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Toyota Celsior, Lexus LS400 front upper bush replacement - no more clunk!
May 2007 , by Peter Scott

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I've had a clunk in my Celsior ever since I picked it up from the yard. New balljoints helped. New front air shocks helped. But the noise was still there. I could actually grab the top control arm on the battery side of the car and move it back and forth making the clunk. So time for some Vlamos bushes. Vlamos bushes are rubber - but experience here and overseas have shown they last much longer than standard rubber Toyota bushes. Because they have no moving parts and never need any grease, they are silent and never squeak. Nothing gives a luxury ride like new rubber bushes.

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Before mucking about with TEMS air shocks I popped the negative off the battery. Avoids any error messages later on. Shame about resetting all the radio stations though. Auto books and manuals always suggest taking off the negative terminal rather than the positive terminal. It's because the battery pushes electrons out of the negative terminal.

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The TEMS controller is that silver thing on top with the wires coming out of it - the motor turns two little "valves" on top of the shock, one for the height of the airbags, the other for the firmness of the shocks. My old shocks were stuffed - all the oil had leaked out. The airbag was fine, but the inside shock was stuffed. No rebuild is available - I had to replace them with new ones - not cheap at $1400 retail for the pair.

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A $30 pitman arm puller from the auto parts shop made quick work of the ball joints. No damage to rubber boot, no hammer needed.  There is no way could I get the control arm bolts out with the airbag shock in place. I'll have to undo the top of the shock, move it down and out to get at the bolts.

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Airlines unbolt from the shocks pretty easily - sometimes the air gushes out.

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The passenger side needed a small screwdriver gently inserted to let the air past the rubber flapper valve. It's sort of like the valve on a football - if the needle isn't inserted then no air gets in or out. I had to get all the air out of the bag so I could collapse it enough to clear the TEMS motor and move it down and out of the way. Thanks to Neil Griffiiths ( http://rushimports.com.au/ ) for his advice.

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Now I have the shock out of the way (I left it connected at the bottom) I could get at the bolts holding in the arms.

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The Celsior / LS400 suspension certainly doesn't appear as "beefy" as the SC400 / Soarer suspension. The upper arms look spindly and bolt to sheet metal and they are cast iron. The Soarer arms are alloy and bolt to a big aluminium cross member. Soarer upper bushes are solid rubber while Celsior upper bushes are those HEIM types- they are kind of like a roller / rose joint in rubber. They actually have moving parts. They are the same as the Soarer rear wheel upper bushes. HEIM bushes are famous for self destructing. The Soarer rear wheel upper bushes are the ones that fail after the front lower bushes. Replacing these pesky HEIM bushes with long lasting rubber bushes (like the Soarer front upper bushes) is a good upgrade and should see my Celsior ride perfect for years to come.

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These are the famous solid rubber Vlamos bushes - I bought this set for $285. They arrived very quickly in an express post bag. I have read some stories about people changing bushes at home with no press! Amazing stories of drilling holes in rubber, burning rubber with flames on the back step and careful use of hacksaw blades and sand paper to remove old bushes. Sounds a bit hard for me so I dropped my arms and bushes off at Pedders (a suspension shop) on the way to work and picked them up on the way home. Cost was $25 to have the old bushes pressed out and new ones pressed in. I thought that was good valve.

When installing the arms I made sure I used a jack to lift the suspension to the correct ride height before tightening the arms. The rubber has to be in its neutral position while at normal ride height. This allows the rubber to twist evenly over bumps and potholes and always return to the no stress position .

The clunk is finally gone and the car is now perfect. The steering response has dramatically improved and the ride is heavenly. This is the best thing I have done to my Celsior. I am so pleased, yet again, with these Vlamos bushes.

Vlamos bushes are available here: http://www.vftbushes.com/

Location: Queensland, Australia

Telephone contact: Andrew Vlamos 0411 227 007

E-mail contact: sales@vftbushes.com

If the sales@vftbushes.com e-mail doesn't work try him on (vlamos@bigpond.net.au)

iconbushupdate.jpg (13459 bytes) February 2005 2 1/2 years, 60 000 km Bush update

How are the bushes holding up after 2 1/2 years and 60 000 kays? No worries mate....

iconbush752.jpg (10233 bytes) Otober 2002 Silent Rubber Bushes with Shock Control Slots - At last, proper non squeak quality riding control arm bushes - I love them! So good that Toyota resell them.
iconupper.jpg (4107 bytes) October 2003 Upper Control Arm Bushes   Andrew Vlamos can now provide superb Upper bushes to match the lowers - get that new car feel back again.
iconball3.jpg (4865 bytes) March 2006 Celsior (LS400) Balljoint replacement

My balljoints were stuffed and making the steering wheel shake. The Pedder's drive on shock test confirmed that my front shocks are worn as well.

iconcelsiorleatherpack.jpg (24003 bytes) May 2007 Toyota Celsior / Lexus LS 400 shifter removal and leather recover.

I got the wheel and shifter recovered in my Celsior and she's a beauty mate. Shifter is a pain to remove compared to the Soarer.

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July 2005 Celsior shopping.

Always fancied one, the 15 year old import rule meant they were better value then ever. Time to go shopping.

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July 2005 The Celsior arrives from Japan

Always fancied one, the 15 year old import rule meant they were better value then ever. Time to go shopping.

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September 2005 Celsior Compliance

The Celsior is now complied and registered. Changes include seat belts, intrusion bars, side mirror and fuel filler restrictor. Allow $1200. Some States don't need belt change now!

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Lexus LS400 and Toyota Celsior tutorials