Lexus LS400 Common Problems

The 1990-2000 Lexus LS400 is widely regarded as a dependable and reliable vehicle that is well designed and built. However, there is no such thing as a perfect, trouble-free vehicle. While it is better than average, the LS 400 has a few common problems that potential buyers should be aware of.

Starter Motor

On most small block V8 engines from Ford or Chevrolet, the starter motor is easily accessed from the bottom of the vehicle. The 1UZFE 4.0L V8 engine in the Lexus LS400 has the starter located in a very inconvenient place – underneath the intake manifold. The starter is prone to failure between 100,000 and 200,000 miles. During the removal of the intake manifold, it is also likely that the heater control valve will crack and will also need to be replaced.

LS400 Starter Motor Location under the Intake Manifold

Engine Mounts

The Lexus LS400 uses special fluid-filled engine mounts that reduce vibrations in the car. Over time, they may collapse and fail, resulting in increased vibration. They are surprisingly expensive to replace on the LS 400 compared to the simple rubber mounts used on other vehicles.

These fluid-filled engine mounts have collapsed, and one of them has completely sheared off.

Timing Belt

The timing belt sets the timing for the entire engine, keeping the camshafts and the crankshaft synchronized. This is not thin like a fan belt – a timing belt is a heavy duty belt with rubber teeth that loops around a number of pulleys and tensioners. The 1UZ 4.0L V8 engine uses a timing belt because Lexus engineers determined that it would be quieter than using a traditional timing chain.

Timing chains generally last for the life of the engine, whereas the timing belt should be replaced every 90,000 miles or 7 years. In addition, there are two timing belt idler bearings that must also be replaced with the belt. While the car is apart, it is strongly recommended to change the water pump too. This is absolutely a dealership level repair and should not be attempted by the home mechanic.

The 1990-1997 1UZ-FE engines are non-interference engines, however the 1998-2000 engines with the VVT-i intake manifold ARE interference engines. A broken timing belt on these engines would be catastrophic.

Power Steering Pump

The LS400 has variable power steering, but with time and age the seals and hoses of the pump may develop leaks. In this case, any leakage is likely to take out the alternator as it is located directly beneath the power steering pump. You can do this yourself, but it is pretty involved. Watch my video below to see how I replaced my own power steering pump.

Tips for Potential LS400 Buyers

If you are in the market for a Lexus LS400, you should ask the seller for records of when the timing belt was last changed. If the engine mounts have collapsed due to age, you may notice some vibration when idling or when shifting from Park into Reverse or Drive. A starter motor that is on its way out may take longer than normal to crank, or may not show any symptoms at all until the day it fails.

These items should not scare you away from buying an LS 400, but they are definitely worth knowing about before you buy!

Asira Design Mustang Features Full Carbon Fiber Body

For more than 50 years, the Ford Mustang has met the needs of drivers seeking a sporty car with stylish looks and a powerful engine.

Ford’s lineup for the Mustang in 2022 includes the following models: the 310 hp EcoBoost base model, the 450 hp GT model, the 470 hp Mach One, and the 760 hp Shelby GT500.

Customers wanting something more unique can look to specialty vehicle manufacturers including Roush, Saleen, Steeda, and Shelby American. Each of these companies offers upgraded versions of the Mustang that cater to high-performance enthusiasts.

Now, Arizona-based Asira Design is also throwing its hat into the ring of specialty manufacturers. Asira has taken the Mustang platform and elevated it to supercar levels of performance.

Full Carbon Fiber Widebody Package

All aspects of the car from engine to suspension and brakes to the body can be upgraded as part of Asira’s process. The most significant option is the full carbon fiber widebody package. This is a completely unique option that is only available from Asira Design and is not offered by other specialty manufacturers.

This package replaces the exterior body panels of the car with new panels that are restyled to improve airflow and aerodynamic performance. The car features an enlarged front grill and exit vents, dramatic door sills, and curved wheel arches. Asira says that this package shaves over 200 lbs (90.7 kg) of weight compared to the stock aluminum body panels.

The full carbon fiber body package costs $35,000 USD. For an additional $15,000, an Upgraded Carbon Fiber option is available. This option has a symmetrical 4X4 twill pattern in the material and a center line V-weave matched throughout the interior and exterior. A full interior package is also available, for those who love the look of Exposed Carbon Fiber.


Power Upgrades

When it comes to performance, Asira Design offers the installation of a Whipple supercharger kit, which boosts power output to 825 hp. This puts it in the range of the other cars like the Saleen 302 Black Label, Roush Stage 3 Mustang, the Steeda Q850 StreetFighter, and the Shelby Super Snake.


The Performance Upgrades total $34,100 plus $4,400 for installation. The Interior upgrades are $13,800 plus $2,100 for installation. Finally, the Carbon Fiber upgrades are $53,500 plus $8,000 for installation.

Apples to Oranges

Everything that Asira Design offers from Body Panels to Interior Upgrades to Performance and Suspension upgrades can be selected individually or a la carte. This is different from how Roush, Saleen, Steeda, and Shelby price their upgrades. That makes it difficult to do a straight comparison from one to another.

If you were to check every option box from Asira, the full car comes in at $155,900 MSRP – which includes $40,000 for the base model Mustang GT.

This is about $15,630 more than the 2022 Shelby Super Snake, which runs about $140,270. It is well ahead of Shelby’s GT500KR edition at $127,895 and the GT500SE Signature Edition at $109,415.

The highest-optioned Roush Mustang is the 2020 Jack Roush Edition, which comes in at $90,995 (assuming $40k for the Mustang GT plus $50,995).

Following that, highest optioned model from Steeda comes in at $77,995 (assuming $40k for the Mustang GT plus $37,995).

Trailing the pack is the 2022 Saleen 302 Black Label, which will run you $73,000 for an 800 hp Mustang.

My Thoughts

I was checking out my local Saturday Cars and Coffee event when I saw this car approaching. I could tell straight away that it wasn’t a standard Mustang and that it was special. As it pulled up near me, the red-tinted carbon looked absolutely amazing in the morning sunlight. Definitely not a vinyl wrap!

There are a lot of special Mustangs out there to meet every possible price point. For those with the means, the Asira Design Mustang definitely stands out from the herd.


Vaydor Supercar: Premium Body Kit for the G35

There are a lot of folks out there who would love to own a supercar, but don’t have that kind of money.

For those seeking a car with exotic looks on a budget, the Vaydor Supercar may be the answer you are looking for. The Vaydor is a front-engine sports car that utilizes a 2003-07 Infiniti G35 coupe as a donor car.

The Vaydor made its debut in 2013 at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Designed by Matt McEntegart, the car is offered as a coupe or as a hardtop convertible. Matt later sold the Vaydor name to an investment group in 2018 who continues to manufacture and market the cars today. The fiberglass bodies are manufactured by Custom Crafted Cars in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Vaydor bodykit is available for DIY builds starting at $16,000 for the exterior body components, doors, and roll cage. The kit can be purchased as a coupe or as a convertible. Interior kits are also available for $5,500 as of the time of this writing.

The company provides support to builders and includes instructions on dismantling the donor car, welding in the roll cage, and fitting the body panels. However, the paint and bodywork, wheels and tires, and any upgrades to suspension or braking are all at the builder’s expense.

If building your own car is not a challenge that excites you, you’ll be glad to hear that you can also custom order a Vaydor to your exact specifications. Complete turn-key cars are offered by Custom Crafted Cars, with build times taking approximately 6 months. The turn-key cars include a 650 horsepower LT4 supercharged V8 engine and have manual or automatic transmission options.

I saw this Vaydor supercar at my local Highline Autos Cars and Coffee event in Phoenix on August 6, 2022. Looking sharp in lime green with black accents, the car drew a lot of attention from onlookers.

This car has its own headlamps and taillamps, which are not sourced from another vehicle as with some other cars sold as kits. This gives the car a very unique look and causes even seasoned automotive enthusiasts to pause for a closer look. The owner will be forever answering the question at every gas pump, stop light, and car show: “What is it?”

Custom touches include a Sparco steering wheel, racing seats with Tanaka harnesses, carbon fiber canards on the front bumper, forged wheels with Lionhart tires.

The front, rear, and fender emblems on the car have been replaced with the coat of arms of Ukraine, featuring the “Tryzub” or trident symbol which represents freedom.

No idea if this car is using the stock Nissan VQ 3.5L V6 engine or if it has been swapped with something else. If you know more information about this car, please post a comment and let us know!

2007 Lifted “Off-Road” Crown Victoria Pt.1 Purchasing

The goal here is to purchase a used 2003+ P71 Crown Victoria for the sole purpose of modifying to drive around on desert trails and forest roads.  Why a Crown Victoria?  They are cheap, body on frame, V8, rear wheel drive, super reliable, plus with the additional coolers and suspension components for police use it’ll hold up.  I have no interest in actual ‘wheeling’ or owning a truck so it’s perfect, plus an off-road car is more visually interesting (to me).

My plan is to install a set of 3-inch lift cups/spacers intended for donks on 28’s and some all-terrain 31’s for the stock 16 inch police steel wheels. Continue reading

2003 Chevrolet AstroLanche Custom Van

astrolanche1Have you ever dreamed of having the comfort of a full-size van with the cargo capacity of a short-bed truck? Have we got the vehicle for you! Meet the Chevrolet AstroLanche.

This amazing vehicle began life as a run-of-the-mill 2003 Chevrolet Astro Van. At some point, it was converted to have a shortened pickup bed, similar to the Hummer H3T.

astrolanche2The bed uses the Astro van’s “Dutch doors” as a tailgate, while the rear hatch has been moved forward to just behind the second row of seats. Below the rear glass, there appears to be nothing separating the bed from the passenger area – which is great for hauling lumber or perhaps a full-size ladder.

For all the custom work that has gone into this truck-van hybrid, I think my favorite thing about it has to be the name “AstroLanche.”

1999 Mercury Grand Marquis Wagon (Colony Park)

1999_mercury_grand_marquis_colony_park_wagon-taurus-rearWe’ve all seen ‘photoshopped’ wagons that never existed and if you lurk the forums hard enough you might even find a real life aero body with a 2nd generation Taurus hatch bolted on. Continue reading

The Little Accessory that Shouldn’t

Today there is no shortage of automotive accessories that allow each owner to truly personalize their vehicle. Lets face it, if we plunk down any given amount for a vehicle, no matter how much or how little, and you have to drive it on a daily basis, why wouldn’t you want to gussie it up a bit. I have driven by my fair share of people whose rear deck is exploding with hello kitty dolls, or other various stuffed animals.

While I may not personally partake in parading stuffed animals throughout my vehicle, or decide that I need 5 “speed holes” per fender with a completely non-functional hood scoop, if someone so chooses that direction so be it. Thankfully when we come across the latter it generally makes you smile, or perhaps be the talking point on your next road trip as you place “spot the import with the most useless add-on.”

Ok I made that game up, but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be something fun for people to do on their way to a car show, right? Now, with all of the accessories known to man, there is one that just makes me cringe. It is an accessory that to this day I don’t even understand what type of “aesthetics” it adds to a vehicle. That’s right, I am referring to truck nuts.

Continue reading