Ben01

GS430 aka Silver Tractor

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GS430 SE 2002 I bought like month ago, it is my third lexus, and another bargain barge in my life. And it is damn good and fast barge 😉

Typically I prefer as daily car any gasoline/LPG cheap old executive saloon about 200HP (so our first and second GS300s fit perfectly). I am familiar with V8 (we had once american V8 and it was a lot of fun, but not very practical nor cheap). In fact, I tried to convince some pal like year ago the V8 is absolutely pointless as daily commuter, but somehow here we are... because nothing could replace fun and effortless push and sound of V8. OK, maybe V12 could.

Some other background - I am DIY and "self-sustainable" dude, with no respect for any mass production stuff, even from Lexus. I admire Lexus quality, engineering, etc. I love Japanese culture and way of life, but if we talk about cars I modify and chop-shop anything I found annoying or anything I like to improve (or "improve"). And in fact, it is major reason I like oldie but goldie cars – I have something to do in my boring life. So, Lexus purists, be warned, possible heavy blasphemy ahead.

After a month and all this work below, I am still very happy with the car and it was surprisingly good idea to jump from GS300 to GS430. I have much “more” for such a small money, and I have a lot of fun to ride and to mess with. Shockingly commuting is one of the best part of my day (I ride to work 22 miles one way). I am very happy I cancelled plans for “summer toy” (like MX-5 or MR2 or SLK) or DIY motorhome.

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To the point - GS430 SE sourced from Pakistani London (mostly Welsh pedigree) has long MOT, starts, drives, brakes, it was easy drive from London to Glasgow. She was cheap lady for reasons: painting in epic tragedy, gasoline in minor drama; exhaust in classic choir, no, classic roar; LPG in tragic-comedy. Bright point: VSC lamp (but ABS lamp is off and it works). And some marks and dents here and there, age relative.

1) Painting - car was resprayed by some drunken painters party, or looks like this. Not once, but a few times. There is a lot "dusting" and discolorations, some peeling. I don't care at the moment, we will wrap the car in the future maybe, keyword "maybe".

2) Gasoline works harsh a bit - ECU set error on one of knock sensors and minor error on cat. Sensors are cheap, replacement is easy BUT access to sensors under manifold inside V8's V is mental, so for now - I wired the broken sensor input to good one. The ECU is happy, engine is happy, everybody is happier. Error on cat is probably exhaust relative, so:

3) Exhaust - from the night of living welders. But on second thought and review not very bad, nothing critical or drops now, couple of very minor leaks, and only one real blow: flange after cat is in bad shape and sealing mostly gone. Results - epic roar, possible reason for ECU error (leak between O2 probes), and no easy way to fix it. Because Mad Welder cut out other side flange and welded some pipe instead, so big Y after cats is fixed on one arm and no way to replace damaged sealing without rebuild half of exhaust. I put some steel wool with exhaust’s glue into gap of flange, and next pressed all with solid steel band, and is much quiet now. We will see, how long this patch stands, week or year, and if it cancels cat error on ECU. BTW when do you recognize your exhaust is really holed, not leak? When random boys from random, bold and badly customized golf VR6 in front of you gave you thumbs up…

4) LPG system from low shelf, Polish parts (probably any Welsh-Polish LPG workshop, I have seen couple of them in the net). Harsh, hesitates, kick on high revs and under high torque; barely driveable. Before I receive interface for LPG ECU, I checked all vacuum pipes etc. There are plenty of them around V8 and a lot of “fun” to dig into them. I found one pipe loose on stub, one of PVC stiff on age and oil and loose, and one with crack on elbow (it was critical, vacuum for LPG evaporator). After sorted them LPG was much better. With LPG interface – no errors, no drama, I did some fine tuning, nothing critical. But car was still hesitated on high demand, like press the pedal to metal up hill. I ride a bit with LPG monitoring online, and I have literally LOL when I have seen numbers – LPG pressure under heavy load drops faster than Chernobyl cooling system, like bullet train dropped from cliff. So, two options, evaporator too small, or any “orifice” or thin pipe before evaporator. After some consultancy – OMVL evaporator somebody put in the car is good (I used them once or twice last decade), but very experienced friend claims it could reach a range of 280-300HP only on Italian papers. So, to really fix LPG, I need bigger evaporator (or two of them). It is not easy to fit this next to V8 and people wants money for them. So, I stay for the moment with a little hesitated LPG on heavy load, like hard overtake uphill. For normal ride, even motorway overtake, it is fine. But this subject stays on “to do” list.

Other minor problem found – oily differential. Not so much oil, but it was nasty surprise, I never see lexus differential in oil; honestly, I did not see oily differential last 15 years in more than 10 cars. It looks non critical, but on “to look at it carefully” list.

VSC off don’t bother me, if ABS works, I’m fine.

Three of five tires had some problems (cut, bubble, and spare wheel nicknamed “hedgehog”, with so many nails). Normally I put some part worn tyres, but I had no time to look for, 235mm tyres are not very popular size, and GS deserves any gift, so I put four new tyres, some unknown China-made summer-type stuff. I prefer something like Nokians all-weather or similar level, but my wallet said “are you kiddin me?”. I was very pessimistic about those new tyres, but they surprised me positively. I expected no grip, the noise and harsh ride. I have normal ride, normal grip and normal noise level, so, for half of price of Nokian, Continental or Michelin I am happy, for now.

Some other minor jobs and modifications: new licence plates; I tinted a bit rear lamps (I like them very much compare to pre-lifting ones, but originally they are too bright against silver for my taste), I put clear side indicators and 6 sensor parking help (“standard” set I put in many cars - 4 rear, 2 front and small LED panel). I bought some rear camera with nice folded screen, but I did not figure out any good spot for screen on dash and not to ruin the feeling of “lexury” and I don’t like to drill and mess with trunk lid for camera and cable.

And some “spit and polish” jobs: front lamps in bad shape and it looks like somebody spray them with sort of protector or varnish, so a lot of polishing, and I could still spend a few hours on them. General washing of beige carpets (they were really dirty) mostly successful, but I could spend couple more days to make interior really clean. Some tip painting on worst dents on body and bumper.

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Some points to think about – to do something with grinded rims, probably some quick cheap paint, as I have no will nor money for pro refurbish, and no time nor will for wrapping wheels myself. And golden badges of this GS430 annoy me, it is “not my kind of porn” definitely. If they annoy me enough there will be some drastic moves – rip them off, paint them silver, or else.

After 2000 miles or so over Scottish potholes the suspension knocks for attention. No big drama, I found one front upper arm gone and possible stab links. Some parts ordered, it will be this weekend job I think.

Possible next moves, not simple maintenance: LPG evaporator area and bad paint solution (wrapping probably). Some work on audio is possible, like any player connection and some speakers rebuild.

Some extension on audio: I am a bit music and audio freak. Car has standard Pioneer set. I could live with Pioneer amplifier, but I don’t like too much Pioneer’s speakers, especially 15yr old. I don’t like so-called Mark Levinson amps and speakers (in my world: Harman-Kardon), so upgrade to MK is not an option. What is an option: if I’ll find a bag of coins, I would swap main or all speakers to good stuff I like, like Scanspeak. Of course, full set for GS from top level of Scanspeak (or similar) could easily cost twice a car value, but they have some slightly cheaper pieces too. Most important question, except cost of good speakers, if I want to mess with boxes and rebuild all doors etc. (it is a lot of design, craft and tuning), or simple bolt off – bolt on some speakers.

(Sorry for long post, I like to write, even if I have no clou about grammar)

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I forgot to mention - in the beginning I found one broken device, shame on you Lexus! I don't get it, how you call yourself premium if in 16yr old car the bulb for ashtray is off. And lumbar support does not work in driver seat, I think, but again and again I forgot to test it properly.

More serious, I just back home after 3h in GS, I built in some mp3 player, found in the bottom of the drawer. It's cheap stuff, lacks of any decent navigation, but it works good enough (and it combines all: AUX, BT, SD card, USB and radio). I put the same in first GS and I dont get now why I did not install this spare one in second GS. And speakers subject is cancelled now - I know myself, with mp3 player on board I am too lazy to touch CD changer ever again and it is no point for any upgrade of the system if source is this kind of device.

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The vsc lamp may have been triggered if a cheap code reader has been used on the car. The link below has the details on how to try and reset the lamp

https://www.lexusownersclub.co.uk/forum/topic/76133-2004-gs300-vsc-and-vsc-off-lights-on/

For the knock sensor, although the inlet manifold needs to come off, if you are good at diy, it is actually a pretty easy job. An hour or so to remove, less to put back. I can send you a pdf of the procedure if it helps. I’d be careful with a work around, some pretty serious damage can result if the car doesn’t pick up “pinking” when it should. Especially if you are a spirited driver.


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p.s. if you do take the inlet manifold off to do the knock sensor, it is well worth get a refurb kit for the starter motor and doing that while you have access.


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Thank you for advice about starter, I missed this point.

I have seen some tutorials about manifold jobs, like "move up a bit at angle" etc. and probably I could handle this easy. But I am fine with "hack" and connection to one sensor at the moment; the risk is minimal in my mind. I need to fix couple of other things first. BTW trust me, "kick" on low pressure LPG when hi output looks much more dangerous at the moment than any knock sensor issue.

I tried "hard reset" for VSC lamps weeks ago and it did not work, BUT I forgot to mention, after sealing exhaust and two days of daily driving, I have zero errors at OBD2 today. So maybe it is worth to try one more time this paperclip reset, but not tonight.

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I did not hard reset lamps yet, I did not risk to touch OBD and any wires in my morning zombie mode. But I noticed VSC lamps off on key on and even engine running, and they ON when car moves. I have a feeling they were steady ON before, but I don't bet my arm on this. But it does not bother me too much at the moment, I have a lot of nice black tape to cover them, if they annoy me more.

Another minor thing I forgot to mention and reflection in other car on my way work remember me - car came with aftermarket white LED lamps for rear licence plate, I had to fix one. And I decided to complete things around and I put white LED in front, ugly frogface looks suprisingly nice with HIDs and LEDs.

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I used the Philips Xtreme LED’s in all my GS’s, they looked excellent and great temperature match to the HID’s.


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Honestly, I grabbed first decent LEDs I passed at Halfords when I picked up toyota/lexus spray bottle. It was not Halfords own brand, but other & "better" (Phillips? Bosch?), I did not care and bin box&package immediately. But by accident they match HIDs nice too. But you right, I should care more and check before buy, it could be nasty suprise. (Like in previous GS, I refurbished A/C and audio lite with white LEDs and even tried to match them with gauges; in theory should be fine, in practice they were much warmer and result annoyed me for months. But I have no will nor time for second try, and next - I am simple monkey, used to anything).

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I just back home from GS - very nice weather, nice area, and just me, GS and clickety front upper arm. Easy job done, only one [censored] detail on the way - aftermarket arm was pretty good this time, I am sort of good at this sport (this was my third or fourth lexi upper arm job), but: some cheap moron delivery with the arm very very VERY low cost crone nut. I even thought a moment to put old one back, becouse new shiny was a little too short to proper lock it, but finally, meh, new one is the better one. O'rly? The [censored] nut lost a thread before I said "but I used one hand only and short spanner". And annoingly it has left enough thread to make impossible to unscrew it... So I have to bring extension, dremel, etc. and have to cut this shiny p-o-s, and use old nut instead. But it is done, tomorrow we will heard what piece is clicking next.

Another forgotten point done before: antenna "upgraded" as wire on pillar A and over the door (stick in this GS is aftermarket and broken. BTW even is they works, I always disconnect this annoying miracle of '90 technology).

Maybe I should make a real list what I did last mont (I bougth the car like 3rd June?), because it looks a bit insane... On the other hand, it is sort-of typical for me, I jump into new car maintenance and "upgrades" like Coyote from cliff, and next I have nothing to do for months, only normal maintenance, and next I am bored, and next I have to buy another/next car, and again...

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Sorry for bad grammar in last post even for my low standards, I am probably too tired after this day (week? month? decade!) to write anything in any language, not only English.

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Weather was great afternoon, so I have spent a few hours with GS.

I have ripped golden badges, they were too "pimp-my-ride" for me. It was not easy, but result is better than I expected; some scars left after "Lexus" badge mostly, logo and "GS430" gone nice. Front logo just sprayed with brightest silver I found on my shelf.

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I probably stay without badges for now, as there is some option we will wrap the car. On the other hand I like "sleepers", some people in the back will be suprised more. Ten years ago I would put badges like "Fiesta - logo BMW - TDI (from VW)", but I grew up. A bit.

Other stuff - the ECU shows no error all time, it is nice. I just tried the paperclip reset of VCS lamps, and maybe it works, orange gone, even if I drive forward and back in parkin yard. We will see on the road.

I forgot this cheap mp3 player came with useful remote (with 4 buttons on panel there is barely any navigation for songs/albums), but there is somehow difficult to use remote if receiver is in glovebox. It was same in first GS, but I am stupid and "my memory is like exotic butterfly - colourful, flies here and there and almost extinct". So, this time I ripped the IR receiver from player, and tried to mount it in the clock panel, next to "passenger belt" lamp is empty section (at least in my car, could be any options or lamp in this space, left from "passenger" lamp and clock?). A lot of tiny pieces and trying don't break anything. In theory, everything connected and in place, but IR does not work at the moment. There is a few possibilities, and it will be a a lot of "fun" to disasemble all this and to try again.

Other forgotten minor stuff last month - I refurbished keys, car came with one half-broken subkey and one broken key. It was easy - ebay, cut, done.

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Good news, VSC lamps off for ride (it feels like engine is smoother too? or maybe it is suggestion or coincidence, eg colder morning). Bad news, passenger side suspension is quiet now with new upper arm, but I hear something (quiet but something) on driver side. Old barges selling point: "Never boring!".

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very nice the GS430's had one in British racing green with the cream interior...very powerful and smooth.. just seeing yours makes me miss mine... had to sell it due to my circumstance changing but will def be back in another GS once i am in the position to..

 

@TigerFish hows your AMG? besides power howsdoes it fare when compared to the GS430 in other aspects? 

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1 hour ago, noby76 said:

will def be back in another GS once i am in the position to

Thank you for comments. After all this job the car is in the mechanical shape I could say: I change my scrappy barges every year or so, but some of them were superior to another and stays with us much longer, like decade sometimes. And GS430 looks like this case, not like my typical "dig it, use it, bin it" car.

After reset of VSC lamps car is much smoother and nicer overall, even on LPG in hi demand moments. It suggests even with no error codes on ECU, "state of mind" with "VSC lamps on" significantly marks sort-of half-limp mode, and probably much too rich injection on high demand (this is my theory based on how LPG ECU following gasoline ECU and reacts before and now, and how strange "limp modes" designers put into ECUs of many brands and models I owned).

About "no logo" approach - I did not fully realize I have in fact proper "sleeper" or "Q-car" now (a bit of power, common boring silver saloon, "no logo", old plates, awful paint), until some boys in any (hot?)hatches yesterday were first suprised, next desperate to see my rear and to look "what the hell just flies by us".They had no chance. :no2:

On the other news, I just realize how cheap is rims refurbishing in the area, but I have no idea yet how to organize logistic for this, I have no other car at hand at the moment. Food for thought.

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I just back from Battle of Sensor, won by me a.k.a second attempt to install remote sensor for mp3 player on the top of dash, next to clock/"passenger belt" lamp. Three comments: 1) it works very fine and as planned, the remote works from all cabin, sensor is absolutely no intrusive behind glossy clock front 2) main problem was [censored] RoHS no-lead tin, cracking on tiny wires;  when I found a bit of old-skull radioactive russian leaded heavy duty tin at the bottom of the drawer, everything was immediately easier 3) nothing more fun than after a few hours of struggle with big hands and tiny electronics in non-friendly leather and plastic environment and when everything is in place and you about to finish, you suddenly recognise clock's buttons are next to you, not inside the clock.

But I am very stubborn sometimes, so it is done.

In mean time, I found next malfunction on dash and serious safety breach - backlight bulb for emergency indicator switch has gone. Shame on Lexus. Fixed.

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I have checked couple of things today afternoon, and made some tests.

First, quick look at engine oil (I have no idea when it was changed, or what mileage - and we rode like 2500miles in 6 weeks now...), oil looks fabulous, yellow-brownish, no problems, a lot of time to change in my mind.

Next, I connected to LPG ECU, to fine adjust LPGs "fuel gauge" levels and other minor setpoints. When I was fiddling with details, I have seen a bit forgotten options for "hi revs" swap to gasoline. I have seen it before, but did not touch it, as I do not like it - because old days it was very harsh and unreliable option, and needless used gasoline of course. But today I was like "lets try it", because modern LPG ECU is much better than old PoSes I used to, whole engine and its ECU is in perfect shape now, and I hate this LPG low pressure "kick" I have sometimes, it is very dangerous for transmission etc. in my mind (and I have not time, resources and will to replace evaporator now). So why not, lets try it. I setup everything in no-time and have a test ride next. Results were a) unexpected b) fabulous.

The modern systems and ECUs swap seamlessly from LPG to gas and back, the only "problem" is a bit rich fueling on swap "up" and "down". But it is realy a bit (like, it is not enough to upset engine ECU), so it does not bother me; it is even some "upgrade" maybe, as on high demand air flow to the engine is only restriction for sure now. Additional gasoline above 4800rev does not bother me at all. Summarized - I ride cheaply on LPG, like crappy diesel, but on full throttle, even with "power key", even uphill, now everything is as factory setup and feels as near new; in James May's words "You sort of get a discreet 'ahem' from the butler, and then this big aristocratic whomp in the kidneys". And no slightest hesitation or risk from LGP side, only common risk to blow the motor or tranny on red line.

So, I stay with this setup for now, I don't say new evaporator drops form list "to do" totally, but it drops to very bottom of list.

On the other news, I realised last days car is rather quiet inside on normal ride now (after exhaust's major leak was patched, but still some leaks here and there), if a little rattling sunroof cover or a bit buzzing on driver door sealing start to annoy me. But it is my annoying hearing capability probably, not the car.

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