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Mike Floutier

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Everything posted by Mike Floutier

  1. Haha, this is great, I've just sold my 2002 LS430 and got 2006. One of the first (of many) things I want to customise is turning off the steering wheel motors. So, as you do, I googled it and lo and behold here I am again. As you can imagine, in the intervening 4.5 years I had forgotten where the fuse was:) Isn't this forum great!
  2. Hey Guys, sorry for the delay, I've been busy getting my new LS430 as I need one for my work. Got that sorted now so I'm back to fixing the old one for selling. Ok, I've sourced a replacement leg and made sure all the nuts and bolts will come undone BUT the only thing I need help with is HOW to disconnect the air-line on the suspension air-bag. The instructions talk about an SST but obviously I don't have one of those. Any ideas about how to remove it? I'm probably going to replace the leg with a non-airsus type so I can always just snip it off BUT in case the new owner wants to put an air bag strut back in I'd like to keep things intact if I can. PS Haven't fallen out with UK Steve, I just love some of the names of these US guys - eg CuriousB and Eatingupblacktop. Also my son is a US army Ranger and my daughter lives in S California so it just feels right to alternate.
  3. My off-side rear looked low this morning and I noticed it bumping a bit. I got it home and raised it manually using the air-suspension system. At first I thought it was ok and was just a bit low but then I heard the air escaping from the air-sus bladder and realised that I needed to get it fixed. The car has done nearly 350,000 miles so I don't want to pay for a new leg with the bladder etc. I would rather put in a stronger (ie. non-air sus) spring which would obviously be cheaper. Anyone any experience of this or any ideas. Regards, Mike
  4. Thanks Guys, for some reason I thought the thermostat was very inaccessible - must have been thinking of the water pump. It's been on the car for 321,000 miles so I guess in the very hot weather we're experiencing here in the UK it has every right to complain a little. I've ordered a new one and let you know how it goes. Many thanks. Mike
  5. Although this is an old thread I thought it would be good to add my symptoms/question here with a view to gathering related info together for future reference. As some may remember my 2002 LS430 (now with 320,000 miles) has a gradually worsening mis-fire, now on a couple of cylinders, caused by valve seat recession due to driving many miles on propane. My temp gauge has always been solid on the mark just below the horizontal BUT recently it has been edging up, either half or a whole mark, where it sits solidly for a minute or two before returning to normal. This has only happened during high engine/ambient temperature situations. I noticed the comment in the earlier conversations about the increased engine temperature attributable to mis-fire situations and this made me sit up. I guess I may have a problem with the Thermostat - is this easy to get at for testing? Also I suppose the fan(s) may be at fault; is there a good way to test them? Thanks for your help. Regards, Mike
  6. Thanks Landar, I'm able to get it up an inch or so, the plug hole gaskets are all clear of the tubes. The problem is that however I move it around its fouling on something. I'm concerned not to force it for fear of damaging the cover gasket which looks in perfect condition - no leaks when I replaced the cover (phew!) Have you removed this cover? If so do you remember how you manoeuvred it out?
  7. Thanks Landar, I'm able to get it up an inch or so, the plug hole gaskets are all clear of the tubes. The problem is that however I move it around its fouling on something. I'm concerned not to force it for fear of damaging the cover gasket which looks in perfect condition - no leaks when I replaced the cover (phew!) Have you removed this cover? If so do you remember how you manoeuvred it out?
  8. Thanks Laurence, I appreciate your input. The main thing I need help with at this stage is removing the DS (PS in UK) valve cover. I can get it an inch or so up BUT can't get it out completely, hence I can't check the valve clearances. Would love to hear from someone who's done it.
  9. Yes Landar, all correct, and that was my strategy. I finally got the valve cover bolts undone BUT I could only raise the cover an inch or so - I couldn't figure out how to get it completely out and with time running out, rain forecast and concerns about damaging the gasket I re-assembled it all. It was quite exciting to actually get to see the cam-shafts etc. and after 300,000 miles to see that it all looked nice and clean BUT sooo frustrating not to be able to check the clearances. I may well have another go at getting the cover fully off again at the next suitable opportunity but in the meantime I'll continue to drive around the problem as best I can to avoid damage to CAT. I have had one or two Heath Robinson ideas which I may run past you guys in due course because, on balance, I tend to agree that the cost of any proper valve work might not be economic. Will let you know how it goes.
  10. While on the subject of P0420/430 I thought it may help someone in the future to recount some of my recent experience. I had a horrible power loss problem that was getting progressively worse and I was getting these P0420 and/or 430 codes coming up. It turned out to be failed aftermarket MAF sensor (which I had put on in trying to diagnose a mis-fire); for some reason no MAF sensor codes were showing up. I put back the ancient Lexus MAF and order was instantly restored. Probably unusual but it did happen so might help someone down the line.
  11. Hi Landar, Oh yes, it's one of the reasons I'm persevering with these exhaust valves. Based on $1.60 to the £1, it cost me around $4,000 to convert the 430 to propane and my annual fuel saving is around $5,000. I converted it when I bought it for $11,000 in October 2008. My first year or so was fairly slow business-wise as I'd only just started the car service, so let's assume the savings paid for the conversion by March 2010. Since then I've probably just about paid for the car through the subsequent savings on fuel. What I'd really like to do, now it's all clear profit, is to save enough to pay for the replacement car, the only question is, should it be a 430 or a 460, but that's another story. If you really want to know how beneficial propane is, it's worth considering that, in practice, I actually paid cash for the current 430 from the savings I made running my previous car, a Ford Scorpio; that is having already covered it's purchase price and propane conversion cost. So you see why I'm keen to sort this out. Anyway, thanks to your encouragement, I invested in a universal joint type socket connector which seems ideal for working on these well concealed bolts. Even with this I finally gave up accessing the dip-stick guide bolt from above and took your suggestion to go below. Having removed the under engine cover and the left side under engine cover I was able to get my trusty new U-J socket onto said bolt (using multiple extensions as it was a long way up). The bolt felt like just another 10mm bolt but it turned out to be a 12mm, worth noting. Also, although the manual mentions bolts for each of the dip-stick guides, the one bolt beems to fix a single bracket that is attached to both; which is good news. Ok, I've just got to wait for a quiet sunny day and I can check these valve clearances, will let you know how it goes. Thanks again! I'd never tackle this stuff without you guys.
  12. I've used Kumho Ecsta SPT KU31, they are very quiet and about half the price of the Primacy tyres over here. I recently had to replace a tyre quickly after a puncture and had to take what they had in stock. It sounded as though there was a serious problem - wheel bearings or something, but it was just a noisy tyre. I put on my spare, which was a Dunlop SP270 which I keep at home due to propane tank in the tyre well, and quiet was restored. Tyre selection certainly makes a huge difference, I found it hard to believe.
  13. Thanks Landar, that's encouraging, I've been able to get a swivel headed socket onto the cover bolt you mention so that's not a problem, I'm just waiting for a ratchet tool to arrive as otherwise the bolts would take forever to remove. Will let you know how it goes. Thanks again!
  14. Hi Curious, You're right when you say the "normal" wear is for valves to open less; this is bourne out by the replacement shim thicknesses available which err on the thick side (ie.2 - 2.8mm compared with the 2.3mm originals). However my situation, with running on propane, leads to more wear of the valve seat than the push points - see http://holdenpaedia.oldholden.com/Valve_Seat_Recession. Changing the heads, in-situ, in a 430 is an enormous job, and given that it would probably be best to do both (as you say) it would be easier to change the engine/transmission completely - however, this would entail the additional removal and refitting of the propane injectors.... Anyway, I've pretty much decided that any immediate repair work would depend on confirmation of valve seat recession (ie. no valve clearance at all - valve cannot close). Obviously to do this I need to remove the valve cover on the left bank (DS in the US). I've been able to get to all the 9 cover bolts BUT the dip-stick bolts have eluded me. My only questions at this stage are: 1. Do you really need to remove the dip-stick bolts to get the cover off? and, if yes, 2. How do you get these bolts off; from above or below? - Any tips would be gratefully received as it's this dip-stick bit that is the real hurdle at present. Many thanks!
  15. Hi Landar, Many thanks for this, I agree with your thoughts about fixing it, I believe it will be worth it. Regarding the exhaust valve I've no doubt that it's one of the No.1 cylinder exhaust valves and I guess it doesn't really matter which one it is. In fact I suppose it doesn't really matter which cylinder it is since I'm going to need to do some general dismantling and it's highly likely that all of the valves have deteriorated to a greater or lesser extent. The next step, it seems to me, in this long diagnostic process (having implicated one or both of the No. 1 cyl. exhaust valves) is to check to see whether the non-closure/sealing of the valve(s) is due to deterioration of the valve OR valve seat recession. As I think I mentioned, valve seat recession is a common feature with engines run on propane (as mine is - 160,000 miles on propane) so I'm expecting it to be that. What I'm planning to do next (partly because it's simplest) is to check the valve clearances. As I've not had the valve covers off before I'm planning to do bank 1 first due to easier access. I was very interested to see these photos on http://www.clublexus...question-3.html which seem to show a variety of wear on the backs of the cams (ie the bit where there should be a gap of 0.3mm at TDC; ie exhaust valve closed). Clearly any metal thats not rubbing against other metal is painted with this golden gunk. The clear picture painted here is that some valves are closing but some are not, the reason for non-closure seeming to be a lack of clearance. This is what I expect to find when I check my clearances. So my immediate request is really for assistance by way of any tips for removing the valve covers; especially the bank 2 cover and most especially the dipstick bolts as I can't even feel them let alone see them!! Ps. I just realised I didn't say why I wanted to distinguish between the differing causes of valve non-closure. If it's valve seat recession, as I'm expecting, then it won't be necessary to take the heads off; simply find an easy way of reinstating the valve clearance.
  16. Ok, well this is a learning curve for me. It turns out that the leak is not from the spark plug hole at all. In spite of using a stethoscope and clearly hearing the air coming from the hole it looks like what I was hearing was the air rushing through the pipe screwed into the plug hole; I guess the plug hole just served as an amplifier of sorts. How do I know this? Well I didn't wait for the endoscope camera I ordered but found I was able to take these pictures with my trusty iPhone 4. I expected to see a crack or a hole or something but, as you see, it's clean as a whistle. The black bits are the CV joint grease I used to help seal the leakdown hose So, knowing that this 55% leak was coming from somewhere, I simply fed 60psi into the plug hole and listened at the tail pipes. Well, they say a low frequency sound means a large leak and they are right. In this case I could feel the air on my hand as it blew out of the pipe. So, no question, I have a leak from the exhaust valve(s) on No. 1 cylinder. In fact the leakage at TDC at the top of the exhaust stroke is only 10% more. The only question now is, "what do I do next?". My friendly local independent Lexus tech agrees with you Curious, ie. I should get rid of it or just run it into the ground. Also he doesn't think it's caused by valve seat recession, rather that the exhaust valves are simply messed up and therefore not sealing properly. However, for the (propane related) reasons I've already mentioned, I believe that the problem is likely to be recession and I'd like to prove this by removing the valve covers and checking the clearances. If it is then I think it's worth getting thinner shims installed in the valve lifters to restore full valve closure. On the figures I have mentioned previously this would be very cost effective. The problem is that I've not done this before and it looks fairly difficult so if anyone has had the valve covers off an LS430 I would greatly appreciate some guidance.
  17. Ok, firstly I should have said, "Obviously this wouldn't affect a cracked head but it might save investing in camera equipment etc." Well, you guessed, it didn't make any difference, anyway I cleaned up the plug seating using a greased screwdriver but it seemed pretty clean and made no difference. Now it seems that the only thing left is a crack in the head around the plug hole. I will now invest in an endoscope camera, as you suggested Landar. However, in the meantime I did a little experiment. I coated my leakdown tester hose evenly with dark grease and repeated the leakdown test. Same leakage, as expected, but I got an interesting pattern on the grease - I've upload a couple of photos. One shows what it looks like around 90% of the circumference and the other is a specific little arc. The pattern in the grease seems to support the crack theory. I will now order a camera but in the meantime I'd like to canvass for suggestions (apart from a new head) as to how to reduce the leak, even by a small amount. Since I understand that the seal is made by the gasket rather than the threads, it occurred to me that a larger diameter gasket might conceivably help. Any ideas?
  18. Ok, firstly I should have said, "Obviously this wouldn't affect a cracked head but it might save investing in camera equipment etc." Well, you guessed, it didn't make any difference, anyway I cleaned up the plug seating using a greased screwdriver but it seemed pretty clean and made no difference. Now it seems that the only thing left is a crack in the head around the plug hole. I will now invest in an endoscope camera, as you suggested Landar. However, in the meantime I did a little experiment. I coated my leakdown tester hose evenly with dark grease and repeated the leakdown test. Same leakage, as expected, but I got an interesting pattern on the grease - I've upload a couple of photos. One shows what it looks like around 90% of the circumference and the other is a specific little arc. The pattern in the grease seems to support the crack theory. I will now order a camera but in the meantime I'd like to canvass for suggestions (apart from a new head) as to how to reduce the leak, even by a small amount. Since I understand that the seal is made by the gasket rather than the threads, it occurred to me that a larger diameter gasket might conceivably help. Any ideas?
  19. Thanks Landar, I guess that answers my first question, ie. where could it be coming from, it's a relief to be finally getting close on this. I have only just changed my spark plugs - in a vain attempt to correct this problem (they were 50,000 old so no real loss). I kept the old ones and there is a small degree of charring on the early threads but this is slight and applies to all the plugs to a greater or lesser extent. One thing I did notice on the offending cylinder's plug was the slight presence of oil on the threads; this was absent on the other 7. Time for confession. I don't torque the plugs when fitting them, I simply hand tighten then and add 1/2 - 2/3 turns according to the plug manufacturers instructions. Knowing now that the head is aluminium and that I tend to err on the tight side, not to mention the fact that it's had about four plug changes, I guess there's fair chance that I've damaged the head/threads in some way. You mentioned the tester connector but I've ruled this out in that it works fine in the other cylinders; ie. perfect seal, leakage only heard through the rings (common to all cylinders). My plan now is to use a little teflon tape on the tester connector and see if the readings change at all. When I bought and set up my compressor/tester/pipework setup I initially had 3 or 4 leaks at different spots but they all yielded to Teflon tape so I'll be interested to see the effect. Obviously this would affect a cracked head but it might save investing in camera equipment etc. Will let you know how it goes. Thanks again.
  20. Thanks Curious, sorry I've taken so long to reply, you have certainly caused me to think. I guess I could sell it now, the mis-fire is almost un-noticeable (apart from the P0301 & flashing CEL - lol!) I have thought through the financial side and given that I've just had the cambelt & water pump done, replaced all 4 wheel bearings (cost $2500 in total due to having to replace the steering knuckles as well), and that I save around $5,000 pa by running on propane (cost $4,000 to convert), I think it's probably reasonable to spend a bit to keep the engine running well. The bodywork and interior are still so good that many customers (I have a car service business) ask me if I've bought a new car. I'd like to keep it for a further two years (120,000 miles). Ok, having said that, I decided to invest in a leak-down tester and an air compressor. It's been a bit of a learning curve (which I enjoy). I had never had to set a piston at TDC before so that was fun. I read that you should put a long thin screwdriver down the spark plug hole and turn the engine until the handle peaked. Suffice to say I was duly horrified to see the thing disappear down the hole. Fortunately the piston wasn't at TDC and it re-appeared in due course albeit only by 1/4" or so - phew. Anyway, I tried my new tester on the offending cylinder and was rewarded by something they don't mention in the blurb (well not that I've read anywhere on the web anyway). The leakage rate was showing 55% compared with 18% on it's neighbor. I checked all the (apparently) usual suspects and, apart from a small amount of air getting past the rings (common to both cylinders) heard through the oil filler hole, what I had was a large amount of air emanating from the spark plug access orifice. At first I assumed that I hadn't sealed the test lead properly but it was fine on the other cylinder and I had a few more tries to satisfy myself that it wasn't my fault. Does anyone know what the cause of this could be; I've never had a head off so I'm pretty unfamiliar with the possibilities?
  21. Ok, I forgot to update this thread as things had got complicated/urgent. Anyway, as you may have read, it turned out that the very severe problems I had been getting (on top of the mis-fire that I started this thread for) were actually caused by the cheap MAF sensor that I put on to try and cure the mis-fire. The new MAF seemed fine but failed after only a couple of weeks. So now I'm back to the original mis-fire problem. Just to recap: 1. I get a P0301 & flashing CEL under load/low revs during warmup. After warmup it will sometimes come back while waiting at lights in drive (not in neutral). 2. I've done all the usual tests to no avail. 3. I should mention that the car has done over 300,000 miles with over half that on propane gas - which is implicated in Valve Seat Recession. Therefore, I strongly suspect that my number 1 cylinder exhaust valves are not closing properly (the others may be close behind). To confirm this I would like to do a cylinder leakdown test BUT I'm put off by the cost of a workshop air compressor which I would probably only use this once. Do you think it would be ok to use a "tire inflator" type compressor to feed the leakdown gear or would I be better off just taking it to my friendly independent Lexus tech? I also tried to measure the valve clearances but failed even to get to the bolts holding on the 2 x oil dipstick tubes let alone the lower cyl head cover bolts - I guess it helps to have small hands:)
  22. Thanks for all this input guys. My friendly independent Lexus tech subsequently took the car off me for 5 days and wasn't able to find any fault with the engine - personally I agree with idea that the continual P0301 without any other mis-fire codes relates to that particular cylinder and, having ruled out fuelling (due to dual-fuel) and ignition (changing spark plugs and swapping igniters) I believe that the underlying slight mis-fire is probably an exhaust valve seat recession issue on Cyl. 1. I'm now looking for a local diagnostic tech with access to a pressure transducer/scope setup to confirm this - although this is only really so I can stop searching for a solution as I don't see myself paying what it would take to redo all the valve seats. This mis-firing however was a much longer term issue. The problem that was crippling the car and meaning that I couldn't use it in my car service business was, what I thought was, the Catalytic Converters. My Lexus tech, having exhausted all other possibilities, went along with my idea about an exhaust blockage (the only thing bothering me about this was the fact that the whole of the engine seemed to be affected by this extreme lack of power WHEREAS surely only one CAT would fail at one time thereby only affecting one bank). Anyway he agreed to remove both upstream CATs as a diagnostic device - he then called me at 9:30pm to tell me it made no difference!! This is where I start to think about the Torque Converter again. Anyway I get this inspiration and remember that I changed the MAF for a new one a couple of weeks before this severe problem occurred. My tech guy had asked me about recent work on the car and I had told him about this but for some reason it seemed to test ok when when I took it to him. I still had the original Toyota/Denso MAF (300,000 miles service!!) in a box in my garage so we re-fitted this AND, guess what?....... The morals of this story, for me anyway - I'm sure I don't need to tell you guys, are listen to inspiration and DON'T use cheap after-market parts. Clearly the cheap MAF sensor worked when I fitted it BUT failed after only two weeks. Thanks again guys, both of you strongly suspected the MAF and if I hadn't tried it already your comments would certainly have led me to it next. It's amazing to think that such a small component can make such a difference. Thanks for your input also Jaswood. Will let you know how I get on with chasing down the residual P0301 & flashing CEL, although the weather is warming up now which helps as the problem is almost entirely limited to the warm-up phase of engine operation.
  23. Just to keep you up to date, we got both CATs off the car tonight and it made absolutely no difference. HELP!!!
  24. Ok just had a thought, Torque Converter!! If the problem was one of the cats then only one bank would be affected, on the other hand the Torque Converter affects the whole shebang. What do you think? (before I get down another rabbit trail)
  25. Hey Billy, I just read your comment in 2010 about you replacing your cat converters. How did you know they needed replacing?? My car has got steadily worse over the last couple of days and finally today, at the Lexus technician fortunately, it failed even to start. The Tech guy thinks it may be a vacuum hose or something and is going to look it over. He doesn't want to remove the front O2 sensors to see if this helps as he's had a lot of experience of them cross-threading. As I said, I'm very interested to know how you diagnosed your bad cats. Many thanks.
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