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Which To Fix First?


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I could really use your advice!

On my 1998 LS with 187,000 miles the dealer tells me I have the following leaks:

  • Lower Oil Pan leaks
  • Valve cover gaskets leaking
  • Cam seals leaking
  • Power steering pump is leaking slightly (this is new from 3,000 miles ago)

I know I am not giving you severity of the leaks because I have not personally inspected yet but none are so severe that there have been spots on the garage floor. Which are of most concern for causing other problems and ought to be addressed first? I don't have the cash to do them all at once and from looking at the DIY posts the valve and cam seals look beyond my skills. I might try the O-ring on the Power Steering reservior if it looks like the leak may be coming from that point.

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Strange hearing of a 98' LS leaking oils. I guess its where I have a 91' LS400 w/208K with no leaks, nor did my 90' LS400 w/252K. I guess all cars are different though?

I personally would fix the PS leak first unless the oil leak is severe. I am not sure how the 98+ is seyt up, but on the gen 1 LS400s, if the pump leaks, it drips onto the PS pump, which results in even more costly repairs!

Valve cover gaskets should be easy... I would do then next, then the oil pan gasket, then the cam seals- or do them when you do the valve cover gaskets.

Good luck!

I could really use your advice!

On my 1998 LS with 187,000 miles the dealer tells me I have the following leaks:

  • Lower Oil Pan leaks
  • Valve cover gaskets leaking
  • Cam seals leaking
  • Power steering pump is leaking slightly (this is new from 3,000 miles ago)

I know I am not giving you severity of the leaks because I have not personally inspected yet but none are so severe that there have been spots on the garage floor. Which are of most concern for causing other problems and ought to be addressed first? I don't have the cash to do them all at once and from looking at the DIY posts the valve and cam seals look beyond my skills. I might try the O-ring on the Power Steering reservior if it looks like the leak may be coming from that point.

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Thanks for that, any other advice? from others? Shoudl the valve cover gasket really to be "easy"? The LEXLS tutorial look pretty involved and a big time commitment, I think it said more than 8 hours. Agree?

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If your 98 is set up similar to the early model do the ps pump leak first.. as it will leak power steering fluid into your alternator and ruin it very very fast-- then you have another fix on your hands! Next I would do the oil pan leak b/c thats real easy to do and not real expensive either you can use high temperature red sealant on that. Afterwards move to the head gasket and yes its easy for me but I like to do the DIY things.. I just got done installing a new 60,000 mi used engine in my 90LS4hundred. soo while your changing the head gaskets you might look into the cam seals also.

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No, you don't need a fix right away, but you need to confirm the leaks yourself.

When I had my LS4 inspected by the Lexus Dealer (I paid $180 for the inspection), they suggested me to replace the timing belt. I knew that the timing belt was replaced about 10K miles before. They just wanted to fool you into expensive repairs.

Closely watch the the P/S fluid, just forget it if you don't need to add fluid like once in a month. You can also live with a small valve cover gasket and oil pan leak.

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I would definitely agree with dashan. A lot of shops will try the "make work" approach if they can get away with it. Confirm the leaks for yourself. P/S is easy to spot. So are valve cover leaks. If your oil pan is wet it could be coming from anywhere. The question is how much oil are you using? If it's negligible, you can check for cam seal leaks when you do your next timing belt. It's a big job. If your losing p/s fluid or notice the pump/hoses are wet, then that would be an important repair since you could fry your alternator. Save your money until your sure of the accuracy of the repair estimate and the urgency for the repair. If you're not a diy, get an estimate from a toyota dealer to compare with the one from lexus. For example, their oil changes are about half the cost for exactly the same oil and filter.

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I would definitely agree with dashan. A lot of shops will try the "make work" approach if they can get away with it. Confirm the leaks for yourself. P/S is easy to spot. So are valve cover leaks. If your oil pan is wet it could be coming from anywhere. The question is how much oil are you using? If it's negligible, you can check for cam seal leaks when you do your next timing belt. It's a big job. If your losing p/s fluid or notice the pump/hoses are wet, then that would be an important repair since you could fry your alternator. Save your money until your sure of the accuracy of the repair estimate and the urgency for the repair. If you're not a diy, get an estimate from a toyota dealer to compare with the one from lexus. For example, their oil changes are about half the cost for exactly the same oil and filter.

Oh yes, and the valve cover gasket is a big labour intensive job.

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Thanks for the good advice. I have spent a little time this morning checking the reported leaks. The power steering lines do have fluid on them and it does not look like it is from the reservoir so that looks like it needs to be done. I checked a rebuild tutorial and it looks a bit over my head so I will probably have the pump replaced. I have an independent mech that I have only marginal confidence in and he is only $30/hr cheaper on labor so if it is only an hour job I might just have the dealer do it. Any idea on book labor hours? I called my internet parts source and he said they do not show a remanufactured unit being available, anyone know if that is accurate?

On valve cover gaskets and cam seal I cannot see considerable leakage and never have to add oil or see spots on the floor so I think I will hold on that expensive job. I must admit to not having any idea where the cam seal even is located on my 98 LS so can't say I really checked that. Is it in the same area as valve covers so I might avoid double labor if I eventually do them together?

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from what i was told in orer to get the oil pan out you have to lift the engine. not sure if you can do it at home unless you have proper tools and experience

Unless they changed the pan for VVT-i models you don't need to lift the engine to remove the lower oil pan.

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from what i was told in orer to get the oil pan out you have to lift the engine. not sure if you can do it at home unless you have proper tools and experience

Unless they changed the pan for VVT-i models you don't need to lift the engine to remove the lower oil pan.

isnt the 98 and up VVT-I?

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from what i was told in orer to get the oil pan out you have to lift the engine. not sure if you can do it at home unless you have proper tools and experience

Unless they changed the pan for VVT-i models you don't need to lift the engine to remove the lower oil pan.

isnt the 98 and up VVT-I?

Yes. I was referring to the fact that it's definitely not necessary on 1990-1997 models, but I don't know about 1998-2000 models.

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hmm, my oil drain bolt thread is messed up, so when i asked the mecanic he told me that to change the oil pan he would need to life the engine..

i guess he was trying to rip me off....

its good to know.

thanks

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hmm, my oil drain bolt thread is messed up, so when i asked the mecanic he told me that to change the oil pan he would need to life the engine..

i guess he was trying to rip me off....

its good to know.

thanks

Either that or he just doesn't know what he's talking about. I had the lower pan resealed 7 months ago which involves removing it and reinstalling it and they didn't have to pull the engine. This is on my 1995, which is mechanically identical to your 1996.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Fix your valve cover gaskets first, they may just need to be snug, you can do that yourself use a small combination wrench and will need socket and ratchet and an extension 1/4 diamater. My car is a 1998 and had to do the covers a couple of times, but no leaks at this time. Them after that is fixed check again for leaks. Many times the leaks from the gaskets get confused with the leaks from the valve covers, bolts that become loose with time and vibration, and this indicates that your rack is probably leaking and needs rebuilding or replacing which should be the other source of leaks. Your PS pump is probably good as new for 300,000 miles it might make a humm sound this is not with much more consequence than it being a bit noisy. I also snug really tight the main pressure line that goes into the PS pump, you could loosen it and replace part *96341-41603, bolt union and gasket, but it might not be necessary it costs about 20 bucks, but the dealer will tell you to replace the high pressure hose, something that costs about 700 at the dealer without talking about labor, unless your high pressure hose has a hole in the rubber area do not worry about it.

CPR

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Fix your valve cover gaskets first, they may just need to be snug, you can do that yourself use a small combination wrench and will need socket and ratchet and an extension 1/4 diamater. My car is a 1998 and had to do the covers a couple of times, but no leaks at this time. Them after that is fixed check again for leaks. Many times the leaks from the gaskets get confused with the leaks from the valve covers, bolts that become loose with time and vibration, and this indicates that your rack is probably leaking and needs rebuilding or replacing which should be the other source of leaks. Your PS pump is probably good as new for 300,000 miles it might make a humm sound this is not with much more consequence than it being a bit noisy. I also snug really tight the main pressure line that goes into the PS pump, you could loosen it and replace part *96341-41603, bolt union and gasket, but it might not be necessary it costs about 20 bucks, but the dealer will tell you to replace the high pressure hose, something that costs about 700 at the dealer without talking about labor, unless your high pressure hose has a hole in the rubber area do not worry about it.

CPR

This is good advice. The camseals are a big job since the VVTI actuators and housings have to be removed. Best to try the simple stuff, like tightening the covers to the factory torque and giving everything a good clean and actually trace where its coming from. Oil gets blown around everywhere in an engine bay. The shops "best guess" sounds fishy to me, they stand to make a lot of money if you give them the go ahead. Chances are the pan is just the area where the leaking oil is ending up.

Torque for '98 covers = 6.0Nm, I do not know how easy they are to get to as my car is 12,000 miles away! There are 9 per cover.

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  • 2 years later...

You need to inspect the Timing belt area if any of those engine oil leks are leaking in there, that should be your first leak to repair and if it is the vvti it will cost a lot of money, but If you have a good mechanic all he has to do is open the vvt-i replace the main gasket in there which Lexus do not sell and put everthing in the same place and its done, and at the same time since you are in the same area the valve gasket and the crank seals should get replaced. Use Felpro gasket for the valve corvers, they sell them at a good price in www.rockauto.com, I recommended them to another member and he is very happy with them. PS Steering could be the gasket on the fitting in the Main PS line that connect to the pump or the hose itself. They sell a good replacement on line for the hose and the fitting can be had for 15-30 at the dealer. Good Luck!

CCF

I could really use your advice!

On my 1998 LS with 187,000 miles the dealer tells me I have the following leaks:

  • Lower Oil Pan leaks
  • Valve cover gaskets leaking
  • Cam seals leaking
  • Power steering pump is leaking slightly (this is new from 3,000 miles ago)

I know I am not giving you severity of the leaks because I have not personally inspected yet but none are so severe that there have been spots on the garage floor. Which are of most concern for causing other problems and ought to be addressed first? I don't have the cash to do them all at once and from looking at the DIY posts the valve and cam seals look beyond my skills. I might try the O-ring on the Power Steering reservior if it looks like the leak may be coming from that point.

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You need to inspect the Timing belt area if any of those engine oil leks are leaking in there, that should be your first leak to repair and if it is the vvti it will cost a lot of money, but If you have a good mechanic all he has to do is open the vvt-i replace the main gasket in there which Lexus do not sell and put everthing in the same place and its done, and at the same time since you are in the same area the valve gasket and the crank seals should get replaced. Use Felpro gasket for the valve corvers, they sell them at a good price in www.rockauto.com, I recommended them to another member and he is very happy with them. PS Steering could be the gasket on the fitting in the Main PS line that connect to the pump or the hose itself. They sell a good replacement on line for the hose and the fitting can be had for 15-30 at the dealer. Good Luck!

CCF

Good advice but 26 months later than prior post probably isn't worth your trouble.

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Thanks for the good advice. I have spent a little time this morning checking the reported leaks. The power steering lines do have fluid on them and it does not look like it is from the reservoir so that looks like it needs to be done. I checked a rebuild tutorial and it looks a bit over my head so I will probably have the pump replaced. I have an independent mech that I have only marginal confidence in and he is only $30/hr cheaper on labor so if it is only an hour job I might just have the dealer do it. Any idea on book labor hours? I called my internet parts source and he said they do not show a remanufactured unit being available, anyone know if that is accurate?

On valve cover gaskets and cam seal I cannot see considerable leakage and never have to add oil or see spots on the floor so I think I will hold on that expensive job. I must admit to not having any idea where the cam seal even is located on my 98 LS so can't say I really checked that. Is it in the same area as valve covers so I might avoid double labor if I eventually do them together?

I agree with others that the PS leak is probably the most likely to cause other problems if not fixed soon. Also agree about maybe none of these are really critical.

Sometimes it's hard to tell how fast the PS fluid is leaking just by looking at the leaks. I'd monitor your PS fluid level for a while and see how much you need to add to keep it topped up.

If you're losing significant PS fluid, it could be the idle-up air valve, not the whole pump. No sense replacing stuff that is not needed. First thing on the PS is to find and clean the PS solenoid valve filter. My '91 has ~168k miles on the original PS pump, but had the idle-up valve replaced around 160k.

Regarding the oil leaks, sounds suspicious that it is leaking from so many places. (as in the mechanic is looking for work to do). Before doing anything, I'd replace the PCV valve. Probably < $20 part, you can do it yourself in a couple of minutes. If that is faulty, it can allow air pressure to build inside the engine crankcase (the C in PCV), forcing oil out in places it would normally remain sealed. Then, do the best job you can cleaning things up, so you can see for yourself where it is leaking from (clean it up, then check it later to see where the new oil is).

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