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Lexus LS: Problems & Solutions



  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    First, to see if the basic functionality is correct manually disable, turn off, the A/C compressor. Possibly instantly but certainly within minutes, three at the most, the system should automatically switch to fresh airflow.

    If that works then return to automatic mode and reduce the smog sensor sensitivity to minimum and see if it then selects fresh.

    If it does go into fresh mode then you may have an overly sensitive or failed smog sensor element. If it doesn't switch to fresh in the lowest sensitivity setting then it likely needs dealer attention.


    Keep in mind that these systems operate the A/C compressor all year around unless the OAT drops to or near the freezing level. If it is COLD outside but not yet down to that level the system may be staying in the recirculate position in order to provide a higher level of dehumidification capability via the use of the A/C.

    Newer systems have a humidity sensor and if the humidity level can be controlled via the A/C then it is more economical to use the recirculate mode continuously.
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    "use the recirculate mode continuously."
    I seem to remember the dealer telling me about some complaints of an odd smell coming thru the A/C ducts on some Lexus models. He told me that they thot it was caused by the excessive humidity caused by leaving the A/C in "recirculate mode continuously". He recommended to operate the A/C in the fresh air mode to dry out the A/C ducts and A/C box. Of course this would only work when the outside air is fairly dry.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Your dealer is an idiot of the first magnitude!

    So what's new...

    See the EED, electronic evaporator dryer, at

    Good explanation of the dirty gym socks odor and a possible solution.
  • aggie76aggie76 Posts: 266
    Happened to have to go near dealership today so stopped in and discussed with head tech. He, nor dealership, had seen this issue so they contacted Lexus Tech line. After much discussion it is a failed smog sensor to blame and one is being shipped from somewhere in the South. I discussed my practice of always running it in Auto mode and both the tech & Tech Line folks had no issue or concern with doing it. Just hate having to make another trip down to the dealer to get it fixed. Too many little issues with this LS, much more than I had with my GS but at least Lexus service comes through.

    Thanks much for your suggestions - tried them all and really appreciated the ideas.
  • lexkinglexking Posts: 10
    I ended up running a pair of wires to the compressor to open up the clutch circuit with a switch under the dash. Why? because when the outside temp is in the 40 to 50 range I didnt want to run the compressor but use the smog sensing part of the system. Now I can run in Auto mode with the compressor off and when it gets warmer turn the compressor on. Saves gas and power.
  • raopraop Posts: 2

    I have 1999 Lexus LS 400. I have similar problem starting my car. It does not start (it runs OK once it started) right away. This problem started about 3-4 months back and I put a new battery. Problem still happens once every couple of weeks. After trying 10 times or so, it starts. Independent mechanic near my home says it could be starter problem (guessing) and asking for about $450 where as dealer (he is also guessing it is a starter problem) is asking for around $1200.

    Any suggestions? I am not sure it is really a starter problem.

    Thanks for your help...
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Engine turns over but doesn't start.....?????
  • slexy1slexy1 Posts: 38
    I have a 1990 LS 400 and a 2001 LS 430, and I have found that going to the dealer is not only a waste of my time, but a lot more expensive than going to an independent Lexus service shop that is owned by former "ASE" Master Mechanics who have been treated badly by the dealer they used to work for.

    My question is: Who has found the same very positive experience going to an independent Lexus service shop like I certainly have?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Same is true of Porsche independent shops. But the best Lexus independent shop seems to be in my garage at home. No serious enough failures in the Lexus to require going elsewhere.
  • slexy1slexy1 Posts: 38
    Totally agree, wwest, if you know what you are doing (I'm sure you do) in every eventuality, as the Lexus gets older.

    I just love the "average cost of ownership" over the long lifetime of ownership that I'm striving for.

    Frankly, I believe my 1990 LS 400 will start to go up in value in 4 years from now. Then, the overall average yearly cost of ownership will be even lower than it is now! With the new more firm suspension system I put in it, I am really enjoying it. It is almost like my 2001 EuroSport LS 430.

    I just love the fact that I have a Nacamichi stereo (can't get that brand anymore) in it, and an air conditioning system that has real freon in it, which I believe is about 10% to 15% cooler than the new refrigerants.
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    Hi: Others and I covered almost all the situations which would arise on a difficult or no start scenario in which the starter motor was at fault . If you follow the posts on that one , it should either point to or rule out the starter . When you say it won't start do you mean the engine doesn't turn over or the engine turns over and does not start . Need a little more detail of what you are hearing and observing ?
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    I have found a couple of guys here in Orange County Southern CA called Vtech in Lake forest just behind the car dealers where the 405 and 5 freeways meet. They did my timing belt water pump and all necessary parts and the car have been perfect since. I do a lot of my own service work and the big stuff I leave to Vtech. These two guys Jeff and Jim are Ace certified and all my friends rave about the service they give them. There are several good independent service shop across the country just look at the shop and if it's clean and you see several lexus's there you have found a good one. ;)
  • slexy1slexy1 Posts: 38
    I personally have had great "lower cost" with "quality, clean work" experience with Pratt Automotive ( 817-249-0800) in the Fort Worth area of Texas, and Davenport Motor Company (972-612-3377) in the Dallas area of Texas.

    These Lexus Service & Repair independents were started by former Master Lexus Mechanics, and are sorely needed in the DFW, Texas area, in my opinion. Daniel Davenport and Jerry Pratt=(Jerry has 16 years Lexus experience) both let you go out by your car and get an education, while watching and talking to the mechanics as they work on your car. For me, that's a "value added" experience.
  • raopraop Posts: 2
    I have to click few times before it starts(it happens once evry 2 weeks or so). I got a friend who is a mechanic and he double checked and he said it is a starter problem. He said he could replace it for 40% of Dealer's price. Hopefully it will work once he does it.

    Thanks for all your help.

  • Bummer. I used to own a 01 Toyota Avalon. Shortly after purchasing it, I found out about the Toyota sludging problem with their V6's. I didn't know that there was such a problem with the V8's also. Did you buy the car from a Lexus dealer as a certified vehicle? If you had, you probably would qualify for a better deal than Lexus paying half. I still think that you can get a better deal than that. Are they offering to pay half on a factory rebuilt engine or are they talking about you getting the engine anywhere and they will pick up half the tab? It makes a large difference because Lexus is going to overprice the engine so that when you pay your "half" you are really paying for the whole thing. I would shop around some reputable engine rebuilders in the area just for chuckles to see how much a rebuilt engine can really cost. It will probably be half of what the Lexus dealer wants; get the picture. Good luck!
  • This car has a bad reputation for eating starters. And the starter is mounted internally in the engine. I have owned over 40 cars in my young life and this is the fist one that I have ever seen which had the starter inside the engine. The actual cost of a rebuilt starter from a parts house is about $150; the gasket set from the dealer runs about $40; and figure a gallon of anti-freeze (oops, coolant) which you will spill during the surgery. And it is surgery. My son replaced mine and it took FOUR HOURS. Four hours!!! In the "old days" it would take about an hour tops to replace a starter because it was outside of the engine don't you know. I would not go to the dealer for this or for any other job for that matter. They will gouge you big time. Get a local independent, especially a shop that specialized in starters/alternators, etc. They'll probably do it for around $700. And if you don't know how to do it yourself, after you see what it involves you will realize why you had to shell out that much money for this MAJOR surgery. I had purchased the factory manual for the car which were a big help in doing this job. You will have to get it done sooner or later; preferably sooner. You will soon realize that it will become more and more persistent and you will find yourself in a bad situation with a car that just won't start. Better to get it done now when you can drive it to the shop for the repair. Good luck!@!
  • lexkinglexking Posts: 10
    " This car has a bad reputation for eating starters "

    You havent got clue, making statments like that shows it.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    No Japanese car is easy to work on - fortunately they don't need it a lot, but when they do, it's gonna cost ya.

    The Cadillac Northstar engine also has the starter inside the engine - and it's in the engine valley, under the intake manifold. Damn near an engine rebuild by the time you pull all the crap off the top to get to it. Not any better design.
  • etaoetao Posts: 1
    Hi, My 1997 LS 400 (115K miles) develop same problem couple months ago. It seems to happen especially when it is cold. Have you solve the problem, how much did it cost you?

  • lieu202lieu202 Posts: 1
    I have the same problem, as you have described. Could you please let me know the outcome of your request? Did Lexus
    fix the defect and what were the expenses? Thanks very much.
  • hyperopthyperopt Posts: 55
    The starter is not located internally within the engine, but rather externally. It just take lots of work to get to it. From a designer point of view, the current starter location is a great place to occupy unused space to save space, and I can see why Lexus choose that location and I have no reason to think Lexus would move the starter to a different location. From a repair shop point of view, it is great place to work on since more work = more money. From a consumer point of view, it's just hell.
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    I got quoted $1200-1400 dollars for a starter today in Orange County and I need some shims to quiet my valve train to replace 2 to 4 shims is $600.00 to $700.00 from the lexus dealer on a 91 lexus LS400. Speak about lexus being expensive to repair a man today paid $4000.00 to repair his air condition and change it to the new freon 134 and another chap had to pay $10,000.00 for a new engine for his 98 lexus he burned up by not pulling over when his water temp gauge went into the red. But in the long run I have found that the Lexus is really not much more to keep up than other cars on the road today. It's said there is no car built like a Lexus anywhere in the world today bar none. ;)
  • I just bought a 96 LS and I have noticed the driver's seat cushion seems to 'bounce' slightly when I go over a large bump. Is this a defect? If so an expensive one?

    Also, do Ceramic brake pads last longer than the OEM's?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Yeah, that's not normal for the seat.

    Also, I think ceramics last well, but may not work to specs with your rotors.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I often wonder if anyone looking for long-lived brake pads might have a secret death wish.

    Personally I look for brake pads that EAT rotors for lunch and vice versa.

    Ever think about those ads for lifetime brake pads might be somewhat self full-filling..??
  • wwest- They came with the car (I just bought it) and I don't care for the 'feel'....

    Funny remarks though... :)

    Any easy fix to my bouncy seat??????
  • chendchend Posts: 13
    I own a 99 LS 400 and live in Central New Jersey. Does anyone know of a good Lexus shop run by former Lexus
    mechanics in CENTRAL NJ. My Front right suspension is fine on most surfaces. But when I hit a small pot hole or a raised surface [ eg: driveway entrace where the driveway is abt an inch or more raised ] there is a THUD and it feels like the shocks have no effect at all. I had my mechanic check and he says everything in the suspension is snug and tight. Otherwise the ride is super. Thanks for your feedback. :)
  • lexkinglexking Posts: 10
    My Front right suspension is fine on most surfaces. But when I hit a small pot hole or a raised surface [ eg: driveway entrace where the driveway is abt an inch or more raised ] there is a THUD and it feels like the shocks have no effect at all. I had my mechanic check and he says everything in the suspension is snug and tight. Otherwise the ride is super. Thanks for your feedback."

    You need new Strut bars, they cannot be checked, every 80K to 90K they must be replaced in your generation of Lexus.
    If backing up then moving forward and applying the brakes make a thud this confirms the Strut Bars are bad.
  • chendchend Posts: 13
    Lexking - Thanks for your reply. I went to look for this "strut bar" at mant Lexus parts sites and I can not find it. I do see the following parts:
    (1) Strut mount
    (2) Strut rod bushing
    Could you help me by giving the name as Lexus would list it
    THANKS :)
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