Project LS400

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1998 Lexus LS400
Blanchard, OK
If the contents of this thread have already been covered elsewhere, just point me to the correct thread and we’ll go from there.*


I‘ve recently acquired a 1998 Lexus LS400 from a coworker to serve as a project car. The good news is it was free! The bad news is it doesn’t run and I have no idea what I’m doing. This whole deal was to serve as a learning experience for me.

To give you a brief rundown, the car has 145,672 miles and I’m the third owner. Per the previous owner, prior to me, it sat parked for 4 years after dying on the interstate. At the time, the verdict was timing belt, but that’s where the details seem to get fuzzy. From what I’ve been told, the car was towed to a shop but not actually torn into. The previous owner gave a description of the problem to the mechanic and he said timing belt. After that, the car was hauled back to Oklahoma and the rest is history.

I am aware that if it is the timing belt, that’s supposedly “game over” for the engine. But with the details being fuzzy and no apparent evidence of any effort to physically examine the engine, admittedly I’m unsure if and optimistic that we may not be at the end of the road for this engine.

All that to say, I’d welcome any advice on where to start. I’ve hooked up a friend’s scan tool to the car and it’s showing no codes, so I’m still at square one; in terms of mechanical skill, I can change oil and that’s about it. I have not tried to actually start the car as of yet, as I don’t know if I’d make anything worse at this stage by doing so.

Actions done so far:
- Clean exterior of car
- Replace battery


Thanks in advance and kind regards,

The Guy

Photo shown is of car before I took possession.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sydney, Australia
I'd start by trying to turn the engine over by the big bolt on the crank pully. Bottom of engine at front.

Check it has oil and coolant before trying to start it.

If it turns over by hand it should be safe to try it on the starter.

Before trying to start it take out a spark plug and then crank it over. You should hear air coming out of the spark plug hole.

This will tell you the cam belt is still ok. If no air can be heard coming out (and it is quite loud) the belt is most likely broken.

Check around the front of the engine as if the belt was changed at some point it should have a sticker on the engine with the speedo reading of when it was done.

If this all checks out I would drain and replace the fuel with fresh stuff.

Before you put the spark plug back in connect it to the spark plug lead and rest the plug on a metal fitting or head and crank the engine whilst having someone observe the end of the spark plug to see if it has spark.

If it has spark, put the plug back in and try and start the car.

It may take a while to start and won't idle at first but it should settle down.

These engines are fairly bulletproof so mechanical failure is unlikely.

ECU's do fail but at this low mileage it should still be good.

Give it a go and let us know how it went.

Axis of Evil

Gold Coast Australia
my post should have read "cam GEAR cover,"(If you are only up to changing oil, its the round cover -there are two, one on each bank - facing frontwards on the top front of the engine, )

take zuffens advice- turn it over on the crank pully bolt

There does not appear to be an " edit "button that i can find.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sydney, Australia

I probably have a different screen as I can Moderate the posts.

I'll talk to the Admin team and see what he deal is.