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)
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Thanks for the insight hypervish, and here's the pic lol:
I'm kinda frustrated at the lack of specialty parts for this vehicle, but I guess it's the perception and design as a family sedan that keeps aftermarket companies from really jumping into it.
I'm sure the best solution would be coilovers. I have seen a few from D2 Racing and K Sport that look nice, but at this point I'm not looking to drop a wad of cash on suspension upgrades. I calculated a decent set of shocks/springs would run anywhere from $420-$600, and the cheapest coilovers are just under $1000. So if I can make this work with a solid strut/spring combo I would prefer that
After a little bit of searching I FINALLY found the Windom I was looking for... some guy in Japan has taken an '01 4ES through three or four different facelifts.. complete overhauls. I'm talking coilovers, a new paint job every time, new wheels, new interior, really freaked the car out. Here are the pics I found on his CarDomain page; keep in mind this is the SAME CAR!
Never heard of XYZ (looks kinda cheap), people have mixed reviews on the KSports and D2s... hmm. Decisions decisions.
Also, for some of these sets I've noticed a lot of different "applications" for different vehicles, with some prices being lower than others. Are they all the same product or is there something individual about each coilover that makes it vehicle specific? Only reason I'm asking is the price is about $100 cheaper in some instances.