Bought my son an 05 IS tonight and we already have a problem. - Lexus IS Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Bought my son an 05 IS tonight and we already have a problem.

So my wife drove it home, and about 15 miles into the drive, the CEL comes on and the TRAC OFF light starts blinking. I read some posts that say it may be spark plug related, but the guy told me he put new ones in already. Also, the temp gauge is not working and when she got off the freeway, some smoke was coming out from under the hood. She said there is a slight tapping sound when driving and it becomes a louder slower clank when she turned left. It sounds like something may have came loose like the temp sensor or something and it may be dangling around while she is driving. Also, the top radiator hose is compressed, like there is negative pressure and no water. The motor was still hot so I didn't remove the cap. I will be taking a better look at it in the morning when there is light because working in the dark sucks. Any ideas or suggestions? I plan on plugging in a obd2 reader to get a better idea of the codes.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 12:39 AM
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Yikes, it sounds like the engine may have some serious issues with it. Maybe a blown head gasket. I'd pull the codes and go from there.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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So I took a look today. The top radiator hose was collapsed. I took off the cap and the cap doesnt have the spring gasket thing in it. Not sure if it is supposed to be there, but I'm guessing yes. There was no water left. I put a gallon in and there is still plenty of room for more. One code is P0117 which is low input for engine temp circuit. The other one is B2796 which is a short in the vehicle immobilizer system. I started it and the temp needle doesnt move at all.
The engine seems to be running fine. I checked the ground on the battery and its suspiciously loose enough to take off by hand which tells me he may have reset the system before giving it to me. I think it can take several miles for something to pop back up. It took like 20 miles before we saw anything. Wouldn't there be smoke if a head gasket was blown? That has always been my experience. I was following her in our other car for the first 10 to 15 miles and there was zero smoke or leaking. This guy is a dealer and said he's been driving this car for the last month and even drove it round trip a 100 miles without issue. He said it passed smog with flying colors. I kinda want to smash his head in right now. Am I crazy or can this kind of stuff just happen out of nowhere coincidentally after he gives me the keys? I'm guessing not.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 12:19 PM
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Go to your local autozone and borrow a pressure testing kit, I just recently went through this. Pressurize the system, make sure you get rid of all obvious leaks, and if the system still does not hold pressure then that could be an indicator of a bhg.

There are also this -------> https://www.amazon.com/s?k=block+tes...f=nb_sb_noss_2 which sniffs for combustion gases in your radiator.

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Originally Posted by Squareback View Post
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 01:25 PM
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I think you should investigate giving the car back to the dealer.

Yes, the radiator cap should have a spring. There is a plastic thingie that captivates the spring/gasket assembly, which break/fail when they get old.

You obviously overheated it. That's bad. 2JZ engines are tough, but NO engine likes an overheat. Hopefully (if you keep it) the engine wasn't hurt.

The "low input" trouble code is likely on account of either an unplugged ECT sensor, or a bad ECT sensor. It is located on the bottom, back-side, passenger-side of the radiator, and screws directly into the endtank of the radiator.

As an FYI on sellers resetting trouble codes before your test drive:

Most of the faults the ECU is designed to detect are "2-trip faults". The first time the ecu sees the fault, it sets an internal "malfunction", but does not illuminate the MIL/CEL. If you hook up an OBD scanner, you will see the malf. That malf stays stored in the ecu, and will eventually clear itself out if the failure condition is not repeated after so many trips (50, IIRC). Otherwise, if the malf is still stored in the ecu and the failure occurs a second time, the MIL is set, alerting the driver there is a failure condition.

At the very least, when you are looking at a used car, you should drive it for 15 minutes or so, shut it off, start it up and drive another 15 minutes. This gives you 2 trips, and the ECU the opportunity to illuminate the MIL. Most of the faults the ecu is designed to detect will be checked in 15 minutes of driving. A big exception to this are the evaporative emissions faults. Those usually take several days, and several opportunities for the car to fully cool off, before they post. There are a few other exceptions as well.

Even better, if you're a used-car person (like myself), is to invest the $100 in your own OBD scanner. It's so easy to check out a car you're interested in, there's really no excuse not to take the minute or two before and after driving and check it out. If you hook up to a car and find it has zero trips since the last reset - DANGER! Someone is trying to fool you!

This actually saved me $1000 on my IS300 purchase. I found zero trips since last reset and asked dealer about it. He said he "didn't know anything about that". Drove 10 minutes, shut off, drove another couple minutes and, lo and behold, the MIL came on. Checked for codes and sure enough, 2 of the O2 sensors were angry.
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Last edited by Hodgdon Extreme; 05-24-2019 at 01:58 PM.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your help. It's been years since buying a car this used. Here's what happened today. I put a gallon of water in it with the plan of taking it to my mechanic. When I started the car, the check engine and trac off lights were no longer on. I was in disbelief, but I went ahead and drive to my mechanic. As I was driving, the temp gauge is also now working. I guess when the coolant level gets low enough the sensor stops working, at least mine did. Doesnt make sense, but it happened.

So I have my guy check everything, replace the cap, and reset everything, it's all good now. Temp is exactly where it should be. The 2 overflow small hoses weren't positioned correctly so one was hitting the belt and got cut. Since the cap was not good, too much coolant was going through the cut hose and leaked out. That takes us to the collapsed upper hose. He said it wasn't collapsed, just too long, so he took it off and we found that the radiator inlet is deteriorating. So that means it needs a new radiator now which he estimated at $400 installed.

While it was on the lift, we checked everything else. All 4 struts are shot, and it looks like a small oil leak from a valve cover. I bought this car for $3500 total with TTL out the door. For the most part, it is pretty clean. The vin #'s all match on the fenders, doors, etc. That said, it was in a small accident and hit right in the center front, which is why they replaced the hood with a carbon fiber one. The AC blows super cold, aftermarket stereo sucks, front leather seats torn. Sticky dash looks like shit, but it not a buggy to me.

I have to add up all the repairs and figure out if it's worth repairing. I'm leaning towards keeping it now. The dealer told me he would give me my money back, but now I know more about it and it is running great now. I'm just scared that there are more gremlins lurking in there.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 06:12 PM
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There's definitely more Gremlins... But it's an old car, that's just how it goes.

If you lived near me, I'd charge you $100 labor to change radiator, and cry all the way to the bank. Cakewalk job that can easily be done in an hour or less. The OEM Denso radiator can be found in Amazon for $100 delivered, or less.

I would recommend a new serpentine belt, radiator hoses and heater hoses while it's apart and drained. Be sure to buy Gates; they're there best.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. I looked on Ebay and there's a nice all aluminum 2 row radiator complete with 2 fans for $150 shipped. My mechanic was charging me $150 labor and $250 for the radiator. He's always on the expensive side. New struts are cheap too. I see there are more China coilivers available nowadays on Ebay. It's good to know I should be able to fix all the issues relatively cheap. My son loves the car so I think I will try to just replace the problem parts and hopefully he could drive it a couple years while he becomes a seasoned driver, then upgrade him. I appreciate the feedback.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 11:27 PM
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Honestly if you don't do your own work, 15 year old cars might not be a good idea. It probably needs a timing belt and I'd do a water pump at the same time. Even with no cap on it, the radiator shouldn't have drained completely out so, I'd watch the water level.

If it didn't have a blown HG before you drove it with no water, there's no telling if it has one now.

It you want it to last, I'd put OEM shocks on it along with an OEM radiator, Timing belt and water pump. It probably need cam shaft seals too. They all tend to leak. It's a good idea to do it the same time you do the timing belt.

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Wouldn't there be smoke if a head gasket was blown?
The answer is, it depends. They blow all sorts of different ways. Normally there isn't smoke but the coolant blows out of the recovery bottle because the exhaust gasses pressurize the cooling system. You can also get oil contaminated with coolant as a symptoms too. As well add oddly spiky coolant temps.

The only time you typically get smoke is when the leak happens when cold so, coolant gets into the combustion chamber over night. This makes the first start smokey.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 05:46 AM
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Garage
Yonaka have pretty good coilovers kit for under 600$ and they got a nice aluminium Radiator with twin fan shroud for 199. Got the coilovers on my car and I loved them, road are bad here and they take everything trown at them

2002 IS300 - Manual 5-speed LSD M85
Color: Cromax YR580M
TRD Carbon Fiber Shifter Ball
Custom Made Complete Cold Air Intake
Fidanza Exhaust Cam Gear
OBX Headers / Megan Racing Y-Pipe / Thrush Catback
Yonaka Spec II Coilovers / Cusco Strut Bar
SPC Rear Camber Kit
DBC Performance Black XDS Rotors / Carbon Brake Pads
Continental ProContact Tires
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 02:46 PM
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I'm not a fan of coilovers on a streetcar, I've always found their damping to be wrong, and the dampers themselves to not last long. I'd recommend buying quality coilovers like BC or KMW, if you want/need them. Else, a set of Bilsteins or Koni shocks will tighten up the car without being harsh or bouncy.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Supposedly the timing belt and water pump were done 20k miles ago, but who knows. I'm going to pull the cover and see how it looks. The car seems to be running like a champ right now, but I will definitely keep an eye out on coolant levels. I have already decided to go OEM on the radiator. If the heads turn out bad, I'll have the motor built. It has really good power right now, more than I remember it having when I bought my first one back in 01.

I'm still on the fence about the suspension. The good thing is he is still learning to drive and I'm his teacher. He wont be driving by himself until I'm positive he can handle it. I used to track my cars, so I'm harder to impress. He's going to have to impress me before I hand the keys over to him, so I have plenty of time to figure out exactly what route I'll take. He's young and has a little bit of a ricer mentality because of his friends, but he grew up with nice cars around his whole life so he is a bit more grounded. I just gotta keep him on the right track.
Thank you all for your help!
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 12:43 AM
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Given that the spring in the radiator cap is a pressure release valve as the coolant heats and expands its not surprising the car was low on coolant, it would keep blowing out the reservoir with expansion movement and evaporation until there was nothing left. The temperature sensor is at the bottom of the radiator so if there is no coolant in it then it wont read any temperature, and then adding in air pockets when you first run it after filling it i am not surprised it didnt have a reading until it had run a couple of times. I have seen this happen on other cars when they had coolant changes or low coolant.

What is the milage of the car? As mentioned they are pretty hardy engines, so should last if they are looked after.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 02:09 PM
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Definitely stick with OEM/Denso radiators. The aluminum ones are for manual transmission anyway. Just better to avoid all of that cheap China stuff with questionable longetivity. Do it right, do it once, save money, have peace of mind.




For coilovers, expect to spend $1000 on quality parts. Again, do it once, do it right, save money, sleep at night. The shocks/struts are probably fine enough, but if you want you can swap them out for any good name brand.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-29-2019, 08:52 AM
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I have a similar experience. But mine has the famous P0430 Cat code after about 180 miles after purchase. I too paid $3500 for the car and has already put new valve cover gasket on it. I learned a lot from this forum and have learned to clean the MAF sensor as well as the throttle body. Next step will be timing belt/water pump and I bought the best kit on eBay (with Gates timing belt). Rockauto is a surprisingly good website for quality parts at affordable price too.
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