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Doing things, finding things, fixing things

5274 Views 128 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  2jz_ben
So, if any of you have seen my introduction post, I bought this '01 IS300. It has problems... Lots of them. Mostly, because the previous owner took the cheapest route possible to do everything. Now, I'm not saying being cheap is bad, as one of my other builds was super cheap, and did fine. But, sometimes, you gotta do better in certain areas.

The car was lowered on low tier teins without rolling the fenders. Low and squishy suspension, and wheels on spacers, equal a dead rear tire when you have two boxes of kitty litter and a big bag of cat food in the trunk. (Honestly my fault, as I had the car for 3 weeks when that happened). So, I ordered some Fortune Auto 500s to replace the teins. I was hoping they'd be here by next week, but I don't think they'll be here by the time I go back offshore.

I also have to figure out a CEL. The previous owner told me he pulled the CEL out the dash (not the smartest thing to do for the sake of comfort), but he said it's because of the headers he put on. No big deal. So, I pull codes. There's also an EVAP code. Well, why's that? Time to do some digging.

The car would also lose electrical power if I make hard right turns, or go full lock right. Great! Electrical problems! My one true weakness! Lol. Thankfully, I think I found the hard right turn issue. When I bought the car, I thought it had one of those hidden, low mount battery ties downs. I found out that they do not, and my car has no battery tie down. And, rigged battery terminals that eat up a lot of space don't help either. Apparently, when I turn hard enough, the battery slides, the terminal hits the chassis, and shorts out the entire system. So, that's something else I have to buy.

The brakes as super squishy. Since the PO just kinda did things here and there, I believe this left a lot overlooked. The car has 240k on the clock, and what looks like possibly 100k rotors and some well worn pads. No big deal for me, as whenever I buy a project, I do the brakes first (if it's drivable. Lol). Got new pads and rotors (Detroit Axle kit) and stop tech stainless lines.

So far, I've bought the brakes, a new DNA exhaust (cheap, because it'll be replaced in a year or two, if everything goes to plan), HPF intake (to see if that will help with the evap codes) the brakes, new O2 sensors, and a front strut tower bar. Had to return the bar, as they sent me one for a Veloster.

Anyway, today is the day I start working on it. I did some preliminary work on it Sunday, and saw the car had lost all it's power steering fluid, coolant, and barely had any oil in it.

My 86 Cressida wasn't even this bad when I bought it in 08.

So, our story begins. This week is just to get the car reliable enough to make a few trips to Louisiana. Kinda sketchy to do this much to have it's first real test be a 12 hour drive. But, it's what I gotta do.

Here's pictures of what I bought so far.

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Unfortunately, I don't. What I thought was the stock intake with parts missing, was actually the stock intake box with a random pipe wrapped in aluminum tape.
Took some pictures of the engine bay yesterday. It's a hot mess.

Methinks all the oil is from a power steering leak, but I still have some checking to do to confirm.

Also, close-ups of the battery terminals. The positive terminal, in particular, may be part of the electrical woes. I'm also trying to change out the 3 O2 sensors at the header before I install the intake, and move the car so I can do the exhaust, final O2, and brakes. (My truck is taking up most of the driveway, and I have other things in the garage).

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And the adventure continues!! Over the course of the last two weeks, weather, people needing me to do stuff, and my kiddo getting sick only left me about 4 days with about 1-2 hours a day to work on the car. I have found it a few things though.

1. The car used to hunt really bad and run really rough on cold starts. Normally took a 5 minute warmup to run normally. Well, I it was the bank 2 upper O2 sensor, or just overall a bunch of bad sensors. The bank 2 upper sensor had a spacer on it. I didn't think that was correct, so I removed it, and installed normally. I changed the 3 I could get to (bank 1 upper and lower, bank 2 upper), installed the intake, angled the battery terminals so they stopped touching metal, and started the car. It took about 3 minutes for the car to normalize, and it's stopped hunting on cold starts ever since. Mission one accomplished. Now, into the brakes.

2. I believe the crank seal is shot. At 240k, I wouldn't be surprised. I tried tracing where all the oil was coming from while changing the O2s, and noticed a ton of caked up oil and grime along the oil pan, and a lot behind the crank pulley. There is a leak somewhere in the power steering, but when I finally got the car out the grass into the driveway, and in the air to work on the brakes, I noticed lovely little puddles of oil, that were quite excessive for a 2 minute run. Since the engine barely has any oil in it, that means it only leaks when pressurized. Now to decide, change the crank pulley for an engine I'm gonna swap anyway, or just go ahead and swap the engine for now?

3. The car has red sway bars. I don't know if all of them were like this from the factory, or if these are TRD bars. Either way, that's one less thing to worry about.

4. GREASE THE DAMN SLIDERS FOR YOUR BRAKE CALIPERS!!! This was the nail in the coffin tonight. This ruined my plans to drive to Louisiana, and the car is down until I come back in a couple weeks. The rear brakes were kind of a pain in the ass, as I had a hard time getting the pistons pressed back in completely, And the retainers were a pain in the ass to install. Bled the rears after installing the stainless lines, put on the rear wheels, and set the car down to turn it around. Brakes felt great until I started the car. Still had the squishy pedal with engagement at half pedal travel. Assumed the problem was in the front. Boy, was I right about that one. It took about 10 minutes to get the car in the air, because of all the complications I ran into. The part of my driveway I'm working on has a dip in it. Because I had to lift the car from the cross member, my jack couldn't get far enough under the car due to the dip and the car being lowered. I had to use my ramps. Drove up those, got the car in the air, and went for my jack stands. All I had are my big truck ones, which I thought were holding up my truck. Nope, my other small set is. Thankfully, I had a set I completely forgot about in the garage. Remove the ramps, sit the car on the stands, try and use my impact on the lugs... And this stupid POS impact isn't strong enough to remove the lug nuts. Lift the car back up, remove stands, put ramps back, lower car on ramps, and stand/bounce on half inch ratchet to loosen lugs. Repeat process for stands. Pray stupid impact can loosen lugs for stupid spacers. Thankfully, it can. Expect smooth sailing from here. Remove brake caliper and bracket. Get ready to grease the sliders, and notice one is stuck. The cover is split. Oh jeez. Maybe I'll get lucky and get it loose. Could just be caked up really bad. Nope. Excessive twisting forces break things

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Now, I need a new caliper bracket, or just upgrade to the ls400 brakes.

BONUS: Water is getting in the car. More than likely from the sunroof. Couldn't tell when I bought the car, but the car sitting for two weeks told the story. No water on the floor I could find, but the constant condensation build up in the back window and trunk makes me think it's terminating somewhere in that vicinity.

Overall, this car is slowly becoming a bigger shit show with every repair. Half assed mods with half assed maintenance, make a whole ass problem. Lol. I'd have actually felt better if I bought this car non-running. I wouldn't have had my hopes so high, and all the problems I'm running into would have made more sense. I expect these things from a car that's been sitting for a few years. But, not from a car that's been driven daily by the previous owner since 2014.

Also, the Fortunes haven't arrived yet. Hopefully, by mid January/early February. I'm pretty sure they have to build them still.

Anyway, now to figure out what to do. Upgrade or repair the brakes.
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Yeah. I wanted to get get the PBR Axxis SRT pads. They make them for the IS300 calipers and the MKIV Supra calipers, but they don't show up for the LS400... of which I thought were the same calipers as the supra. Guess I'm wrong.

I will say that that their Deluxe pads aren't too shabby. They are on my f150, and I've definitely put them through their paces. They could probably handle a few laps on the track without problems. They're also on my Cressida, and were on my MKII supra (I think they were called "Metal Masters" at the time... around 2004).

But, I also want bigger rotors, and 4 pot calipers. Braking well, is good. Late braking well, is better.

But, I don't need a new caliper. Just a caliper bracket with slide pins. I haven't even made it to the other side of the car though. I had to stop there, and start packing for my trip to Louisiana. Gonna work on the car when I get back home in a couple weeks. I can go ahead and replace one bracket, and see if the other one isn't in the same predicament. Or, I can just replace everything in the front, altogether. The only reason I'm hesitant about the LS400 calipers is brake pad selection. I will admit, I've never used EBC pads until last year...And that's just on my 200cc motocycle... and I wish they were better. Lol.
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Well well well, I decided to go through a few more threads on here, and found this:

Although the OP came in like a douche, there was some good information posted on the thread. Which also led me to a different option for calipers and rotors. AND PBR makes the SRT pads for that caliper also!! So, that's a done deal for me. Gonna be ordering parts, and going with the IS350 calipers and rotors. I was gonna bump up to 18" wheels anyway, so this all works out in the end. I have a set of rota P45rs I bought as rollers for my MKIII years ago. 2 were good, and 2 were cracked (still wanna punch the guy I bought them from. forgot his address, but he's in jacksonville FL). Instead of trying to fix the two cracked ones, I can just get two new P45rs and some tires, and throw them on the car for a while. This is very much a function over form thing, though. I guess I'll go ahead and order a new front seal, timing belt, water pump, and I guess an oil pump also.
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Boy, did I go overboard. After finding the is350 calipers, I found out that the GS350 had two piece rotors from the factory, for a while. Of course, down the rabbit hole I went, and found some for a decent price. Made a offer on the calipers, and got them less than listed price. Ordered the calipers, rotors, and PBR Axiss SRT pads. So, if anyone want's some factory sized cross drilled and slotted rotors and pads from Detroit axle, my new set are for sale since I'm not using them. 2 P45rs are on order. About to order the rest of the stuff for maintenance. I'm kinda thinking of selling the 5ziegens currently on the car also, if anyone is interested. I'm not gonna lie, they aren't great, have a pretty ratty plastidip on them, and two are wrapped in a set of tires that I took off my STI wheels I bought YEARS ago. The other two are in some cheap tires the PO had put on. I think they're 17x7. The fronts are 225/45 and the rears are 245/45, I think. They'll also come with these stupid spacers, also. I hate spacers with an absolute passion, and the car felt like crap with them IMHO. If nobody wants them, no biggie.

I also bought a bunch of bulbs to put into the dash. The blue is cool and all, but the bulbs the PO put in are already starting to flicker or just stop lighting up. That's annoying. I'm trying to go back to the amber that the factory dash was. Mostly, because I can't find anything that matches the old school Toyota green. And I'm putting that damn CEL light back in!!! That's something that annoys me to no end, and I really hate that the PO did that.

I also have to do maintenance on this PT cruiser I have officially inherited. New tires, shocks all around, brakes, bushings, serpentine belt, oil change... stuff. I don't have to go all out on this car, though. Fortunately, it's commuter car status allows for wonderful things like getting all 4 shocks, new inner and outer tie rod ends, LCAs, and a few bushings in an all in one kit for cheap. The tires are 15s, but very floppy 15s that scare the bejesus out of me when I come into turns far hotter than I should be (especially with the blown suspension. lol) So, cheap 17s will be picked up. Looking for some used 5x100 wheels, but it's been a PITA, because I've found mostly subaru wheels. The center bore on them are freaking tiny, and don't fit the PT cruiser by about 2 mm or so. if this car was 5x114.3, it would have just gotten the STI wheels.

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me, the two weeks I'm home. Thankfully, the ex wife told me the little one can stay with her when I'm home next, so I can focus on the cars. Hopefully, GA warms back up when I get home, because it's unusually cold there, now.
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Hey, can this be moved to member builds? I don't want to start another thread, but I think this is no longer the correct section for this thread to be in.

Also, parts are starting to show up. 2 piece rotors, and the is350 calipers showed up. Because I think I ordered the bigger rotors, but the smaller calipers, I had to track down and order the bigger f-sport gs430 calipers.

Also, I did some research on the 5Zigens I have on the car currently. I think they're Pro Racer GN+ wheels. Apparently, quite legit. Too bad I don't have anything else to put them on. I think these would be better suited for a stock body car, or something FWD. They can hold 245s without issue, and are currently on the car without spacers, and clear everything just fine. Guess I gotta clean them up, and possibly get them painted.
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Tires have all shown up. All the maintenance stuff is trickling in. Still no word on the Fortunes yet. I'm really hoping they make it to the house while I'm home. Waiting on wheels. Gonna get as far as I can, since I have the IS, the cruiser, and my F150 to work on while I'm home this time. Probably just gonna have to suck it up, being in the cold. Thankfully, I have my canopy to cover me if it rains.
Went ahead and bit the bullet. Bought the Figs mega refresh kit:

I'll do something about the RUCAs later, but yeah... I'm excited. Figured I didn't need to go so hardcore on the front, as I'm not going any lower than what the front of the car already is. And, I get my adjustable rear bits and bobbles. I'll start getting the rest of the bushings here and there, but this at least gets a lot of the suspension woes out of the way.

I go back home in two days, and I can't wait!! Day one is just going to be organizing and planning. If I get that done fast enough, I go get all the tires mounted, finish the brakes, and put on the exhaust. From there, into the interior, changing out the cluster bulbs. then, start lining up stuff to put up for sale. Then the fun stuff... taking the rear flares off, so I can cut out some of the fender to fit the rear wheels. Anyone with experience or advice, please feel free to chime in, here.

The suspension work won't start until the Fortunes and the Figs stuff get's here. Unfortunately, that means I have to stay on these stupid Teins for a while longer. It's not that their bad... but, they're not at all what I would expect from a coilover. Low and squishy do not go hand-in-hand for me. But, I tend to like my cars on the stiffer side, even from the factory.

After looking at Figs again, I saw the SC430/GS300 URCAs with adjustable bushings. Me being me, I opted to see if I could build my own kit for less. It took a bit of looking, but I found the URCAs for a reasonable price. Then, I turned to superpro. This is where things got good. I didn't realize they had a military discount. Me, being a veteran, did what I needed to do to verify my service, and low and behold, I got a good amount off on the bushings. All in all, I built the Figs adjustable bushing kit for almost $150 less, shipped. Now, that would cover the cost of having the bushings installed, but that's something I can do easily, and in a reasonable amount of time. Overall, I'm pretty happy this is coming along so well. Now, just playing the waiting game for parts to show up.
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Just got home. Sorting through things, but just a comparison of the GS430 F-sport calipers (silver) vs the base IS350 calipers (orange), and the F-sport rotors.

Edit: Took some weights. Not the most accurate scale, though. The decimals are 0-9.

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And the hits just keep coming!!!

The last two days were just gathering tools. That meant driving for about 2 hours just to find a store that had a tap and die set with an m14x1.5 tap. My son's b-ball game getting moved from 6 pm to 11 am didn't help. Then, having to keep my son until 4 pm messed my entire day up. (I'm not having him help because he's 8, and my car is rigged up very sketchily.)

Anyway, today was more traveling for parts with my kid after he got dropped off 6 hours too early.

So, anyway, I finally get to work on the brakes. Went as smoothly as one could hope, but I seem to have a runout problem with the rotor. Not sure if it's a mounting issue, or a rotor issue.

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But, that's not the biggest thing. Oh no. When I popped the hood so I can start bleeding the brakes, I noticed a puddle on the radiator. Dipped my finger in it to check, and it's slick like coolant. This car hasn't been started or driven in 3 weeks.

Soooo, now I need a new radiator!!! Hurray!!!!

Damn, I just really fell like going straight to the swap. I really do.
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Hooooo hoooio!!! Glad I went ahead and upgraded. The lower slide pin on BOTH SIDES are seized!!!

Anyway, should have the left side finished this evening, with a short test drive to bed everything in.

Well, actually... No. I have to mount the tires on the wheels first. Putting the Koings on for now. Too much body work needed to fit the rear rotas, and I want to be on matching wheels.
Both side are done. Tires mounted on the Konigs. Brakes bedded in. The squishy pedal was there for a bit, but cleared up today while driving around. Much better braking with get less effort. The pads are great for basic street driving, but I haven't been able to really try and see what they can do, because of the soft teins, and the fenders not being rolled .

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New radiator showed up today. Trans cooler was here two days ago. And the Fortune Autos and rear tires came in right after.

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Radiator will go in tomorrow. Tires will be mounted tomorrow. Not sure if I want to install the Fortunes tomorrow or if I want to wait for the figs stuff to get here
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Well, took the car out for a long drive to see if I'll trim into any significant problems on long trips (i.e, going to Louisiana). An hour in, something kills my front right tire. Not sure what it was, but I'm upset, because my two day old tire just got a puncture an hour away from home, with no spare, no plug kit, and no portable air compressor that I normally keep on me.

Only one option: gauge the air loss, and fill up at nearby service station every few miles. Everything was great until I was 20 minutes from home, when the tire gave up the ghost entirely. Not good, when you live in the middle of nowhere, tow trucks take 45 minutes to 2 hours to get to you, and you know it's gonna be a $600 tow for the 20 minute ride home.

I took a chance , and just rode the flat until I got home. Thankfully, the tire never unbeaded, and I just have to buy a new tire instead of a new wheel.

My stupid ass didn't get the tire protection, because I never pop tires. Well, wouldn't you know Murphy's Law decided to kick in, full force. Lol.

Anyway, getting the other two tires mounted tomorrow, ordering a new one tonight, and installing the radiator tomorrow.
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Made it to Louisiana!! Thankfully, no real problems. Worst thing is the wheel liner on the driver's side pops out at over 100mph. Cruise control started working, but will randomly cut off. Methinks it had something to do with the brake pedal.

Also, I can outrun a 2020+ V6 charger. Lol.
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So, I've noticed something seemingly unusual with this car. Let me know if any of your cars do the same thing.

Typically, doing full throttle pulls, the engine seems to struggle a bit, then I get into about 6K rpm, and the damn thing acts like Vtec just kicked in, and it screams and pulls hard. Now, IIRC, this shouldn't be that way. The VVTL-i acts like that, but I thought VVT-i was constant throughout the powerband, and there shouldn't be a distinct jump in power. For you NA guys, is your car doing the same thing that my car is doing?
Engine is stock right? While VVTI is pretty much constant, there’s another system in the intake. It’s a flapper that changes the effective runner length. It’s called ACIS or some crap. While my experience wasn’t as extreme as vtec seems to be (no first hand experience on vtec so 🤷), it did pick up once at 5k+. Not quite the 6k rpm you’re experiencing but it’s probably the same system working.

It’s suppose to actuate at WOT at 4700rpm or so. You could manually force it open/closed with vacuum caps and zip ties to test if this is what you’re feeling if necessary.

Ahhh, so it basically has what used to be the TVIS system, like on the 4age? Ok, I didn't know that. I don't remember it on my Non-vvti engine, but it's been forever since I took it apart.

And yeah, the engine is basically stock outside of header and intake.

I can honestly say, I don't like it. Makes me think something is wrong with the engine. Lol.
So, I'm gonna take a chance, and take the car to Dallas for a few days, after I get off work. Visiting a friend of mine up there. If anyone is in the area, and come laugh at my car, let me know. I'll try and schedule something. lol.
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Well, I decided to not go to Dallas. Heading back to Savannah, because I'm afraid something is gonna happen with the car in Dallas, and I'm gonna be stuck there for my entire time off. Got stuff to do with the kiddo when I'm home, so I don't want to have to explain to him why I'm not home for two weeks, and he won't be able to see me for a month.

I've also decided to ditch the VVTi engine when I go for the swap. Already looking up wire harnesses. I'm going to use my AEM V2, just to save costs. I have it... Might as well use it. This does give me a chance to do a nice rebuild on the VVTi engine for later use. I still have 3 more CD001s sitting around, and I still have my Cressida waiting on an engine. I already have the 2j to MX7X engine mounts. I pretty much have everything for the swap except a wire harness. AND, I get to continue to use the intake and header that are already on the engine! lol.

So yeah. That's the plan for now. I have to dig around and see if I actually got my replacement intercooler from when my Cressida was broken into while at my friend's shop. That'll go into the IS for now.
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