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Ls400 Starter Problem


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#1 Finnmck

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:00 PM

Hi, I havent been on this forum long but I've found it great for advice so hope somebody can give me some help. My trusty 125k Mk4 Lexus has just let me down for the first time in two years of ownership. Unfortunately its the dreaded starter motor...

Lexus have quoted 240 for a reconditioned starter which isnt too bad plus I reckon another 100 for gaskets and coolant as I believe part of the water system needs pulling apart. I have LPG fitted so will have to deal with all that as the intake manifold has to come off for access.

Ive looked online and it seems that anyone who has ever replaced theirs have sworn never to do it again. So as I cant afford to pay someone to do it Im going to attempt this myself. I'm reasonably competant at most jobs on the car but would like to hear if anybody on here as done it and have they any advice?

Thanks

Finnmck

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#2 ambermarine

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:55 PM

Hi, I havent been on this forum long but I've found it great for advice so hope somebody can give me some help. My trusty 125k Mk4 Lexus has just let me down for the first time in two years of ownership. Unfortunately its the dreaded starter motor...

Lexus have quoted 240 for a reconditioned starter which isnt too bad plus I reckon another 100 for gaskets and coolant as I believe part of the water system needs pulling apart. I have LPG fitted so will have to deal with all that as the intake manifold has to come off for access.

Ive looked online and it seems that anyone who has ever replaced theirs have sworn never to do it again. So as I cant afford to pay someone to do it Im going to attempt this myself. I'm reasonably competant at most jobs on the car but would like to hear if anybody on here as done it and have they any advice?

Thanks

Finnmck

I would check out the possibility of getting someone who as a sound technical ability with no disrespect to you this job is very demanding and involves a lot of careful dismantling and reassembling of the top of the engine,and the replacement of gaskets that will set you back at least 150 from Lexus.The removal of the Starter motor is very difficult when you eventually get to it.Before you go and buy a starter motor the possibility exists that it may only be the starter solenoid contacts which need replacing which at most will be a tenth of the 240 you have been quoted and a working motor can be had on ebay for 50 .If it is the solenoid contacts these can be replaced without taking the starter off the vehicle so I would not purchase anything until you identify the cause of the failure.
There is a tutorial on One of the US Lexus club forums are just Google Ls400 starter replacement.

#3 cleverdick

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 11:01 AM

Sorry, don't wish to sound patronizing, but are you 100% sure the battery is holding a good charge? Or even getting charged properly? Sounds obvious, but of course I don't know your reasons for saying it's the starter itself.

I would not anticipate this kind of trouble after only 125k miles. 225k, perhaps!

I changed my HT leads and plugs recently, and even that was enough dismatling for one day!

Good luck anyway...

#4 steve2006

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 11:03 AM

It is a major project be prepared for a 10 hour stint of back breaking under bonnet activity!

I did mine a few years ago and actually repaired my original starter as mentioned above, the problem lies with the copper contacts within the starter motor wearing out over time due to the high current draw and the consequent arcing/sparking. There is also a solenoid plunger which becomes pitted again for the same reason.
There is a company called ClickerFix which supplies the complete kit for around £20.00 delivered and fiting takes around 30 minutes.

As you are already aware the whole intake manifold has to be removed which in turn means the fuel system has to be disconnected and this is just to get to the starter motor.
There is very little room to get to the starter mounting bolts but mine came out fairly easily once cracked.

There is as mentioned a tutorial on www.lexls.com for the earlier model which may help, I would have a look at this 1st before making the DIY decision.

For some reason photobucket is playing up at the moment but I will post some pictures up of mine when I can.

After removing all this!

Posted Image

At last we can see the starter motor!

Posted Image

One of the contacts

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The solenoid plunger

Posted Image

#5 Finnmck

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 10:58 PM

Thanks for the replies, especially Steve for taking the time to post the pictures. Unfortunately I dont really have a choice about doing the job as I cant really afford to pay someone to do it at the minute.

Its strange how it happened, I havent had any problems with the starter up to now. Last week I drove 350 up to Scotland ( perfect car for the journey!), the next morning I tried to start the car and it sounded like the starter was stuck on so I switched the car off. I left the car until I was due to travel home then called the AA.

The bloke used his booster pack and the car started although sounded very laboured. He checked the battery and it was charging fine but the starter was drawing alot of current when cranking. It wasnt stuck this time so he followed me to the garage to fill up allowing me to do the journey in one go. Unfortunately it wouldnt start after filling up so he tried the booster pack, the starter was again very slow. He tried to add a further battery to give it more juice which resulted in smoke billowing from under the intake manifold, so I can presume there may be damage to the starter cables too. Anyway it took 12 hrs to get home changing AA lorries 3 times which was a bit of a pain, although the driver said it would have cost nearly 700 if I hadnt had cover- money well spent.

Steve, Did you have to remove the water bridge above the starter to gain access to the bolts? Also which gaskets did you replace and did you need any special tools from the normal to complete the job? Thanks again for your comments, just gotta get myself psyched up for starting the job on Saturday...

#6 steve2006

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 12:57 PM

Yes the rear water bridge had to be removed,I had just started to remove the nuts when the picture was taken.
Once you have removed the nuts you will find it won't lift off all the way due to the black loom plastic trunking above it.I removed the trunking fixing bolts to allow move room but it was still quite a struggle.
I didn't need any special tools but as I said removing the starter mounting bolts is fiddly as there is very little room between them and the rear bulkhead and you are only able to turn them a fraction at a time.
Some people have actually cut slots in the bolt ends so once slack they can be fully removed with a screwdriver.
If I remember correctly I replaced the intake manifold gaskets (2) the plenum chamber gaskets (4) the rear water bridge gaskets (2)the IACV gasket and the throttle body gasket.
Mine has no EGR fitted so made life a little easier.
As you see on the picture stuff some rag or kitchen roll down the intakes so you don't lose anything down there.
If you look at the picture you can see 2 plugs one with 2R on it,these are the two knock sensors be careful when removing the starter not to damage these.
By the sound of it your starter has other problems so if in doubt fit a recon unit the last thing you want to do is get the engine back together and still have problems,mine was doing the click click so I was confident the contact kit would sort it out.I also connected the repaired starter to a battery to check its operation before refitting.
If you were more local I would have offered to give you a hand but if you get stuck PM me your phone number and I will try and help that way.

Just found you this from when I did mine nearly 3 years ago.

There will be differences in part numbers of course and some one mentions on the series 4 the manifold and plenum chamber can be removed as one piece (this should reduce the required gasket count),when it comes to the LPG system I can't help but the injectors should be mounted on the manifold,it's just a matter of disconnecting the wiring and gas piping I would think.
I took loads of photos when doing mine so I had a reference when I got to the "where does that bolt go?" stage.
http://www.lexusowne...=1

#7 TigerFish

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 01:13 PM

There is a link in my signature to a tutorial I did for changing the contacts and plunger on the starter. It was for a GS300, but the starters are the same.

#8 Scribe

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 03:56 PM

If it's of any help, when I had the dreaded starter motor problem, it would just go click instead of starting the engine (like it does when the battery's flat). At first, trying again once or twice would work, but over time I had to try more and more times before it would start. Eventually it just clicked and nothing else happened. The problem, as Steve says, is burnt out contacts and plunger in the starter motor which had to be replaced. Starting wasn't slow and laboured, like you say yours was - it would either click or it would start.

#9 M.IQBAL

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:50 PM

hi

Scribe thats exactly what i thought, the symptoms described above sound more like a battery/alternator issue.

Just a matter interest what was the mileage on your car when you got this problem - Although mine is on low miles, i do alot of start stop driving - i wonder wether this problem might develop sooner on mine?

regards

miq

#10 ROYT

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 06:01 PM

hi Steve 2006,in your post you said some people cut slots in the end of the starter bolts
to aid removal of the starter,[I was one of them!].
This should read to aid refitting the bolts, not removeing them!
After removal if the bolts are slotted at the threaded end and are clean they can be 'wound in'
with a thin screwdriver.
This saved me about 2 hours.
Also a longer than normal spanner is a graet help as ' things are in your way with anormal one!
cheers

#11 steve2006

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 07:19 PM

hi Steve 2006,in your post you said some people cut slots in the end of the starter bolts
to aid removal of the starter,[I was one of them!].
This should read to aid refitting the bolts, not removeing them!
After removal if the bolts are slotted at the threaded end and are clean they can be 'wound in'
with a thin screwdriver.
This saved me about 2 hours.
Also a longer than normal spanner is a graet help as ' things are in your way with anormal one!
cheers


Ah ah I nearly got it right,thinking about it the bolts are flush with the engine casting when fully inserted so cutting slots would prove difficult before removal.
Finnmck also mentioned there was smoke coming from the intake area during a jump start,so although there was plenty of battery current available and being drawn by the starter it was still not enough to crank the engine,this would point more towards shorted windings in the starter motor either the amature or field coils.It sounds like a little more than the contact/plunger failure which as we know gives intermittent problems to begin with and complete failure if left unrepaired.

#12 Finnmck

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 07:41 PM

The AA bloke checked the battery and alternator and both were OK. He did say it was drawing alot more current than normal while cranking though. I suppose I do do quite alot of short journeys so the starter would get used more than most.

I'm going to buy the reconditioned starter from Lexus along with new gaskets as I dont want to do the job again and cant risk it. I actually have a 1999 Mk4 LS400 breaker that only has 30k on it( alot of body damage) but it would mean doing the job twice to get the starter off it- not sure I can go through this job twice.

I have planned to keep the car for a long time as I have never had a car that drives so smoothly, there really is nothing out there as good for the money. Want an LS460 next but it will be along time before they will be in my price range!

Finnmck

#13 ambermarine

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 10:57 AM

The AA bloke checked the battery and alternator and both were OK. He did say it was drawing alot more current than normal while cranking though. I suppose I do do quite alot of short journeys so the starter would get used more than most.

I'm going to buy the reconditioned starter from Lexus along with new gaskets as I dont want to do the job again and cant risk it. I actually have a 1999 Mk4 LS400 breaker that only has 30k on it( alot of body damage) but it would mean doing the job twice to get the starter off it- not sure I can go through this job twice.

I have planned to keep the car for a long time as I have never had a car that drives so smoothly, there really is nothing out there as good for the money. Want an LS460 next but it will be along time before they will be in my price range!

Finnmck

Hi FINMCK
I was interested to see you had a virtually new engine,It would save you a small fortune in parts if you just put the engine from your breaker in your car.
It might sound radical but its a lot less prone to problems after the rebuilding of your present engine.I reckon it would take a good mechanic the same time to strip out the breaker and strip out your existing engine as it would to take apart the existing engine and rebuild.
I would seriously consider looking for some one who will give you a price for the whole job and negotiate a discount for your input.
Leave the respective gearboxes on their engines, that way you won't get any issues with the ECU as you should swap them over as well.

#14 Chris Skelton

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 05:59 PM

Ain't life crazy?!!
Better/easier to get a new engine than a new starter!

#15 Finnmck

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 06:13 PM

Very true! I had thought about that but the intake manifold would have to be swapped anyway as its set up for running on LPG, so not really much of an advantage.

Cheers,

Finnmck

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