Razor61

Newish LS400 owner buying and owner experience

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Now I have owned my first LS400 for approx 8 weeks I think it's time for me to document my experience of finding an LS400, the mistakes I made along the way, what I think about the car and what I've done to the car so far. So here goes....... some of this members will already know but it may be useful to people thinking of purchasing an LS400.

Buying. I started looking around 1 year ago with the intention of buying a MKIV simply because the MKIV has sat nav, VVTi engine, 5 speed box and is apparently the best of the LS400. The first one I went to see early in the year was a 1996 MK3 in Gold, around 60,000 miles, in excellent condition and very very well looked after. I went armed with my check list and went through everything but I didn't like the beige interior so I passed on it and decided a MKIV in Silver with a light interior was the one for me. In hindsight that was a mistake and I should have bought it there and then. I then looked at 4 x MKIV's and a MK3 varying from £750 to £3000. I travelled a fair way to buy a MKIV DHP in bronze which was 'rust free' and faultless service history (I even spoke to the Lexus garage who maintained it since new) but when I got there I discovered rust on the rear arches, blistering and some of the interior leather was badly split/worn and to be honest the interior looked old and tired so didn't go ahead. I came across the MK3 1996 in Ebony Teal Pearl that I have now which has just done clocked over to 70,000. Cam belt had been done at 50,000 miles.....ish. I didn't spend as much time inspecting this car as I had done with the others, don't know why, and did the deal. I didn't really want a dark coloured car but I figured that if I waited to find the 'perfect' car for me, colour, MKIV etc, then I would probably wait forever. The colour has really grown on me after I detailed it, it looks great. I did find things on the car later, bottom of rear inner arches need attention, and if I'd have found them when looking at the car I would not have bought it but it is an old car so these things are to be expected. It was just a shock because after all my research I don't remember seeing anything about this. Such is life though.

Owning and work done, so far.............

The drive back from buying the car wasn't a pleasant experience and I was thinking I'd bought a dog, the car had a set of DHP alloys and tyres on it and did not drive well at all but looked great. So much so that I was thinking that there was something seriously wrong somewhere on the suspension. I drove the car to work and back for a week and wasn't happy at all, any rut or uneven bit of road and it was all over the place - changing lanes and even going over cats eyes. It did not feel safe to be honest. There were a set of original alloys and tyres with the car so I decided to clean them up (they were in excellent condition anyway) and put them on the car as I wanted it all original. This transformed the car beyond recognition and it drove miles better, still not spot on but a vast improvement. I can only think that 1 - the DHP wheels and tyres are too big and heavy for a non-DHP car and 2. combined with split front strut bushes (which were split on my car) and worn arb drop links and bushes on my car, it all added up to the car driving like a dog.

With being a hell of a lot happier about the car (I had though about getting rid of it) I decided to take it into Lexus for a good check over to find out what work needed doing and then sort everything out myself over time. The outcome was - timing belt needed doing asap as it was 10 years since the last one, front strut bushes split, osf disc back/protection plate missing, front discs and pads needed (I knew about this anyway and had already ordered them from Lexus), rear pads needed but not urgent, brake fluid change needed, alignment needed, air con service, one rear hub bush had slight play plus a few other little bits that I can't remember. I had planned to do all the work myself and was looking forward to doing it but I decided I had to get the timing belt done asap, I didn't want a broken engine which would have really really upset me and probably pushed me over the edge!! I had a good chat with the Lexus service manager Darren at Lexus Bolton and we came up with a plan.......I would replace the front strut bushes (pretty easy I thought but see my post/s regarding this and all the work I ended up doing as a result), front discs and pads and Lexus Bolton would do the rest. It ended up with Lexus replacing the timing belt, water pump, thermostat, rear pads, osf disc back/protection plate, brake fluid, engine oil, oil filter, air filter and pollen/cabin filter. Then a full alignment and other bits that I've forgot, the work grew and took on a mind of its own!!! But it needed doing and was worth getting done in one hit for peace of mind. Cost a bit but Darren did me a good deal as there was so much work being done, thanks Darren Manning and Lexus Bolton - they were great. All the work I could have done myself, apart from the alignment, but I'm glad it's all done and the car drives spot on and like new (I think).

What do I think of the car now? I can honestly say that it is a pleasure to drive and I feel privileged to own and drive such a well engineered piece of automotive excellence. The car now lives up to my expectations and I intend to keep it and do all the other work needed to make it even better. Most of the work I intend doing is underneath and at the rear, rear subframe cleanup and painted, rear suspension rebuild (done the front), remove and treat any rust underneath etc so it will last another 10 or more years.

My wife did not want me to buy a Lexus LS400 (I had a XJ40 3.6 manual Jag a few years ago which didn't go to plan) and she said "you won't keep it, you'll say it's too big and costs too much to run blah blah blah". But we went for a run out a few weeks ago with the mother in law, got stuck in a traffic jam on the M60 and her comment was........"now I know why you wanted one, it's so comfortable, quiet and smooth and I'm happy for you". When I took my Dad for a run in it he said....... "wow...it's as quiet as an electric car!! I've not been in a 'normal' car anywhere near as quiet since a MK10 Jag", I thought that was priceless and I'd never thought about the car that way before. A friend of my Dad owned a MK10 Jag in the 60's and he got stopped by a constable for something and because he was wrong about why he stopped him he said "you have a noisy exhaust anyway sir, can you start the engine please?", my Dad's friend said "it's already running......................"

Advice etc to others based on my experience - the LS400 is a masterpiece of automotive engineering but it does have it's common issues to research about and look out for when viewing. You can't see/find every fault/issue when looking so be prepared for some work after you buy it. It doesn't do 70mpg so be prepared for that, I was sort of prepared but not totally. Costing £90 - £100 to fill the tank is a shock but it is a big tank......I reckon I'm getting around 50 miles per £10 of fuel going to work and back. If you can do most work yourself all the better, it will save you money and you'll do more on the car because you will be shelling out just for parts not labour. Parts are not cheap though as it was an expensive car to buy and so well engineered but sites like Amayama and sometimes eBay can make a big difference. Needless to say buying parts from Amayama is more cost effective the more parts you buy. If doing work yourself invest in a decent pair of 3 ton axle stands and a good 3.5 ton trolley jack, this is the first thing I did after jacking up the car with a 2 ton cheap ish trolley jack......it was struggling.

I think that it and there's loads more I could add but it's beer o'clock!!

I know I'm a baby when it comes to owning a LS400 but if anyone wants any advice or information about the work I've done etc don't hesitate to contact me. I've learned a lot from searching forums such as this.

 

 

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Excellent. 

What's DHP?

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5 minutes ago, rich1068 said:

Excellent. 

What's DHP?

Dynamic Handling Pack, as far as I can tell it was offered as a dealer fitted option of bigger fatter wheels and tyres along with springs and shock absorbers to match. I presume stiffer springs and different shocks to make the LS400 handle better. Probably other bits maybe but that’s the basics of it I think.

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14 minutes ago, rich1068 said:

Excellent. 

What's DHP?

Dynamic Handling Pack.  Bigger wheels, harder suspension, more wood in the interior and probably other things I've forgotten! Actually, in my opinion, the best looking LS400 wheels.

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A joy to read Paul.Many thanks.Did you mean to omit the piccies?

DHP stands for DYNAMIC HANDLING PACKAGE Richie.

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Cheers all. Often wondered when it was mentioned in this part of the forum. 

Nicer but not necessarily larger wheels I'd take. Along with more wood. But "sporty" springs and dampers? Perhaps not.

I don't read tea leaves professionally but I reckon LS ownership will feature at some point.

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9 hours ago, royoftherovers said:

A joy to read Paul.Many thanks.Did you mean to omit the piccies?

Cheers, I didn't forget about the pictures. I was waiting until I'd detailed all the bodywork but below are a few of the bits I've done already, roof and boot.

Just bought the car

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Roof etc and work in progress

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you were a tad unlucky to find the rust you did and all the serious work you've done and had done will last at least another 10 years / 100k miles

she does purr along as quiet as an electric car too when just gently strolling amongst pedestrians and dogs, you have to toot them when you want them gone and they haven't realised they're just about touching your bumper :yahoo:

A good write up, thank you

Malc

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17 minutes ago, Malc said:

you were a tad unlucky to find the rust you did and all the serious work you've done and had done will last at least another 10 years / 100k miles

she does purr along as quiet as an electric car too when just gently strolling amongst pedestrians and dogs, you have to toot them when you want them gone and they haven't realised they're just about touching your bumper :yahoo:

A good write up, thank you

Malc

Thanks Malc. After all the searching on this forum (and others) and conversing with yourself, I learned so much so it's only fair I contribute as much as I can myself.

On another subject, I've noticed quite a few MK3 LS400's for sale at the moment, one in particular on eBay for sale in Greenock looks pretty good. If I had the space and money to burn, I would love to buy it, sort out stuff that needs doing and see if I could make some money on it as a part time hobby - plus enjoy doing it along the way😀

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14 hours ago, Razor61 said:

I discovered rust on the rear arches, blistering

I found very bad rust in rear arches 18 months ago, started with noticng water in either side of boot, only to discover it was way worse than first thought.  I had a good poke with a bradawl to find about 50% of the inner arches bith sides had gone (about a 2cm inch strip).  Patched up with Isopon and fine since with lots of Waxoyl to keep the tin mice away.

I had no bubbling to indicate a problem, in fact the edge of the arches are rock solid (thank heavens).

Now you have invested all the time and effort, it will be well rewarded.

 

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1 minute ago, Cotswold Pete said:

I found very bad rust in rear arches 18 months ago, started with noticng water in either side of boot, only to discover it was way worse than first thought.  I had a good poke with a bradawl to find about 50% of the inner arches bith sides had gone (about a 2cm inch strip).  Patched up with Isopon and fine since with lots of Waxoyl to keep the tin mice away.

So was the rust all round the inner arches themselves?

Mine has rust at the bottom where it joins the boot as in the photo below, the arches themselves look fine but I haven't had a proper look yet so I may find the same issue. The lower boot end I'm not worried about and will get it patched when it gets dry enough. The opposite side, passenger cabin end, does worry me a bit. The off side looks like it's been sorted and welded, I presume this was the fix for the MOT failure of "Offside Rear Body or chassis has excessive corrosion, seriously affecting its strength within 30cm of the body mountings Inner arch (6.1.B.2)" in 2017. It looks like a decent job but the near side has fibreglass etc in the same area, see picture below. I didn't see any of this until I washed all the crud away. When I drop the rear end out to do sub frame/rear end rebuild in spring next year I'll have plenty of room to get in, have a proper look around and do whats needed.

Near side rear - boot side.

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opposite side, passenger cabin end.

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1 hour ago, Razor61 said:

So was the rust all round the inner arches themselves?

If you goto my posting, you can see my photos.    Swiss Cheese

On the passenger door part of the arch it was not as bad, but in essence the only bit of the arch where the bradawl did not push through was about the top third, as I was keen ot remove any rust possible, so I was quite aggressive in what I cut out.  The boot side was worse, but I think that is becuase more cr*p gets caught in the top of the mudguard so more water to metal contact for long periods

In looking at it, even though it looked horrendous, there is no way it should compromise the structural integrity, and I also pked around under the sills to see if any problems (but none found).

Car has got through 2 MOTs since my repairs, and have been told rest of the chassis looks fine.

 

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That's brilliant thanks, that looks exactly like the problem I will have if I remove the fibreglass. I'll have a good look and sort it when it's dry enough, maybe it's been done well enough and just looks dodgy.

I did get the car on a ramp a couple of days after I bought the car and the mechanic that looked at it said he could weld new metal in but welding further up the arch could blister the outside paint if it wasn't double skinned. He thought it was double skinned so shouldn't be a problem but we wouldn't know until he started. I don't fancy taking the chance so, if needed, I'll have a go at shaping some steel and bonding it to good metal then sealing the whole area. There are some really good epoxy metal bonding products so will give it a go if needed, never done this sort of thing before so it will be interesting. The boot end will get metal welded in because it wont affect the exterior paintwork, unless it's worse than I think.

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Great write up and looking forward to hearing your experiences over the next few months/years of ownership.

I'm on the lookout for a LS400 myself so know what exactly how you were feeling as you went to view all those cars before purchasing. 

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7 minutes ago, MotorDevil said:

Great write up and looking forward to hearing your experiences over the next few months/years of ownership.

I'm on the lookout for a LS400 myself so know what exactly how you were feeling as you went to view all those cars before purchasing. 

Thanks, finding a car that you are happy with can take a long time. I printed off the check list and had a clipboard and pen to check off everything like a proper geek. I didn’t do this completely on the car I bought, still don’t know why. I should have bought the first car I viewed but I may have had more issues to deal with than the car I bought. You just don’t know, unless it’s looked at by an ‘expert’ and the cost could soon add up. Even then you can’t see everything wrong and only find out after running the car for a while. Ideally the best option in my view would be to arrange for a prospective car to be checked over by a Lexus dealership with an experienced technician who has worked on and knows all about the LS400 but in reality that’s not normally practical and will cost. Stuart at Lexus Bolton is that technician but I didn’t know that when I took the car in.

I wish you all the best in finding a LS400 and if I can help in any way then let me know. If you want me to look at a car near where I live and give you my opinion, for what it’s worth, then I’m happy to do that within reason.

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12 hours ago, Razor61 said:

Cheers, I didn't forget about the pictures. I was waiting until I'd detailed all the bodywork but below are a few of the bits I've done already, roof and boot.

Just bought the car

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So that's a MK3 LS400? I assume the MK4 is the one with the larger headlights? Two generations of LS400, XF10 and XF20. Each generation had a facelift so yours is a pre-facelift XF20? Have I got that right?

Whatever, I like yours. And gold Lexus badge is the icing on the cake.

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11 hours ago, rich1068 said:

So that's a MK3 LS400? I assume the MK4 is the one with the larger headlights? Two generations of LS400, XF10 and XF20. Each generation had a facelift so yours is a pre-facelift XF20? Have I got that right?

Whatever, I like yours. And gold Lexus badge is the icing on the cake.

Yes, I think that's all correct and thanks it does look good with the gold badges. The chrome trim really stands out as well being a dark colour. When the car's paintwork has been sorted out and nice and shiny I'll post some pictures. Struggling at the moment to get it done with the weather and dark nights. The link below gives you the information on the model history and there is a buyers guide plus lots of other information as well on the site.

http://ls400data.com/history.html

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Here are some photos after buffing the front end, clay bar - 3 stage buffing and then coating of Gtechniq C2. Done the roof and front end so far. Will do the doors and rear end over the holidays then wheels off again, clean and coat with Gtechniq C5 wheel armour to stop the brake dust sticking to the lacquer. The colour has really come out and you can tell it’s a very dark green and not black, hopefully it’s visible in the photos.

There are still scratches in the paintwork when examined up close which can be corrected but will take a lot of time. For the time being a relatively quick detail and polish etc will do until next year when I can spend more time per panel.

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Amazing!  I clay bared mine this year, the first car I've ever done it to.  Now every time I wash it the sponge feels completely different as it slides over the paintwork.  One day next year (if it ever stops raining) I hope to spend a whole day at least giving it the works. Good job, well done.

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bit odd, but I remember a very long time ago checking the DVLA MOT site for your car Paul

wonder why I did that !

Malc

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Car all detailed and polished, didn’t get all the scratches out but it looks better than when I bought it!,

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On 12/23/2019 at 8:08 AM, Malc said:

bit odd, but I remember a very long time ago checking the DVLA MOT site for your car Paul

wonder why I did that !

Mmmmmh, I wonder.................... maybe you looked at the MOT history and decided not to bother😀

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On 12/22/2019 at 2:36 PM, Razor61 said:

3 stage buffing and then coating of Gtechniq C2. Done the roof and front end so far. Will do the doors and rear end over the holidays then wheels off again, clean and coat with Gtechniq C5 wheel armour to stop the brake dust sticking to the lacquer.

Paul,

How effective are the Gtechniq products you mentioned? I find that cleaning the wheels on my little BMW takes almost as long as cleaning the rest of the car, so anything to make life easier I'm interested in.

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Hi Howard,

I’ve just re done my wheels, I did do them months ago but they were just as bad. I’ve now applied the C5 stuff. I did the just front wheels a few weeks ago and the dirt and brake dust comes off a hell of a lot easier but was still on the wheels in the hard to get to places and a pain to clean off. Autofinesse Iron Out with a brush to agitate did the trick though so the combination of wheels cleaned and coated with C5 then using Iron Out or something similar after works really well for my wheels. I only started using the Gtechniq stuff after I had a new M140i ceramic coated with their stuff and just stuck with it.

 

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Concerning AC -service .  On my LS400 1998 the AC stil works after 22 years. I have all the service/repair records it seems
and no work or service seem to have taken place on the AC over the years. On my 1995 LS 400 the AC gave up gradually over two years recently. 
I would never let anyone "service" the AC as long as it works well. 
Changing belt and air filter of course I do regularly. Could anyone  explain what "servicing AC"  Is good for really. ? 
 

 

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