PH Fleet: Lexus LS400/TVR Chimaera 400

When a car is as silent as the Lexus little creaks and groans become much more apparent than in normal cars. Only recently a single creak was annoying me until I realised it was the leather of the rear armrest rubbing on the leather of the rear seat. Raising the armrest meant silence was restored.

No, not sure what's going on here either!
No, not sure what's going on here either!
Sadly I have a new creak, one that is harder (and costlier) to cure. You may remember that I paid a not inconsiderable sum to have the rear suspension refreshed on the LS a few weeks after purchase (if buying an LS check the suspension, then have another look just in case) knowing the front would need doing sooner or later. Today is that day as the front suspension now creaks quite regularly as the damper travels up and down, mainly once the car has travelled some miles but quite regularly in warmer weather. Shortly it will go back up in the air for some diagnostic work, and no doubt some wallet lightening as a result as I will get it serviced again at the same time. Please keep your fingers crossed that I will soon be wafting in serenity once more without having to pawn my entire belongings or start considering an S-Class again.

Pays your money ... and then a bit more
That aside it has been a busy time for the Lexus as it piles on the miles travelling the length of the country tending to matters PH. Since buying I've added around 20,000 miles to the odometer and that means I've burnt a lot of fuel. A few weeks ago I tried a scientific MPG test when I had brimmed the tank and managed to return a figure of 19.4mpg overall. I blame two things for this. 1) The available pace is too easy to exploit on the motorway without much effort, and once the (superb) hi-fi is on loud I get carried away. 2) My sub-eight mile London commute is normally a crawl and when I can move forwards I like to prod that 4.0 V8 a bit too much. Oh well, if you want economy buy a diesel, or don't use a heavy V8 barge for a 16-mile daily London slog.

Pre-Le Mans plummage - stickers now on!
Pre-Le Mans plummage - stickers now on!
To save fuel I could take the bus, and to try and tempt me into a cheaper method of travel the number 035 National Express coach tried to pick me up, sadly while I was still driving the car. The end result was some white paint and scuffs left on my NS mirror (which folded in as a result) and a rather shocked driver watching a large coach miss the front of my car by a very (very) small margin only thanks to my sudden braking. A call to the company saw me get the standard 'we'll look into it' response, but I doubt I'll hear anything from them again, despite chasing it up.

Meanwhile, in Blackpool...
In the meantime the TVR has been used regularly and I've been enjoying the recent warm sunshine. A visit to the Nissan/Renault Sunday Service saw me record a 122db in the 'Chorus of Noise' and gave an insight into why my neighbours get so upset when the car starts at the garage (and why I love it).

Noisy, draughty ... Switch's sand rail is pretty bad too
Noisy, draughty ... Switch's sand rail is pretty bad too
Just as I was getting ready for the voyage to Le Mans, with stickers applied and all the legal bits and bobs in the boot, the engine cooling fans stopped working on the commute home. This meant I had to pull over to allow things to cool (in a city centre, with Le Mans stickers, so very visible) and wait for traffic to disperse before heading home.

The car didn't boil so no harm done, but I will be fixing the otter switch as a result and while I am at it I'll look to clean the boot solenoid (accessing the boot requires a few presses these days) and give a general mechanical health check ahead of the cross-channel jaunt.

My next report will be more TVR-focused as it will have just enjoyed a blast to Le Mans and back with the rest of the PH team. If you see (or hear, more likely - Ed.) the car en-route please give me a wave or pop over to say hello.

Fact Sheet:
1997 Lexus LS400
Run by: Garlick
Bought: Jan 2011
Purchase price: £1,800
Last month at a glance: Creaks, fuel bills and close-encounters with coaches

Fact Sheet:
1999 TVR Chimaera 4.0
Run by: Garlick
Bought: December 2009
Purchase price: £12,995
Last month at a glance: Hot, hot, hot. Le Mans looms.

Previous reports:
Garlick enjoys a history lesson
TVR lives once more, Lexus carries on regardless
MOT time for the Lexus and a reawakening for the TVR
A costly months and goodbyes
Noise upsets neighbours

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (58) Join the discussion on the forum

  • rovermorris999 25 Aug 2012

    Well I've just ordered a new wishbone from Rock Autos, £190 including all UK taxes and express courier. The Lexus price in the UK was £480 inc vat or a bit less with Club discount. I'll report back on the quality though I expect it to be good. They offered four different manufacturers, I've bought the most expensive.

    I should have thought of US parts suppliers as I used to run a couple of American vehicles in the past and always bought parts direct from the USA as they were so cheap and at least OEM quality or better. The delivery times from the US were often as quick as a UK supplier.

  • v8will 25 Aug 2012

    The cost of parts is the main reason why I shifted mine on, it was heading for some major bills at 158K. I still plan to revisit a big LS Lexus at some point (probably in a much higher price bracket) but I have to admit I'm intrigued by the GS450H at the moment.

  • rovermorris999 25 Aug 2012

    I've just looked at Rock Autos in the US, the top spec wishbone from them is £118 plus shipping and taxes. I'll have to see how much that adds to the price but looks better than triple that here.

  • belleair302 25 Aug 2012

    The best way to purchase these parts is via US suppliers where even after shipping and tax they are way cheaper. Am just spending thousands on my old LS 400 (1997) to keep it running for the next ten years. Front suspension is going to cost well over £1200 all in for parts after 110,000 miles in central London.

  • jbi 24 Aug 2012

    rovermorris999 said:
    I've just had a quote from Lexus for the top wishbone - £400 + vat. Ouch. I've seen them on ebay for about £40 but several people on the OC forum have had problems with them failing and a suspicion they are old ones tarted up with a new boot and a lick of paint. Anyone have a cheaper source for OEM quality bits at a bit less?

    Edited to add: Just joined the OC as they can get a decent discount on genuine bits. It eases the pain slightly.

    Edited by rovermorris999 on Friday 24th August 14:17

    Edited by rovermorris999 on Friday 24th August 14:58
    the second hand ones are hit and miss from what I understand.

    If done properly, they should be no worse than a new wishbone form lexus... all they are doing is fitting a new ball joint.

    I fitted second hand ones on my celsior and had no problems.

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