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Old 01-03-14, 09:53 AM   #1
ychen
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Default 1997 LS400 170K miles, Coolant Leaks, alternator not charging, ...

Hi all,

I just acquired this car (12/31/2013) . I knew the alternator was bad before I bought it, I did not know that it leaks coolant. It also has a CEL of P1600. Alternator is easy to fix. But the coolant leaks/drips from two places (not sure exactly where), it drips from the area above the alternator. Also it drips from the area above the oil filter. I need to stop the coolant leaks before I could fix the alternator (otherwise the water will damage the alternator). I was told the car has been sitting for 2-3 years. Could the leak be due to the fact that it has been sitting for two long and the gaskets/seals are dried up? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Happy New Year!
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Old 01-03-14, 02:19 PM   #2
Gene01
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It might be worth while to check the leak above the alternator. It is fairly common on the older LS400s to leak Power Steering fluid onto the alternator, rather than coolant.
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Old 01-03-14, 04:51 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input.I double checked, both drips are coolant. Now the drips are clear since I only added (distill) water.
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Old 01-03-14, 06:04 PM   #4
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Might want to pull the timing covers to check the water pump.
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Old 01-04-14, 01:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ychen View Post
Hi all,

I just acquired this car (12/31/2013) . I knew the alternator was bad before I bought it, I did not know that it leaks coolant. It also has a CEL of P1600. Alternator is easy to fix. But the coolant leaks/drips from two places (not sure exactly where), it drips from the area above the alternator. Also it drips from the area above the oil filter. I need to stop the coolant leaks before I could fix the alternator (otherwise the water will damage the alternator). I was told the car has been sitting for 2-3 years. Could the leak be due to the fact that it has been sitting for two long and the gaskets/seals are dried up? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Happy New Year!
pour kettle of boiling water over ALT from near power steering pump ,i had same problem 2yrs ago still not replaced altenator good luck
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Old 01-04-14, 01:34 AM   #6
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1997 LS400 alternators normally do not go bad in 170K miles, so I would find and fix the power steering leak that very likely killed this alternator, or you will be buying yet another alternator in a few months - however it could also be damaged from a coolant leak by the same principle

there is not too much of the coolant system residing in a place that could leak on to the alternator, so this should be easy to locate

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pour kettle of boiling water over ALT from near power steering pump ,i had same problem 2yrs ago still not replaced altenator good luck
if this really works (I have thought about something similar in my head) it would make having read your other 22 silly posts in the past worth it!

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Old 01-04-14, 09:49 AM   #7
ychen
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I will have to fix the powering steering leak (if any), of course. But the first thing first is to locate the coolant leak. Is it possible that the water pump leaks and the coolant detours to the two sides (along the alternator and the oil filter). I plan to open the timing cover to look at the water pump. Can I easily tell if the water pump is leaking once I open the timing cover since I can't run the car once I opened the timing cover. The coolant leak was a surprise for me since the seller did not disclose this. What the chance of the engine is totally toasted and not even worth of spending any money at all on it? Could it also have a blown head gasket?

Thanks,

YC
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Old 01-05-14, 01:05 AM   #8
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you can run the car briefly in a clean environment such as a garage, without the timing covers, as long as you replace the fan bracket and fan and any water hoses to ensure correct cooling. The covers are only there to keep the timing belt area safe from fluids such as oil, as well as road debris, etc. and this cleanliness is critical to prevent the timing belt from jumping time and also to insure the belt itself is not prematurely deteriorated by prolonged fluid contact
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Old 01-05-14, 09:30 PM   #9
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I took the alternator out. I have a quick question. I would like to start the engine without the alternator to troubleshoot (meaning without the serpentine belt). Is it safe (without causing further damage to the engine) to run the engine without the belt for a few minutes?

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Old 01-05-14, 09:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ychen View Post
I took the alternator out. I have a quick question. I would like to start the engine without the alternator to troubleshoot (meaning without the serpentine belt). Is it safe (without causing further damage to the engine) to run the engine without the belt for a few minutes?

Thanks.
Yes you can, and it's okay to run them for up to 15 minutes (maybe more, but I'd say wait for an experienced member's opinion on that) as well. I've read that this is a good way to troubleshoot random rattling that could be mistaken for knocking. As for running the engine, sans alternator, it works, but it might put a bit of a strain on your battery. I remember a member on here (I think it was Yamae) who posted their experience about running an LS400 with a faulty alternator. They basically swapped out batteries every evening/charged the other.

Last edited by Sc0pe; 01-05-14 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 01-06-14, 05:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ychen View Post
I took the alternator out. I have a quick question. I would like to start the engine without the alternator to troubleshoot (meaning without the serpentine belt). Is it safe (without causing further damage to the engine) to run the engine without the belt for a few minutes? Thanks.
yes, running the car without the serpentine belt is a very good diagnostic tool, and can be done for several minutes at a time (in fact, I one traveled for 45 minutes in an LS400 on a cold day without a serpentine belt on a brand new and freshly charged up battery!) - just watch the temp gauge, as you will have no fan, other than the electric fan

PS - code 1600 can be indicative of failing ECU capacitors, so if a new alternator and battery doesn't make that code go away, I would do Yamae's ripple test and/or a visual inspection of the inside of the ECU, given that 97's are highly affected and also that you live in a hot and humid state!
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Old 01-06-14, 09:10 AM   #12
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I ran the engine for a few minutes without the belt. Even without the alternator, I still could not identify the location since the coolant come from the area above the alternator stud and below the distributor. Is there a gasket below the distributor? I am attaching a pic.

Thanks
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Old 02-14-14, 11:33 AM   #13
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due to the cold the weather, I finally opened the timing cover today. It appears that leaks are outside/above the timing cover. They are on both side of the back of the camshaft. Could anyone tell me what's behind the two camshafts? head gaskets? Thanks
Attached Thumbnails
1997 LS400 170K miles, Coolant Leaks, alternator not charging, ...-img_8307.jpg   1997 LS400 170K miles, Coolant Leaks, alternator not charging, ...-img_8308.jpg   1997 LS400 170K miles, Coolant Leaks, alternator not charging, ...-img_8313.jpg   1997 LS400 170K miles, Coolant Leaks, alternator not charging, ...-img_8316.jpg  

Last edited by ychen; 02-14-14 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 02-14-14, 01:27 PM   #14
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That might be the water pump gasket leakage
http://www.clublexus.com/forums/ls40...rogress-2.html
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Old 02-14-14, 02:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ychen View Post
due to the cold the weather, I finally opened the timing cover today. It appears that leaks are outside/above the timing cover. They are on both side of the back of the camshaft. Could anyone tell me what's behind the two camshafts? head gaskets? Thanks
well the cam seals are directly behind the cam pulleys, but they just hold back oil only, not coolant, so one of the most important things is to positively identify the fluid that is leaking:

red or green and tastes sweet = coolant
golden or brown or black = oil (tastes like oil)
red or purple = PS fluid or transmission fluid (tastes like oil)
clear = brake fluid (tastes horrifically bad)
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1997, 400, alternator, bad, coolant, coolany, killing, leak, lecus, lexus, ls, places, power, pump, steering

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