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To Keep Or Not To Keep

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I have a 95 LS with 186,000. Recently had replaced high pressure hose, fan clutch, radiator, ball joints, and motor mounts. Now, idling and shifting is acting a little "confused" which my mechanic tells me is a sign of a failing ECU. Also, engine has a new whisping sound which he said could be tensioners or pulleys (I don't remember). Also, going to need a new oil pan soon because of some worn threads or something. Of course, it's almost timing belt time too.

I am not very mechanically inclined, so I am wondering if I should continue to invest money into this automobile, or if I should sell now before any of the problem areas worsen and become major problems.

I'm hoping to reach a point with the big repairs where once caught up, I can go another 150k miles with little to no expense other than oil changes and such.

Anyone have any soothing advice?

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I've never heard of a "failing" ECU. I think it works or it doesn't. Probably just caused by a broken or nearly broken wire in the trunk hinge, carbon deposits, or even shorting spark plug wires due to the cold and condensation, so spray them with WD-40. Dump in 2 bottles of a top quality Complete Fuel System Cleaner. Spend $10 PER bottle or you are not getting what you need. Skip the timing belt as it will easily last another 40,000 or longer if you don't hammer on the car. If you do have it changed you should also change the waterpump for another couple hundred because if you don't, Murphy's Law will kick in and it will go shortly because it was old and then, disturbed.

Sounds like you have replaced several things so you already have quite a bit of dough into the car. Hearing the recommendation for a new oil pan means that someone who changed your oil crossthreaded the oil drain. I think they make replacement plugs. Tensioners are freewheeling pulleys which guide the serpentine belt. The pulleys apply pressure to the belt. After spinning as much as they have, the start singing, especially as the weather grows colder. I would try to squirt a little white lithium grease on the inner portion but cover the belt and be very careful not to get it on the belt. WD40 will help but not last very long. The tensioners are pretty cheap and fairly easy to replace. If you do nothing and just leave them alone, they will make a little noise but they can do that for years before they fail. When they fail, it smokes your serptine belt but they will usually make a real lot of noise as they get near the end. A whisper is not unusual, might even just be an old belt.

Suggested Plan of Action:

Leave the timing belt alone Cost $0

Leave the tensioners alone. Cost $0

Can of WD-40 Cost $3

Check for broken wires in the left trunk hinge. Cost $0

2 bottles of Valvoline or Slick 50 Complete Fuel System Cleaner. Cost $20

Go to any AUTOZONE or ADVANCE autoparts and use their OBDII scanner (free)to check codes. Cost $0

Use ONLY Top Tier fuel, never use discount gasoline.

Then drive the thing for another 2 years and save yourself $20,000 for another one. Make your payments to yourself every month and then take your time looking for a replacement.

I passed this point several years ago with my 1990 LS400 and I still drive it everyday and doesn't cost me hardly anything. I drive it and save money.

Good luck and hope this helps.

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Do you recommend both bottles of fuel cleaner at once?

I've never heard of a "failing" ECU. I think it works or it doesn't. Probably just caused by a broken or nearly broken wire in the trunk hinge, carbon deposits, or even shorting spark plug wires due to the cold and condensation, so spray them with WD-40. Dump in 2 bottles of a top quality Complete Fuel System Cleaner. Spend $10 PER bottle or you are not getting what you need. Skip the timing belt as it will easily last another 40,000 or longer if you don't hammer on the car. If you do have it changed you should also change the waterpump for another couple hundred because if you don't, Murphy's Law will kick in and it will go shortly because it was old and then, disturbed.

Sounds like you have replaced several things so you already have quite a bit of dough into the car. Hearing the recommendation for a new oil pan means that someone who changed your oil crossthreaded the oil drain. I think they make replacement plugs. Tensioners are freewheeling pulleys which guide the serpentine belt. The pulleys apply pressure to the belt. After spinning as much as they have, the start singing, especially as the weather grows colder. I would try to squirt a little white lithium grease on the inner portion but cover the belt and be very careful not to get it on the belt. WD40 will help but not last very long. The tensioners are pretty cheap and fairly easy to replace. If you do nothing and just leave them alone, they will make a little noise but they can do that for years before they fail. When they fail, it smokes your serptine belt but they will usually make a real lot of noise as they get near the end. A whisper is not unusual, might even just be an old belt.

Suggested Plan of Action:

Leave the timing belt alone Cost $0

Leave the tensioners alone. Cost $0

Can of WD-40 Cost $3

Check for broken wires in the left trunk hinge. Cost $0

2 bottles of Valvoline or Slick 50 Complete Fuel System Cleaner. Cost $20

Go to any AUTOZONE or ADVANCE autoparts and use their OBDII scanner (free)to check codes. Cost $0

Use ONLY Top Tier fuel, never use discount gasoline.

Then drive the thing for another 2 years and save yourself $20,000 for another one. Make your payments to yourself every month and then take your time looking for a replacement.

I passed this point several years ago with my 1990 LS400 and I still drive it everyday and doesn't cost me hardly anything. I drive it and save money.

Good luck and hope this helps.

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Soothing advice? One cup of hot tea. Add honey to sweeten. Sit back and enjoy. :rolleyes:

It all depends upon your expectations. Like VBDenny said, I have never heard of a failing ECU. It either works or it doesn't. And BTW, are you referring to the engine or transmission when you say it is a little "confused"?

The timing belt is not an option. Since this is a 95 with interference engine, you are playing Russian roulette with the engine. All depending upon the last change which we do not know...but assuming, you need to it change soon.

The fuel system cleaner stuff is, IMO, just snake oil. Wont hurt, but wont much help either. Your money. Its mostly a psychological thing.

All in all, I would keep her. It is depreciated down to about the least you can go. Unless you have the money to buy something much newer, just keep her and invest a few more $$$. If you long for something newer, and have the money, go for it. Life is much too short. You save about $3k a year driving an older vehicle (that's about the average depreciation per year until you get down to a vehicle with ~$3000 value. Then it hovers at ~$2k-3k value depending upon the condition...you are almost there).

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Ahh but a few of the fuel system cleaners actually work. Since I switched to Top Tier fuels, I have never used it but back when I used cheap gas in other cars, it worked. The cheap stuff $3 -$7 is snake oil but I have had excellent results with both Valvoline and Slick 50 Complete Fuel System Cleaner. Two bottles are needed since you want a heavy dose and these cars have big tanks. If it doesn't work, you are only out $20.

Yes, it probably is a good idea to do the timing belt and waterpump but it all depends on how much the car is worth and if the replacement is worth it. I have never heard of a Lexus timing belt breaking even with 200,000 miles on them. I know it is a reasonable and prudent precaution, all depends of your supply of $$$.

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Yes, it probably is a good idea to do the timing belt and waterpump but it all depends on how much the car is worth and if the replacement is worth it. I have never heard of a Lexus timing belt breaking even with 200,000 miles on them. I know it is a reasonable and prudent precaution, all depends of your supply of $$$.

I bought a 94 with 236k on it, with a broken TB, replaced it & pump, drove it til 255 and sold it.

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Actually, personally I consider some ECM's to be a wear item. I've been down this road with my '96. My family and I thought it was destined for the junk yard. It would start and run okay when cold but once it started to warm up it would never lean our the fuel/air mixture and it would start running terrible. Very low idle to very very high idle. At one point it would idle so low it would die, then after restart it would bounce off the fuel cut-off rpm at idle.

What are you idling symptoms? I cleaned the IACV and tested it with good results. I changed the thermostat and also made sure to purge the air out of the cooling system correctly. It would still idle very very eradically. You couldn't drive it out of the driveway because it would shut off and you would never get it restarted until a few hours later when it cooled down completely. When you car is idling erratically you need to hook a scanner cabale of reading live data and watch the engine coolant temp while the car is warmed up. My car thought it was never warming up so it kept dumping fuel in. It was warming up fine and began to run so rich it would shut off and would try to run the idle high to warm it up all the time. I tested the reference voltage on the engine coolant temp circuit and it was all of the charts. This was due to some worn out parts in the ECM. I bought an ECM with 70k miles off a wrecked car and it immediatly ran like brand new, even better than new because it had weird symptoms for years until it just finally became unbearable. You'll need an exact part number ECM for your '95. The '95 LS is known for bad ECM's. You need to read the part number off of yours and compare it to the TSB regarding the upgraded ECM. You'll get the correct updated ECM part number and shouldn't have a problem finding a used one as a new one is $2K+. I paid $200 for mine.

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hey Banshee, that was most interesting and why I read things here. Electronics are sensitive to temperature so that might be something. It would probably help the rest of us if you put your location on your profile since temperature and humidity in various areas is a lot different. Again, thanks for the comment because what you said is what we need to know.

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My '95 has lived in a hot, humid climate, coastal South Carolina. Anyway is it ECU or ECM? How hard is that installation?

My wallet is empty right now since I just paid my Lexus/Toyota specialist to fix errors that were caused by going for cheapo oil changes and a reckless mechanic who said he could "do anything." Resealed leaking tranny pan (other guy used wrong sealant), replaced leaking oil pan (threads stripped by speedy guys), fixed creeking in steering because other guy didn't put rack and pinion on properly after doing high pressure hose.

I am staying positive though, thanks to you guys.

hey Banshee, that was most interesting and why I read things here. Electronics are sensitive to temperature so that might be something. It would probably help the rest of us if you put your location on your profile since temperature and humidity in various areas is a lot different. Again, thanks for the comment because what you said is what we need to know.

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Its not likely ECU or ECM. These are NOT wear items. If they fail they tend to fail with hard symptoms. Keep looking. Thats an expensive part to experiment with "swap it and hope" diagnosis methods. I'd rule out the ten more likely items before swapping an ECU/ECM

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Its not likely ECU or ECM. These are NOT wear items. If they fail they tend to fail with hard symptoms. Keep looking. Thats an expensive part to experiment with "swap it and hope" diagnosis methods. I'd rule out the ten more likely items before swapping an ECU/ECM

Curious, I know it sounds crazy. The ECM was my problem and has been the problem for may others. I somewhat consider this a wear item because of information I've recieved from the man I bought my ECM from. He deals souly in used Lexus parts and sells every 94-96 ECM he get's his hands on to customers with bad ECM's and all with 200k+ miles LS400's. The sypmtoms started out very very mild and got the point where I knew something was very wrong. My car developed a rough idle so I replaced the caps, rotors, plugs, and wires. It still idled rough and I drove it for a couple of years after that. Then the symptoms got the point where it wouldn't even run unless you kept your foot on the gas. To the point that I listed in my reply above.

Topic starter, I'm not saying the ECM is your problem but don't rule it out. It is the last repair procedure for most every check engine light code dealing with the engine in the fatory repair manual. Bar any squirrels or critters chewing up your wiring, I would bet on ECM problems over a harness problem almost any day of the week. You may just need the typical tune up items. If your car starts running very very badly you'll just need to hook up a scanner with live data and to the trained eye something will stick out. If you're car just seems to be "confused" remove your negative battery cable or ECM fuse and start the adaptive learning strategy from fresh.

I am from Central FL. ECM's can go bad also from clogged evaporator case drain tubes causing the floor board to get wet and, in turn, some water near the ECM.

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