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My $500 LS400


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I bought my LS400 with 170,000 miles for $500, and I was ripped off!  In the five months I have owned this car I was able to drive it for one week.  It sits in my driveway because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to hide the starter under the intake manifold with the bolts right up against the firewall so that they can't be removed with common tools.

I now absolutely HATE this car, so I will try to salvage what I can and then send it to the scrap yard where it belongs.

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Yeah that is a not so good thing about these cars.  They can be worked out very slowly, when I did one some years back it took me about an hour per bolt.

The right way to do it is to lower the back end down some, the trans mount in the rear and use a long extension. Yeah all they needed to do is 2 more inches away from that firewall, and have that wire loom some other place. Oh and when I put the starter bolts back in it took me about a minute or so per bolt. Special trick. If you decide to tackle it I'll let you know the trick.

What year is the car and what condition body and paint etc? Yeah I know you added a few dents after the starter attempt.

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Thank you for replying Exhaustgases.

Lowering the transmission would be a great idea.  I did try that (that's how I found out that the transmission mount is broken).  I spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the right angle to reach those bolts but I could never see them or get a socket on them with blind luck.

It's a '97 so the EGR pipe goes through the coolant bridge.  The clear coat is wearing off, driver door handle is broken, front seats are shot, there's a wrinkle in the front right quarter panel from previous owner, paint damage in right rear bumper cover (also previous owner), stereo doesn't work, and the cheap window tint is pealing off, but the AC works great!  I replaced the alternator, power steering pump, plugs and wires.  I had the lower ball joints replaced and new tires mounted.

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Not trying to start an argument here but, I did research this car and found nothing but glowing reviews.  Everyone loves this car.  No one ever said "Changing the starter on the LS400 would make Mother Theresa curse like a sailor!"  If there were more reviews about how difficult it is to repair this car I would not have bought it.

At this point the car can't do enough to make up for the aggravation its caused.  It will always be that car with the horrendous design flaw.  Now I am just trying to get the car to run so I can run the rubber off the new tires and get rid of it.

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Like really?  Every car has maintenance nightmares. Except a four cylinder Camry (best design for a mechanic that I have every seen in 50 years.)...The LS 400 as said in one of the most reliable, best engineered cars out there.  Hey there are cars that to get the rear three plugs out you have to drop the engine.  For $500 you were blessed with one of the finest rides created in its era...and a decade later.

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I fully agree about design flaws on most cars. For easy to work on you will need to regress a bunch.

Old chevy cars and trucks are easy to work on mechanically, old VW bugs easy engine r and r, best easy modern car is the Geo or Chev metro. Oh and early 90's Subaru's are okay too.

Old chevy's are total rust messes, same with old VW's and that pedal group and tunnel a true mess, nothing bad about the metro, almost a small LS400 only much easier starter.

The engine is the main problem area to work on, on an LS400, there is not much space especially the rear, but the good thing is once things are fixed right on it then you don't have to normally fool with it for another 100,000 miles or so. I am really debating if I will pull the engine on my one LS to do the starter and T belt and seals etc. it would be so much easier access to everything, including hoses, I just wish I had a huge shop with a lift, then there would be no debate.

Any car you buy is going to have many design flaws, better known as trade offs, and now days especially its how to build it fast and cheap. And we the purchasers are the ones that always suffer, well except for manufactures like Takata, with the air bag inflator problems, and for the same reason we suffer, all the out sourcing of parts manufacture to unqualified countries.

In the end you will find that if you have an LS in good original shape, that you will not find that sort of quality in any newer car now, because of the outsourcing. And yes the parts we end up replacing are likely not going to last as long as the originals did because of that. The best thing about the LS is its not a car that rusts like most do. When I was a kid my first car not in my name I was too young, was 13 years old and it was a rusty mess with crappy paint, just look at some of the 26 year old LS's some look almost new. So that is why you can sometimes over look the nasty things like the starter. If you think that is bad try to work on a diesel ford pickup truck, to work on the engine the cab has to be removed.  Kinda makes the LS starter look easy.

Find one in better shape keep that one for parts, and once the better one is in tip top shape, you will eat your words.

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On January 24, 2016 at 10:34 AM, Rob1249 said:

 No one ever said "Changing the starter on the LS400 would make Mother Theresa curse like a sailor!" 

I think I did in this thread. Sorry you missed it in your search -> 


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Ok, yes other manufacturers make bad cars.

All cars have maintenance nightmares?  No.  I've owned many cars and this is undoubtedly the worst for repairs.

Buy another one.  Hmmm.  No I don't think so.  I already have one dead LS400 I don't need another.

The best thing about this car is that it doesn't rust?  It sounds as if you are suggesting that if I could only pull that V8 out of there and replace with almost anything else, it would be a great car.  You may be right.

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