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#1 intellivised

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:01 AM

This is my first time post, and my first time on a message board, really - but after doing some reading through all sorts of old posts and getting a *LOT* of useful information, I thought I'd ask my question here...

I bought recently - on the advice of the drummer of my old band & best friend and Lexus tech - a 1992 LS400. I just rolled 120K miles. I have since moved away (we were in MI, I live in WY now) and when I did he told me to keep an eye out for power steering leaks.

Well, the dreaded power steering leak has happened. Have had all the symptoms (pump noise [fluid flush/refill took care of that], low fluid levels, bubbly fluid, that power steering smell). Wyoming winters can be especially dry and severe... I think it did my power steering pump seal in. The pump is leaking. I can't really tell if that is where the leak is coming from. I can certainly smell it! I'm going to take my car up to the Toyota dealership by the end of the week (The nearest Lexus dealer is... very far away) - but was wondering what I should expect? If it ends up not being the seal, what am I in for? What else should I be looking for? The idea of a rack job scares me... I can't afford it. Everything steers and works fine... Noises are gone since the flush... I want to get everything taken care of before I drive back to Michigan from Wyoming (about 1200 miles) so I don't have a breakdown in Nowhere, Nebraska. My friend will probably take my car in during my stay and do a full maintenance sweep - being in a band with a Lexus tech has its perks. :D

Other indications:
Last oil change I got the guys were nice enough to check for leaks when I asked and 'there was definitely a leak down there'.

My specific questions, are as follows:

1.) Assuming it's a seal leak - can I just have the Toyota dealership replace the rings with one of their kits? Or should I replace the whole pump *before* my trip? If I go that route I'd like to get the part on-line and skip the garage mark-up... what should I get/where do I get it? Brands to avoid?

In summary: If its a seal leak do I need a new pump or just a seal replacement? What other repairs should I expect to do?

This is all assuming that it is indeed a problem with the seal. We'll see what Toyota says.

2.) I've seen a lot of info about 'cleaning the solenoid filter' to improve the power steering system performance/longevitiy. Is this something that is on the actual unit - something that would/could be taken care of during a re-seal? I'm not very mechanically inclined or really understand this. Any info would be greatly appreciated!

3.) Alternator. If the alternator has been leaked on but has not failed yet - is this something that 'could happen anytime' or have I dodged a bullet? The idea of a sudden alternator failure between here and Michigan scares me. Is alternator failure something that happens right away or not at all with a leak or something that takes a while to develop. I can't afford a new alternator AND power steering work right now... If the alternator was leaked on but hasn't failed - would a rebuild (a cheaper alternative) take care of it?

The car so far has been awesome. It's only failed to start once due to a loose battery cable (previous owner has a system in the trunk and I don't think he did a good job of tightening the cables back up). I had all the fluids replaced and a new timing belt put on it when I bought it. My friend is really good about making sure I stay on top of everything - even now that I've moved. Also had the upper control arms (both sides) replaced. I'm hoping to get to 250K with the car... and hope to keep the repairs down enough so I can get some good summer tires - it's got some ridiculous Wyoming sized snow tires on it right now.

BONUS QUESTION:
I've also noticed that my car, since moving here, is sluggish. It just... feels sluggish. I was wondering if that has anything to do with the fact that where I live is the highest incorporated city in the U.S. (we are at 7000'+) and the fact that Wyoming doesn't have any gas available above 91 octane (I filled up with 94 in MI).

This forum is great... any help or information would be greatly appreciated!

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#2 TA in KC

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 07:43 AM

This is my first time post, and my first time on a message board, really - but after doing some reading through all sorts of old posts and getting a *LOT* of useful information, I thought I'd ask my question here...

I bought recently - on the advice of the drummer of my old band & best friend and Lexus tech - a 1992 LS400. I just rolled 120K miles. I have since moved away (we were in MI, I live in WY now) and when I did he told me to keep an eye out for power steering leaks.

Well, the dreaded power steering leak has happened. Have had all the symptoms (pump noise [fluid flush/refill took care of that], low fluid levels, bubbly fluid, that power steering smell). Wyoming winters can be especially dry and severe... I think it did my power steering pump seal in. The pump is leaking. I can't really tell if that is where the leak is coming from. I can certainly smell it! I'm going to take my car up to the Toyota dealership by the end of the week (The nearest Lexus dealer is... very far away) - but was wondering what I should expect? If it ends up not being the seal, what am I in for? What else should I be looking for? The idea of a rack job scares me... I can't afford it. Everything steers and works fine... Noises are gone since the flush... I want to get everything taken care of before I drive back to Michigan from Wyoming (about 1200 miles) so I don't have a breakdown in Nowhere, Nebraska. My friend will probably take my car in during my stay and do a full maintenance sweep - being in a band with a Lexus tech has its perks. :D

Other indications:
Last oil change I got the guys were nice enough to check for leaks when I asked and 'there was definitely a leak down there'.

My specific questions, are as follows:

1.) Assuming it's a seal leak - can I just have the Toyota dealership replace the rings with one of their kits? Or should I replace the whole pump *before* my trip? If I go that route I'd like to get the part on-line and skip the garage mark-up... what should I get/where do I get it? Brands to avoid?

In summary: If its a seal leak do I need a new pump or just a seal replacement? What other repairs should I expect to do?

This is all assuming that it is indeed a problem with the seal. We'll see what Toyota says.

2.) I've seen a lot of info about 'cleaning the solenoid filter' to improve the power steering system performance/longevitiy. Is this something that is on the actual unit - something that would/could be taken care of during a re-seal? I'm not very mechanically inclined or really understand this. Any info would be greatly appreciated!

3.) Alternator. If the alternator has been leaked on but has not failed yet - is this something that 'could happen anytime' or have I dodged a bullet? The idea of a sudden alternator failure between here and Michigan scares me. Is alternator failure something that happens right away or not at all with a leak or something that takes a while to develop. I can't afford a new alternator AND power steering work right now... If the alternator was leaked on but hasn't failed - would a rebuild (a cheaper alternative) take care of it?

The car so far has been awesome. It's only failed to start once due to a loose battery cable (previous owner has a system in the trunk and I don't think he did a good job of tightening the cables back up). I had all the fluids replaced and a new timing belt put on it when I bought it. My friend is really good about making sure I stay on top of everything - even now that I've moved. Also had the upper control arms (both sides) replaced. I'm hoping to get to 250K with the car... and hope to keep the repairs down enough so I can get some good summer tires - it's got some ridiculous Wyoming sized snow tires on it right now.

BONUS QUESTION:
I've also noticed that my car, since moving here, is sluggish. It just... feels sluggish. I was wondering if that has anything to do with the fact that where I live is the highest incorporated city in the U.S. (we are at 7000'+) and the fact that Wyoming doesn't have any gas available above 91 octane (I filled up with 94 in MI).

This forum is great... any help or information would be greatly appreciated!


Hello,
Do a search for this topic, you will find LOTS of information about it.

1. You could just replace the seals, but a rebuilt pump itself is not very expensive. If they are going to take the pump out to replace the seals anyway, to me, it would make sense just to replace it altogether.

2. The filter is on the rack. Again, trying searching for that. There is a nice thread with pictures of how to get it out someplace.

3. Sometimes a leaking pump will drip onto the alternator, and other times the leak will be in a different place that does not. It is probably best to assume that there is fluid getting onto the alternator, and take care of the problem as soon as possible.

#3 TommyBoy72

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 12:41 PM

My 91 LS is pretty new to me and I just replaced the PS pump...two days later the alternator died and I replaced that as well. Now the car is running great but I am going to go back and replace the two main hoses (hi pressure and return) in the near future just in case. My alternator was dry and looked fine, but yet died anyway. The reman'd PS pump was $117 from Autozone, the Alternator was $140 from Pepboys (or autozone). If you did them both at the same time, its about 4 hours of labor, maybe less if you are familiar with it, more if you are not. I also replaced the Air Control Valve (ACV) for $78 from irontoad.com while I was in there as I had the startup smoke problem, you can easily replace that anytime and will not disable the car when it fails. HTH.

#4 wwest

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:00 PM

This is my first time post, and my first time on a message board, really - but after doing some reading through all sorts of old posts and getting a *LOT* of useful information, I thought I'd ask my question here...

I bought recently - on the advice of the drummer of my old band & best friend and Lexus tech - a 1992 LS400. I just rolled 120K miles. I have since moved away (we were in MI, I live in WY now) and when I did he told me to keep an eye out for power steering leaks.

Well, the dreaded power steering leak has happened. Have had all the symptoms (pump noise [fluid flush/refill took care of that], low fluid levels, bubbly fluid, that power steering smell). Wyoming winters can be especially dry and severe... I think it did my power steering pump seal in. The pump is leaking. I can't really tell if that is where the leak is coming from. I can certainly smell it! I'm going to take my car up to the Toyota dealership by the end of the week (The nearest Lexus dealer is... very far away) - but was wondering what I should expect? If it ends up not being the seal, what am I in for? What else should I be looking for? The idea of a rack job scares me... I can't afford it. Everything steers and works fine... Noises are gone since the flush... I want to get everything taken care of before I drive back to Michigan from Wyoming (about 1200 miles) so I don't have a breakdown in Nowhere, Nebraska. My friend will probably take my car in during my stay and do a full maintenance sweep - being in a band with a Lexus tech has its perks. :D

Other indications:
Last oil change I got the guys were nice enough to check for leaks when I asked and 'there was definitely a leak down there'.

My specific questions, are as follows:

1.) Assuming it's a seal leak - can I just have the Toyota dealership replace the rings with one of their kits? Or should I replace the whole pump *before* my trip? If I go that route I'd like to get the part on-line and skip the garage mark-up... what should I get/where do I get it? Brands to avoid?

In summary: If its a seal leak do I need a new pump or just a seal replacement? What other repairs should I expect to do?

This is all assuming that it is indeed a problem with the seal. We'll see what Toyota says.

2.) I've seen a lot of info about 'cleaning the solenoid filter' to improve the power steering system performance/longevitiy. Is this something that is on the actual unit - something that would/could be taken care of during a re-seal? I'm not very mechanically inclined or really understand this. Any info would be greatly appreciated!

3.) Alternator. If the alternator has been leaked on but has not failed yet - is this something that 'could happen anytime' or have I dodged a bullet? The idea of a sudden alternator failure between here and Michigan scares me. Is alternator failure something that happens right away or not at all with a leak or something that takes a while to develop. I can't afford a new alternator AND power steering work right now... If the alternator was leaked on but hasn't failed - would a rebuild (a cheaper alternative) take care of it?

The car so far has been awesome. It's only failed to start once due to a loose battery cable (previous owner has a system in the trunk and I don't think he did a good job of tightening the cables back up). I had all the fluids replaced and a new timing belt put on it when I bought it. My friend is really good about making sure I stay on top of everything - even now that I've moved. Also had the upper control arms (both sides) replaced. I'm hoping to get to 250K with the car... and hope to keep the repairs down enough so I can get some good summer tires - it's got some ridiculous Wyoming sized snow tires on it right now.

BONUS QUESTION:
I've also noticed that my car, since moving here, is sluggish. It just... feels sluggish. I was wondering if that has anything to do with the fact that where I live is the highest incorporated city in the U.S. (we are at 7000'+) and the fact that Wyoming doesn't have any gas available above 91 octane (I filled up with 94 in MI).

This forum is great... any help or information would be greatly appreciated!


Our '92 developed the infamous PS leak about 5 years ago. The leak was so small, slow, that I simply put a bottle of fluid on the shelf and checked and replenished the fluid at eachh oil charge.

Then the alternator failed.

Time to go to work...

I purchased a PS pump overhaul kit from Lexus but it turned out that the leak was from the top of the pressure modulation portion of the pump so I didn't need to use most of the kit.

The alternator issue was a bit more interesting.

The PS fluid leak had NOTHING to do with the alternator failure. My first suspicion on the alternator failure was the slip ring brushes ($5 part at most, &20 for Lexus) but those turned out to be only 50% worn down...at 100,000 miles plus..

So I disassembled the alternator and discovered that the slip rings themselves were worn down right into the steel alternator shaft.

So the real problem was/is that the slip ring metal (copper) is so soft that it wears down before the slip ring brushes.

Strange...

And yes, at 7000 feet an IC airplane engine needs a supercharger to maintain sea level HP.

#5 intellivised

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:35 PM

Thanks for the great info wwest. I have a feeling the change in climate turned what was a minor leak into a severe one - this is something that really made itself known when the weather got really cold and stayed that way.

I've heard that they train a lot of pilots here - they make them fly between Laramie and Cheyenne because the air is so choppy and its already so high up - it's a rough trip. It's why I fly out of Denver..

#6 eddielasvegas

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 10:46 PM

I was in Sinclair, WY early this decade and noticed their regular gas is 85 octane as opposed to 87 on most other places. Turns out it's due to the elevation and vehicles can operate just fine at higher elevations and lower octane.

Also, flat panel TV's (plasma, I think) don't work well above about 5,000 ft. above sea level.

Eddie

#7 python

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 07:54 AM

i feel for ya, i had mine replaced and i did the rack,hoses and pump.......2,000 dollars total, i got my rack from www.lexpartsonline.com good luck!

#8 intellivised

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 10:15 PM

i feel for ya, i had mine replaced and i did the rack,hoses and pump.......2,000 dollars total, i got my rack from www.lexpartsonline.com good luck!


Took it to the local Toyota dealership - they said it was indeed the pump AND the hoses AND the rack. This is going to get expensive. I can't afford any of them - but am stretching my budget to get the pump taken care of so I don't have to worry about the alternator frying (they said somehow I had gotten lucky up until this point).

Any ideas as to what order I should have everything else done in?

#9 bigste

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:17 AM

Time you started doing things for yourself rather than going to Toyota. Most jobs on this car are within you. There are tutorials with pictures all over the net including this site. I've had your problems and was quoted Mickey Mouse figures to fix it. I did it myself after reabing up on it and it cost me less than $2. The leak was the O ring on the reservoir. I cleaned the solinoid valve first as that causes the pressure to build up if it's blocked.

#10 intellivised

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 12:42 AM

Time you started doing things for yourself rather than going to Toyota. Most jobs on this car are within you. There are tutorials with pictures all over the net including this site. I've had your problems and was quoted Mickey Mouse figures to fix it. I did it myself after reabing up on it and it cost me less than $2. The leak was the O ring on the reservoir. I cleaned the solinoid valve first as that causes the pressure to build up if it's blocked.


The drummer of my old band is one of the best mechanics I know AND he works at a Lexus dealership. He, however, is in MI and I moved to WY so that precludes me from just driving up to the dealership at close and taking a peak. His sentiment mirrors mine: Replace the pump and keep an eye on the fluids. He's going to help me get the parts and when I go back to MI in the spring I'm going to get some lessons on how to repair my own car.

I really do want to start working on my car and learning - my main problems are that I live in Wyoming (very cold when problems I'm having developed) and lack any sort of tools or place to repair my vehicle. Where I live is actually home to a very large automotive repair college - sometimes I can't ditch the feeling I'm dying of thirst in the ocean, ha. Maybe I could trade one of the Wyotech guys some guitar lessons for letting me borrow their tools and some general tips.

#11 intellivised

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 12:47 AM

I was in Sinclair, WY early this decade and noticed their regular gas is 85 octane as opposed to 87 on most other places. Turns out it's due to the elevation and vehicles can operate just fine at higher elevations and lower octane.

Also, flat panel TV's (plasma, I think) don't work well above about 5,000 ft. above sea level.

Eddie


I actually work for one of the world's largest stock motion video companies - I'm going to read up on this! All of our HD monitors we have are specialized CRTs - consumer HD televisions aren't accurate enough for the work we do at any elevation. Guests that come and visit us that are used to HD monitors in BEst Buy or their home are amazed when the see what HD *really* looks like.

I imagine with less oxygen in the air it's more difficult for gas to pre-ignite hence the ability to get by with lower octane?

#12 rickatups

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 01:28 AM

I have looked into this problem a great deal (here) ..... it is my opinion that this problem all starts because of the small, delicate solenoid screen in the power steering rack. This little filter is REALLY small and delicate .... when it gets so dirty that it becomes clogged, the entire power-steering system develops far more internal pressure than it should .... leaks develop .... power steering pumps can be affected ..... and so on. Until that little solenoid filter is serviced, the problem is not dealt with at its root.

My car started leaking like this also about the time I first bought it (it had 101,000 miles on it) ..... but I found all this info here and cleaned the solenoid filter first, before I started messing around with everything else. Turned out that my solenoid filter was VERY clogged and dirty ... in fact, the whole system was really quite a mess. After we had cleaned the solenoid filter and flushed the system, all the other power steering system leaks suddenly stopped. My power steering lines were sweating ... that stopped. My steering rack boots were sweating fluid ... and that stopped. My power steering pump had not started leaking or making noise yet, however. I am sure my car has the original power steering pump and it now has 127,000 miles on it. Works perfectly. I am not so sure it would still be working this well today, had I not become aware of the power steering solenoid filter situation .... and serviced it.

Anyways .... my independent mechanic had never heard of this problem until I told him about what I had learned here at the "club" .... but now he knows about it .... and consequently this is now the first thing he checks when anyone else brings in a LS 400 like ours to his shop that has power steering problems. He told me that virtually ALL the LS400 cars he has serviced since have ALL had dirty, clogged power steering solenoid filters.

He charged me $110 for remove the filter, clean the filter and flush the system.

Perhaps I should also mention that the best way to flush the system is to remove the solenoid filter ... then reinstall the solenoid body (minus the filter) ... THEN flush the system .... then re-install the [cleaned] filter. Again .... the solenoid filter is DELICATE and must be treated with great care ..... I am lucky enough to have an independent mech. who will take enough time to not brutalize the filter, but rather clean it with a gentle touch.

Thank God for the Lexus Owners Club ... and all the wisdom contained within these pages ...

hope this helps.

#13 Threadcutter

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 07:20 AM

I have looked into this problem a great deal (here) ..... it is my opinion that this problem all starts because of the small, delicate solenoid screen in the power steering rack. This little filter is REALLY small and delicate .... when it gets so dirty that it becomes clogged, the entire power-steering system develops far more internal pressure than it should .... leaks develop .... power steering pumps can be affected ..... and so on. Until that little solenoid filter is serviced, the problem is not dealt with at its root.

My car started leaking like this also about the time I first bought it (it had 101,000 miles on it) ..... but I found all this info here and cleaned the solenoid filter first, before I started messing around with everything else. Turned out that my solenoid filter was VERY clogged and dirty ... in fact, the whole system was really quite a mess. After we had cleaned the solenoid filter and flushed the system, all the other power steering system leaks suddenly stopped. My power steering lines were sweating ... that stopped. My steering rack boots were sweating fluid ... and that stopped. My power steering pump had not started leaking or making noise yet, however. I am sure my car has the original power steering pump and it now has 127,000 miles on it. Works perfectly. I am not so sure it would still be working this well today, had I not become aware of the power steering solenoid filter situation .... and serviced it.

Anyways .... my independent mechanic had never heard of this problem until I told him about what I had learned here at the "club" .... but now he knows about it .... and consequently this is now the first thing he checks when anyone else brings in a LS 400 like ours to his shop that has power steering problems. He told me that virtually ALL the LS400 cars he has serviced since have ALL had dirty, clogged power steering solenoid filters.

He charged me $110 for remove the filter, clean the filter and flush the system.

Perhaps I should also mention that the best way to flush the system is to remove the solenoid filter ... then reinstall the solenoid body (minus the filter) ... THEN flush the system .... then re-install the [cleaned] filter. Again .... the solenoid filter is DELICATE and must be treated with great care ..... I am lucky enough to have an independent mech. who will take enough time to not brutalize the filter, but rather clean it with a gentle touch.

Thank God for the Lexus Owners Club ... and all the wisdom contained within these pages ...

hope this helps.


Rick:

Amen, and Thank You....................................you are exactly right.

#14 cardona6569

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Posted 21 March 2008 - 06:53 PM

Hi:

About your PS problems try going to the college, they need cars to practice and that job they cannot really mess it up because is so basic. You never now maybe all you need is like 25 buck and all fixed.

To all the others a good alternative could be:


putting a filter in the PS system and that will preclude the solenoid getting clogged. Use Mobil sync or Amsoil sync tranny fluids and presto the system will probably last forever as long a you change fluids once a year or every 30,000 miles. Just get a pump and suck it out of the reservoir you will get most of the fluid out anyways ( you can always do a flush also if want to do it super correctly). Can't wait for electric PS a lot less problems than today and more fuel savings, less parts, bolt on bolt off.

CPR

#15 intellivised

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:27 PM

Ended up going to the Toyota shop and having the pump replaced. Cost me a little more than it should've but I... I have a lot more I need to learn before I really start tinkering around with my only means of transport. Upshot was the broke (it was old and brittle) the ACV so they replaced it for free.

Going to a good local indie that specializes in foreign cars and will get the solenoid filter cleaned. I've already noticed that my P/S leak has stopped, hoping the solenoid getting cleaned will stop the 'sweating' issues I'm having and give me superior steering feel. My car is a bit of a struggle to handle on the roads around here when they are dry with the monstrous snow tires I have on it.

Thanks for all your help - it is GREATLY appreciated. I can't stress this enough.

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