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1992 Es300


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I have a 1992 Es300 that is showing wear and tear. The car has multiple small engine gasket leaks that require I add a quart of oil every 2-3 months, the radio is no longer operable, the dashboard lights are out and other small problems. However, I get the oil changed frequently as well as the other fluids including coolant and transmission, on a routine basis. If I can get another two years out of the car I will be pleased.

Recently, whenever I go over bumps (and at times when I turn), especially a cobblestone street near me, I hear a chatter if you will, coming from the front end. Today I took the car to my local mechanic and he said the problem is the 2 sway bar bushings and 2 sway bar links.

Beyond the chattering or banging noise, I am having a problem evaluating if these repairs are really necessary, keeping in mind I would like to get a couple of more years out of the car. Specifically, what can happen if I do not make the repairs? If the repairs are necessary because of safety or without them I will cause other damage in the short run, where online can I purchase the parts online and how much should I expect to pay for them? Lastly, if I am to replace these parts, how many hours labor should it take a competent mechanic?

Your advice is needed and appreciated.

Anovice

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It's been several years since I was able to get under a car and do anything other than routine maintenance, like oil changes, etc.

Sway bar bushings and links shouldn't take long to do, and you probably won't have to buy the parts online.

Call Pep Boys or Autozone and ask for the parts PRICEs before buying.

Call me old-fashioned, but, IF I'm going to drive a car . . . . . . it's going to be safe.

I don't care if it goes fast, but, when I turn the wheel, I want the wheels to turn. Same with brakes. When I step on the brake pedal, I want the car to stop, then!

The sway bars hold the car to the road, when going around curves and around corners.

Just through weight distribution, in a turn, one side of the car will tend to rise and the sway bar counteracts that movement to help keep the car flat and stable.

Would I get it fixed???

You darned skippy I would. :D

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Thanks for your post.

I called the local Toyota dealership to get a cost on the parts. The two bushings for the stabilizer will cost $17.20. The two links $112.02 and the four nuts for the links $2.60. Not so bad if it fixes the problem.

However, what concerned me was their comment "we do not have the links in stock as we have never sold them, but we can get them in a few days". While I know absolutely nothing about cars, this comment makes me think that the links do not go bad. Can this be the case?

Short of taking the car to another mechanic for a second opinion, is it more likely the rattling in the front end could be the lower control arms or the lower ball joints?

Again, it only occurs when I go over bumps, including the small ones on the cobblestone street near where I live.

Anovice

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It could be the lower ball joint(s), but, I'd suspect the tie-rod ends, first.

From what I'm seeing in the drawings, the sway bar links are like minature ball joints on each end of the link.

There is a test to show how much torque should be applied to them, etc., etc.

So, I would say that the links CAN go bad, because the manual is showing the routine for diagnosing and replacing the links!

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There are a few quick things to check. From what I've read, your symtpoms could be three things: the sway bar bushings, tie rod ends, or ball joints on the spindles.

All these are pretty easy to pinpoint. First the sway bar: with the car parked, just get under the car and grab the sway bar. If it moves/slides/wiggles with ease, then you should probably replace the bushings. This is quite easy... here's a little write up I did a while ago: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...&hl=bushing

If it's tie rod ends, the steering will feel loose, and you may even get some shimmying on the road at speed (felt in the steering wheel or in the body of the car). Worn tie rods need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Lastly, to check for ball joints, jack the vehcile up so the wheels are off the ground (but make darn sure you're car is secure and stable, i.e., use jack stands in the proper places). Then, with tires off the ground and vehicle secured, grab the wheel with one hand on the top of the wheel, and the other hand on the bottom of the wheel. Then rock the wheel forward and back (not turning the wheel, but as if you were trying to break the wheel off). Do this firmly, for if it feels solid and you don't get any movement, then your ball joints are good. If you get much of any slop or movement, even a slight shift, then your ball joints are wearing (that slight shift shows up as a clunk or a click when carrying the full load of the car on the wheel). Worn ball joints will cause uneven tire wear and can show up in performance/handling problems. Super worn ball joints could snap, and then you loose a wheel... not a good thing.

One of these conditions is probably your culprit. The bushings are the easiest to fix, the tie rods require a little more work/money, and ball joint repair/replacement is the most expensive/labor-intensive.

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Thanks for the nice write up.

I do not feel any shimmying in the car or steering wheel, so hopefully the problem is not the tie rods. While at the mechanics I seem to remember her did the check you mention for the ball joints, but I will call him and confirm.

This would then come back to the sway bar bushings. However, I seem to be co-mingling two different terms. In my first post I said "2 sway bar bushings and 2 sway bar links". Then in my second post after calling the toyota dealer I said "The two bushings for the stabilizer". Are there bushings for two different things (sway bar and stabilizer)?.

Also, the mechanic told me to get two new "sway bar" links and bfy43 mentioned "Sway bar bushings and links". Is there any reason why you did not make reference to "links". If the bushings (I am now guessing "sway bar" and "not stabilizer"), is it routine for the links to be replaced? I called Strauss and Autozone and neither carry the links, so it looks like the Toyota dealer for $112.02 for both links for the front.

I am starting to get better understanding, but I am still not there ;-)

Anovice

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dealer is gonna cost you,

call advance, pep, oreilly and get prices, they all price match, so keep that in mind, and do it your self, will come out about 60% cheaper than buying parts at a dealer and getting them to do it for you.

my old 92 es300 did the same, and come to find out, it was only the bushings, and they were only $14 for both of them.

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No worries... the switching of terminology can be a bit confusing. To give you a better feel of what is being talked about, the 'sway bar' is actually an 'anti-sway bar', for it is simply a long sculpted rod of spring steel spanning from one side of the car to the other to keep the vehicle from swaying side to side (also known as 'body roll'). It is pinned to the frame of the car with two bushings, each about 1/4 the length of the bar in from the end. Those are refered to as the 'bushings'. At each end of the sway bar is a link that ties the bar into the lower portion of the suspension component, and that is the 'link'... it's a ~6" rod with rubber stops at both end. Here's a generic image of a sway bar, the bushing (part that clamps around the bar), and the link (at the end of the bar): http://progressauto.com/store/images/62.1003.jpg

In my experience, the links are probably fine... they have so much rubber on either side of the sway bar and are at the end so they rarely cause a rattle (unless you've lost a whole rubber grommet on a link or something, which is doubtful and rare). If you get a sway bar rattle, it's usually from the bushings. Their job is to hold the bar tight against the frame as it flexes. I've heard that Lexus engineers underestimated the size of bushing needed on the ES300, and therefore they tend to stretch out and loosen up, which shows up as a rattle. We had that on our ES, and it was with the rear sway bar sounding like loose golf balls knocking around in the trunk. It drove me nuts, but I figured out what it was from reading a post on this site (there are some super sharp folks on here!). I changed out the bushings and viola! Quiet as a church mouse ;-)

I wasn't able to find the bushings locally. I had to go on line to someplace like Rockauto.com or Autopartswarehouse.com. I think there were something like $17 for the pair. The repair was quick, easy, and painless... and it took care of the problem instantly.

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Shayan and blk on blk thanks for your posts.

Based on what you said as well as the parts department at the Toyota dealer that the links are not likely the problem, with one caveat, I am leaning on going a head with the stabilizer bar bushings first. They are available at the local AutoZone for a total of $10.99 (it was the links that I could not get at the local auto parts place).

The caveat is, do the links need to be removed/disturbed in order to replace the stabilizer bar bushings? I am asking this because if the bushings are replaced seperate of the links and it does not solve the problem, then I go back and replace the links. In the mean time it did not cost me the labor and I saved the $56 for each link.

On the other hand however, if the thinking is similar to the suggestion of changing the thermostat and water pump when the timing belt needs replacement, then I would be better off changing the links at the same time as the bushings and paying the incremental labor now.

Sorry for all the back and forth, but all this stuff is so foreign to me, making it very difficult to evaluate the options and to make an informed decision.

Anovice

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You can most definitely change out the bushings without changing out the links. The bushings are split, so all you have to do for each side is unbolt the retaining cap, slip the old bushing off the bar via the split, then grease up the contact areas on your new bushing (the area that contacts the bar, not the retaining cap), slip the new bushing on, realign it under the cap, and bolt the cap back on. You're done! If that doesn't resolve your issue, then you can change out your links, too, but I highly doubt you're links are very worn nor are they contributing to this issue. If you change out the bushing and you still have the rattle, I would highly doubt the links to be the next likely culprit. I would next look at ball joints.

No worries on not being sure on this stuff... that's why this board is here. Just ask ;-)

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personally,

id do the bushings, to see what that would do.

to be honest with you,

i spend every one of my paychecks every week fixing my es, and at the end, when you try to sell it, you wont get a single penny back, so do what you have to do to stay safe, and drive it until its time for it to see heaven.

good luck, and i know how you feel.

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Problem solved thanks to you fine folks on this forum!

It was the sway bar bushings and not the links. $10.99 for the two bushings at AutoZone and $64 labor at the local mechanic, the car is quiet again. The bushings were oil soaked due to the multiple oil leaks and since rubber does not like oil, I'm sure that contibuted to the bushings going.

As I mentioned in my first post, the car leaks 1 quart of oil every 2-3 months. I have not wanted to put the expense of replacing the gaskets in the engine on the car since it has 140,000 miles and with other things in need of repair. Plus, a quart of oil is a few dollars, albeit the leaks do create a mess.

If I get the chance in the next few weeks I think I will go back to my local mechanic and get an estimate to replace the gaskets that are leaking. I will then come back here and see what you guys think.

Again, thanks so much.

Anovice

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That's fantastic to hear!! You can always take the perspective that the money you saved chasing down this rattle problem can be put towards sealing up those leaks you have... that gives you a way to rationalize putting a little more work/money into the car. ;)

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