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Micah.Berry

Checking The Timing Belt On A 98+ Model

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I'm going to pick up my new-to-me 1999 Lexus LS tomorrow! I very excited about it. Sales person stated that the car has had its 90k and 100k service completed, and offered to write that down for my records.

Here's the question:

I did a search here on "timing belt check" and learned that I could check the timing belt on a non-interference engine fairly quickly. Is there a "how-to" on checking the belt's condition on an interference engine? I'd get a lot more comfort being able to check the belt's condition myself. 90k is supposed to have a water pump change as well, I realize. But based on my readings here, there's no way to check the condition of the water pump, right?

Thanks for your help!

Micah

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Visual inspections aren't very helpful. You can't "see" if a belt is about to break. Ask for receipt for repair or ask where it was done. If at a dealer they'll have records you can see. If not at dealer then maybe be a little suspect.

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Visual inspections aren't very helpful. You can't "see" if a belt is about to break. Ask for receipt for repair or ask where it was done. If at a dealer they'll have records you can see. If not at dealer then maybe be a little suspect.

As curiousB mentions, it can be nearly impossible to assess a belts condition based on an eyeball. However, if the belt was just recently replaced, and depending upon how many miles have elapsed, and depending upon whether a Toyota belt was used, it *may* be possible to get a warm and fuzzy concerning belt replacement.

First, if an OEM belt was used, it came with a little sticker that a competent mechanic is supposed to affix to a conspicuous part of the engine. It "says" that the TB has been changed and the mechanic fills in the mileage. You might want to search for said sticker.

Second, you could pull either cam cover (its a little bit of work) and look at the flat side of the belt. If it still has the white markings visible(you might have to crank the engine and look) then you may have a newer belt. My belt, at 94k miles, had no marks at all. They had all worn off. Pretty typical because the flat side is running against the water pump, idler and tensioner pulleys.

So, depending on your concern and motivation level, you could try looking at these things. Does not guarantee that the belt has been recently replaced, but it may boost your confidence level.

Oh BTW, the 90K service does NOT specify a water pump change. Its a REALLY good idea to change it while in there replacing the belt but definitely not part of the Lexus maintenance schedule.

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Still one more time ... I'll say it again ... a visual check of the timing belt condition is usually a waste of time. The original timing belt I had replaced at 90,000 miles on my current LS looks like it is brand new - I kept it as a souvenir.

Timing belts rarely break from fatigue or wear but from some other part in the timing belt system failing -- tensioner, idler, etc. That's why it important to replace all the ancillary parts when the timing belt is replaced.

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I'm an ASE certified Master Auto Technician and I agree with above comments, don't waste time on looking at the belt because a look will not definitely confirm whether or not a timing belt has been replaced. I'm not a Lexus Tech but I understand that if the repair work was done by a Lexus dealer it can be confirmed by checking with a Lexus dealer.

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Still one more time ... I'll say it again ... a visual check of the timing belt condition is usually a waste of time. The original timing belt I had replaced at 90,000 miles on my current LS looks like it is brand new - I kept it as a souvenir.

Timing belts rarely break from fatigue or wear but from some other part in the timing belt system failing -- tensioner, idler, etc. That's why it important to replace all the ancillary parts when the timing belt is replaced.

Jim, do you have any pics of the old belt, especially a closeup of the white timing marks? I would like to see how it looks. BTW, I still have my old belt. Souvenir as well.

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I'm going to pick up my new-to-me 1999 Lexus LS tomorrow! I very excited about it. Sales person stated that the car has had its 90k and 100k service completed, and offered to write that down for my records.

Micah

Congrats! :cheers:

You don't mention whether you bought this car at a dealer or used car lot. A dealer will have the paperwork as proof, there will be a sticker on the block somewhere, and your service maintenance records should be stamped. Independants are at the mercy of what the previous owner supplies with the car. You also don't mention what the current mileage is.

Good advice from everyone here. No need to inspect anything. TB service considerations are as easy as it gets.

  • Follow the recommended schedule (critical with vvt)
  • Use only OEM parts
  • Use qualified techs (preferably with Lexus experience)
  • Replace all related parts as has been mentioned
  • Keep a history of all work done to the car

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I'm going to pick up my new-to-me 1999 Lexus LS tomorrow! I very excited about it. Sales person stated that the car has had its 90k and 100k service completed, and offered to write that down for my records.

Micah

Congrats! :cheers:

You don't mention whether you bought this car at a dealer or used car lot. A dealer will have the paperwork as proof, there will be a sticker on the block somewhere, and your service maintenance records should be stamped. Independants are at the mercy of what the previous owner supplies with the car. You also don't mention what the current mileage is.

Good advice from everyone here. No need to inspect anything. TB service considerations are as easy as it gets.

  • Follow the recommended schedule (critical with vvt)
  • Use only OEM parts
  • Use qualified techs (preferably with Lexus experience)
  • Replace all related parts as has been mentioned
  • Keep a history of all work done to the car

Went over the service records with the sales guy. The 90k service at the Kansas City Superior Lexus dealer was done at 93k miles. I noticed that the description included checking the water pump versus replacing the water pump. I found that odd as other vehicles that I've owned recommended a water pump change with the timing belt. When I get back home on Friday I will call the Lexus dealer to see if the water pump was changed and possibly the description is wrong.

Before I bought the car, I took it to an independent mechanic for a pre-purchase look-see. After about an hour, he told me, "you know, this car is in really good shape." He seemed pretty impressed. He didn't compression test the engine though with as smooth as the car runs, I believe they are within spec.

There are three things that need to be addressed with this car:

1. The right side rear view mirror housing is cracked with a large chunk of plastic missing. I think that I can simply replace the plastic housing from a salvage car. The mirror motor works just fine.

2. The tape player doesn't work. This is actually pretty important to me because I use a tape adapter connected to my iPhone to listen to my playlists, Pandora, and my phone cradle uses the car's speakers for a speaker phone. Without the tape player, I have to use the very weak FM transmitter, which is very unsatisfactory. The tape player doesn't accept a tape easily (though there's nothing in the cassette "bay"), and the cassette bay or cradle (whatever it's called) doesn't move the cassette down to the tape reader for playback. All my dash lights work - there's not one LCD that's faded or missing. I am going to see if a stereo repair place can get it to work first before I look into swapping out the stereo.

3. There is a quarter sized gouge in the vinyl on the passenger door, that's against the door jam. It's not very noticeable, and is lowest on the priority list.

When we first got in the car, it was really dirty. We requested that someone clean it up before we took possession. The dealer did this, but they did a basic wipe down. The dealer put 4 new tires on too - Goodyear Integrity tires. I believe these are "value" tires. I can hear a good amount of road noise, more than I think there should be in an LS, but I don't have a reference car-I'm just guessing. The leather needs to be cleaned and conditioned, seatbelts cleaned, and the carpets need to be vacuumed, cleaned, and Scotchguard applied. It also needs a good wash and wax/polish. It's a black exterior, with the gray lower and a tan interior. The car has 112500 miles after the 230 mile trip home. We drove up on our Suzuki XL-7 (which by the way is an excellent little SUV), and I drove the LS400 home. My impressions are as follows:

I can just barely hear the engine at idle with the stereo off and the HVAC off, but it's got a beautiful muted growl when floored on the interstate. The steering is very, very light when driving around the parking lot. It's the quietest car I've driven at speed. Bumps are well damped and don't upset the chassis, and oddly, the body doesn't lean as I thought it would when going around curves given what I consider to be a soft suspension. My hind side was complaining after the trip up in the Suzuki. But I was ready for more driving after getting home with the LS. The seats are that comfortable. I read a post on this forum that said the seats were living room chair quality - and they really are. I'm dumbfounded at how comfy this car is.

This is my first V8, and its been a long, long time since I've had a car which required premium unleaded. Our XL-7 is a 2.7 liter V-6 and gets 20 mpg on the highway. The LS thus far has returned about 28-29 according to the computer. Even if it's a little optimistic, on a per mile fuel consumption basis, the LS is cheaper to drive than the XL-7.

So I have a little work to do to make this car great. I'm taking efforts to read the detail forum here to get the best information I can on cleaning products and polishes. Thanks for all your help in advance!

Micah

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