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1999 ES300: same problem..misfires..check engine light..overdrive…

Customer Question
I have the same problem...
I have the same problem the previous writer described( 1999 ES300): random misfires 1,3,5. Overall the car runs great for a week at a time; then out of nowhere the check engine light will flash several times. A code gets set and from that point on it will run slightly weaker, no shift into overdrive, only 1st 2nd 3rd, traction control light will also stay on. The car will feel just slightly weaker, but not rough. It is still running on six cylinders however feels like it is in some kind of "failure mode". The car will stay in this failure mode for days, or however long I leave it that way without clearing codes. When I clear the code the car snaps back to life and will be good again for days. Here is what I have done so far:

Cleaned all injectors individually
Swapped injectors with 2,4,6
swapped coils with 2,4,6,
replaced camshaft VVT drum mechanism on 1,3,5 camshaft
swapped VVT oil controls from front to rear
checked timing belt marks
intentionally advanced cam one tooth
retarded cam one tooth
put timing marks back to original

If I could get it to stay out of the failure mode I would be otherwise satisfied with the way it drives.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Lexus
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Answered in 1 hour by:
6/24/2010
Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Tom
Tom, ASE Certified Technician
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Satisfied Customers: 26,066
Experience: ASE Certified Master Technician qualified to work on all makes and models.
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What is the codes that are stored?They will be P0135 type codes.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

I forget the numerical codes, but the descriptions were "random misfires" and it also made specific references to cylinders 1,3,and 5. Never on 2,4,6. I should also add to the description that I had the valves reground (twice) and while I had the heads off I replaced the rings, as a way to insure that there were no compression problems. I only did that because I already had the heads off and was so involved in trying to pinpoint this problem. I am an ASE certifed master tech and I'm stumped on this one. I seriously doubt that it is anything mechanical since the car runs fine the second I clear the codes. It is as if the computer is programming itself into a failure mode.

Doug

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Is the check engine light on now ?If you get me the code this will help alot.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

The MIL is not on this past few days. I can also add that I have swapped the O2 sesors between bank one and bank two - that didn't make any difference either. I wish I had the codes written down, but I think the main one was (PO300 ?) "Random misfires". The other three codes were specific to cylinder 1,3,5 misfire.. I am using a Snap on Solus and Modis scanner for this.

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
There are issues with the ecms . Was the VVT solenoid changed ?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

If "VVT" solonoid means the electrical valve that mounts into the head to control oil pressure to the vvt, then yes, they were swapped. I measured them with an ohmmeter and they had similar resistance values.

When installing the timing belt, I lined up the marks on the cam pulleys with the notches on the sheet metal timing belt shield. I used to get more faults with the timing marks lined up that way. One of the lead techs at our local Lexus dealer said "be careful, even experienced Lexus techs get that mark on the rear bank misaligned because it is so difficult to see at that angle." Taking heed to what he said I used a mirror and even a digital camera to get the view that I needed to have. The mark looked correct. Just to give it a try I intentionally put the pulley on the rear bank one tooth advanced and tried it out. It ran smoother, stronger and could go for longer periods of time without throwing a code. I then tried doing the same with the front bank, but it didn't have the same effect. I got an MIL almost right away and it ran rough.

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Ok let me look a few things over and we will continue tomorrow.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Ok, the MIL was on again and I had time to retrieve codes:

P0300

P0301

P0303

P0305

 

Misfires are recorded on cyls 1,3,5 (again, always and only these cylinders).

misfire RPM 975

 

Long term fuel trim bank 1 -17

short term fuel trim bank 1 -10

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Ok have the coils been checked these are known to cause this issue.As long as timing is correct you need to check this .Also has there ever been a p0171 code?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

I dont remember ever having any codes other than the misfire codes. The coils were replaced with used ones, then they were swapped to the other bank of cylinders but the misfires always show up on 1,3,5. Does the -17 fuel trim mean anything?

Doug

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Yes that could be caused by a faulty mass air flow sensor was that checked?Also timing is 100 percent dead on correct?
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

There is no ignition timing that I know of. As for cam timing, all marks are aligned. If you remember from previous posts, the rear timing belt marks are difficult to see. I had them where they looked dead on, and it ran poorly. I set the bank one cam sproket to where it appears a half tooth advanced and it runs much better. I can go for a month sometimes without any check engine light and then out of nowhere it will reset. When I clear the light the car runs instantly better ( sharper response and accelleration), as soon as the MIL comes on the performance suffers and seems to have a 10% power loss. I would think that if cam timing were the fault, it would run bad all the time.

I have thought to just take it to Lexus and have them check it out, but I am supposed to be able to figure this stuff out.

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
I still think its a timing issue or coil issue .Its hard for me to diagnose it from here also .But most of the time this is a timing issue or coil issue.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Coils.....even when I put my 2,4,6 coils on the rear cylinders I get the same results. Why does the LTFT on the rear bank show -17? does that indicate some kind of a rich condition on the rear cylinders? I had swapped the fuel injectors trying to chase this problem and that didn't make any difference.

thanks for your thought and time

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Yes could be air fuel sensor issue or even a mass air flow sensor issue .Most of the time its from a timing issue which can still be possible .The computer is compensating for the issue.This is either going to be a VVT controller issue it sometimes referred to as the actuator or just plain gear. The part number for the gear assembly on the intake cam for bank two is 13050-20010 or as you know the VVT system constantly adjusts intake valve timing based upon operating conditions. The ECM system controls the Oil Control Valve (OCV) with a variable duty cycle. The Oil Control Valve then supplies oil to the advance or retard side of the VVT Controller. The oil applied to the VVT Controller will cause the intake cam to advance or retard depending on the position of the Oil Control Valve. The ECM verifies that the desired camshaft angle has been achieved by monitoring the camshaft position sensor.SO if timing is ok it has to be one of these issues.

Hoped this helped.

Positive feedback and bonuses greatly appreciated.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Yes, I had already replaced that cam timing acuator with a new one direct from Lexus. I also have compared resistance values between front and rear oil control valves. They were similar but I swapped them anyway; same results.

I keep thinking that whatever the issue is it has to be something that affects only the rear bank:

Common ground specific to rear injectors?

Common ground specific to rear coils?

Is there a hidden EGR valve that is feeding a vacuum leak to the rear bank only?

 

*another major key: as soon as I clear codes the engine comes back to life and runs clearly more robust until the MIL is triggered again. If the problem was of a mechanical nature such as cam timing, I dont think clearing codes would be able to affect it. Its a riddle.

 

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
This very well could be a shorted ECM or mass air flow sensor that's bad . If everything else checks out .
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Could the MAF cause misfires in only one bank? If I remember right, there is only one MAF, is that right?

Doug

Lexus Mechanic: Tom, ASE Certified Technician replied 8 years ago
Yes one maf and have seen them do stranger things .
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