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1998 Lexus LS400 startup problem


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1998 Lexus LS400 sometimes will not start immediately.

A single clicking noise under hood when key is turned.

After several attempts it usually cranks. Has150,000 miles.

On 1/20/2015 Lexus of Memphis service history states that at 77,840 miles "owner stated it needed to be jumped 4 times in last month. Valve covers are leaking on alternator. Replaced alternator but customer declined to valve cover reseal."

Has anyone had a problem like this? Did you reseal valve covers? Any advice would help. Thank you. 

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I had the same problem at about the same mileage on the 2000 LS400 I drove for 11 years.  Verify that the battery posts and cable clamps are spotlessly clean and that your battery is in good condition.  And verify that power steering fluid is not dripping on the alternator but that's pretty rare on the 1998-2000 LS400 - it was a common problem on the 90-94 LS400.   It would have to be very leaky valve covers for oil from them to get on the alternator.  It's not a problem if valve covers only slightly weep oil as long as it does not flow from them.  The valve covers on a Camry V6 we used to have weeped oil for years with no detectable oil loss and we finally had it fixed only because the car went to a nephew.

Unfortunately, it may be the starter going bad.  Have the starter tested to see if it's drawing excess current.  Apparently it's a quick test for someone who knows what they are doing.  Replacing the starter is a fairly complex operation due to its location.  I think I paid about $900 in around 2012 at an independent repair shop that specializes in Lexus vehicles but that was substantially less than what the Lexus dealership would have charged.  After the starter replacement, I drove the car another 30,000 miles to 180,000 miles with no problems until I sold it in 2014. 

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Is excess current from starter good? I'll get someone to check it. I had another 1998 Lexus LS400 I bought in 2003 with 50,000 miles on it. Kept it until it had 270,000 miles on it. Never a problem. Not one. I wrecked front end 10 years ago and couldn't find used parts to fix it or I'd still driving it. Love the cars. 

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48 minutes ago, parsifal said:

Is excess current from starter good? I'll get someone to check it. I had another 1998 Lexus LS400 I bought in 2003 with 50,000 miles on it. Kept it until it had 270,000 miles on it. Never a problem. Not one. I wrecked front end 10 years ago and couldn't find used parts to fix it or I'd still driving it. Love the cars. 

Excess current draw is BAD!  A competent repair shop will know the acceptable amps and you can probably find the information on the Internet.  Starter failure on these cars is quite common at or just above the mileage yours is at.  There's more information about the problem in the Club Lexus LS400 forum than there is here.

I really liked my 2000 LS400.  It was nicely equipped with the Platinum package which included the 2001 LS430 wheels, birds eye maple wood, nicer leather and other features that were different from the standard 2000 LS400.  I would have driven it a few more years if it had features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, headlight washers, rain sensing wipers, parking sensors, etc., etc. 

There are photos of it in my forum album:  

  

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