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Walnut Creek, CA
From what I've seen with the Japanese engines is that you only typically use the long block and maybe the intake. People with a worn engine usually just need an engine with fresh rings, bearings, and head gasket. Swapping in a later model engine adds complexity because it will most certainly use a different ECU. 96-up engines will be OBD-II, which means all the sensors and emissions are likely very different. If you're not replacing your stock engine with an exact replacement, definitely do your homework to see what exactly you'll need in terms of mounts, transmission, ECU/harness, axles, etc. Also make sure it was an engine that was available in the US otherwise you'll never get it past the ref and SMOG here in CA The next gen C35A might bolt right in place of your C32 but I'm not sure if you can still use your stock engine harness.
A performance blow-off valve helps keep the turbo spooled to reduce lag. When you let off the gas and close the throttle, the blow-off releases the extra pressure and lets the turbo keep spinning. Without a blow-off, the turbine stops spinning and increases lag. You also get the signature "whoosh" with an atmospheric BOV. If your car is stock, I don't see you getting many gains from a bov. I'm not sure where your stock bypass valve is but most BOV's are mounted to the intercooler piping. Also remember in California, an atmospheric BOV is a great way to fail your next SMOG. It is considered unmetered air. CHP and local police can write REF tickets for it too if they have a problem with it
The exhaust manifold is mounted to the engine and is the first part in the exhaust. It takes the exhaust from each cylinder on a side of the engine and routes the gasses into a single exhaust pipe These articles on exhaust manifolds also explains them in more detail. http://repairpal.com/exhaust-manifold-replacement http://repairpal.com/exhaust-manifold hope this helps!
Are any warning lights on? That would provide one place to start for a tech. Otherwise, these are a couple blog entries that may help you give your shop the information they need to do a proper diagnosis: http://repairpal.com/Addressing_Intermittent_problems http://repairpal.com/blog/check-engine-light-diagnostic-assistant
RepairPal provides the basic listings to shops at no charge to provide exposure for the shops, as well as a way for customers to find them, and give them ratings and reviews. My opinion is that if you felt comfortable on the phone, and they acted professionally, it could be worth a trip down. If they are straight forward, and open when you have your car there, maybe you can use them. I have been places that left a bad taste in my mouth and other places that really made me happy to give them my business. Sometimes it is just a feeling These are some articles written by technicians you may find helpful http://repairpal.com/auto-repair-how-to
It's worth checking if there's warranty left on your IS. Just my 2 cents, I am not sure how a weak battery would cause a starter to hang up after the engine has started. Power is not required to disengage the starter gear from the flywheel/flexplate. A tech can check for service bulletins from Lexus to see if there are any published repairs for this condition
When both lights are on, it makes me think that a sensor common to both systems (like a speed sensor) has failed. It's best to have a shop scan for the trouble code(s) stored in memory.
You can enter in your model in the RepairPrice Estimator http://repairpal.com/estimator and select the head gasket replacement in your zip code. A shop may also recommend some cooling system diagnosis because a common cause for head gasket failure is overheating. hope this helps!
If the warning lights were not on before taking it in for inspection, I would call them back and see if they will inspect for anything they may have damaged, or possibly left disconnected. Many Traction systems are connected to the ABS system because they share many sensors. Things like wheel speed sensors and vehicle speed sensors can be used in these systems. The correct thing to do will be to have a shop scan the Traction system for trouble codes, which will help determine the cause of the warning light illumination. The shop will need the correct scan tool to look for trouble codes in these systems. hope this helps!
I'm not sure if your Mercedes has a blower resistor to control the fan speed but when the resistor fails, you'll often have the blower only working on the max/highest setting. Give that a shot and that will hopefully help you narrow it down some more.