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97 Ls400 Front End Shimmy


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Hi all.

I have a 97 LS with about 110K on it. A few months ago it developed a front end shimmy at maybe 60-70 mph ... slight ... tires are fully in balance - front alignment checked and perfect.

The front struts seem ok too. Wondering if anyone else has experienced this and has suggestions.

TIA

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It looks like the 97 LS has strut bars like my 00 LS -- see the hightlighted part in the attached diagram. The strut bars, sometimes called strut rods, on my 00 LS were thoroughly worn out by 85,000 miles when they were replaced. Actually, it was the strut bar bushings that were worn out but it was cheaper to buy the whole strut bar assemblies than having new bushings pressed in. I must have had my tires balanced five times trying to get rid of the vibrations before an alignment guy found the real problem. New strut bars eliminated the front end vibrations and made my car drive like new.

post-2157-1269111715_thumb.jpg

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Hi all.

I have a 97 LS with about 110K on it. A few months ago it developed a front end shimmy at maybe 60-70 mph ... slight ... tires are fully in balance - front alignment checked and perfect.

The front struts seem ok too. Wondering if anyone else has experienced this and has suggestions.

TIA

Shimmy at highway speeds is an out of balance wheel 99.9% of the time. Are you sure a weight didn't fall off Sometimes the shop doesn't clean well before they put adhesive weights on. Try switch the problem wheel to the rear and see if problem follows the wheel.

Have brakes been done lately? If rotors were removed and mating face of hub and rotor weren't clean it could be slightly our of plane and at high speeds would shimmy.

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I was reading the person that mentioned the strut bars. That might be a good candidate. I have a 97 as well with 145k on it. I hate to think you could have a front end issue at only 110k, but no car is perfect. If you ride on bad city roads a lot this might happen I guess. I has one suggestion. I has 3 of my 4 Michelin tires that were replaced under warrant, because they were out of round. It was not easy to see, but it did cause vibration and a slight shimmy that was corrected with new tires. I would think that if you rotated these around you might see if this was a problem. Like to hear what the problem was, so I hope you post what you finally find out.

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I hate to think you could have a front end issue at only 110k, but no car is perfect. If you ride on bad city roads a lot this might happen I guess.

I think front suspension bushings being worn at 13 years old and 110k miles is pretty possible....

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Try switch the problem wheel to the rear and see if problem follows the wheel.

I agree. Easiest way to locate the source for your prob. If you find a change, then I would carefuly check the rim/tires. Rim could be ever so slightly bent or warped. Not enough to catch on a quick visual, but enough to feel at speed. Tires are most often the issue though. Check the tread by rotating the tire and noticing if it runs true. Also spin the tire by hand at a relatively low speed to notice if there are any bulges/bumps in the tread. The belts can stretch/loosen/break when the tire has a lot of miles/years on it. This will either elevate the rubber or distort the tread just enough to escape quick detection but enough to cause the shimmy or vibration.

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ya, I guess. About 25,000 of my miles are from long highway road trips(4,000 plus miles each). Also, I live in Texas and the roads are in very good shape. I was raised in Buffalo, NY, so I know how bad roads and winters can be on cars. Sill interested in what you it really turns out to be.

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I hate to think you could have a front end issue at only 110k, but no car is perfect. If you ride on bad city roads a lot this might happen I guess.

This Australian web auto magazine article mentions why the "semi-longitudinal tension rods" (their term for strut bars) on the later LS400 wear out so quickly: http://www.autospeed.com/cms/A_3041/article.html

The usually rapid wear of the strut bar bushings on the later LS400 is related to the revised suspension design and not to road quality.

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The problem persists even though I have new aftermarket wheels and new tires - the new wheels and tires were done with a road force balancer by the manager whom I trust. So really - I have ruled out

the wheels and tires. I think the struts might be a potential source.

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When the struts on my car were worn, the car pulled to the right but I never noticed any shimmy. A few years later my car developed a slight vibration between 80-90 but tracking was perfect. Since the tires were about cooked, I replaced them and did not have an alignment. Since then, the car has been perfect

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The problem persists even though I have new aftermarket wheels and new tires - the new wheels and tires were done with a road force balancer by the manager whom I trust. So really - I have ruled out

the wheels and tires. I think the struts might be a potential source.

Its a lot cheaper to move front tires to back and see if problem changes. I'd try that before I'd spend big $$$ on struts. You could even do this yourself in about 20-30 minutes. If problem profile stays the same with different wheels in front then at least you have more confidence on that repair bill.

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The problem persists even though I have new aftermarket wheels and new tires - the new wheels and tires were done with a road force balancer by the manager whom I trust. So really - I have ruled out

the wheels and tires. I think the struts might be a potential source.

Have your strut bars or strut bar bushings ever been replaced? They just don't last 110,000 miles on a gen 2 LS400.

Take your car back to your alignment guy or maybe to a different one -- maybe at a Lexus dealership? Any alignment tech worth his salt will figure this problem out in a few minutes.

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The problem persists even though I have new aftermarket wheels and new tires - the new wheels and tires were done with a road force balancer by the manager whom I trust. So really - I have ruled out

the wheels and tires. I think the struts might be a potential source.

Have your strut bars or strut bar bushings ever been replaced? They just don't last 110,000 miles on a gen 2 LS400.

Take your car back to your alignment guy or maybe to a different one -- maybe at a Lexus dealership? Any alignment tech worth his salt will figure this problem out in a few minutes.

No - they have not been touched .... I think this is sound advice - I will look at that ....

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It looks like the 97 LS has strut bars like my 00 LS -- see the hightlighted part in the attached diagram. The strut bars, sometimes called strut rods, on my 00 LS were thoroughly worn out by 85,000 miles when they were replaced. Actually, it was the strut bar bushings that were worn out but it was cheaper to buy the whole strut bar assemblies than having new bushings pressed in. I must have had my tires balanced five times trying to get rid of the vibrations before an alignment guy found the real problem. New strut bars eliminated the front end vibrations and made my car drive like new.

Wow, this is interesting. I JUST posted a reply (under "Timing Belt Question") regarding this very thing that was discovered on my 1998 LS400. I too was having a bit of steering wheel shake, had had the mags rebalanced several tims, rotors replaced, yada, yada. All the obvious stuff. Then, while making arrangements to have my TB/WP work scheduled, my mechanic brought this very issue to my attention-the rubber bushings on my Strut Rods was breaking up. Falling out in chunks. When he replaced them, he showed me the old ones. Sho nuff, they were date stamped 1998-and the orignals. Now, my car only has 49K miles on it, but the TIME factor wore the Rods down. And snce I had them replaced, boy, what a huge difference in ride quality, sureness and straight line (tracking) acceleration, and no more shimmy. No more pulling to the left (in my case). No "thunk" noises. So, yes, if you haven't already, do have your Rods closely looked at. That part of my bill was ~$490.00 inlcuding new OEM Rods. Worth every penny. Once done, you won't have to worry about that for a very long time.

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I'll second what 71 said. Once I had them replaced, I loved driving the car. I guess it is one of those parts that just wears out faster than we wished. I have heard around that you can buy the replacement bushings but can't find where. Kind of the same thing with the upper control arms. No, Lexus does not sell the bushings, only the entire unit.

Every time I think about getting rid of this car, I drive it and spend what it takes to fix it. I only have 182,000 on it so it is good for years. Besides, I don't like car payments, nor do I need a new Malibu.

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I have the shimmy on my car as well, and also some wandering on the highway and a steering wheel that has to be reoriented in a different position to go straight every time I hit a bump. Something's very wrong with the suspension - I hope new strut rods fix the issue. Ball joints and shock absorbers are 2 years old. Lower and upper control arm bushings look fine. Strut rod bushings have been cracked since I bought the car in 2006, and I assume that they've only gotten worse and worse with time.

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  • 4 months later...

So today I come back from the dealer after finding the front suspension is in perfect working order.

They tell me it is the tires ... they are directional. Take off the directional tires and it will smooth right out. Does this seem right?

There may be merit to this .... the car was smooth as silk with the original tires and the first replacement set - both non directional. 3 yrs ago I put a new set of yokohama avids (directional) and they wore out in less than two years - shimmy appeared within the first year.

I have new tires again from last dec - goodyear tripletreds. Seemed ok at first - slight shimmy still though ...

They have not yet been rotated so I think I will do that and see how they do. I may try an inexpensive set of regular tires on my spare set of rims and see what happens too.

Any comments?

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They tell me it is the tires ... they are directional. Take off the directional tires and it will smooth right out. Does this seem right?

No, directional tires are no more likely to cause a vibration than non-directional tires. I used directional Bridgestone RE750 summer tires (Tire Rack called them "ultra high performance tires") on my 00 LS for a total of a little over 20,000 miles before they wore out and there was not a hint of a front end vibration -- but I installed them at on the same day that I had my strut rods and bushings replaced in 2007 at 86,671 miles.

I'm now driving on 5,000 mile old non-directional Michelin MXV4 tires (installed this Spring) and now have about 126,500 miles on the 00 LS. I have just started to detect a hint of front end vibration. Maybe the tires need balancing again but usually balancing lasts me more than 5,000 miles. I'm starting to wonder if other front suspension components are starting to wear out. The slight vibration is well within my tolerance range and I'll probably find out if it is a tire balance issue when I mount my winter wheels and brand new Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 directional snow tires in November.

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Hi guys, well I went and done it again, bought another 99 LS400, reason I mention it here is because of the tires, they are Yokohoma AVID TOURING-S they are new, but I dont know anything about them, I have always run Michelin Symmetry (even tho I get ragged out by the forum mrgs, becaues they are not high speed tires). are these good tires, they are quite and smooth now. looking for comments...

the new one is below..

post-5365-128301177511_thumb.jpg

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  • 5 months later...

Just thought I would followup - I did bring the car in to a well respected independent mechanic familiar with LS's. He said the problem was the unidirectional tires - I did have them balanced - but he said to have it done again and tell them to take their time and rotate them. He claimed a non directional tire is better on the LS. At any rate, I went back to the tire store and this time insisted they try again and told them this story .... the manager did the balance himself and he said he had seen this - they managed to take all the shimmy out of the front end and it now is smooth as silk. No cost to me.

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Just thought I would followup - I did bring the car in to a well respected independent mechanic familiar with LS's. He said the problem was the unidirectional tires - I did have them balanced - but he said to have it done again and tell them to take their time and rotate them. He claimed a non directional tire is better on the LS. At any rate, I went back to the tire store and this time insisted they try again and told them this story .... the manager did the balance himself and he said he had seen this - they managed to take all the shimmy out of the front end and it now is smooth as silk. No cost to me.

Thanks for the follow-up. I sure would like to know why your mechanic thinks directional tires don't work well on an LS. Directional tires generally provide better braking and traction - particularly on wet roads.

My last bout with suspension vibration last fall made me a believer in road force balancing. I had Costco install four new Bridgestone WS70 directional winter tires on my 00 LS just before Thanksgiving. After the install there was a slight and irritating vibration at highway speeds. I took my car to a Lexus dealer where they road force balanced the tires and eliminated the vibration. The Lexus dealer found that one of the new WS70 tires was marginal and difficult to balance but that it could be adequately balanced with road force balancing.

Costco couldn't tell that the one tire was marginal since they do not have road force balancing equipment. Amazingly, I found that a Costco tire technician - his tire tech school diploma was on their wall - had never even heard of road force balancing. Costco can be a great place to buy tires at low prices but I would not recommend paying for the installation package which includes balancing for the life of the tire.

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