It’s safe to say that the pricier and rarer the car gets, the more meticulous and complicated it is to maintain. Case in point: the Lexus LFA. There are only 500 LFAs in the world, which started its production in 2010 at a rate of 20 units per month, completely hand-built and custom-ordered based on the buyers’ specification.
With this complex production, it’s almost automatic that maintaining the car would be equally complex as well. All we need to know now is how, and luckily, Lexus UK had to service its own LFA media unit – one of the 38 in Europe – and the company generously did a walk through of the entire process.
Each LFA is scheduled for a major service every three years. The venue? Europe’s LFA Center of Excellence at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany. Peter Dresen is the Workshop Manager and the man who oversees the maintenance work on all European LFAs, as well as those from the US that are bound for track days in the nearby Nürburgring.
“We treat an LFA more or less like a Le Mans car,” he says. “The principles of servicing it are the same as a normal Lexus road car, but it’s quite a lot more complicated to do certain things and access certain parts. So in reality, the LFA is closer to a racing car in terms of how we take care of it.”
The process started by removing all the panels that surround parts like suspension, steering system and subframe. All nuts and bolts were checked and re-checked, while the hard-to-access hydraulics were tested and given a visual check.
Brakes discs and pads, on the other hand, were removed and carefully inspected by hand to check if there were tiny cracks in the carbon ceramic material. Discs were weighed as well to make sure that it’s within specific wear limits, while there’s an X-Ray machine to check the discs and pads for internal issues, but Dresen said that LFA didn't have the use for it anyway since they never really had an issue with materials. And, if push comes to shove, like a tiny issue on these parts, Dresen’s team just replace them.
Now, the LFA’s body composed of 65 percent carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) needs careful inspection, too. Well, it should, because it’s one of the features that the LFA is known for. Lexus UK’s LFA went through an oil pump repair, particularly on an internal seal. TMG had to remove the step up gearbox and transmission to do this, which saved them a day and a half compared to removing the entire engine block. Finally, oil change had to be done, as well as the usual maintenance stuff like changing oil filter, air filter, and air-conditioning filter, which, by the way, used high-tech equipment in order to complete. The brake fluid reservoir was also checked for any traces of water using an electronic tool.
The whole maintenance work took four days, including three test drives. The first test drive was just around the TMG building, while the next one was on public roads. The third was on the Autobahn for six miles. Take note, though, that Dresen’s team had to test the LFA without the under-body panels re-attached. Why? Well, it takes around two hours to fit them back on.