Micah.Berry

99 Suspension Update

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This past weekend, I changed some suspension components.  My car is a 1999 LS400.  I changed out the shocks (utilizing 'quick struts'), upper control arms, strut bars, sway bar end links, and sway bar bushings.  I also bought outer tie rod ends and lower ball joints; however, I did not install those because (frankly) I was really tired by the time I had installed everything else.  I'll get to them later.  The current lower ball joints and outer tie rod ends were replaced about 45k miles ago, so they shouldn't be terribly bad.  The boots on both are in tact.  Oh yes...  Almost forgot, I got new pads, rotors, and gave it fresh brake fluid (which it desperately needed).  Braking is significantly improved, and with the new shocks up front, it doesn't dive nearly as much as it used to.  For the strut rods, I used Toyota OEM.  I intended on getting just the bushings; however, South Atlanta Lexus stated the bushings were discontinued, so I had to spend a little more for the full bars.  For the sway bar end links, sway bar bushings, and upper control arm, I bought Moog components.  Fingers are crossed as to how long they last, but the price differential between OEM and Moog was too much for me to pass up, especially the upper control arms.  All the components fit perfectly,  as the OEM did.

Just a note on the shocks.  They work well, much better than the OEM units that were on there (with 195k miles).  I went with Unity Shocks, where I purchased the whole assembly, getting new shock mounts, rubber bushings, spring, and the shock itself.  It comes assembled, ready to install.  You will want to make sure the center nut is on tight.  One of mine was a little loose.  I'm also waiting to see what the company does regarding the rear struts.  They sent me struts that don't fit inside the wheel well without taking the control arm out.  The difference between the ride at the front and the ride at the rear is noticeable now, and I'm looking forward to changing out the rear struts as soon as possible.  Purists will deride the fact that I did not use KYB shocks; however, I didn't have spring compressors, and I wanted new shock mounts.  If the shocks last 40,000 miles, I will be happy.

I did run into a snag that I wanted to make sure people were aware of.  When you install new strut bars at the front, make DOUBLY sure that the camber bolt plates are snug between the tabs.  I failed to make sure, and then put 120 some odd pound feet of torque on the nut, which then slowly spun the bolt, mashing the tabs flat.  Thus, I can't get an alignment on my front passenger side now.  I have an appointment to get this fixed, but I mention this just as a caution to others.  I was tired, and ready to be done with the project, especially spending loads of time trying to get the incorrect rear shocks installed (insert face palm slap...).  Interestingly, the alignment shop said the alignment isn't that far off in spite of my mistake, so that's good.  

Now - I need to fix what I think is an exhaust leak.  My LS is sounding a bit "sporty".

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Mostly.  The front end is SO much better now, even with the cheap Unity struts I put on.  Surprisingly, the ride is quite good, just a tad more stiff than I remember when I got the car with 113k miles.  I have an appointment to get the alignment tabs fixed at the beginning of next week (along with the exhaust leak), at which point it will get an alignment as well.  For the rear, I got in touch with the company (completestruts.com) after my original post.  They said they contacted the manufacturer, who said to remove the sway bar end links, which would lower the wheel assembly low enough so that they could be mounted.  Given how the front links were when I removed those, I purchased Moog rear sway bar end links, and once those arrived, I installed the new shocks on the rear with very little drama.

I still have lower ball joints and outer tie rod ends sitting on the shelf in the garage.  The ones on the car appear to be in good shape.  I recently looked up when I replaced them, and they both have about 60k miles, not 45k as I was thinking.  I suppose I could replace them, and it would be best to do so prior to getting the alignment done.  I haven't done the lower control arms in the front yet, but it's the original arm installed at the factory, and could probably stand replacement, though it's not making any noise.  And in the rear, there are some old arms that look as though they could stand replacement as well.

The car rides butter-smooth on the interstate up to about 83-85 mph, which I think will be helped further once I get the alignment done as well as a road-force balance.  

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And as I was re-reading my last post,  I noted in my last post that the ride was a tad more firm.  I wanted to point out that my original OEM shocks were pretty blown out.    Meaning the car would bounce up and down when doing the 'bounce test' in the garage.  When driving over smooth pavement, there were no huge issues, though once getting to about 75 mph, the damping was bad so vibrations were not being controlled.  Once the wheels are properly balanced and aligned I will be quite happy.  The car has now a VERY nice ride quality.  Taking off from a stop, the front doesn't lift up (or the rear squat down), like accelerating in a boat from a stop.

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sounds good, I replaced my front lower CA's with some cheap ones off ebay, they are working good..

FRONT LOWER CONTROL ARM FOR 1995-2000 LEXUS LS400 SUSPENSION PAIR FAST SHIPPING

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Another update:

I took my car to an exhaust shop in order to have the exhaust leak sourced and fixed.  It is probably of use to state here that I have plugged the catalyic converter flanges with high temperature RTV sealant and then wrapped the edges with exhaust tape.  It's NOT a pretty job, but there are no leaks at the cats.  My car threw a P0430 or 0420 code (the one regarding cat efficiency).  Running my hand close to the flanges, I could feel a lot of exhaust escaping from the lower cat flange. 

Anyway, the shop called back to say they saw my work, and if that's where the leak was, he didn't want to fix it because putting in new gaskets wasn't the right way to fix the leak - rather, the right way was with new catalytic converters, and he was certain I didn't want to spend that kind of money.  

So I picked up my car and drove home.  

The next day, I put it on jack stands, and was determined to figure out where the exhaust noise was coming from.  Turns out, it was at the Y pipe, near some brackets underneath the heat shielding.  Once I removed the heat shield, it was obvious where the holes were.  There were two good sized holes, one on each side.  I got two tin cans and some exhaust putty.  I cleaned up the hole as best as I could of the rust, and then smeared all sorts of putty around the hole.  I then cut up the cans so they would go over the pipe.  I then added some stainless steel hose clamps to each side of my tin can patch, and then reinstalled the heat shields.  The car is now silent.  Cost was less than $25 for the putty, heat shields, and cans.  Plus, now I have some olives from the cans I used.  :)

This repair is NOT a permanent fix; proper fixing would be to get a new Y pipe.  But for the moment, it's working perfectly, so I'll continue with it for the time being.   I am going to place one more hose clamp on the upstream side.  I didn't realize the gap was quite as large as it is prior to taking this picture.

0316F9E5-D893-425D-B21C-CA7C4B754876_zps

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Yeah the Y-pipe is a common problem, water and whatever else gets trapped inside the shielding and rusts it out. Same thing happened to mine. It would be better to remove the shielding altogether.

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