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tpeene

98 Ls400 Electrical Problem

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I am the proud owner of a well maintained 1998 LS 400. I've had it for almost two years and until a month ago it never let me down. Now it keeps having problems all of a sudden.

It started a month ago when suddenly the power steering stopped working and there was a LOT of smoke after starting the cold engine. We found out it leaked oil and after reading some forums it became clear that the air vacuum valve was most likely the part that needed replacement. I ordered it at the dealer and had it shipped to my home, since the dealer is about 100 miles away. It cost me $300 for the valve and 2 hoses. My mechanic was able to remove the mud flap under the engine and replace the valve in 15 minutes. He could reach it with a small wrench. Afterward the car worked perfectly again, as it always had. That's nice after having to top off the oil after each ride for a few weeks on end.

Now only 1,5 week later I already have new problems. The day before yesterday the main key wouldn't close the doors and turn on the alarm anymore. I switched to the spare key and that worked. But a few hours ago the alarm went crazy for no reason at all. I turned it off but after 30min it turned on again. I switched it off for the second time and ten minutes later it switched on for the third time. After switching it off again I started the car to see if I would get some sort of error on the lcd screen but all it showed was vsc? needed checking. I removed the key but the steering wheel wouldn't retract. Also the lights on the dash wouldn't turn off completely but some would keep flashing mildly as well as the points of the speedometer needles and some warning lights like the seatbelt lights (also the seatbelt light above the navigation display). To make matters worse, the doors won't close anymore and the alarm won't turn on. When I turn on the ignition it all works fine and all the lights turn off as normal.

I disconnected the battery so everything would switch off and I locked the doors by hand, but this is a problem that will be there in the morning. Does anyone know which part is malfunctioning that has the steering wheel tilt, the dash lights flickering after turning off the car and the alarm and doors have in common?

I drive a Lexus because they are reliable but I've had more unusual problems in a month with this car then I've had with any other. I'm loosing my dignity fast and having bought a house last year that needed a lot of work done, I'm also running low on cash and it's hard to spend $$$$$ on a car when you need to buy a bathroom instead.

Any ideas how to fix the problem?

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