I have been stalking the forums for a while and have finally decided to register
. I purchased a 2002 ES300 about 6 months ago with 76k miles. This is my first Lexus, I have been a Cadillac guy for a while: I have owned a 1988 Fleetwood Brougham, and a 1995 Sedan DeVille. I love big cars with soft rides! However, I was ready for a change from the norm, so after researching tirelessly and reading all of the favorable reviews this car received, I went for it.
The car has been great. It has almost 84k miles now, the only work done being an oil change. However, since the addition of a hefty subwoofer and box in the trunk, the stock springs are really crying for help. Not only is the suspension due for a refresher, but the extra weight is making the situation worse.
The rear end of the car squats about 1.5" lower than it should when parked. This causes the front end to lift slightly giving it a really awkward reverse-rake stance. When driven over a dip in the road, the back end heaves down and bottoms out with such might that the front actually lifts a little bit and I lose handling for a second. The severity of this depends on how many passengers are riding - one passenger is tolerable, but if anyone is sitting in the backseat, forget it. It makes for a terrible ride, especially with the larger wheels.
Now, all that being said, I have been doing some research on strut/spring combinations for these vehicles. My goal would be to not only repair my sagging suspension, but to have the car lowered slightly, maybe a 1" drop. It seems the selection of struts for this vehicle is fairly limited, at least as far as what's listed as being compatible with the vehicle. For strut options, I found: Monroe Sensa-Trac, Sensen (very cheap), Gabriel (a little less cheap than the Sensen), KYB-G2 Excel (heard this was the most recommended), and Leacree (complete strut & spring assembly).
As far as springs, I have looked at Tanabe NF210 Max-Comfort Springs which offer a front 1.5" and rear 1" drop. From the website's description, they are geared towards smooth-riding luxury cars with large diameter wheels. I have seen some other spring kits with more aggressive drops but that's not what I'm looking for.
Now to put it all together. I have heard that using a strut designed for stock ride height with lowering springs will cause accelerated wear and premature failure of the strut... fair enough. I'm assuming the higher quality struts would last a bit longer, but I'm sure there's no sure-fire way to tell when you're operating a part out of specs like that. However, out of all the other great aftermarket strut brands I've reasearched, none
of them seem to make an application for the 4th gen ES! (Tokico was my first choice, but they stop at '01 model year). So my questions would be:
1. What strut/spring combination would be the best for lowering this vehicle?
2. Are there any other considerations I need to take into account with the extra weight?
I will post pictures of the car a little later, since my work computer loves to block every photo sharing website under the sun. (but not internet forums... go figure)