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lucymiao

Noise, Burning Rubber Smell, Alternator Light On, Power Steering Loss

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This Lexus LS 400 1997 just gave me a lot of problems. So frustrated.

I bought this car in Oct. 15, 2010. It was not a wise idea to buy this car. I found quite many problems shortly after the purchase.

1. it is really bad on PMG, only get 13-14 pmg with premium gasoline.

2. it starts to have some whinning sound. Since I am very mechanical and sound is very small, I just simple ignore the sound.

3. it has some slow reddish leak. I talked to the mechanic. He said it is fine. so I ignore it. but yesterday, I studied the symptom, and it is power steering fluid leaking.

4. the heater was not working, but I solved the problem, thanks to the help from this website. but, I actually have to top off the coolant reservoir quite often. I start to doubt that maybe the coolant system has some slow leaking.

Having said above, I have had a specially troubled day today. Today is a snowy storm day in lexington, kentucky. for no reason, when I try to start my car, the battery simple drained, and I have to jump start the car with cable.

It has been about 3 month, there is some noise from the hood, recently it becomes a bitter louder and I need to put more force just to turn the wheel especially at low speed. It is not until after spending 3 month to find information on this symptom, I understand it might be low on the power steering fluid. When I open the dipstick of the p/s fluid reservoir, it is true the reservoir of P/S fluid was almost empty. So I bought pennzoil dexron III atf to top it off. when I drive it again, the steering wheel seems better. Off I went to a party, about 12 miles from my home.

I started to come back home when it is 11PM. On my way, suddenly, I hear a loud rattling noise under the hood, and a pugnacious and strong rubber burning smell through the heater vent. I quickly pull the car on the roadside, switch off, and open the hood. The smell seems comes from the passenger side of the hood, where the coolant and p/s fluid reservoir are. I was panic and seated in the car for a while, not knowing what to do.

But i restarted the car again, and managed to drive another 0.5 mile to reach home. the smell continue, but the rattling noise gone, but the power steering become so heavy that I would describe it as power steering loss. and next, on the dashboard, the battery light is on --- I guess it has something to do with the alternator not charging.

I think I have to tow my car to a mechanic on Monday and get my car fixed. Not sure how much It may cost. but I bet it will be quite some money. i am so sad, please help me on this.

I saw so many good reviews of Lexus. I like the image of this car. but really, beauty, good-looking, good image are just vain. This car seems only good looking.

------Sad Lucy

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The only common thing for all your symptoms is the serpentine belt,this drives the PS pump,alternator and AC compressor. The noise you hear may be the idler pulley or belt tensioner or you may have a seized AC compressor or PS pump.

Remove the belt and check each component driven by it for tightness or noisy bearings by spinning the pulley by hand,the diagram for refitting the belt should be on the label under the hood.

Link below for tutorial

http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/maintenance/drivebelt.html

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Well, the problem seems clear. Your power steering pump failed and leaked fluid on the alternator which then shorted out. That your power steering pump reservoir was empty and had to be refilled was a strong indicator of what was happening.

The power steering pumps on the later LS400's like yours and mine are far less prone to the seals failing and leaking that were the ones on the early LS400's but they are not bullet proof. The power steering pump on the 90 LS400 I had for many years also once failed and leaked badly and took the alternator out. I had to have the power steering pump rebuilt a number of times over the 13 1/2 years I owned the car to prevent it from happening again.

But like I said, the power steering pumps on the later LS400 like yours and mine are far more reliable. The one on my 00 LS is still the original one and shows no signs of leaking but I still check it regularly.

I just checked http://lexus.sewellparts.com for parts prices and was surprised to find the parts prices a lot lower than I would have thought. If you register with Sewell with your forum ID, the alternator (80W version) is only $215.03 (retail is $349.64). They show a mostly complete new replacement power steering pump for $503.66 (retail is $681.12) but all the parts needed to rebuild the power steering pump are way under $100. Rebuilding the pump will take your mechanic time but most people have the pumps rebuilt instead of buying whole new pumps. At best, I suspect it is going to cost over $500 to get your car back on the road.

13-14 mpg doesn't too bad for winter driving if it is mostly on city streets. The 98-00 LS400 like I have gets better fuel mileage than the 95-97 mainly due to its 5-speed transmission and the trip computer read 18 mpg average since the last fill-up when I bought gas yesterday. My driving is about evenly divided between 55-65 mph Interstate highways and 35-45 mph city streets with relatively few traffic lights. My fuel economy always takes a dive in the winter.

Good luck with the repairs.

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Lucy,

So sad to hear about your latest problems. :cries:

Jim is correct about the power steering fluid leaking onto the alternator and causing it to fail. Your mechanic should not have told you to ignore this leak. On many cars, a power steering leak is just an annoyance. On a Lexus LS, it can spell disaster (at least for the alt.). The burning smell was, most likely, the fluid being burned in the alternator or on the serpentine belt.

A word of advice is to find a different mechanic to fix the alternator and power steering pump.

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Power steering pump does not fail and does not need rebuild. only needs to be removed and seal to pressre releave valve replaced. this will fix the problem. yes leaking oil on alternator will cause it to fail often. power steering pump has to be repaired. it is the seal where it says -O- ring-Spring seat-snap ring.

post-123865-0-22948400-1297005348_thumb.

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Power steering pump does not fail and does not need rebuild. only needs to be removed and seal to pressre releave valve replaced. this will fix the problem. yes leaking oil on alternator will cause it to fail often. power steering pump has to be repaired. it is the seal where it says -O- ring-Spring seat-snap ring.

Yes, the rebuild kits contain the O-rings. While replacing just the one O-ring might stop the leak, normally a power steering rebuild involves placing all the other little parts prone to deterioration since the main expense is the labor to get to the internals of the power steering pump.

Replacing just the one O-ring would be like replacing a timing belt without also replacing the water pump, tensioner, idler and all the other little parts involved in the timing belt system.

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this morning, I checked under the hood again. The drive belt was fallen off. so I guess, at least the drive belt is not working anymore. Is drive belt and serpentine belt mean the same thing?

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this morning, I checked under the hood again. The drive belt was fallen off. so I guess, at least the drive belt is not working anymore. Is drive belt and serpentine belt mean the same thing?

The attached diagrams shows the timing belt on the left and the serpentine belt on the right and how the serpentine belt winds around to drive all the parts.

post-2157-0-47152000-1297009642_thumb.jp

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yes drive belt is same as serpetine belt. rebuilding the pump needs special tools and experience, I have replaced that little seal only and it worked for year already-without any problems,

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yes drive belt is same as serpetine belt. rebuilding the pump needs special tools and experience, I have replaced that little seal only and it worked for year already-without any problems,

The instructions at the following website are for a generation 1 LS400 but they will give you an idea of the work involved to rebuild a power steering pump: http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/steering/pspumprebuild.html

Rebuilding PS pumps are not a big deal for mechanics who do this frequently but the task is daunting if you don't have the right tools and have never done it before.

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the car was driving ok until the under hood has some slow whining sound and power steering gets stiff,vibration or some sound. I check the p/s fluid and found out it was almost empty. so I went to Kroger and bought Pennzoil dexron III atf and filled it with a funnel into it. I filled the dipstick to the hot line instead of cold line since I drove the car from my home to kroger, which is about 1 mile. so I thought the car is hot, so I use the hot line. but this morning, I check the p/s fluid again, the level of fluid is still within the hot range.

So I conclude that I put too much p/s fluid in and it cause more leak, and the leak goes to the drive belt, and lubricate the drive belt, and the drive belt fell off at the high speed.

Thank you for all the guidance and suggestions. I am deeply grateful. I will tow away my car tomorrow to an independent mechanics. I hope he can fix it and I do not need to go to the lexus dealer, whose service I cannot afford.

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Thank you for all the guidance and suggestions. I am deeply grateful. I will tow away my car tomorrow to an independent mechanics. I hope he can fix it and I do not need to go to the lexus dealer, whose service I cannot afford.

If this is the same independent mechanic who told you not to worry and if he doesn't regularly work on Lexus LS cars or at least Toyota vehicles, you may be better off taking your car to a Lexus dealer. I'm lucky to have an independent repair shop nearby that specializes in Lexus but lots of indies who don't routinely work on Lexus/Toyota vehicles don't seem to have a clue.

I'm not into paying for the "free" coffee, snacks, WiFi, big screen TV's and leather chairs at the Lexus dealership but at least I get a "free" (it's not really at all free) loaner vehicle.

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some update for my big repair.

I took my car to a mechanic specialized in toyota cars, but it also repairs many other cars. My car's problem was not so serious. The idler pulley does not turn (stuck), or is totally worn-out; and the drive belt broke. so it took the mechanic about 30 to 45 minutes to fix it. The total charge was $220; $60 for labor, $45 for the belt (from carquest, made in usa), $95 for the idler pully(NSK brand, make in Japan). Belt and idler pulley in total cost $150. The labor charge was reasonable, but the parts charge is outrageous. Autozone provides drive belt for $31.99, and idler pullery for $17.99, in total for $50. I showed them the diagram of how to change drive belt and the price info from autozone; however, the mechanic said that he will not use the parts from other sources, has to be from his shop, and no discount whatsoever. I felt it is a big rip off, and I will not going back to this shop again. The owner of the shop treated me rudely because I asked him for discounts three times.

But what I can do? My drive belt fell off and I can not drive the car, otherwise, I could have just left. I paid $45 to tow my car to his shop, so I did not want to pay for another $45 to go to another shop. This mechanic is such a blood-sucker! I will write some negative review for this shop on google map after I go to autozone to verify the quality difference of the two parts. The mechanic describes that all the parts from autozone are junkies.

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some update for my big repair.

I took my car to a mechanic specialized in toyota cars, but it also repairs many other cars. My car's problem was not so serious. The idler pulley does not turn (stuck), or is totally worn-out; and the drive belt broke. so it took the mechanic about 30 to 45 minutes to fix it. The total charge was $220; $60 for labor, $45 for the belt (from carquest, made in usa), $95 for the idler pully(NSK brand, make in Japan). Belt and idler pulley in total cost $150. The labor charge was reasonable, but the parts charge is outrageous. Autozone provides drive belt for $31.99, and idler pullery for $17.99, in total for $50. I showed them the diagram of how to change drive belt and the price info from autozone; however, the mechanic said that he will not use the parts from other sources, has to be from his shop, and no discount whatsoever. I felt it is a big rip off, and I will not going back to this shop again. The owner of the shop treated me rudely because I asked him for discounts three times.

But what I can do? My drive belt fell off and I can not drive the car, otherwise, I could have just left. I paid $45 to tow my car to his shop, so I did not want to pay for another $45 to go to another shop. This mechanic is such a blood-sucker! I will write some negative review for this shop on google map after I go to autozone to verify the quality difference of the two parts. The mechanic describes that all the parts from autozone are junkies.

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i have also found out some other problems of my car.

1. the engine has a slow leak on the ground, one drop in 1.5 hours. the fluid is .5 quarter lower than the full level now.

2. the power steering system has a slow leak.

3. the frond end of the car, a plastic plate connecting to the fender, is loose or missing one screw. when the car is running on highway with speed about 60 miles per hour, or higher, the plastic plate just flaps and vibrates, making big noise on highway.

Please kindly offer your advice on the issues. I am grateful. thank you. meanwhile, I will search our website for solutions.

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i have also found out some other problems of my car.

1. the engine has a slow leak on the ground, one drop in 1.5 hours. the fluid is .5 quarter lower than the full level now.

2. the power steering system has a slow leak.

3. the frond end of the car, a plastic plate connecting to the fender, is loose or missing one screw. when the car is running on highway with speed about 60 miles per hour, or higher, the plastic plate just flaps and vibrates, making big noise on highway.

Please kindly offer your advice on the issues. I am grateful. thank you. meanwhile, I will search our website for solutions.

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Not a bad initial diagnosis regarding the idler pulley from 4000 miles away then! lol.

Ref Q3 The missing screw sounds like the under engine cover is not fastened to the fender,they tend to get damaged over a period of time,some people remove them or you could get some replacement screws and washers and refasten it.

Ref Q1 is this an oil leak? If so check the sump plug and its sealing washer first.

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For the undercarriage cover, simply get some additional screws from Autozone or your favorite parts store. Take one out so you know what size to get, or give it to the clerk so he can find it for you. Should be very inexpensive. Note that there are two sizes of screws keeping the undercarriage cover in place. My undercarriage cover has taken a beating as well. It's something I wouldn't mind replacing, considering that, if nothing else, having the cover there helps keep the lower portion of the engine protected from splashes and bouncing rocks.

If you are not confident in repairing the slow leak in the power steering system, then take it to a mechanic. This will only cause you problems in the future, and those problems could be very expensive...

Regarding your note on asking for discounts on parts: Don't beat the mechanic up over his labor costs or parts costs too much... The mechanic needs to put food on his table too, thus he earns a profit from not just the labor rate but also the parts prices. If he is using better parts than what you would get from Autozone, you would expect to pay a bit more of a premium for the parts. While there isn't anything wrong with asking him to provide a discount, there usually should be some reason to do so (paying cash instead of credit, long standing and professional relationship, being a provider of referral business, etc). Showing him an advertisement from Autozone with similar parts that he is not going to install (or guarantee) probably isn't the most effective way to get a discount. May be you could ask for additional services, like an oil change, or a overall vehicle inspection, or wheel alignment, or wheel balancing if you agree to pay the posted rates. You could also call him in advance of going to his shop to see if he will install parts for you that you bring to his shop. In this scenario, you would not be perceived as badgering or nagging. If he will install parts you bring to the shop, you could save enough to purchase OEM parts online from Sewell or Carson. When someone goes outside the norm for me, I try to return the favor by doing something for them. Even something small, like buying them some donuts or coffee has a lasting impact, and I have benefited far more than it has cost me. Note that I'm not passing judgment, just giving you my thoughts as to what I've learned and has worked for me. I went through a very similar scenario when I need to get my first car repaired as a teenager, and someone pulled me aside to talk to me about a better way to approach the mechanic.

Best of luck with your car!

Micah

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thank you Micah Berry for your kind advice on how to deal with mechanics.

about my power steering slow leak.

1. in Oct. 2010, the previoius owner changed the pressure hose. but it still leaks.

2. I have checked with my local walmart when I realize that my battery often goes dead, not sure I need a new one or I just accidentally often drain the battery. The mechanic checked for me, my battery is working, and my alternator is working. so I guess it is my fault.

3. I have put some dexron III into the p/s reservoir. my wheel is turning much better, and no noise. but there is slow leak on the ground, reddish color.

I have heavily read through our website for p/s leak problem. My questions are as following:

1. Do i have to buy an OEM for Air control valve? many owners with p/s leak said that they will change the air control valve first and make the steering rack solenoid filter screen clean first.

2. What is a throttle body? Does it mean engine in colloquial term?

3. I have an appointment with my mechanic next wednesday. Should I just bring Air control valve to him and ask him to change it first and clean the filter screen?

thank you all!

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some add-on for the previous post:

I need some new spark plug, my car has 135k miles, and MPG is low. So do I need buy an OEM spark plug? the lexus dealer told me if I do not want to buy OEM spark plug, then he suggested me to buy NGK spark plug instead, not other brand.

Air Control Valve has to be OEM part?

Thank you!

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My car is very bad on miles per galon.

I decide to change spark plug and air filter.

Spark plug: NGK brand Platinum plug, $2.99 per piece, and I need 8 of them.

Air filter: STP brand, $20.99

I will buy the parts from the autozone, and will go to an independent mechanic to install them.

Any suggestions on the brand of the spark plug, or autozone parts is really not so good and I have to buy OEM spark plug? Anything I have to be careful with changing the spark plug. I think an independent mechanic shall be able to do the job.

thank you all.

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When the air control valve fails on the power steering pump it normally causes white smoke from the exhaust on start up as the power steering fluid gets sucked into the engine air intake and burnt,most people remove the valve and then plug the hole left in the pump and the 2 vacuum pipes to the inlet manifold,it makes little difference to the feel of the power steering.

In fact the later models do not even have this valve fitted.

The recommended spark plugs are normally NGK Iridium,more expensive but good for 100,000 miles.

The throttle body is fitted between the the plenum chamber ( the bit that has LEXUS written on it) and the black plastic intake pipe on the passenger side of the engine bay.

In front of where it says TRC on mine

lexusstarter017.jpg

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The throttle body is fitted between the the plenum chamber ( the bit that has LEXUS written on it)

Or in your case, the bit that has "TOYOTA" molded into it. ;)

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Steve, thank you for your reply.

I just bought NGK G-Power Platinum Alloy Spark Plugs from local autozone for $2.99 each. I think it will do the job, I don't need it to go another 100,000 miles, just 60,000 miles will do. The labor cost is about $65. So in total, I need to pay $90 for spark plug change. I hope it will improve the fuel efficiency.

My P/S steering is leaking. After reading some posts in this website, I would like to clean the steering rack solenoid filter screen and the filter screen inside the power steering pump reservoir first, and then change the air valve.

I do see some white smoke from the exhaust when I start my car, and my wheel steers very well now since I add the P/S fluid in.

By the way, where do you live, steve? where is your city which is 4000 miles away from Kentucky?

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Since I got so much help from this website, I would like to share something here.

It is about the plastic fender under the hood. The screw of the fender goes off. I bought a new one for it from Oreilly, not able to find one at Autozone and Advance. the clerk there was very helpful and put it on for me. The specification is 5/16-24 X 1-1/4, Grade 5, Hex Head cap Screw, washer and nuts. I only paid $2.64 for it.

The salesperson knelt down in front of the hood fender and fixed it for me right there. I am so grateful to this guy. Hope this plastic piece no more vibrates and make noise on high way.

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