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My First Lexus! '92 Ls400


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Thanks to everybody for a great website. Your posts made my recent acquisition of a '92 LS400 a lot more informed. I was previously a forum junky on, but looks like I'm here for a while.

I just sold my '97 Merc E420 with 65k. In the 8 months I owned it I spent over $3500 on 'surprises' and decided I'd had enough.

I just picked up the Lexus yesterday in Austin, TX and drove it back to CA. I must say I'm very impressed. Smooth engine, very comfortable (23 hr trip), and great gas mileage/range. I went 500 miles on a tank and had 4 gallons to go!

It is Dark Green with Nakamichi Audio, CD changer, and seat memory. I am the third owner. The car has been maintained almost exclusively at Lexus dealerships.

The following is my list of squawks. If the list seems nit-picky, it's because I'm an airline pilot and we're notoriously bitchy about broken stuff. I'll start with a list of the 'known' problems--the ones I was aware of when I took delivery. And then I'll tell you about the 'surprises.'

Known Squawks

Climate Control LCD FUBAR

Engine undercarriage plastic cover FUBAR

Front Brake pads need replacing

Wheels out of balance (so I thought)

LH power window console loose

1/3 of rear view mirror has LCD bleeding problem


Inconsistent vibration above 65. I thought it was tire balance issue, so I balanced them before the trip--didn't help at all. Could be U-joints--seems torque related)

Rear marker light burnt out

Gas Door Release Inop

Both front speakers blown

RR door misaligned/difficult to open

Radio blinked-out/lost power momentarily, when brake was applied (happened 3x)

Cigarette lighter inop

Headlights out of adjustment

If anyone has any tips on any of the above problems, your expertise with these fine automobiles will not be wasted! Most of these problems I plan to DIY. Rest assured, I will not stop until everything works!! Thanks in advance for your time.


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Welcome to LOC Josh. I just bought my first Lexus too. A 1993 LS400 146,000miles, only drove it 30miles since I bought it. When I read your post it reminded me of my Lexus. My Lexus had most of the same problems like yours. And they fell into the same two categories, "Known Squawks and surprises." I'm also the third owner of it too. I also have the climate control/time LCD blacked out.

AN EARLIER POST. Here is one of the problems that you have, that I had when I bought my car. I'm not 100% sure if the problem is cured because after the I had it fixed it snowed and I never drove it. But my dad drove it and he said that it has imporved, he took it up to 90mph, thats when the car vibrated alot after the balancing and roation before it did that at 65mph.

How many miles does your car have?

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Cool. I'm still very impressed with the car. The vibration is not so bad. As a matter of fact, if I set the cruise, the car sort of 'settles in' to the speed and the vibration all but goes away. If I start heading down a hill or I have to change speeds, the vibe comes back. If I settle at a new speed it will vibrate for a while and then 'settle in.'

Since I had the tires balanced and rotated and they're new (less than 9k) it doesn't seem like that sort of an issue, although the balancing was done at a Good Year shop, not a performance shop.

Couldn't it be the U-joints? I had an RX-7 that had bad U-joints and it seemed like a similar vibration.

BTW my Lex has 134K. Runs like a top.


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Gas door release inop is probably a missing spring clip which pushes the door out. I believe there is a TSB on this problem and the replacement spring clip is redesigned to keep it from falling out.

My black jade 92 LS400 had this probem about 5 years ago. The part was only a few dollars.

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Awesome guys! Thanks a lot. I knew Lexus owners were decent people.

I'm going to go right now and try the cigarette lighter fuse.

Allright! Both of the lighters were inop. The fuse looked good when I pulled it, but I swapped it with the Fog Lt. fuse and now both lighters work like a charm! Thanks for the troubleshoot Migirdech!

I'm going to put all new fuses in. Maybe this will help my radio problem. The terminals of the fuses look corroded. Should I sand the terminals in the fuse box also?

Regarding the gas-door problem, I think you're right ModMan. I noticed that the courtesy lights dim when I pull the release button, which to me indicates that the solenoid is activating. Should I go to the dealer for the replacement spring?

Shoot guys, we're 3 down 12 to go on my squawk list and it's only the second day!

I just detailed the crap out of the car today--always a nice place to start. The paint is in decent shape, but not as good as I originally thought. There is some minor blistering on the hood and some stains from baked-on bird crap. Does anyone have any recommendations/caveats regarding rubbing compound?

Mercedes sucks, Lexus is cool.

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My first Lexus was a 92 as well Josh. Great car - my only regret is not buying one sooner!

As to the polish, buy Meguiars No. 9 Swirl Remover. It is a product used by body shops with power equipment. Use it by hand, and the results are fantastic. Then use a good wax - I just use Meguiars No 27 Yellow Wax, but of course many people have their own favourites.

Lexol on the the leather too.

The vibration is probably not the driveshaft or the CV joints. These cars are sensitive to alignment, on both the front and rear. Find a good shop that will record and print out the angles as they first measure them, and at the end of the job, for front and rear. Most modern alignment machines will do this. Once back into spec, the vibrations, assuming the balance and tire carcasses are fine, will probably be gone. The pre-alignment check may show some bushing wear, but even then the wear is less of an issue with the angles set properly.

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Thanks for the tip on the McGuire's Swirl Remover. As for the alignment and tire balancing, it sounds like you are probably right. The more I've read in the forums, the more I see this is a common problem.

Luckily, I found a really good alignment shop. Johnson's alignment here in L.A. They are really expensive, but they do the alignment by hand and road test the car several times to get everything just right. My Benz was like a new car after I took it to them.

Oh, I just found one more squawk today. The seat memory doesn't appear to be working. When I set it, I get the beep, but then if I move things around and press the Mem 1 button, it does a short beep and nothing moves. Any ideas?


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Thanks ModMan. I'm going to the dealer tomorrow to research some missing service receipts. I'm hoping they hit the timing belt and the front rotors on the missing 90K service recipt or else I may be in for some $$ soon.

Yesterday I pulled an all-day bow-to-stern detail job. I used a generic polish (I'll use Meguire's swirl remover next time) to get the gloss back. Then I started in with a toothbrush and went around the car removing wax buildup and crud nestled into the rubber parts. I hit all of the door jambs, hinges, windlace, door seals and wheel wells with armor all and degreaser where appropriate. The car looks like new!

Today I took it easy and threw on a coat of wax, hit the carpets and speaker grilles with carpet cleaner, and replaced a burnt out taillight. I love this car.

I have lots of records, but there are some holes. I'm thinking it needs the following preventative maint. to start off fresh:

Trans & Diff. Fluid Change

Brake Fluid Change

New Fuel Filter

New Fuel Tank Cap Gasket

Coolant Flush

Valve Clearance Adjust

New Spark Plugs/Wires?

New Front Brake Pads /Turn Rotors

New Timing Belt

Right Rear Door Latch Alignment

Check A/C pressure switch (low pressure line has frost on it and compressor never seems to cycle)

Adjust Headlights

New Undercarriage Plastic Shield

It seems like these are all due according to book recommendations. Does anyone have any advice or warnings? Thanks in advance.

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I changed my timing belt last month and spent $475 in parts (oem water pump, both idlers, distributor caps and rotors, thermostat, and belt). I think shops get 4 - 5 hours for the job; it only took me 12.

If you don't find any records you could take off one distrubutor cap cover and look at the condition of the existing belt. Mine had at least 100K miles on it and the exterior of the belt was covered with small cracks.

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I am a Mercedesshop forum junky also.

If not too much trouble, could you give us a quick and dirty on your E420 problems?

My 1990 with 130m has a poor finish problem. The PO would use a broom to knock off leaves! So the clear coat is completely scratched up. I just tried Meguiars Swirl Remover with a Porter Cable random polisher and the results were pretty good. Scratches still there but minimized. Looks great with a nice coat of wax. To get the scratches out, I'll need a more aggressive polish but for me and my level of experience with the polisher, the swirl remover is about as aggressive as I can go.

If the timing belt was done by the dealer, there is usually a sticker on one of the engine covers.

Where is this Johnsons alignment place?



1991 MBZ 300CE

1990 LS400

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