Update. For the Traction Control and Electrical light on I took the SC400 to my local Lexus Dealer for a computer scan. They ran it and found that the main O2 sensor was bad. This, they said, can cause the Traction Control to go off. Weird. All connected I guess. This is costing me $650 for 2.5 hours of Labour for diagnosis and installation, and $318 for parts. Expensive. But I can also see that I could have bought an OEM (non-lexus) O2 sensor for around $75 from elsewhere, but this is a Lexus and I don't want an OEM part on my machine. Funny thing is that my car is running faster with this problem!
I have a '92 as well and had the exact same problem - O2 sensor - and ended up paying about what you did. Its funny, reading these posts, I see all the ghosts I've dealt with and the ones that I will have to deal with in the future.
UPDATE: I've had MY SC400 since Mar 2005. Since replacing the main O2 sensor nothing went wrong until recently. The car skids on rainy days on just slight turns. (I use very good tires). The struts clank while driving on bumpy roads. One of the engine mount is either worn or loose. When I shift gear from P to D it thumps. I want to sell my 1992 SC400 and buy a 1998 (or up) SC400. It's a beautiful car and I still love it.
My 1992 SC400 has covered 338,000 km. It's still a pleasure to look at and to drive. I also have a buddy with about 400,000 km on his SC400.
My car NEVER sees the inside of a Lexus dealership, as I have a good mechanic, who accesses all the repair info he needs from Mitchell manuals on their website. General maintenance comments:
1. Moisture in the headlights. Caused by deteriorating sealant between the two parts. Early on, the dealer tried drilling extra drain holes in the headlight assemblies, to no avail. What does work is (wait for this) heating the headlight assemblies in the oven at about 150 degrees, which allows you to separate the assembly into two parts using a butter knife. You then clean the male and female halves, replace with a good automotive silicone sealant and reassemble. You'll have to reheat a few times to remove the old sealant. Much cheaper than new assemblies.
2. The Nakamichi sound system is controlled by an amplifier which mounts in the trunk under the 12 CD player. Moisture can accumulate in this area if the drain tube becomes plugged, which will damage the amplifier. Repair shops will not even try to repair a water damaged amplifier. I got a replacement from a bone yard in Quebec for $ 100, but check now to save aggravation.
3. At one point about a year ago, the transmission was "skipping" from first to third. My friend had experienced this and it was solved by replacing the #2 solenoid in the transmission, which is easily accessible through the transmission oil pan.
4. New struts about 40,000 km ago made a big difference.
UPDATE: After reading your post I am now suspecting the shocks as well! I will change them soon. Also, my car was hestitating since last week. I was worried that it could be the transmission or the timing belt cause I have already replaced the plugs with platinums, plug cables, air filter, etc. 6 months ago. Previous owner also changed the timing belt before selling it. This morning I decided to give it a last shot by replacing the air filter. I found a plastic bag inside the intake blocking the air passage. I am not sure how it got there. I then took the plastic bag out and replaced the air filter. Car is back to normal again. Thank God, I saved big time.
UPDATE: I have been hearing some funny noises when going over bumps or uneven roads. I suspected the rear shocks which I replaced for $160 each + $360 labour. It did not fix the problem. Then the mechanic showed me that all 4 bushings for the front and rear lower Control Arms have worn out. Very expensive to replace those, as I would have to buy the 4 Control Arms and then replace them. Each Control Arm costs something like $500 OEM or $750+tax dealership. Plus I would have to pay the Labour cost. I am wondering if I should replace them and spend a bomb or just sell my SC400 and buy a newer one. Or else my car is in awsome shape. Looks and drives awsome.
I have an SC400 with 130,000 all original miles.
I love this car with one exception. In the heat it doesn't want to run. Like 3 o'clock in the afternoon sun. I mean it turns over and 2 seconds later it dies. In an experiment to see if if the heat caused the problem, I let cold water run across the hot hood for about 1 minute during the hot part of the day. And sure enough the car started great and ran fine until I turned it off. Tried to start it again. It ran for 2 seconds then died. Without the water I may start the car 20 times before it stays on. What is it? Hot air in the intake, vapor lock, sensor, I am lost?
UPDATE: I have since removed my old front bumper and put in a brand new 1999 SC400 bumper, replaced the front fog lights, and put in brand new rims and tires. The car looks great.
I purchased grey leather paint cans from Ebay and re painted the leather seats. Looks new. Overall the car looks better than ever.
Also I had a leaking power steering pump. I purchased Lucas Power Steering Pump sealant which closed the leak. But the leak damaged my alternator. I called Lexus, the price was too high to get it replaced. I shopped around on Yellow Pages and found an Electrical Shop which took off the alternator, rebuilt it and put in back on for $300. Not bad.
Yup, the same happened to me. My power steering pump went down and it just so happens to be on top of the alternator. I had to change both. Cost me about $300. I had my buddy fix my pump since he owns a shop and purchased the alternator and changed that myself.
One question I had though, where did you buy that front bumper and how much did it cost you? I can't find anything reasonable anywhere.
I bought the front bumper from NorthWest Lexus. It cost me around $480 Canadian + 15% tax, plus $350 to remove the old bumper, install the new one and paint it. However, the bummer is that the central grill cost me around $200 + 15% tax from Lexus when I could have bought it on Ebay for half the price. Then I had to spent I think around $ 128 + 15% tax (each) for 2 front 1999 fog lights.
I picked up a 1992 SC400 just under a year ago. I have found that if you research the threads and the different owners' forums, these models mainly suffer from the same issues. I guess my biggest complaint is the needles in the dash being an issue. I found a instrument cluster in town here and took the time to swap the needles. It was a bit tedious, but I did save a butt load of money versus the other methods that are out there. This is a great vehicle and I have people all the time asking what kind of car it is and what year, imagine their surprise when they find out it is a 17 year old car with almost 200k miles on it!
Love the car, love it, love it, love it. I just can't wait until the SC430's go down in price so I can upgrade to the convertible model =) I was lucky that the guy I bought it from was a "car guy" and he took great care of the vehicle and even upgraded the car to 18's. I got mine for a steal at $4,500 I think.