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Buying Ls400 '97 Or '98


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I currently own a MB 300E '92. Though it's a nice riding, solid car. It doesn't have the reliability of a Toyata. My standard has been my wife's Toyo Corrolla (built in Japan) wagan 240K miles with original clutch. I have a few questions

1 Where are LS manufactured? Japan? If in other countries, what years did they start building them in other countries.

2 From the post I've read, it looks like there is a model change in 98. Is there that much difference that I should lean to one over the other?

3. I consider myself an intermediate DIY mechanic. How difficult/easy is it to work on this vehicle? ( I know having the 3 volume Manuel is a must). Is this vehicle OE, over engineered (OE>Not better just more complicated. MB tends to OE).

What I gotten from reading many of the Posts, is that LS400 is a wonder, reliable vehicle. Have to keep away from air suspension and make sure the 90K service has been done.

BTW, I went to the pinned post by Matthew_McNally, on FAQs, but there is nothing there. Am I looking in the wrong place?

Thanks in advance for any and all replies.

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all LS vehicles are made in japan and you can check it by VIN number.acutally you can check any car. if it starts with J it means japan.

there is not much difference between GEN II and genII LS at least not on the interior or exterior. lexus tends to keep LS series the same at least inside. engine got 30 more HP, suspension was redezigned and the front of the vehicle got a new headlights.

its not that hard to work on this car. most of the parts are accessible and all the procedures are described in the manual

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I fully agree with VMF, the LS400 is relatively easy to work on with access to the shop manuals. I bought all three and I almost believe that you can just about completely disassemble the car with a 10MM wrench and socket. The LS400 is a well engineered car, OE is debatable but I don't think so. It has all the whistles and bells that any luxury sedan has and I believe that overall, it doesn't have as many problems as many other makes. Mechanically I believe the drive train is superior to most.


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:lol: I would definitelybuy 98+ if I was buying my first Lexus. Really, theres not a huge difference but enough to justify the boost in price. The resale value is much higher than 97 and older - many gen 2 now sells for about 11-12 grand, 98+ usually cost at least 16-17 grand. The 98+ are considerably faster w/290 hp motor (0-60 in 6.4 seconds! As fast as a non-turbo Supra!!) The 95-97 goes to 0-60 in 7.6 seconds, albeit with an impressive 156mph top speed (same as a non-turbo 911 from several years ago!).

The body might look the same, but 98+ front end looks more elegant, and modern, striking at night with HIDS, the 95-97 looks good too but has sort of that 80s Merc look.

Also the backend was reinforced for 98, in crash tests 95-97 sustained $2400 worth damage from backing into pole at 5 mph, the 98+ just scratches.

Oh, the nav system is pretty dope too if you want to impress your girlfriend or whatever, you can also modify to have TV reception!

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as my name implies (and as you will see me state all over this forum) i'm a lexus technician.

the LS400 is extremely easy to work on as !Removed! as basic main't goes...ie 30, 60, 90, and oil changes and what not.

you just have to know where everything is....as far as the manuals go...ehh if you are a novice to advanced mechanic and you know your way around under the hood you really don't need to waste that money..

actually the most difficult thing to figure out is how to get the dang air filter out of it..haha you have to take to whole plenum off to get it out...then you just take all the rest of the intake tubing off.. and you then realize just how much room you have to work with....btw a cordless drill is an absolute must to work on this car..as you have to take out about 30 10mm screws to just get to everything...ok so that's a slight exageration..but still it really is very easy...actually it's easier than working on an es or rx cause you don't have to squeeze your hands into any tight spaces...most important thing is just to use genuine parts...there is a difference believe it or not

the only things i would steer clear of is anything like the water pump or the t-belt....those are no fun to do...but stuff like the alternator are easy...

Oh and i would definately go for the 98-00 body style....regardless of what anyone says there are worlds of difference ....you just can't see them all!

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I would definately go 98-00 as opposed to older as long as you can afford it. On top of getting a more modern looking vehicle (new front end, taillights and wheels) there are a lot of improvements that were made in 98, thicker glass, more sound deadening, 290hp V8 with VVT-I 5 speed auto (95-97 have a 260hp V8 and a 4sp) HID headlights, wood/leather wheel, trip computer, availiable navigation. Definately worth it to find a 98-00.

The FAQ must have been wiped out when the forum crashed. I think anyone can post in it, feel free to add pertinant information where you see fit.

We're also still working on reinstalling the workshop section and having members re-submit the tech articles.

Welcome to the club!

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first of all VVTI technology proved to be less reliable then the original one thus making maintenancy more expensive plus i never saw gen III LS doin 0-60 in 6.4. 7.4 may be but not 6.4. wooden steering wheel is a plus as well as couple more airbags. thats pretty it

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My dads 98 went 150,000 miles until he traded it in with nary a problem, this is the first I've ever heard of there being reliability issues with the VVTi engine.

I've also seen track time slips on 98-00 LS400s validating the 0-60 time being mid 6 seconds. Car and Driver also repeatedly validated this claim.

There are a lot of improvements in the 98, 10% stiffer chassis overall, I can find a whole list of them somewhere if anyone would like. Then theres the always subjective opinion of styling, I think the 98-00 is the best looking LS yet, might be equal or bested by the new 04 but I need more time to decide.

Its all in the eye of the beholder, but aside from the style I personally believe there are more than enough improvements on the 98 to make it worthwhile over a 97. Its equal to the differences between the 03 and 04 LS430. Plus you can pick up a average mileage good condition 98 for under 20k nowadays. No offense intended to anyone with an older LS...

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Here are all the changes to the 98 from 97

Changes Made To The 1998 LS 400

Standard Features:

- Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i)

- All new five-speed automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i)

- Gated transmission shift system

- Revised rear suspension subframe mounts

- Adoption of Electronic Throttle Control System (ETCS)

- Added vibration - and noise-dampening materials

- Vehicle Skid Control (VSC)[2] standardized

- Front seatbelt with pre-tensioner and force limiter

- Lexus Memory System standardized

- New, more distinctive headlamps, turn signals relocated next to headlamps

- New grille shape, chrome surround, number of horizontal bars, sheet metal now between grille and headlamps

- New, shapely front fenders

- Integrated key design

- New lower fascia and bumper cover

- New relocated foglamps, more aggressive air dam

- Wider taillamps

- New wheel design

- Lower interior noise

- Glass-imprinted radio antenna with FM-diversity system

- Right-side mirror with auto tilt-down in reverse

- Programmable garage-door opener

- Customized Body Electronics System (C-BEST)

- Improved rear reading lamps

- Adoption of audio ASL (Automatic Sound Levelizer)

- Multi-information-display drive computer

- Headrest for all seats, including rear-center

- Enlarged front headrests

- Improved HVAC system with air filter and new auto-recirculation function

- One-touch open/close feature with pinch protection added to all windows

- Extension of wood trim in the center console

- Revised stainless-steel scuff plate with Lexus logo

- Fabric-covered sun visors and front headliner replaces vinyl

- New, softer leather material

Optional Features:

- Five new exterior colors: Antique Sterling Metallic, Imperial Jade Mica, Baroque Red Metallic, Atlantis Blue Mica and Antique Bronze Mica replace Crystal Quartz Metallic, Star Sapphire Pearl, Ebony Teal Pearl and Deep Jewel Green Pearl

- One-touch open/close feature with pinch protection added to optional moonroof

- Lexus Navigation System[3]

- Availability of wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob

- High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with dynamic auto leveling

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:lol: Changes from 90-94 to 95-97, just from what I know:


-considerably redesigned w/creases added to panels (giving it that fresh "ironed" look),

giving it more muscular apperence.

-200 pounds lighter w/smaller starter, multiplex wiring, computer-trimmed structure

-smaller, squared taillights, bigger headdlights w/smaller grille

-length same, wheelbase increased 1.4 inches for more rear leg room

-windshields pulled back for more room


-considerably redesinged, new steering wheel (with better view of gauges),seats,dash,transmission shift knob and surround, climate control

-New killer Nakamichi system w/6cd changer in mini-glovebox, housed in lustrous wood

-more rear leg room by 2.6 inches

-even quiter, filtered out certain noise spectrums that interferes with human speech, based

on "conversation articulation index"


-more power : 260 hp and 270 lb-ft, up from 250 and 260 due to higher compression, semi-dual header type

exhaust manifolds, hot-wire air metering device

-quiter, improved idle, emissions

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i agree that GEN III LS is a better looking car. i would love to get one myself later on. but as to perfomance i went to the track with clublexus people in my area couple of times and i didnt see any difference in the 1/4 mile times. Gen II and III had slightly better times then gen I. i did 1/4 mile in 15.3 while GS 430 withmodified torque converter did 14.8 none of the lexus models passed 14.0 mark. best time was from turobcharged Is 300 and it was 14.3

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Difference between gen 3 (98-00) and gen 4 (01+)is too numerous too list here. It was the first time that the LS was completely redesigned from scratch, 95% new. Carry over parts were like nuts, bolts, some switches, buttons, and etc.

All I know is that it is slower than gen 3. Car and Driver clocked 2001 LS430 from 0-60 in 6.7 seconds.

2004 with new 6 speed trans does it in 6.3 seconds.

Yes its better than the older models, but in someways its not because it has lost the orginality/ flavor/character/charm of the older, more flawed models, I think it has the same aura as a Cad Deville

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i have to agree with u on the last statement. ive done the same on my LS on the racing track:) only mine has less miles thats y i had a lil better time. GEN III LS will do the same time but not better in average

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Yea I got a question - how the heck do you do that when its governed to 131 mph?

Did you install a Titan V solid-stage rocket booster? Did you have lauched it off of a runway of USS Nemesis with a speed booster used for F-14s to take off? Maybe had it shoot out of a roman cannon? Maybe it was strapped to a B-52 bomber while its taking off.

Maybe the limiter was removed. Youre a tech, so tell me are they easy to remove? I know on Merc its a pain

in the !Removed! because its got bunch of them embedded in the car

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first of all i don't know who told you it's governed to 131 but they should be smacked for being that stupid an then repeating it :chairshot: :lol: ...only the first gen was governed that low...the gen IV cars are governed to 165...(and they have just a little more hp than the old ones...about 265rwhp+/-) and no rocket boosters required to get up that high...just about 3mi of road if i remember correctly.(not sure on that part)

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its not governet to 131, at least not in my car. the top speed for 96 LS is 156 mph and i did 145 of them! prolly gen III and IV and V they did that but not on the first 2. even my lexus manual said its 156 and not 131

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The Gen 1,2,3 were not governed - top speeds of 150 to 156 mph.

Check all legitimate sources regarding LS430 - Car and Driver, etc, it is electronically limited to 131 mph due to the

sorry !Removed! H-rated tires they put on for American market. If anything, its the newer cars that tends to have limiters. The Merc AMG CL65 -

with twin turbo V-12 600+ hp capable of 200 mph will have limiter to 155mph...E500 with 302 hp governed to a puny 131 mph...

Oh, the european LS430s do go to 256 km/h = 160 mph

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DUDE I WORK FOR LEXUS....I KNOW THIS *BLEEP*...YEAH THE TIRES ARE RATED LOW..ON THE 16'S THE 17'S ARE HIGHER RATED...and guess what the damn car WILL do 165 and not even breathe heavy!

And i don't give a damn what those morons at Car and Driver said...those guys have been getting kick backs from GM for years to put their crap cars up on top.

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