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Bought '94 Ls400


Neofate
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Hi,

I recently bought a LS400 with 228,000 Miles for $4500. I usually would have not even flinched at a car with those kind of miles but I know about these cars. So I took a look at it.

Long story short, for a 1994, LS400 with over 200k, it is immaculate. The paint looks brand new. (Been garage kept). Out of all the people in the world to own it, an ASE certified Master Mechanic. Now that doesn't mean the car was great, but could be a good sign.

It is champagne (silverish color), with tan/brown leather interior.

At first glance here is the laundry list:

Climate control is blackening. -- (He is fixing that this week.. having to wait on a part from the West though)

Fuel Gauge in the Instrument Cluster was at the bottom -- (Says he has it working now from examining it, but it isn't likely to stay working, and found a guy in ND or Canada) that will fix them for $195. (Is there any better option than $195 for my fuel gauge if it is definitely caused by the intrument cluster?

No CD player in dash, so I looked in trunk. 5-6 Disc change in trunk, though the magazine wasn't in it, and it looked like it had been banged by something. He said he thinks it still works, he will get the magazine. (Not a deal breaker of course). This was wired to the console (between the seats) when you lift it up there is a hand held controller to select song/disc, etc. This powers up.

The leather looks great,.. no holds or anything, but it has these streaks in it between the main creases.. of a lighter color. Almost like they could be rubbed out. (Remember this is a Tan/Brown leather). -- Is there any product or method to smooth the color of these streaks? This would really make the seats look good, but they are in good condition even the way they are.

Everything electrical works, seats, steering wheel, radio, AC/Heat, climate control, windows, every button I could find and press (sunroof, etc).

So I take it out for a test drive.

Its smooth, great, has the lexus ride.

Runs fine around the neighborhood, so I got it out on a faster artery.. about 40-50mph. Good, but no room to speed it up.. So then take it on to a major highway/interstate.

I at first, stayed around 60/65 mph and just cruised. I would press the "overdrive" button in and out to test its function. Yup, it dropped it from 5th to 4th gear. (or perhaps 4th to 3rd, whatever the top gear in those cars is). Also it has an ETC/Power button. I then switched that out. Couldn't tell a difference while driving normally.

So I decided it was time to test it a little harsher.

I would slow down in the left lane, to about 45mph.. Then get on the gas till about 85-90mph. (It doesn't take long). I might let it ride at 80Mph for a minute then back down to 65-70 for 'cops sake'. I kept slowing down and gunning it, it is smooth.

Is this how they are supposed to act? When you push the gas in it can swap one or two gears. (at these speeds) -- If it drops one you get a modest pickup in speed, but if you press it in slightly further it drops one more, and it goes like a bat out of hell. (I could tell, I think, that with the power mode engaged it would more quickly switch to the 'bat out of hell' mode. (As if it was more sensitive to the faster down gearing with the power button selected'.

I rolled down the windows, had everything off,.. No sign of detonation/pinging, or even suspension trouble. (To note: My father has a 1999 LS 400 with 120k on it, and I rode with him over there. So I had an immediate comparison to judge it by.) To drive both cars you wouldn't know which one was which with your eyes closed.

To the guts:

The mechanic said he had done a major maintenance at 190,000. Which included, but not limited to:

Pulling the engine (He said he wish all cars made their engines like lexus, as I inquird how difficult it must have been to pull the engine in such a sophisticated car,.. he said it was the easiest he had ever done) --

Anyhow,.. With the engine pulled:

A) Changed the timing belt.

B) Replaced wear and tear seals

C) New Water Pump

D) New alternator

E) Oil/filter, and other recommended maintenance .. I honestly can't remember it all.

Between then and 220k, he has put a new battery in it, and he said he changes the oil with only lexus parts (filters) and only uses lexus parts for any maintenance. Good to know.

What he is doing this week.. (I am so anxious to pick the car up, but he promised to do some thing before I got it)

The power steering is slightly leaking (he had to tell me that, I couldn't tell) -- So he is putting in a new rack and pinion. Said if that doesn't stop the leak, he will continue until he fixes it. -- Ok great.

Fixing the LCD blackening problem (he has it out in pieces now, says he is waiting on that part) --says that will take at least until Saturday and maybe longer--

Fixing a sensor on the rear passenger window .. the window sometimes won't respond to the driver side button to roll up,.. (he said its a bad contact)

Putting in new motor mounts (and tranny mount) -- He mentioned this would make it ride alot better.. even though it rides fine imo.. but I can imagine at these miles it wouldn't hurt.

Finally changing the oil and filter -- (This is where he said he would only use a lexus filter) -- I mentioned something like do you mind changing the oil/filter.. you can use anything here from the shop, and he said oh no.. I only use Lexus parts, even the oil filter. (Basically while he has it, he is going to do it right.) -- Which I respect and will follow.

I'm not bragging here by any means,.. Just curious based on description , this sounds like a really good car and decent deal.. right?

The only thing that might move the price up a hundred or two are the motor mounts.. that was not part of the original price deal. So it might be 4700$ in total.

I have a down payment now, and he gets the rest of the money when I pick it up.

He said yesterday that at worst all would be done Saturday 'minus the climate control blacken' -- I would think that part could be shipped overnight/2day and he could get that done between now and Saturday.

The hardest thing, to me, would be doing the rack and pinion -- But when I mention that he say ooooh no.. That is the easiest thing, I can knock that out in no time flat.

He's the mechanic, not me.. and he has obviously had this car in a zillion pieces more times than I know.. So he knows how it works and what takes a while.

Oh forgot to mention he resurfaced the rotors, but left original pads on. So brakes are smooth, but pads probably have 30-40% life left on them.

Tires are good, but again, are now new. I'd guess 10-15k left on the tires.

Any thoughts?

Any things I should ask, and look out for?

Any ideas on that instrument cluster fuel gauge?

Any ideas on the leather seats I mentioned?

*I also have a buyer for my car who wants to come asap to pick it up, so I'm holding him off while waiting on this car to be ready* -- I don't want to rush the mechanic but I also would like to have the car by no later than this Saturday. Based on what I've said, that is doable, no? *He has his own shop*

The car was listed for sale in the paper 2.5 weeks ago, and I made initial contact 2 weeks ago, and put the down payment down last Thursday. So expecting the car this coming up weekend isn't unreasonable.. or is it?

Thanks for any advice you can give me.. (I love the way this thing looks and especially rides.) -- So you can imagine my want to get out of my current jalopy of a car and into this smooth machine. (I'm selling my old car for $1500 -- Its a 240sx, in decent condition, but I'm getting rid of it).

Thanks again!

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Hey Neo, it sounds like you're getting a pretty good deal. I understand that he's doing almost all of these repairs prior to the actual sale? One thing I know for sure is that you'll have to do is the timing belt/water pump service; per Lexus it should be done every 90k miles. To get a better idea of what all has taken place with the car you could pull carfax on it and take the VIN to Lexus so they pull the file of what has been done to the car. Let us know what happens, and post some pics too :cheers:

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Hey Neo, it sounds like you're getting a pretty good deal. I understand that he's doing almost all of these repairs prior to the actual sale? One thing I know for sure is that you'll have to do is the timing belt/water pump service; per Lexus it should be done every 90k miles. To get a better idea of what all has taken place with the car you could pull carfax on it and take the VIN to Lexus so they pull the file of what has been done to the car. Let us know what happens, and post some pics too :cheers:

Thanks.. yes, all this is being done prior to the sale. I've put $500 down in earnest so it is going to me.. but the hold up from me actually driving the car now is he is busy doing all of this stuff as 'part of the deal'.

As for the other items you mentioned. I guess you misssed it:

But at 190,000 miles he replaced all major items in the engine. The timing belt, seals, etc. So the timing belt has 30k on it. The water pump has a little less than 30k. Alternator was done in 06, .. Basically the only thing that isn't fixed or replaced is the block itself. He said at the very minimum I wouldn't have to do any maintenance other than brakes and tires for 60,000 miles... and even then it will probably go 90k without any major service, but it would be wise to go ahead and do recommended service at that interval if I wanted to keep it in the shape it is in now.

I will definitely post pics, I'm proud of this car, which is why I can't wait to get it,.. wish he would hurry up already ;)

The only thing holding him up is one part.

He needs the part to fix the Climate control LCD display. He said the part will be coming from California and he has the email address of a guy who has the part, and it would take 2-3 days to ship from California. I left him a message tonight saying I would pay for overnight shipping of that part if he would go ahead and get that guy to ship it over tommorow, so we can get this wrapped up and in my hands Saturday.

So, on that note: -- If you or anyone else knows of a place, guy, dealer etc that sales the parts for the 'blackenned LCD' problems for the climate control section of the LS400's please let me know asap. I could put him in contact with whomever you guys know so maybe we can get this part out here by , say, Thursday (shipped overnight) and he could finish things up.. instead of having to wait until next week for some electrical part to come in from California that isn't ordered yet.

I know it is a common problem, so maybe someone knows who to hook me up with.

Thanks!

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If it's got a nakamichi it couldn't hurt to test each speaker individually. It's a minor issue, but he seems willing to fix anything you can find wrong before he hands it over, and if it were one of the rear ones you might not have noticed it. I've had a '90 and '93 with two completely dead speakers each. (both front passenger and rear driver, oddly enough).

Other than that, you're getting a hell of a deal. You've got about $3k in the service alone between the rack+pinion/tb+wp/motor mounts/alternator.

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Sounds like you have found a spectacular automobile!

I cannot personally comment on the questions below. To be honest, I have always "babied" my 91' LS400. I have never had the engine speed over 2900 rpms. Pathetic I know. It was the same way with my old 90' LS400 though. I think I only had it up to 3500 rpms once on a freeway entry ramp. I have never personally seen what kind of oomph these cars have. lol. <_<

I know that when my uncle bought my aunt her previous LS400 brand new in 1990, he was boasting about how fast and smooth this car was. One time (about 12 years ago) he was visiting over here (he lives over in North Carolina), he drove the LS over here, which was unusual, as it normally rested in the garage. :) My other uncle and grandfather was going up a 4-lane state highway, not too far from the house here. My uncle had left about 2 minutes after they did in my aunts LS400. The next thing my grandfather knows, there is a black bullet rocketing past them! :glare: They had no idea it was him until later when he asked them if he saw them. He said he was going 146 mph! I personally thought that was stupid going that fast on a public highway, but thankfully it was a very long strait-stretch and a low traffic area at that time of day, but still, I would not recommend driving like this. 100 mph would have been bad enough. He had did this before in the same area in a 1985 Jaguar he had. :rolleyes:

I guess I will never know what power my LS really has. I will continue to baby her, as I expect her to last me at least 4 more years and then I may pass it onto my mother. :closedeyes:

About that instrument cluster... do all of the dash needles illuminate fully? If so, inquire if any of the electrical components in the cluster have ever been replaced. If not, when the cluster is out repairing the gauge, it may be a good idea to go ahead and have the cluster sent off and rebuilt by the gentlemen mentioned here that rebuilds them? With that mileage/age, it could only be a matter of time before one of the lights fail, :o , but then again, it may go another few years/thousands of miles before they fail. My old 1990 LS400 did not have this problem until it hit about 245,000 miles, when 1/2 of the speedometer needle light went out. Luckily, my current 1991 LS400 (with 209K) still has all lights working properly... for now anyway. lol.

Keep us posted and post some photos when you get her.

Good luck and enjoy!

So I decided it was time to test it a little harsher.

I would slow down in the left lane, to about 45mph.. Then get on the gas till about 85-90mph. (It doesn't take long). I might let it ride at 80Mph for a minute then back down to 65-70 for 'cops sake'. I kept slowing down and gunning it, it is smooth.

Is this how they are supposed to act? When you push the gas in it can swap one or two gears. (at these speeds) -- If it drops one you get a modest pickup in speed, but if you press it in slightly further it drops one more, and it goes like a bat out of hell. (I could tell, I think, that with the power mode engaged it would more quickly switch to the 'bat out of hell' mode. (As if it was more sensitive to the faster down gearing with the power button selected'.

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If it's got a nakamichi it couldn't hurt to test each speaker individually. It's a minor issue, but he seems willing to fix anything you can find wrong before he hands it over, and if it were one of the rear ones you might not have noticed it. I've had a '90 and '93 with two completely dead speakers each. (both front passenger and rear driver, oddly enough).

Other than that, you're getting a hell of a deal. You've got about $3k in the service alone between the rack+pinion/tb+wp/motor mounts/alternator.

No, unfortunately, it is a Pioneer. (Never thought I would say unfortunately about a Pioneer sound system, heh). Though it sounds good for being so old. I used to be a big audio nut (car audio specifically), and had amps, subs, mids/highs coming out my ears. So I did instinctively test each speaker the first time I saw the car. All working :)

When I took it out for the test drive, I tuned it to a decently received radio station and adjusted the Bass/Mid/Treb to my preference, and it sounded surprisingly good. It has a 6disc change in the trunk, though it is missing the front door cover, but he says he thinks it still works. I'm not going to ask him to fiddle with the 6 disc changer after all of this, I could have the thing in the shop from now till kingdom come :) -- I anticipate I am going to do something about the CDplayer situation soon after it is in my hands though. If the 6disc works, I will , of course, continue to utilize it. But if it decides it has had enough, I might end up getting the radio yanked (radio/tape player combo) and put in a semi-decent head unit. Depending on prices these days I miiight throw in an 8 or 10inch sub.. But I'm not as crazy as I once was. :)

You see you think like me,.. I think I'm getting an excellent deal. I think I'm basically getting a 4500 lexus and whole TON of mechanical labor done for free. Sort of like I went and bought the lexus from someone else and brought it to the mechanic and said fix anything that needs it. --

Again it is the whole LCD Climate control deal that is holding things up. I contacted the guy via email a few hours ago who sales the replacement LCD pieces you solder in for 160$ + shipping.. And explained who I was, and the situation,.. and that if my mechanic contacted him could he please let him know I am willing to pay for the speedy shipping and so forth. I can't imagine there is a whole lot of 'business's' or 'people' who are building LS400 90-94 LCD replacements, so that is probably the same 'email' my mechanic has. Hopefully when they get into contact he will be able to get the part quickly.

However, if it is.. That is alot more than I anticipated he was going to have to pay to for the part for the climate control. $160 is not chump change, for a little LCD display.. and that is coming out of his pocket , not mine. Maybe he found a cheaper way,.. I'm not sure.

Take care,

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Sounds like you have found a spectacular automobile!

I cannot personally comment on the questions below. To be honest, I have always "babied" my 91' LS400. I have never had the engine speed over 2900 rpms. Pathetic I know. It was the same way with my old 90' LS400 though. I think I only had it up to 3500 rpms once on a freeway entry ramp. I have never personally seen what kind of oomph these cars have. lol. <_<

Judging by what you've heard and seen, I think you just might know how much oomph your car has,.. you just choose not to use it :)

About that instrument cluster... do all of the dash needles illuminate fully? If so, inquire if any of the electrical components in the cluster have ever been replaced. If not, when the cluster is out repairing the gauge, it may be a good idea to go ahead and have the cluster sent off and rebuilt by the gentlemen mentioned here that rebuilds them? With that mileage/age, it could only be a matter of time before one of the lights fail, :o , but then again, it may go another few years/thousands of miles before they fail. My old 1990 LS400 did not have this problem until it hit about 245,000 miles, when 1/2 of the speedometer needle light went out. Luckily, my current 1991 LS400 (with 209K) still has all lights working properly... for now anyway. lol.

Keep us posted and post some photos when you get her.

Good luck and enjoy!

Well the instrument cluster is actually fine -- All the lights illuminate properly, yes,.. The only problem with it is the Fuel gauge stopped working, the needle stays down. (Though he said it is working now after he pulled it out to see which end the problem was on) -- And said he found a guy who would fix the cluster for I believe $195 -- I said nah, let's pass on that, and I can work that out later. The fuel gauge is 'temporarily' working atm, it could not be workign again when I pick it up, but the low fuel light comes on, and he said his wife always reset the tripometer, and it refueled at 350miles. So I'll just go by that if it decides to quit working again. Then send it off for repair at a later date.

(Just on that note.. can I get him to take it out later on, and continue to drive the car without the cluster in until it is shipped back?) -- I've been driving a car for years that the speedometer doesn't work in.. I don't need the instrumentation to drive.. (temporarily of course).

Also, the guy who rebuilds them here.. are prices any better than the 195$ I was quoted?

-- The main problem as I have mentioned several times now is that darn LCD blackout 'smear' on the Climate Control.. He has it out and ready for a new LCD panel to go in right now.. Cept, well, we don't have an LCD panel. I am hoping the part can somehow be shipped overnight from California to get here Thurs/Fri for him to have it all back together Sat Afternoon.

*I am selling my current automobile Saturday as well.. so of course getting all transactions and such done in one day saves alot of hassle, and having my new 'baby' would be nice to show off and enjoy.

------------

I think the first thing I am going to do to it is take it and get a CD player installed (providing the 6 disc in trunk doesn't work) -- and get the windows tinted a bit. Nothing ugly.. just to make it look a little sharper. I'm used to tint, and Black tint on silver should look pretty sharp imo.

Lowest legal amount I think is 35%, so I would probably get that. -- Been a while since I've had windows tinted,.. anyone have a ballpark figure for about what that runs these days? I had a friend who worked for Novus do a 2-seater for 100$ cash on a Saturday once, but that was a steal. I'm thinking around $200 or so for the Lexus?

Thanks..

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I stand corrected Neo, I was thinking 282k not 228k. I guess I might be dylexic LOL. Looking to see the pics :cheers:

No need to stand corrected.. :) -- I'm long winded in my posts, so I expect people to skim them at best.. hehe. I can't wait to post the pictures to be honest. I'm actually looking FORWARD to washing and waxing the car. Because its already in good condition now, so washing a clean car is not a 'bad' job.

However, once this 240 is sold.. I will have $1600 to 'play with' -- It is my mini Lexus fund. Some inital thoughts are:

A) Sock back $200 for instrument cluster that is bound to go out eventually.

B) Use $200 for a tint job

C) Use a few hundred for a decent head-unit (cdplayer/mp3player/ etc)

I'm not real sure -- I've been browsing around the forums, but it isn't like the mustang enthusiasts :) - Where you had a kajillion parts to choose from ranging from 20$ to 2000$, that you could plan an entire 'upgrade' around. But I suppose there are alot of parts, but I don't want to take the 'stock' look out of it, nor change the ride. Though 'bettering' it wouldn't bother me at all..

What are some common enthusiast upgrades, that are easy on the wallet when they first start 'modding' the car if you will. (I consider different headlight bulbs a mod, so it can be anything ) :)

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