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How To Get Better Handling / European Ride On Ls400


Howiiieee
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Hi Folks:

I replaced my 97 BMW 528i with a 95 Lexus LS400 late last year. I really loved the way the BMW handles and its flat ride. However, it was constantly in the shop and I finally had it. The LS400 is a great car and its reliability is the best in the world. The power train is powerful and smooth, no complains there. However, I do feel like I am bouncing around on the soft ride. It leans a lot while cornering and I can feel it even on just quick lane changes.

I am hoping for the best of both worlds. Since it is impossible to make the BMW more reliable, my option is to make the Lexus handles better. I hope the LS400 community can help me with some suggestions:

1. Stiffer suspensions? Which brand is the best?

2. New spring to lower the car?

3. Racing type coilovers? Will the ride gets too stiff? Which brand is the best?

4. Bigger wheels (18") and low profile tires?

5. Any other ways to make it more European cars ride like?

Thanks in advance for all your suggestions and inputs.

Howiiieee B)

Rialto (next to San Bernardino), Ca

95 LS400

97 BMW 528i

98 ES300

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1. Possibly get a coilover setup? I don't know many details of that, coilovers aren't my expertise, I've heard Locksmice are good.

2. I have had great results with Tanabe DF210 lowering springs

3. again, possibly Locksmice, I'm sure someone else will chime in about coilovers ;)

4. Look into a Supra's strut bar. They will fit with minimal modification, someone else will have details about it. I don't know the exact year or style of Supra to look into.

5. Want to make it more European? Try to get it to break down then it will be B) lol!

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For stiffer suspension you can try Koni struts. everyone says the KYB and Tokico have soft yet firm OEM feel.

The Eibach springs are European and i think H&R are too. Tanabe is what most people like due to cost and workmanship

For coilovers you can get the Tein coilovers and EDFC which allows you to adjust the height in the car.

Bigger wheels will affect the handling, i'd study offsets and tire sizes on Clublexus.com

From what people say Euro cars are made for Autobahn driving. very fun to drive, good handling and fast. Jap cars are made for reliablity. also fun to drive, fast, but made for American driving (65mph on I-70) :angry: but you can push a Jap car.

I would say lower it and get larger wheels. BMW's are not much different except for the quality of parts.

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You'd probably be alright with KYB GR-2s. Your '95 undoubtedly is not as tight as it was stock, and people looking for a 'new" stock feel are occasionally less than completely happy with the GR-2s because they're just a little too stiff to be called an OEM replacement. Sounds right up your alley. They'd also cost you a fraction of the cost of coilovers, which are excessive for the average street driver.

if you're trying to get close to a BMW, i'd also check out a strut tower brace and your options with sway bars, and replacing all of your suspension bushings.

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I thank everybody for their great suggestions. After looking at all options, I have decided to install coilovers on my LS400. The other options are good and economical, but I think the effect could be mild and will not be enough to satisfy me. With coilovers, I can lower the car 1.2" and have stiffer shocks for better handling. With 32 points adjustable, I can try different settings to find the one I really like, too.

I got a deal for a set of Megan Racing LP street coilovers + installations for $1000. That's not bad consider how much some other brand coilovers can cost much more. The bad news for me is that they are out of stock for another month, so I won't get to drive with one for a while. I'll definately post a test drive impression after the installation.

I would also like to know if any of you own or have driven cars with Magen Racing coilovers? Are they pretty good and long lasting? I look forward to more of your comments on this topic.

Howiiieee B)

95 LS400

Rialto, CA

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  • 2 months later...

After 2+ months of waiting, my Magan racing coilovers for my 95 LS400 has finally come in. I have scheduled the installation with a auto shop tomorrow. I'll file a driving impression after the installation is done. Hopefully this will be what I am looking for.

B)

Howiiieee

Rialto (next to San Bernardino), Ca

95 LS400

97 BMW 528i

98 ES300

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Hi folks:

The Magan Racing coilovers are intalled in my 95 LS400 now. I inspected it before the installation and they look very polished and well made. They looked strong enough to take a beating over time, but that remains to be seen.

I ask the installer to lower the car 1.2 inch and set the damping level to 12 (0 is the hardest and 36 is the softest).

The first glance when I picked up the car is the car is lower. I have to bend down a bit more to get into the car just like I used to do getting in and out of the BMW. However, the steering wheel is raised when the key is out so it is still very easy to get in and out. The lower center of gravity also makes the car seems more stable in turns and quick lane changes. The suspension is definately stiffer, the car seems more "flat" when cornoring. I have only been on the city street and freeway so far. I plan to hit the local mountain on one of these weekends to test it out on the twisting roads. So far, it is what I've been looking for on this project.

There is definately a foundamental change in the feel / ride of the car. No longer I feel I am floating from point A to point B. The floating and even bouncy feeling is gone. The ride is still very smooth, but I can feel the road clearly through the floor, the seat, and the steering wheel. This is great if you like to feel connected to the road, not so great if you like the "Lexus dream ride". The road noise seems to be a bit louder, too. There seems to be more steering feel, too. This is new for me so I am enjoying it at the moment. I don't know if I will get tire of it on a long trip. I do have the damper on a stiffer setting, I may put it on a softer setting later to try out the difference. It is very easy to adjust it in the front, just pop the hood and turn the nob. It is very difficult to do it on the back, as the control nob is buried behind the back seat.

A quick summary for the early driving impression. The car is more stable, coners more flat, more road and steering feel, more lively, more "busy" feel and a bit more noisy. It may not be for many drivers who likes the "Lexus feel", but it will definately appeal to people who like to "drive" the car.

So far I am very happy with the $1K I spent. I will file another report in a couple weeks after I lives with it for a while.

Howiiieee

Rialto, Ca

95 LS400

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi folks:

I have the Magan Racing coilover installed for 2 weeks now. The springs have settled and feel smoother (or I have gotten used to the feel now). I have tried to set the damping force setting to softer (24 out of 36 softest) and the ride is cushier. I did put it back to harder setting, but that's personal preference. It is nice to have a range to play with. If you have the money, go with Tein with EDFC, then you can play with the damping force setting all day if you want. It can be fun and is very temping, but I think saving $1000 is more important for me right now.

I hit the local mountain road last weekend and yes, it was fun. The car corners flat and fast and stick to the line all the time. The steering feel was good, too. It is not as quick as I would like, but it is a big full size sedan!!! I used to own a BMW 528 and the Beemer has better steering feel and is quicker, more atheletic; however, the Lexus with racing coilover is fairly close. This is as fun as ever when I drove a Toyota made car. Gone is the cushy Toyota ride, but gains are the new limit on cornering and control on fast lane change. No more wobbling feel that reduce confidence.

In conclusion, I am pretty happy with the result of the coilover modification on the LS400. It may not be for people who like luxury rides, but for me, the stiffer "European" ride with Lexus reliability is the ticket. It is still short of the BMW 5 series, but until I can save up for a newer more trouble free BMW, I will be having fun in this full size racer with room for 5 for a long while.

Howiiieee

Rialto, CA

95 LS400

97 BMW528 (junked)

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  • 6 years later...

Back from the dead, here's hoping Howie is still subscribed to this thread...

Could you update on the longevity of the Megan coilovers? I'm debating between these or sticking with KYB on my '99. Any idea how many miles/years you got out of them (or are they still going strong)?

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