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1991 Lexus ES 250:
Leans to Driver's Side, Replaced Shocks and Springs

By
Alex Steele
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Question:

 

Our 1991 Lexus ES 250, which we've owned since new and now has 148,000 miles, leans to the driver's side, especially when viewed from the rear. We had the shocks and springs checked. The rear shocks were replaced as were the front shocks and springs, but the car still sits crooked.

 

To be sure it's not the rear bumper bent down, I measured all around. Here are the measurements: right rear 22 1/4, left rear 21 3/8, left front 19 1/4, right front 19 7/8. Do you have suggestions? Will shims help? Can appearance be improved by adjusting the rear bumper?

 

Another problem is that when closing the trunk lid the springs deform the lid so I have to apply pressure in the middle of the lid to get it closed without bending anything. The springs are tight and look OK.

 

Answer:

 

When working on a vehicle which leans to one side, it's important to first fully inspect the frame, suspension and body parts for any kind of damage. We're looking for something bent from a collision, or any worn, loose, rotted or missing components. The Lexus ES is built on unibody construction with four-wheel independent suspension and front-wheel drive.

 

If you're sure the vehicle has not been in a collision, and nothing's found during a thorough inspection, you should begin by measuring the vehicle's trim or ride height. Measuring from the bumper or any other body part can be inaccurate and deceiving. The trim height is measured at points where the front and rear suspension attaches to a crossmember or the unibody structure. The specifications for the '90-'91 ES250 are 8.58 inches from the ground in the front, and 9.65 inches in the rear. But don't attempt the measurements on your own. It requires a trained technician with the appropriate equipment to achieve accurate and helpful results.

 

The trim height measurements being out of specifications, confirming the vehicle being low at the left rear, should eliminate a problem with cosmetically misaligned body parts. You would then focus on the unibody structure, a crossmember, suspension parts and the coil springs in the McPherson strut assemblies.

 

Contrary to popular belief, shock absorbers do not affect vehicle height. They dampen suspension travel up and down. The springs are what support the car. You stated that the front springs have been replaced, not the rear. A spring can affect trim height by being weak, broken or installed incorrectly. The issue with trunk lid travel may be a symptom of a bend in the unibody structure, or an unrelated problem with trunk lid spring tension, alignment or metal fatigue.

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