New IS300 SportCross Owner - Car has issues - Lexus IS Forum
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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-13-2018, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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New IS300 SportCross Owner - Car has issues

Hello everyone! New owner of an unmolested 02 SportCross as of this weekend. Went to check out the car out and it had it's fair share of issues; bumps and scrapes (not too big of a deal), leaky tires due to curbed wheels (not too big of a deal), sticky dash (annoying, but I should be able to take care of this), VSC & CEL (P0300, P0301, P0302, P0304, P0306 and a few others that I can't remember.) To confirm the CEL, when the car started you could feel the misfires shaking the car slightly, but it was only noticeable at idle, under load the car was smooth. This lead me to believe the car just needed a tune up with new plugs, wires and more likely a vacuum line replaced. Ended up leaving with the car and getting it on the trailer. In the process of driving it down the street to get it on the trailer I noticed the car had issues going up a hill in drive, it was fairly laggy if it had power at all. Leads me to also think that the transmission fluid needs to be changed.

Got the car home on Saturday and put in the shop and started working on her yesterday afternoon. I went through and tried to source the vacuum leak with some brake clean around the vacuum lines. I was unable to find the source of leak, though I do hear what sounds to be air being sucked through a small hole. It's fairly loud and noticeable, but I've yet to source it. Figured since I couldn't find the leak I'd move into the first part of the tune up. Pulled the airbox hose, the throttle body and then went to town on pulling the wires, coil packs and then removed the plugs. Installed a set of NGK Iridium IX's. Per inspecting the wires and the coil packs I noticed that the wires were most likely original as well as the coil packs. I went and ordered a set of NGK wires and a new set of coils. For the sake of debugging the problem, I went with an aftermarket OEM replacement for the coils. In the long run I'll probably just have to stop by the local Toyota/Lexus dealership and get an OEM set to install, but for the sake of time and a bit of savings I just went with a cheaper set that had a high set of reviews, just waiting on them to get here.

Other plans for the car to get it road worthy and to pass inspection are to replace the fluids. Went through and ordered a couple jugs of OEM Toyota 'red' coolant as well as 12 quarts of Toyota OEM ATF. I'm trying to figure out what to do for oil at this point as the previous owner said he'd take the car to local 'Mom & Pop' shops to get the oil changed. Ideally, I'd like to find an oil and stick with it, so it will either be Motul, Amsoil, or Mobile 1 in 5w30.

I'll keep everyone updated on the progress.
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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-13-2018, 12:52 PM
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VSC & CEL (P0300, P0301, P0302, P0304, P0306 and a few others that I can't remember.) To confirm the CE
I'd do a compression check before I spent a dime on it.

I'd check the timing marks too on the timing belt and replace the timing belt while I'm at it. For you to have mis-fires on all 6, you probably have a common problem like low fuel pressure or low compression on all cylinders or cam timing. It could be a vacuum leak but it would have to be a hell of a leak.

What looks like a transmission problem might very well be low engine power.

I'm wondering if the VVTI is stuck advanced?
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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-13-2018, 02:30 PM
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Welcome along and congrats on the purchase, though I hope it was cheap. Good luck with the repairs, keep us updated
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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ek9B18 View Post
I'd do a compression check before I spent a dime on it.

I'd check the timing marks too on the timing belt and replace the timing belt while I'm at it. For you to have mis-fires on all 6, you probably have a common problem like low fuel pressure or low compression on all cylinders or cam timing. It could be a vacuum leak but it would have to be a hell of a leak.

What looks like a transmission problem might very well be low engine power.

I'm wondering if the VVTI is stuck advanced?
Ugh, compression check. Not a bad idea at all, I just would hate to have to pull the engine and rebuild or swap. The entire idea of this car was to be a fun alternative daily to my WRX just so I can stop dumping miles onto my main daily. Seems this might have turned into a bigger project than expected.

I need to find a good copy of the FSM so I can go through and look into the timing. I'm somewhat fearful when it comes to timing the 2J in the car. If the block was on an engine stand I wouldn't be concerned. I wonder at that point if it's worth going through and doing a head gasket swap as well? As for the possible transmission issue, I spoke to the seller and he said that he's had this problem before. Previously this was fixed with a transmission fluid change and then things went back to normal. This leads me to thing that the auto trans is probably worn and that there is decent amounts of gunk in the valves and journals. I'd love to do a flush, but I have a feeling this would be more harm than good.

How do I go through and check if VVTI is stuck in advanced? Should I go through once the new parts come in and reconnect everything and disconnect the VVTI harness from the cam sensor?

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Welcome along and congrats on the purchase, though I hope it was cheap. Good luck with the repairs, keep us updated
It was a decent deal for a SportCross, part of the reason I had no qualms upfront buying it. Knew it was going to need work to get it up to snuff to drive, let alone pass MD inspection, but it is what it is. Also, I've been going through your build threads (is and the old corolla) nice work! Hope to see your car around sometime since you're local.
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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 02:26 PM
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Oh nice! Thanks for checking out my build threads, even though they are very old by now. I'm also in Maryland, even though I'm not really into any car scene. So it won't even pass inspection? I thought that was a requirement for buying/selling cars. I hope you can get it going!
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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 02:56 PM
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I'm somewhat fearful when it comes to timing the 2J in the car.
Timing belts are pretty easy on these engines. You really just need to pull the belt cover off and turn the engine over clockwise with a wrench on the crank pulley to check timing. The timing marks should come up correct every other TDC. Every other because one time it's a TDC it's actually 180 out. 4 revolutions per full cycle because it's a 4 stroke.

2JZ head gasket failures are really rare. Bad compression can be caused by the cam timing being off as well as actual wear. The VVTI can keep the intake cam advanced too. First I'd do the timing marks, then I'd do compression (can do them both at the same time). I might unplug the MAF and see if the misfires went away too. That puts it into limp mode but it'll still run.

The benefit of the compression check is that if it's good, you pretty much know you have a good engine. Fuel pressure is hard to check on these but that's another common point of failure for all the cylinders. The igniter is another common thing shared by all the cylinders.

Transmissions for these things can be had for $500 or less from ebay with free shipping. They don't tend to fail. Even a used engine is only about $1000.
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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ek9B18 View Post
Timing belts are pretty easy on these engines. You really just need to pull the belt cover off and turn the engine over clockwise with a wrench on the crank pulley to check timing. The timing marks should come up correct every other TDC. Every other because one time it's a TDC it's actually 180 out. 4 revolutions per full cycle because it's a 4 stroke.
Good to know! So just to confirm, try to line up the timing marks, id they don't line up follow up with a full rotation of the crank to see if the second full rotation lines everything up.

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Originally Posted by Ek9B18 View Post
2JZ head gasket failures are really rare. Bad compression can be caused by the cam timing being off as well as actual wear. The VVTI can keep the intake cam advanced too. First I'd do the timing marks, then I'd do compression (can do them both at the same time). I might unplug the MAF and see if the misfires went away too. That puts it into limp mode but it'll still run.
Per your recommendation I went through last night and ordered a compression test gauge kit. It should be fairly simple to do, just the rear plug is going to be a pain to get to. When it comes to the 2J's what's the best method for killing fuel so I'm not washing cylinder walls while doing the test? Is it as simple as pulling the fuse for the fuel pump?

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The benefit of the compression check is that if it's good, you pretty much know you have a good engine. Fuel pressure is hard to check on these but that's another common point of failure for all the cylinders. The igniter is another common thing shared by all the cylinders.
The plan for the refresh anyways was to basically replace everything in the engine bay that is a 'consumable' over time that has to do with fuel, air, and spark.

The list of what I was going to replace is here:
-Air Filter
-MAF
-Rubber Intake hoses
-Spark Plugs
-Plug Wires
-Coil Packs
-Injectors
-Injector Seals

As for fuel in the rear of the car, per the documentation that I got, it seems the car is running on the original OEM pump. Would it be a bad idea to upgrade it to something like an Aeromotive pump? I've run these pumps in other vehicles and had great success. At the same time I could replace the filter sock and install an inline filter as well and start to plan how I'd like to go through and have a recirculating system.

I was wondering what the little box was that was labeled igniter on the right of the bay (drivers side wheel well in the US.) Is this the little electronic brain that sends signal to the coil packs?

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Originally Posted by Ek9B18 View Post
Transmissions for these things can be had for $500 or less from ebay with free shipping. They don't tend to fail. Even a used engine is only about $1000.
Found a place down the street from where I work that has a deal on a complete trans and then they have a partially complete engine. That said, local engine importers around me have GE engines and they are complete. It's nice to know I have a backup plan. I'd love to find a reliable way to go turbo, but stay auto if I were ever to go with a GTE swap.

======================================
1989 Nissan 240sx Coupe
2002 Lexus IS300 SportCross
2007 Nissan 350Z
2015 Subaru WRX
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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 08:56 AM
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I think the #1 thing you should do is the timing belt. Of your parts list, plugs, wires and maybe coilpacks are the only thing I'd consider to be regular maintenance. If you're not buying OEM coilpacks, there's no guarantee the new ones are better than the old.

It's kind a pointless to upgrade the fuel pump unless you plan on boosting it. A new OEM pump is almost guaranteed to get you another 150K miles of driving. My old pump couldn't keep up under load. I installed a used OEM pump with 100K fewer miles. The fuel filter is in the tank too. The fuel system is an oddball, the fuel pressure regulator is in the tank along with the pump and filter. There's no benefit to adding an additional fuel filter. You'd have to cut into the hardline to do it which will just make the car less reliable long term. If you mess with the fuel system, you can cause the fuel level gauge to mis-read. It's an oddball too. There are two level sensors in the tank and the body computer combines the signals and then sends a synthetic fuel level signal to the cluster.

My compression tester has a flexible hose I screw into the spark plug hole, then connect to my meter before cranking. I didn't disconnect the fuel pump though it's a good idea. There are common relays as well as the fuse.

Yes on the timing marks.
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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I've added the timing belt to the list. I'll also add the water pump, since I'm in there, as well as the cam seals, replace the tensioner, and replace the idler just so it has a fresh set of bearings. But this will be all after I can get the damn codes away. As for the coils, I went with a highly rated OEM alt set of coils just to save a bit to test them out. I understand the risks with not going OEM, and the other reason I went with them is that they have a return policy if they don't work or have any issues.

As for the OEM fuel setup... Interesting... I wish I could pick the brain of their engineers on this just to figure out their logic during the R&D. The only reason I mentioned adding an inline filter is because some gas stations in my area have random issues with sediment. Basically, if I have an inline filter I can pull it to check periodically if I locate it in the bay so I don't have to dig into the interior to get the pump out just to check the sock. This was more so just a hope, but then again I don't want to add any flow restrictions that are going to throw the sensors into bat-shit mode. As for the pump upgrade, it was more so that I've run Aeromotives before and for the price it's not bad if I need to replace the OEM pump that's original per my maintenance docs. If the OEM is worth it, by all means that will be the path I go.

======================================
1989 Nissan 240sx Coupe
2002 Lexus IS300 SportCross
2007 Nissan 350Z
2015 Subaru WRX
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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-17-2018, 08:34 AM
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Basically, if I have an inline filter I can pull it to check periodically if I locate it in the bay so I don't have to dig into the interior to get the pump out just to check the sock.
The problem is that your filter will only see post-filtered fuel. Since the main filter is in the tank. One of the reasons it's pretty hard to check fuel pressure on these is that's no access point in the engine compartment. I had to cut into the flex line and install a T, then install a male to male when I was done to check pressure.

Most modern cars only feed one fuel line to the front. Older cars would recirc fuel to the fuel rail through the regulator (FPR) and then back to the tank. The reason this went away is that it heated the fuel that was returned, heated the fuel tank and increased evap emissions. The IS is a transitional step between recirc and ECU controlled fuel pressure. The FPR is in the tank, it recircs into the tank and the fuel pressure is fixed. The ECU compensates instead of the fuel pressure. Older cars would vacuum reference the FPR so the fuel pressure would go up as intake vacuum went down. Modern cars don't do this anymore.

You can run a non-oem pump but you have to look at the pump housing. Everything fits around the pump. The filter, the FPR so, fitment might be more difficult for a non-oem pump. As long as it matches the OEM pump, has the same inlet and outlet, it could work. The OEM pump is the same pump used in the GS400's so, it's beefy enough to feed the V8's. Mine was worn out after 250K miles. It was 250K miles on the original filter too.
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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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So I got my compression test gauge in today, pulled the front sparkplug and screwed in the gauge. No problems there. Got a remote starter to use to remove the need of having someone sit and crank the car three times while I'm watching the gauge. So I get under the car to go hook up the wires to the starter and then see the mass of splash guards under the car. Didn't realize I had to take three off before I could even see the starter. Got those out the way and can now barely see the starter. I see the post covered by the rubber boots, but I cant see and posts to the solenoid so I can jump them. Any recommendations to where to hook up the cables? I've pulled the EFI 25Amp fuse already so I'm not worried about dumping fuel. Plus since I'll be cranking from the starter and not in the car, I won't be turning the fuel pump on in the process. Tried to get the relay out for the pump, and well it doesn't want to come out.

======================================
1989 Nissan 240sx Coupe
2002 Lexus IS300 SportCross
2007 Nissan 350Z
2015 Subaru WRX
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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 08:21 PM
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You can probably hook to it inside the ECU box. The signal from the key passes through the ECU box. Honestly, it's alot more work then just jumping in the car and turning the key. Make sure the throttle is removed or completely open before you crank. A closed butterfly can give you odd readings.
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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Throttle body side of the manifold is off the car. I also, now just thinking of it, need to connect the coolant lines from the throttle body together or just hang the throttle on the side to use as a connector for the coolant lines. I'd hate to puke coolant all over the engine and cruddy up under the car as well as my shop floor.

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2007 Nissan 350Z
2015 Subaru WRX
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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-20-2018, 09:15 AM Thread Starter
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Parts have been rolling in day after day so far here is what I've got:

OEM Replacement Coil Packs (x3)
NGK Wire set
OEM Toyota Coolant (x2 non diluted gallon jugs)
OEM Toyota ATF (x12 Quarts)
OEM Toyota Oil Filters (sadly the Thai manufactured ones)
OEM Toyota Oil Drain Washers
OEM Toyota Ignition Wire Holder (will get into this more)
OEM Toyota Thermostat
OEM Toyota Thermostat Gasket
OEM Toyota Lower Center Panel with Heated Seat Switches (used)

Looks like I'll be going with Mobile1 Synthetic for this engine, though a few locals I know who track IS's keep telling me to go with Amsoil. I may later, but for not Mobile1 seems to fit the need for just a daily used car.

I did some further digging last night under the car and couldn't pinpoint where exactly the other terminal is on the starter. I'll have to find some more OEM starter pictures so I can find the terminals I'll need to jump with the remote starter cable to test the compression. Otherwise I'll have to get the GF in the shop and find out how to pull the darn Fuel Pump relay that's fairly stuck. I didn't see any retaining clips on the relay so I'm not sure if there is some plastic clip that's latching it on, or if it's just stuck from years of heatsoak in the bay.

======================================
1989 Nissan 240sx Coupe
2002 Lexus IS300 SportCross
2007 Nissan 350Z
2015 Subaru WRX
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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 11-20-2018, 08:07 PM
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Looks like I'll be going with Mobile1 Synthetic for this engine, though a few locals I know who track IS's keep telling me to go with Amsoil. I may later, but for not Mobile1 seems to fit the need for just a daily used car.
Yeah, I don't think it matters. IS has no oil cooler. Might need to watch oil temps.

When you do the transmission, you'll only get about 3 quarts out. I tend to just change it every or every other oil change, Eventually the old fluid will be diluted out.

You just have to pull straight up on the relay. It's pretty tight. Might want to wiggle a bit.
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