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Brand spanking new to me '98 GS400

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Old 09-05-13, 07:20 PM   #1
Sampak
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Default Brand spanking new to me '98 GS400

Hi, new member here.

So I am literally moments away from going to buy a '98 GS 400 from a local member.
My first ever Lexus or luxury anything (unless you count the '91 Land Cruiser with 239k miles as a luxury truck?).

More pics to follow, but these are just what were from the ad.

Hopefully I've not made a bad choice. Has 245k miles and Autocheck and Lexus service records online showed it was in good shape.

Click the image to open in full size.

If you recognize this Lexus, and have dirt to dish, I'd like to hear it. I think the current owner is a lurker or member here too.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:43 AM   #2
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Over the weekend I raised the Megan suspension up by about 0.5"-1" front/rear and now the car drives much better over bumps and obstructions - as in no more grinding along the bottom! What a relief! And I'm still able to run it lower than stock so it looks good too.

Only thing left is to get the alignment done with this height setting, and balance the tires.

After that, onto the not so fun stuff -- getting a quote on the timing belt service. Previous owner said the guy he got it from said it was done at 160-180k miles but had to documentation. I'm at 245K miles and IF that was the truth I'm almost due. If it wasn't done, I'm on heavily borrowed time!

Coolant is all but gone in the overflow tank and today the water temperature reached 210* (using scan gauge). I've gotta get Autozone or Walmart to get some distilled water to put in for now. Fortunately it looks like the PO used red stuff for coolant, so I should be OK with a little water mixed in till I can get it serviced/drained-refilled.

Power steering feels a little bit harder than I would expect, but fluid's full.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:48 AM   #3
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welcome and great find. where in texas? dfw or htown?
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Old 09-10-13, 11:30 AM   #4
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Congrats on the GS and welcome to Club Lexus
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Old 09-10-13, 12:28 PM   #5
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welcome and great find. where in texas? dfw or htown?

Thanks guys. Over here in DFW.

I managed to go over to the Toyota dealer here in Richardson and got some of that $30 Unicorn blood. Turns out I only needed to fill from Low to Full.

While I was there, I also got a quote on labor for the timing belt/water pump/idler service and I'm looking at anywhere from $500-$800 depending on the alignment of the planets and the coupons I can haggle with, plus the cost of OEM Toyota Timing Belt parts/kit.

As for the engine coolant temperature issue, I noticed once again, after filling the overflow tank to Full, and driving back 10 minutes to work (city driving, up to 50 mph with some spirited red light starts), I peaked 200*F. According to Scan Gauge II (plugs into your OBD2 port and gives live readouts on various stats in real time) I peaked at 211*F yesterday. The weird part is the instrument cluster needle barely moves from the 2nd mark (just below half way point) from 180-210*F when I watch it closely. It is why I'm also a bit confused...engine bay also gets quite hot compared to what I'm used to, but then again my '91 Land Cruiser can cook eggs too in there so maybe it's normal.

I was feeling a little nervous about this car, because of how excellent it seemed and how I was feeling unworthy...but now I can feel my heart jumping out of my throat. I don't see or hear anything unusual cooling system wise, no scraping/squealing from any pulleys or what would suggest a bad water pump. I've witnessed the radiator fan come on and off like it should be, but coincidentally I didn't think to check when the coolant got hotter.

I'm assuming normal operating range is 190*F but I'll do a search and see what I can find. Maybe it's nothing?
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Old 09-10-13, 01:01 PM   #6
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welcome and great find. where in texas? dfw or htown?
A Town!
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Old 09-10-13, 01:01 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forums! I'm located in DFW also.

I have a good fried who's located on the Arlington side of town but does exquisite work and is very good at diagnostics. If you want his info shoot me a PM. I would also send an email to Jeff Tsai and see what he says ad if I were you I'd have him do your servicing, he's the man. Google Power Dynamix and send him an email saying what you need and I sure he'd be willing to help.
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Old 09-10-13, 01:04 PM   #8
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congrats on the GS4. get those few maintenance things handled and you are in good hands
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Old 09-10-13, 01:19 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forums! I'm located in DFW also.

I have a good fried who's located on the Arlington side of town but does exquisite work and is very good at diagnostics. If you want his info shoot me a PM. I would also send an email to Jeff Tsai and see what he says ad if I were you I'd have him do your servicing, he's the man. Google Power Dynamix and send him an email saying what you need and I sure he'd be willing to help.
Thanks for the local recommendations! I usually head over from Denton to Arlington every other weekend to visit family, so it's not too bad a deal for me to go there if I need to. I'll check out Jeff too. It's great to have local active members that's for sure.
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Old 09-10-13, 01:56 PM   #10
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Friend of mine is a Lexus Tech and he said he has never seen a timing belt break, but he has seen some scary ones when he got into do them. But those were ones that had been neglected. Mine is due as well. Coming up on 198k miles now, it is ready to come out (was done around 90k)
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Old 09-10-13, 02:02 PM   #11
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Thanks for the local recommendations! I usually head over from Denton to Arlington every other weekend to visit family, so it's not too bad a deal for me to go there if I need to. I'll check out Jeff too. It's great to have local active members that's for sure.
DFW has a lot of great and active members. I would go into the NTL portion of CL and post up the GS and introduce yourself in the introduction thread. We also hold weekly to monthly meets where we all get together for some grub.
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Old 09-11-13, 10:46 AM   #12
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So after filling up some Unicorn blood into the overflow tank, I drove back from the dealer to the office. The temp readout on ScanGauge II read around ~191-193*F until I got to the 3rd floor parking space, which is not much of a climb except for 2 long ~50 ft inclines (not much to rev at). AFTER I pulled into my parking spot I noticed the water temperature started to surge again past 198 and into 200*F range. I turned the car off and went back to work.

Again, leaving work last night then driving back this morning, I noticed that the temperature struggled to go past 191*F on the highway (70mph) and even city driving for half the duration with 40-50 mph stretches between lights barely yielded water temperature readings of 195*F. It wasn't until I sat at a light for at least 30 seconds or more, that I breached 198*F. However, today pulling into the same 3rd floor parking spot, the temperature stayed below 193*F.

What gives? My initial theory was that while the car is driving the heat is unable to build up in any large amount in the engine bay, and that once I stopped somewhere, the lack of improved airflow, except for the radiator fan(s), caused heat to build up and soak more of the components in the engine bay which in turn surges the water temperature readings up into 200*F range.

So I guess my question is this normal for larger, aging engines like the 4.0 V8?
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Old 09-11-13, 12:33 PM   #13
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Sounds pretty my like any cooling system I have seen. The stat typically doesn't even start to open till the 195 point, then fully open around 205 or so.

Remember too that the stat is in one place and the coolant temp sensor is somewhere else, so they very likely aren't seeing the same temps anywho.

Having AC on or off makes a diff, as when it is on the fans are commanded on all the time, with AC off it is off till needed, so the swings in temp are much higher. Often the fans (without AC on) won't even turn on till 220F or so. I know how GM does it, not sure on Lex, but would be surprised if it was much different there.

My 94 Fleetwood with the LT1 and 7000 # tow package had the mech fan and temps were VERY stable, rarely fluctuating more than a couple degrees total. But without the mech fan installed (electric only) the swings were much more exaggerated.

Now something to always watch for, if you see temps climb at steady state cruise (over 205-210) and then when you stop they cool back to normal I would suspect there is an airflow problem under-hood, either lack of air in thru radiator or high pressure air under-hood (from wheel wells is common). Blocking off the wheel wells from engine compartment helps significantly.


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So after filling up some Unicorn blood into the overflow tank, I drove back from the dealer to the office. The temp readout on ScanGauge II read around ~191-193*F until I got to the 3rd floor parking space, which is not much of a climb except for 2 long ~50 ft inclines (not much to rev at). AFTER I pulled into my parking spot I noticed the water temperature started to surge again past 198 and into 200*F range. I turned the car off and went back to work.

Again, leaving work last night then driving back this morning, I noticed that the temperature struggled to go past 191*F on the highway (70mph) and even city driving for half the duration with 40-50 mph stretches between lights barely yielded water temperature readings of 195*F. It wasn't until I sat at a light for at least 30 seconds or more, that I breached 198*F. However, today pulling into the same 3rd floor parking spot, the temperature stayed below 193*F.

What gives? My initial theory was that while the car is driving the heat is unable to build up in any large amount in the engine bay, and that once I stopped somewhere, the lack of improved airflow, except for the radiator fan(s), caused heat to build up and soak more of the components in the engine bay which in turn surges the water temperature readings up into 200*F range.

So I guess my question is this normal for larger, aging engines like the 4.0 V8?
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Old 09-11-13, 01:33 PM   #14
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Sounds pretty my like any cooling system I have seen. The stat typically doesn't even start to open till the 195 point, then fully open around 205 or so.

Remember too that the stat is in one place and the coolant temp sensor is somewhere else, so they very likely aren't seeing the same temps anywho.

Having AC on or off makes a diff, as when it is on the fans are commanded on all the time, with AC off it is off till needed, so the swings in temp are much higher. Often the fans (without AC on) won't even turn on till 220F or so. I know how GM does it, not sure on Lex, but would be surprised if it was much different there.

My 94 Fleetwood with the LT1 and 7000 # tow package had the mech fan and temps were VERY stable, rarely fluctuating more than a couple degrees total. But without the mech fan installed (electric only) the swings were much more exaggerated.

Now something to always watch for, if you see temps climb at steady state cruise (over 205-210) and then when you stop they cool back to normal I would suspect there is an airflow problem under-hood, either lack of air in thru radiator or high pressure air under-hood (from wheel wells is common). Blocking off the wheel wells from engine compartment helps significantly.
Thanks for the insight. I know that the needle in the dash barely if at all moves from 190-210*F from the last 2 observed incidents, so I am thinking that as far as Lexus is concerned those ranges are normal, OR there is a disconnect between what the OBD2 read out is and what feeds the dash water temperature needle...

And I think I might have read your thread, or someone else who had a radiator with crap in between the fins of all things, a few years back which was causing the car to overheat even though everything else was in working order or replaced... I looked from the outside layer and it looks clean, so it shouldn't be a dirty radiator fin issue.

And yes I believe our V8s have electric fans (two of them) and I did have my AC on the whole trip since it's 90-100*F in Dallas. I notice that the fans or a single fan runs at low speeds sometimes, then goes full blast for a few seconds and then at one point turned off, but I cannot remember if the AC was for sure ON or OFF at the time I observed this.

However, from last night and this morning's trip, and by what you're saying about 200*F being apparently acceptable, I will keep an eye out for the needle jumping but otherwise try and relax about this. It's been quite stressful for some reason. (My '98 Altima did not seem to have this kind of fluctuation and stayed pretty steady too, but I don't recall what the fan setup is on the KA24).

Last edited by Sampak; 09-11-13 at 01:41 PM..
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Old 09-11-13, 01:45 PM   #15
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Tip from my friend who is the Lexus Tech, he said to remove the foam in between the radiator and the condenser, he said dirt/debris gets loaded up in there and causes blockage of airflow in front of the radiator. It is better to have it missing and the debris fall to the ground.

Most of mine is missing on top, but when I get in there next I will see if I can remove.

On AC it needs the airflow thru the condenser or it will have poor AC performance. It will slow them down as you go faster or pressures are ok. But if AC pressures are higher it will command higher airflow from fans.
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Old 09-11-13, 01:45 PM
 
 
 
 
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