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Old 04-28-12, 01:30 PM   #1
pmesfun
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Default 99 LS-speedometer dead

Hello everyone,

I recently acquired a 99 LS with 88k miles now. I discovered it has the common speedometer problem. For the first 2-10 miles depending on the temp.(longer when warmer outside), the speedometer will play dead, yesterday the tach wasn't working but came on a few seconds of driving. I haven't tried tapping the dash yet, but from searching the forum I haven't found a solid solution on how to fix this on a 2LS. Is the needles sticking like in the 1LS? The other two LS' we were going to buy both did this, one a 93 with 210k and a 99 with 115k. All three came on after driving a certain distance. The 93 took the longest.

I would appreciate it if you guys can point me in the right direction.
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Old 04-28-12, 02:59 PM   #2
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Hmmm, I've had my 2000 LS400 for almost nine years, known a lot of 98-00 LS400 owners and have never heard of this problem let alone it being a common one.

You might check that the connectors into the back of the cluster are installed properly. There was a TSIB ( EL002-01) issued in 2001 about the "miles since refuel" occasionally resetting itself. The TSIB repair involved replacing the "combination meter plate" which necessitated removing the instrument cluster.

I passed on the TSIB, many did not. You could likely see if this TSIB was applied by looking at your car's maintenance records in the owners section of the Lexus website. If the TSIB was applied to your car, I'd definitely check the connectors in the back of the cluster to see if they are installed properly - nice and snug with no pins bent.

I've posted the TSIB in the past but here it is again.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:09 PM   #3
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the sticky needle problem isn't exactly common but it isn't rare either in '98-00 LS'. Mine does it in really hot/really cold weather, but a mild tap on the dash clears it up. it's suspected that the needle rest on the tach and speedo may become sticky.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:27 PM   #4
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Checked the Lexus website, no records of any TSBs performed.

The needles went dead again, tapping on dash above the tach made it work in one try, the speedometer took two or three taps. What's weird that this can also happen 30 minutes after previously driving the car.

PureDrifter, would you recommend taking out the cluster and cleaning the needing with alcohol or something similar?

Appreciate the input.
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Old 04-28-12, 04:47 PM   #5
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I havent tried that so I couldn't recco it. It may work, but it's at your own risk.
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Old 04-28-12, 07:14 PM   #6
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It would be incredible if both the speedometer and tachometer failed at the same time due to needle problems - especially on a 99 LS with only 88,000 miles.

Pull the cluster and check the connectors. The speedo and tach are electrically driven -- not mechanical gauges of the olden days. Do you know anybody else with a 98-00 LS400? That's how I determined which audio component in my 00 LS had a problem - swapped it into a friend's 99 LS.

Have you checked to see if there is a diagnostic procedure for speedo and tach problems? I'll check my repair manuals for my 00 LS but diagnostic procedures are often way too lengthy to scan and post.
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Old 04-28-12, 10:14 PM   #7
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Kansas I don't think the OPs gauges are dead, i think he's saying they are sticky. IE they work fine other than at startup+first few minutes.
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Old 04-29-12, 06:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PureDrifter View Post
Kansas I don't think the OPs gauges are dead, i think he's saying they are sticky. IE they work fine other than at startup+first few minutes.
I was going by what he said in the first post: "the speedometer will play dead, yesterday the tach wasn't working but came on a few seconds of driving."

It reminds me how the keyless entry in my 90 LS sometimes worked and sometimes didn't work depending on temperature. The slight expanding and contracting between the pins on the ROM card and the matching pins in the receiver card slot was the problem. Once the card was snapped firmly in place (according to my car's new owner), it worked fine all the time.

I'm wondering if tapping the dash is simply causing an electrical connection to be made. Reminds me of how people used to slap the sides of old TV's to get them to work!

If you have ever "banged" (no, not that kind of "bang"!) an electrical appliance in an attempt to get it to work, you were really just trying to get internal electrical components to connect.
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Old 04-29-12, 07:35 AM   #9
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My 99 speedo has stuck 4 or 5 times in the last year, but in a few minutes it comes to life. On my older ones I always tapped the dash, but it really dosent bother me anymore...
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Old 04-29-12, 07:38 AM   #10
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I'm pretty sure it is due to "stickiness" if that is the right word. In one of the speedometer threads someone went into detail how they used a q-tip with just a tiny bit of cotton and rubbing alchohol to clean the base or rather, where the needle sits at rest. The explanation was that something was creating this vacume or stickiness at the needle resting point and this is why after driving a little bit the tension would finally release the needle and it would spring back up to the correct position and continue working until the car has been in the off position for hours. As well as the banging technique.

When mine does this, both the tach and spedo,but the spedo more often it is always after the car has been sitting overnight. Almost like it takes a while for the needle to adhere to whatever it is. And yes, hot weather definitely make the problem worse.
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Old 04-29-12, 07:57 AM   #11
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The repair manuals have somewhere between 10 and 20 pages on diagnosing the OP's problem with his tach and speedometer. It really isn't practical to scan and post all these pages.

The diiagnostic procedure involves pulling the cluster and checking pins in the connectors and the cluster for continuity, resistance, etc.

Links to a portion of the 2000 LS400 repair manuals have been posted on this forum before but the very important "DI" (diagnosis) pages were missing.

I will upload some of the relevant BE portions I have in electronic format but I think some are missing.

I didn't see anything in my manuals about cleaning or lubing the instrument cluster to get the speedo and tach to work but I could have missed it.

A short term subscription to Lexus techinfo is only $15. The repair manual set is worth its weight in gold. First thing I do when I buy a car is to buy the official repair manuals for it.
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File Type: pdf be-86.pdf (114.8 KB, 409 views)
File Type: pdf be-95.pdf (37.5 KB, 125 views)
File Type: pdf be-96.pdf (54.1 KB, 142 views)
File Type: pdf be-98.pdf (141.3 KB, 332 views)
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Old 04-29-12, 10:01 AM   #12
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All the symptoms seem mechanical. Once the needle starts working again it does not stop or quit all of a sudden due to a short. I would not be surprised if is not something from either the assembly or the gearing at the needles or possibly something close to where the needle sits. Another symptom is that the needles will begin to work sooner the faster your drive such as, jumping on the highway. You can rule out speed sensor on the trans if your mileage continues to increase even though the gauge is not working. This problems is also prevalent in warmer climates and when the car sits in the sun. Someone was putting too much lube on a part.

I want to try this but have not had the time. I have also spoken to two spedo shops in the U.S. and both know about the problem. The one in Florida wanted around $200.00 for a week turn around. But what if all it took was a q-tip, some rubbing alcohol and a little cleaning.
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Old 04-29-12, 12:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kansas View Post
It would be incredible if both the speedometer and tachometer failed at the same time due to needle problems - especially on a 99 LS with only 88,000 miles.

Pull the cluster and check the connectors. The speedo and tach are electrically driven -- not mechanical gauges of the olden days. Do you know anybody else with a 98-00 LS400? That's how I determined which audio component in my 00 LS had a problem - swapped it into a friend's 99 LS.

Have you checked to see if there is a diagnostic procedure for speedo and tach problems? I'll check my repair manuals for my 00 LS but diagnostic procedures are often way too lengthy to scan and post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PureDrifter View Post
Kansas I don't think the OPs gauges are dead, i think he's saying they are sticky. IE they work fine other than at startup+first few minutes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lavrishevo View Post
I'm pretty sure it is due to "stickiness" if that is the right word. In one of the speedometer threads someone went into detail how they used a q-tip with just a tiny bit of cotton and rubbing alchohol to clean the base or rather, where the needle sits at rest. The explanation was that something was creating this vacume or stickiness at the needle resting point and this is why after driving a little bit the tension would finally release the needle and it would spring back up to the correct position and continue working until the car has been in the off position for hours. As well as the banging technique.

When mine does this, both the tach and spedo,but the spedo more often it is always after the car has been sitting overnight. Almost like it takes a while for the needle to adhere to whatever it is. And yes, hot weather definitely make the problem worse.
Yeah, they work fine after initially turning on. Actually a good friend of mine has a 98-00 LS. If I suspect a electrical issue I will contact him, but it doesn't seem so. Today the gauges worked immediately today, a little colder in the garage so I leaning towards the needles being "sticky". I'm not a rush to get this fixed, I want to do a complete timing belt job first. This morning I changed the PS fluid(Castrol Dex III Syn Blend) for the second time via the replacing what's in the reservoir with new fluid method. I've noticed minimal junk building around the pump and on the pressure hose. Hopefully I don't need to rebuild it, but it seems common in Toyota/Lexus. I had to do this on my 99 Avalon at 131K. Also forgot to note that the mechanic I use is a former Lexus Master tech who worked at Lexus when this model was fairly new, I'll give him a call sometime and see if had to deal with this issue.
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Old 04-29-12, 03:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmesfun View Post
. Also forgot to note that the mechanic I use is a former Lexus Master tech who worked at Lexus when this model was fairly new, I'll give him a call sometime and see if had to deal with this issue.
From my experience, the standard Lexus answer is to replace the whole cluster.
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Old 04-29-12, 07:31 PM   #15
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I have a 98. I have this problem. It was the worst right before my alternator (and, subsequently, battery) went out last year due to power steering fluid. The blower motor for the climate control was also having issues getting started (if I set it to max fan, it would come on, then I could go back to Auto). The problems went away when I replaced the alternator and battery. Unfortunately, I'm starting to have this issues again intermittently (one year later with no problems in between). I suspect a bad cell or perhaps alternator issues again.
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