Recommended Posts

Hello all,

I have recently purchased a 2001 GS300. This car is very much a project for me - and a venture in to Japanese cars from my principal hobby car brand of choice - BMW. I own a '98 BMW 740i which has been my main hobby to date, but have always hankered after a Lexus, from teenage years and onward.

It was purchased using my usual rule of trying to find something interesting for under a grand... enter the car in question:

IMG_20180613_173620_zpstjkrwg6g.jpg

IMG_20180613_173653_zps3qjg2n7g.jpg

It has pretty high miles - 184k and a complete lack of stamped service history, with the notable exception of a cambelt change at a Lexus main dealer at 160k miles. Engine oil is reasonably clean, transmission functions as intended - but I bought with my eyes well and truly open, which leads me to the discoveries...

I have a pathological fear of rust, so first thing was to strip of all the sill covers and asses things down below. Here's a couple of shots of the rear jacking points as I found them:

NSR:

IMG_20180616_170418_zps54pef6n8.jpg

 

OSR:

IMG_20180616_142602_zpslxbl0qxo.jpg

 

Given 17 years on the road and some likely abuse through being jacked improperly, I was happy to find that the corrosion is just surface stuff. I've hammered the pinch welds straight again, scrubbed everything down, and given the length of the affected areas a coating with POR-15 (https://www.por15.com/) and stonechip primer:

IMG_20180616_210925_zpseaqlkh9e.jpg

I don't have pictures of the final product, but basically any grey area was covered with black stonechip - and with the colour coded sill covers on, this area isn't visible - so I'm not fussed about the difference in colour. I've scrubbed and treated all 4 jacking points onthe car, and any area on the length of the sill that looked like it was rusting.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of the inner wheel wells, and I was able to push holes in them in the area where they meet the sill section – thankfully the rot doesn’t affect the sills– so I got the wheel wells inspected by a local underbody welder whom I trust – and repaired wherever rust was found:

Looking from the hole down the sill (!):

IMG_20180618_102740_zpstcfd6dbx.jpg

IMG_20180618_094334_zpsutjytryg.jpg

As before, the sill looks good, just the wheel wells not so much! I plan to get some waxoyl and a flexible applicator and thoroughly treat the inside of the sills  once I have the car back from the body shop.

I’ve also found some curious examples of previous owners/those in their employ attempting to hide faults – rather than fix them. Can you see what’s missing in this shot of the rear of the instrument cluster?

IMG_20180620_150716_zpswaufbxtd.jpg


Yes – the telltale bulbs for the VSC system have been removed. Putting replacement bulbs in immediately showed up that the system was deactivated and faulty, as was the ABS; I can only assume a PO did this to hide the faults and pass an MOT test.

The other frustration was that the MIL light had been painted over with black nail varnish (!) – lightly removing this from the outside of the cluster (no I didn’t spot it on the test drive) of course revealed the MIL was illuminated. I’m thankful I was able to get codes using my OBDII reader – and the damage could have been worse – 2x separate lambda sensor faults. One traced to *really* poor workmanship on a presumed universal sensor installation:

IMG_20180621_160658_zpsdsqider3.jpg

Fixed as (self amalgating tape added to the length of the repair afterward):

IMG_20180621_211704_zpsrd7a1jdz.jpg


That was fixed by remaking the wire joints with solder/heat shrink insulation. The other sensor needed to be replaced entirely and then the MIL light could be extinguished; an easy fix for the sake of some time with a soldering iron, and £50 for a new DENSO universal sensor.

The VSC/ABS system was easily brought back to life with a trick for resetting zero point calibration using a paper clip that I found somewhere on a USA Lexus forum post – bingo, no more warnings on the dash.

The plan for this car will be to give it a complete brakes and suspension renewal, and service everything I can, before making some subtle modifications. Broadly, I want to lower it, give it a slightly louder exhaust note (actually there has already been some work done as the silencer tips are not original to the car), and some nice deep dish wheels.

I’ll post up my progress on here, mention any useful part numbers; if anything for my own records. I’m a keen DIY’er so largely I’ll be doing this in the garage/ driveway.
First service item was to a drain/refill the ATF. I use a suction/syphon drain and got some Type 4 ATF from Toyota:

 

IMG_20180731_203239_zpsqpyd7emc.jpg

Coming from BMWs it was great to have a dipstick to work with. Fluid removed was dark, but didn’t smell burned; I think I managed to put about 4 litres of fluid in to the box – definitely I put in more than I removed so I think the box was lower on fluid level than it should have been.


I’ve also put a new radiator on the car, as the plastic cores on the old part appeared very brown and mottled – like you could touch them and they’d spring a leak. New part from Ad-Rad.co.uk, delivered next day – made by Koyorad; fitted in under an hour:

IMG_20180804_172310_zpsbobilj1b.jpg

Next up will be to replace the rocker cover gaskets, as there’s a fair old oil leak from the top of the engine. I’ll post on that when I have the car back from the body shop.

I'm hoping this car will be some fun to work on - and broadly speaking a valuable learning experience on a vehicle that isn't German/ a Land Rover!

Thanks,
John

 

  • Like 9
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

Welcome John, a nice project there and great write up.

Shame about the warning lights, and poor MOT testing as they should check the MIL light comes on and then goes out.

FYI, the transmission level should be checked when up to temperature, the engine is still running and you have been through all the gear selections to make sure fluid is all around the valve body. You shouldn't use the cold level - that is just an initial indictor to get somewhere in the ballpark when filling up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best of luck it's still a beautiful car for 17 years old!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done John, nice to see it being cared for.  We'll be looking forward to the updates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff and a great first post. I'm sure you'll enjoy the car and wonder why you messed around with Bimmers for so long :wink:

Is the GS300 the 2JZ like my IS? Great engine if so. And to trot out a well used trope, barely run in at 184k.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the LOC and a great first post!

Regarding the wheel well rot, did you find a lot of caked on mud around the arches? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, steve2006 said:

Welcome to the LOC and a great first post!

Regarding the wheel well rot, did you find a lot of caked on mud around the arches? 

17 years worth! It was like an archaeology dig...

I was pulling gobs of it out when checking the car before purchase - I then jet washed all the of the wheel wells on first day of ownership - knowing full well I could be in for a bit of a surprise under all that muck. It was only after having gotten all of it out and thinking myself lucky thatt I then managed to put my thumb through to the sills on both sides!

The front of the car was in excellent condition however, *lots* of muck against the car being held in place by the sill cover, but no rot to report - thankfully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, rich1068 said:

Great stuff and a great first post. I'm sure you'll enjoy the car and wonder why you messed around with Bimmers for so long :wink:

Is the GS300 the 2JZ like my IS? Great engine if so. And to trot out a well used trope, barely run in at 184k.

It is indeed - a 2JZ-GE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, ColinBarber said:

Welcome John, a nice project there and great write up.

Shame about the warning lights, and poor MOT testing as they should check the MIL light comes on and then goes out.

FYI, the transmission level should be checked when up to temperature, the engine is still running and you have been through all the gear selections to make sure fluid is all around the valve body. You shouldn't use the cold level - that is just an initial indictor to get somewhere in the ballpark when filling up.

Hello Colin, thanks for the heads up. I was aware of the procedure for checking ATF fluid level  - it was geniuinely low on fluid to begin with I think.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello John

I, too, have a 51Reg GS300 - not quite so many miles at 124K - and found your article most interesting. I note that you have a 'smooth' boot lid whereas my car has a wing attached to it. I wonder if this is an original item, a variation or a later addition and would be grateful for any advice. I would quite like to have it removed as the line of your car looks much more sleek.

Regards

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, ronniemac said:

Hello John

I, too, have a 51Reg GS300 - not quite so many miles at 124K - and found your article most interesting. I note that you have a 'smooth' boot lid whereas my car has a wing attached to it. I wonder if this is an original item, a variation or a later addition and would be grateful for any advice. I would quite like to have it removed as the line of your car looks much more sleek.

Regards

Ron

No idea Ron, can only assume factory option or previous owner fitted - I don't care much for rear spoilers either. THat said, I'd recommend excavating your rear wheel wells/arches, and checking under your sill covers before changing the rear wing out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, ronniemac said:

Hello John

I, too, have a 51Reg GS300 - not quite so many miles at 124K - and found your article most interesting. I note that you have a 'smooth' boot lid whereas my car has a wing attached to it. I wonder if this is an original item, a variation or a later addition and would be grateful for any advice. I would quite like to have it removed as the line of your car looks much more sleek.

Regards

Ron

The GS Sport, either full sport model with lowered suspension or just the sport styling pack models, have a lip spoiler. Other models didn't so would have been added after manufacture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rehabilitation of my GS300 continues - first under bonnet job was rocker cover gaskets.

Symptoms of a problem: quite an oil leak from the top of the block, all the way round the rocker covers, block permanently wet with oil, pooling in areas of the head and burning off the exhaust manifold. Presumably also a fair degree of vacuum loss from the crankcase? Anyway, on to the job:

Air box and hose work removed:

IMG_20180909_122751_zpswwuuzfur.jpg

 

Throttle body and Y-Pipe removed to reveal spark plug valley:

IMG_20180909_142144_zpsoncslzvi.jpg

Coil packs and inition leads removed:

IMG_20180909_150153_zpsoayiotle.jpg

The coolant is from unclipping hoses on the throttle body during removal - but generally speaking, the valley was a mess - loads of of oil and muck, brittle plastic etc. There was a lot of oil in each plug well and on the coil pack caps. Everything was taken out, cleaned up and dried off.

Left (As you look at the block) side off first:

IMG_20180909_160406_zpsbasyphqn.jpg

 

Easy enough to go round the entire cover and undo all the bolts - then a delicate tap to loosen it from the head. Here you can see how the problem arises:

IMG_20180909_172148_zps1omcumqt.jpg

Old gasket is on the left, new on the right - you can see how it shrinks and goes brittle with age. Easy to pick the gasket from the cover, ensure mating surfaces are clean, and put the new gasket in ready for installation back on the head.

Some dabs of black RTV on the corners of the half moon sections at the front of both covers - to aid sealing:

 

IMG_20180909_181050_zpss8r2eusm.jpg

Putting the cover back is simple - used a criss-cross pattern to tighten the bolts down to 9nm - other side of the engine is just as easy.

One thing I was specifically prepared for was brittle coil pack connectors on the car's wiring loom. As it turns out, all 3 of the connectors on my car were previously damaged - two were completley missing the inner sections of the connectors, leaving just the pins inside the hollow outer casing of the connector; it's a wonder the car was still running acceptably. Fortunately, these connectors can be depinned and replaced - or in my case just snap off the old brittle conector casings and replace with new:

IMG_20180909_231438_zpsmogjkajh.jpg

You can push the pins in to the rear of the new connector and snap it shut - I also took care of a little frayed insulation right by the grommet for the connector; here's the part number for these connectors from Toyota:

IMG_20180909_225637_zpsafoutgcd.jpg


and for the rocker cover gaskets (Which are handed):

IMG_20180909_161540_zpshjwibudn.jpg

IMG_20180909_161534_zpseya2wb9a.jpg

And finally the gasket for the y-pipe to the rest of the intake manifold:

518ab8ad-5bfd-47c2-b34c-0fd3fc35191b_zps

Everything is back together with ease - left the block to stand for 24hrs to let the RTV cure. I might be kidding myself, but I feel it's idling more smoothly, and spends less time at inexplicably high revs after a cold start. At any rate, the block should dry up, and it should hopefully smelling of burnt oil everytime I come to a stop!

Next up is a teardown and replacement of the front suspension and brakes - all of which is utterly knackered...

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i am following your project with interest - i hope it is completed in time to accept another challenge when i am looking for a good(enthusiasts') home in february/march 2019 for my beloved and cherished 2003 lexus gs300

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great write-up John, thanks for taking all the pics and sharing with us.

I'll be following all your updates with great interest.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now