for service by Lexus.
    I think you may have recourse with the store you bought it at--work with your Lawyer on it. Also, you might get some help from Lexus, but that's probably doubtful because of the previous owner's transgressions.
    Try Ebay, and ask around for a good used engine. Another alternative would be to get a rebuild quote from a reliable shop in your area.
    For what it's worth, this is the skinny on the sludge issue:
    The sludge story was blown totally out of proportion when it was first discussed. It received much undeserved publicity in the early 2000s, so much so that Toyota issued a SPA (special policy announcement) in 2002 providing free repairs up to 8 years--provided there was proof of at least one oil change per year. Only for some V6 and I4 engines though.
    Toyota also made a minor change to the PCV system in those engines back in 02 which made them more tolerant of poor maintenance. This helped to minimize the issue even more.
    History has now shown beyond any doubt the vast majority of sludged engines occurred in vehicles which were not well maintained. Owners weren't changing oil at all, or going well beyond recommended intervals. As is likely the case with your LS430, unfortunately.
    A number of other makes were plagued with the same undeserved publicity, for the same reason.
    The so called "sludge prone" engines made by Toyota are reliable as they come--given reasonable maintenance. This requirement isn't any different for other manufacturer's engines.
    Simply put, after all that past furor about it, sludge is no longer an issue.
    I wish you good luck in your situation.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    One other thing that I should mention -- I know someone who got the warranty-covered sludge "fix" from Toyota, and it essentially amounted to no more than an engine cleaning. If paid out of pocket, it is still quite expensive (thousands of dollars to dismantle, clean, and put back together) but it could be a less costly option than buying a new engine. You may want to check into the possiblity of getting a cleaning. The viability of this option would depend on how extensive the damage was from operating with sludge in the engine.
  • My 1991 LS400 has had perennial brake problems front and back -- binding of pads on rotor (causing a smoking seizure on the front left assembly that stranded us 200 miles from home), premature rotor warping and so on. Later LSes (93 and later, I believe) have bigger brakes. Can the bigger calipers and rotors and pads be mounted to a 91 LS? I already have 16-inch LS430 rims on regular tires, and snow tires on the original 15-inch rims.
  • I would have the Sludge analyzed, it is possible that someone at the Glass shop added something to the oil. Their are alot of jealous people that don't like Lexus drivers. would not let the Glass shop off the hook.A engine is not going to act up that quick.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    Analyzing the oil is a good suggestion. In regards to the glass shop causing the sludge, I guess anything is possible, but it is a very long shot that this had anything to do with the glass shop. This is a 5-year old car, anyway, so not likely to create that much envy. I think the sludge can have the appearance of happening suddenly. It can be building up slowly, but then reach a point where it plugs the galleys and causes what appears to be a sudden failure. I would think the "check engine" light would have illuminated, but remember, this is a used car, so the used dealer or previous owner could have tampered with the light or maybe it just failed. Also, smoke from the exhaust is usually present, but it is winter-time, so this may have gone unnoticed.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Erinfaulk's LS430 sludge problem results from lousy or no maintenance at all--99.999% of sludge cases boil down to that!
    Or the Glass shop or used car dealer messed up the engine somehow--odds of which are slim to none!! At this stage the "who is responsible" is moot.
    The question now is "what is more cost effective": (1)Get the best deal on a new, good used,or rebuilt engine, or(2)Patch it up and dump it.
    I have no idea of blue book value on that car, so what one spends now has a lot to do with which decision to choose.
    If Erinfaulk has only owned the car for 6 mmonths and has proof of responsible maintenance during that time., I would strongly suggest going after the used car dealer for some responsibility for the cost of whatever the choice is.
  • I just bought a 98 LS400 with 50K miles on it. It drives well, except for one specific place. When I leave my office and start to drive up the entrance ramp to the freeway, it hesitates for a second or less, causing me to lurch forward inside the car, then picks up and drives normally.

    It feels like the transmission is letting go for a second, then moving into gear and all is well. I'll check rpm next time to make sure it is nto the engine.

    This has only happened in this one specific location to date. Otherwise it drives perfectly.

    Is this a known or common issue with these cars that I needn't be concerned about, or is it a sign of something starting to go wrong that should go to a mechanic ?
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    I saw your problem about sludge no the glass shop didn't cause it what caused it was not changing the oil. Another thing that I have found is some people only drive a car 1-3 miles a day and think it's ok to still change the oil at 3000 to 4000 miles or maybe as much as 1-2 years. when you drive a car a short distance daily and never get miles on it the water in the engine at night dosen't get burned off and it remains with the oil to make sludge. If you only dive to the store and back and never go on long trips such as 10-20 miles a week at one drive you will build sludge. The advice from people who know cars say at least once a week take your car out early on saturday avoid traffic and go out on the freeway and go at least 20-25 miles to burn off the water in your motor and this supposed to help keep down sludge on a weekly basis. Or change your oil every 3-4 months be sure to give your car a good run before changing oil to help clean the oil and get it hot to drain out easier. This also helps run the oil thru the oil filter and catch some of the sludge :sick: look at cars in the morning you will see water coming out the tail pipe it takes 5-8 miles to get it out.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Check your transmission fluid level. Even if it shows full, add about a pint - I'll bet your problem goes away.
  • "In November after taking it to a shop for glass work, my car couldnt even make it from the auto glass shop to my house. It was knocking badly and was slowing down on the highway, of course I pulled over and called the shop that it was at."

    I guess you never heard of sugar in the oil.
  • You would prefer a GM product to a Lexus? Are you out of your mind or just a moron? I would never go back to a so-called American made car again... That is right I said so called, where do you think GM builds their cars since Clinton signed the NAFTA agreement? Canada and Mexico, that is where... A friend bought a 2003 Dodge Ram, when he read the sticker it stated "Final Assembly Country was Mexico"… My father has a 2002 Cadillac DTS with only 39,000 miles on it, and it has been in and out of the service dept. every other month since he bought it, the latest problem was to have the celebrated “Cadillac NorthStar” engine totally replaced, thank god for extended warranties (less the deductible, of course)… Another friend has a 2002 Oldsmobile Aurora that cannot seem to spend more then 3 week’s in a row out of the service dept., those GM technicians still can’t seem to find the problem, but GM has no problem collecting that $100.00 warranty deductible every time that car rolls into service... More then half the GM and Ford lines are built in Canada or Mexico with Mexican and Japanese parts, so what is the difference... I have owned Buicks, Oldsmobile’s (GM’s cheaper version of a Buick that went under), Pontiacs, Cadillac’s, Fords, Mercury’s, Dodges, and Chryslers... I currently own three Lexus' a 1994 LS400, a 2001 LS430, & my wife’s 2005 RX330... My 94' has 160,000 miles on it and runs like its brand new; it still has the original shocks and struts on it... The only major problem I had with that car was the Alternator at 105,000 miles and the starter at 150,000 miles... I can’t think of a single GM vehicle that can hold up like that... My 01' has 38,000 on it and all I need is the Navigation upgrade, and it is under bumper-to-bumper warranty until 2010... My wife’s car was a service loaner with only 10,000 miles, and came with a bumper-to-bumper warranty good until 2011 or 100,000 miles, being a dealer car I knew it was maintained... Can't think of any American car with a warranty like that unless you paid top dollar for the warranty... Anytime you want to compare your Canadian, Mexican, Japanese, & whatever else mongoloid American car to my three Lexus' for cost, reliability, maintenance or whatever just let me know... Oh and by the way, the Japanese auto manufactures are now building some of their vehicles here in the U.S. and putting Americans back to work… The same Americans that GM, Ford, & Chrysler abandoned and put in the unemployment line when they closed the plants and moved production to Canada and Mexico for cheaper labor in order to bring in larger profits… I guess they followed GE’s lead… Complain to the government that the cost to produce in the U.S. is to much and that it can be produced cheaper somewhere else, okay they’re allowed to produce it cheaper elsewhere and the retail prices stay the same or go higher…
  • rdrrrdrr Posts: 20
    Reply to expoguy....The reason GM cars are produced in Canada is because of their build quality. They have won many awards. So they are not built in Canada because of cheap labor. What is killing GM, Ford and Chrylser is the cost of the pension and benifits paid to employees. The North American manufactures all made the mistake of giving in to union high demands. I believe the employees deserve a fair wage and benifits but there is a limit. They will now pay the price. I think Japaneese built cars are over rated they have there problems also, read other boards. Go to Mazda3 and Mazda5 forum here and see what problems they are having. But wait Ford does own about 30% of Mazda.
    I own a 1988 GMC pick up with 170,000 miles and not one problem.The engine, trans, rear end, bearings, carb, front end all original and never touched or worked on. Starts every time and idles smoothly and never let me down. Can't say the same for my 2005 Mazda3 with 10,000 miles. A/C sucks, squeaky brakes, wipers that don't clean the windshield properly(can't even get that right), automatic hard shift from 1 to 2, suspension groans, rough idle, headlights poor depth, many reports of stalling, hestitation, cutting out while driving, headlights not coming on, and a long TSB list for the 04 model year. Maybe a 05 Chevy Malibu might have been a better buy? or a Corolla or Civic?
  • molexmolex Posts: 12
  • What mileage can I expect from my 2002 LS430 before I need to replace the brake pads. Do mostly highway driving and am easy on the pedal.
  • gee35coupegee35coupe Posts: 3,475
    I also had a 2000 Chevy Silverado....Spent it's first 3 months I had it in the shop. New throttle body, brakes, paint, etc...Traded it in 8 months with 6000 miles and took a $5k hit in depreciation.

    Other hand...Bought a 2003 Civic SI for $16,200. It spent one day in the shop for a fuel tank sender problem at 24K and 2 months ago at 45K I got rid of it for $12.5K at Carmax. Now to be honest I got rid of it because some say there is a problem with the steering rack in some lowered SI's (which mine was) I got much more use out of my money with the Honda.

    My 1994 LS400 is solid as a tank at 127K. I'm sorry, I have bought over 30 cars in the last 12 years and my Silverado spent more time in the shop for non-maintenance repairs than all others combined. Considering most of those 30 cars were Hondas or Toyotas with over 100k, that's significant.

    Needless to say, I would find it hard to go GM again.
  • molexmolex Posts: 12
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    My opinion is, if you can afford the warranty upgrade, you can afford a repair. I wouldn't bother, just keep your LS up well, it'll be finel until at least 2010.
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    It's ok to run synthetic oil and mobil one is just great, I use the new 15000 mile mobil one and change it every 10,000 to 12,000 miles. If you drive lots of short distance miles change it every 8,000 miles. Remember to change your transmission oil every 25,000 miles and power steering at the same time. Only use the lexus trans oil due to special additives for smooth shifts. By the way if you plan to put a lot miles on your lexus it's common to see 300,000 to 400,000 miles on a lexus. Dont forget to change your radiator fluid every 2 years or if you use the newer type of antifreeze every 3-4 years. You take care of your lexus and it will take care of you!!!! ;)
  • molexmolex Posts: 12
    Thanks for the feedback guys. I plan on using fully synthetic and changing it every 5000 miles so I probably wont have any problems (knock on wood)Does anyone have the Ultra Pak Lex. HOw do I work the frig without having the ac on? If Im not mistaken it works with the ac according to the manual. I havent really played with it. The 430 is equipped with so many options that it takes time to get familiar with it. 6 months and still trying to figure stuff out.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I don't think you can run the fridge without the A/C on - that's how it's switched. Can't override it.
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