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How Long Can A 1990 Ls400 Go?


drool400
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Hi all, happy to have found this site!

I'm going to testdrive a 1990 LS400 tomorrow, it has 178K miles on it. Is that really "nothing for a Lexus" as my friend puts it? Or is it likely to get very expensive very quickly?

Is there some magic point (in terms of miles) after which it's unwise to buy a 1990 LS400?

Thanks for your advice.

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Hi, 78 K mile is really not thing for a Lexus. Only thing need to be concern is that if this car has been change the timing belt yet. At this milage it should be changed or will cost you alot to do it later. Lexus is a good car, but prone to be falure for the air suspension. Average for the strut is about 3 year! I have to change it 4 times already for my 90 LS 400. I am now having the same probem that the front strut dropped quickly! Dealer charge 1100 for each! I can not afford to change now so I just drive like that and hoping they Lexus will recall this or some one know how to get it fix cheaper than dealer. May be after market. I was thinking of change it back to normal base gas shock, but I don't know if we can do that. Good luck!!! Lang.

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My 91 has 151 K miles, the only problem was the AC Compressor which cost $1200 to replace by a non-dealer repair shop. Also, the remote key door operner quit so I installed a aftermarket opener that also opens the trunk. I recommend you find a good mechnic that works only on these cars.

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Hey drool400,

I really like the forums on the Owner's Club website. My answer is rather long, so bear with me. Re your question: With proper regularly scheduled maintenance, a 90-94 LS400 is good for 250K easy -maybe more. Not many cars ever built can do that !

I bought my previous '91 LS400 with 202K and it drove great until I sold it at 208K. My newly purchased '91 LS400 has 105K and drives as if it were new. It's quieter , smoother and more powerful than any late model car I've been in - Chrysler / Chevy / Ford / Cadillac . Things do wear out over time, but the LS400 was overbuilt when they came out in 1990. They were certainly better built than they are now. The reason they were built so well when they first came out was to compete with the S-class Benz's and 7 series BMW's of the day. Needless to say , the Lexus blew their doors off!! Most 12 year-old German cars are in the scrap yard !

As with any car purchase, ideally, you want maintenance records for the life of the car. When I got my car, it had service records from Day 1 and everything done to it until now. I change the oil every 3K miles religiously, I'll be taking it in a few months for it's 2nd 60K mile check-up (new timing belt, filters, fluids, plugs etc.). The timing belt should be replaced every 60K miles. It's expensive ($300-400), but it will save big engine repairs.

Do a CARFAX check also. It's not foolproof as it only checks REPORTED accidents and mishaps. Many people pay out of pocket to 1) Keep insurance premiums down and 2) not have an accident reported so they can omit telling someone at resale.

When looking over the car, take along a list of items to check. CHECK EVERYTHING from nose to tail, every switch, knob, dial, gauge, general appearance (uneven gloss to paint and hazy areas , mismatching paint, body work, note ALL dings and scratches), under the hood (dirt, leaks), under the car (rust, leaks, dents/scrapes), does it have a trailer hitch ? (BAD!!!), check the glass / light covers for cracks, check the door sills (same paint as exterior ??), turn all power items on / off, look under the carpet in the trunk for rust / wet areas, check interior wear, wear on drivers floor mat where shoe heel rubs (if there's a hole, the car was really used a lot!), check AC (quick to cold ?? Grinding noise from blower??), check radio / tape player / CD before test drive. The list can go on and on and on, but necessary to avoid any surprises.

During the testdrive, turn the radio OFF and have all the windows up and LISTEN CAREFULLY TO EVERYTHING like engine sounds, transmission sounds , steering sounds, any wind noise at lower speeds (may indiacte a poorly fitting door = result of post-collision straightening / reseating on hinges), too much 'play' in the steering wheel (a little ( 1/2") is expected in cars of this age ) , any rattles or whines or hums or buzzes.

If the car is from a dealer, tell them about items you want fixed after you've gone over the car with a fine tooth comb. Start talking about price. Whatever they're asking, offer them 30% less and go from there. For a 90 LS400 you shouldn't be paying any more than around $ 6 - 7 K. 178 K isa little on the high side for a 13 year-old car. Ask what type of miles they were, highway ? constant stop-go? NEVER "settle" for anything the dealer says, ask questions and watch their eyes as they answer; if they're hiding something , you'll know it ! If you ask if the car has ever been in an accident, and they say they don't know, that's BS. Any dealer's collision center can tell if there has ever been any work done on a car. Are you in a State where they have "Lemon Laws" ??? Also, bring a camers and take a lot of pictures inside and out.

If the car is from a private seller, you'll get it cheaper (no dealer mark-up), but you'll get no warranty (dealer car should give you at least 30 days / 3 K miles) nor any minor fixes.

Good Luck with your test drive. Look at 5 or 6 of the same type of car to get an idea of good VS. bad , NEVER get the first one you see, there are plenty of good ones out there. Take your time !

Hope this has helped.

G

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One of the service guys at my dealership has a 91 LS400 with almost 500,000 miles on it, and it runs great. They will literally last forever. I do however disagree with the statement that the old ones are built better than the new ones, the same quality control is still there and they still run until the wheels fall off.

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Hammo/G,

Thanks for the outstanding reply!!! I'll print it and take it with me when I test the car. It is from a private party, so service records are very important as you said in your post. I'll post my findings here when I get back from the test drive.

Regards,

Chris

Also, Steve - thanks for your opinion too!

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Report back:

Well I went to take the LS400 testdrive - thanks to you all I felt much more confident about knowing what to look for. While the engine seemed good, a lot of the body had been repainted and it had that "quick fix by a wholesaler" feeling about it (even though it was a private sale). I drove it by a Lexus dealer who took a quick look at it (for Free!) and then pronounced it to have a trade-in value of $2000. The seller was asking $6900 for it.

So here's my conclusion: I'm definitely going to continue to look for an LS400 - what a beautiful ride, just not this one.

By the way the service manager at the dealership said that in his opinion the 1990-1993 models were the best model years in terms of solidity.

Regards,

Chris

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Yeah sounds like that one is best left.

I do agree that the 93 model in particular is the most reliable, but that doesnt mean the others aren't reliable, they're still about the most bulletproof cars on earth.

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I drove it by a Lexus dealer who took a quick look at it (for Free!) and then pronounced it to have a trade-in value of $2000. The seller was asking $6900 for it.

$2,000! What? I know the dealer always wants to steal the trade...but $2,000..? I would say more like $4,000 from a dealer... I'll buy cosemtic challenged early model LS400s for 2K site unseen all day. The Kelly Blue Book trade in is around 5K I believe?

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  • 1 month later...

My 1990 LS400 has 228,000 miles on it. It's a great car but it is starting to show its age. I just had it repainted, 2 coats of color, 3 coats of clear and color sanded. It looks almost new again. The engine and tranny are awsome.

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Take a digital pic of your car and post it here please...

Mine? If you meant me sure. I was planning to use it as my Avatar anyway. I'll post it when I get home, like I said in another thread I've got other pics to post of the repair that I did.

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well in the new lexus magazine this guy had a 1990 LS400 with 555,000 miles on it!!!!

YES THATS RIGHT 555,000 MILES!!

i read the article and this guy owns some kinda apple farm so he has to do long trips back and fourth. based on the pictures, which lexus couldve edited, the start was still looking great.

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Let's see . . . .

I bought it when it had around 140,000 miles on it (give or take).

I replaced the power steering pump because of a "leak" (actually turned out to be the "O" ring between the reservior and the pump).

Two alternators, both because of the PS leak, 2nd just because I was in there already and it already was covered with Dexron II.

Auxillary drive belt tensioner.

Timing belt, timing belt tensioner and idler bearings, and water pump, (none of these items failed, it was just past time for the belt and all the other stuff is in the belt drive path).

Manifold gasket on the A/C compressor (had leak) and the receiver/dryer in the A/C system.

Radiator (developed a leak due to sloppy PM work before I bought the car).

Replaced small driveshaft in driver's seat that connects the left and right seat back tilt drive mechanisms.

A/C ECU currently has a bad display (has since I bought the car).

Radio just died (volume know loosened and I didn't re-tighten it in time). Don't yet know how that's going to turn out but will post the results.

Of the above items two are apparently known issues with the LS-400: the power steering pump and the A/C ECU display. (This display failure appears to me to be a design defect; after all, the radio's display exists in the same environment and hasn't failed. In my humble opinion it's disgraceful of Lexus to ignore this issue.)

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  • 4 weeks later...

My 1992 LS400 has 176,000 miles on it. I bought it at 150,000 and had a pre-purchase inspection on it. It was proclaimed as in near perfect condition, and it looked it. In the past two years, the following things have happened:

Rear Main Seal $500

Master Switch in door panel $500

Lock on Passenger's Side $400

LCD Clock Display $600

A/C Compressor $1500

A/C Evaporator $1200

Outside Door Handle broken - no estimate yet

Coolant Leak - No estimate yet

Climate Control Sensor - No estimate yet

A/C Schraeder Valve Leak - $80

Suffice it to say, we haven't been very impressed. With high miles cars, even if the engine doesn't blow up, watch out for the picky stuff. It only lasts so long.

Johann

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  • 2 weeks later...

No, I just let the repair guy take care of it. I called Lexus to find out about the part prices because they seemed outrageous, but the dealer quoted me prices significantly higher than what the repair guy did, so I let it be.

Now I found out the climate control assembly will be another $375 for parts along with a couple hours of labor, and the solar sensor is bad, costing another $100 or so.

If I had known all this was going on, I would never have paid for the A/C to be fixed, but I was $1500 into it when I found out that it still wasn't fixed, so I didn't want to throw my money away. Now, over $3000 later, I'm still in the same boat, as it still doesn't work right.

Hope you have better luck.

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No, I just let the repair guy take care of it.  I called Lexus to find out about the part prices because they seemed outrageous, but the dealer quoted me prices significantly higher than what the repair guy did, so I let it be.

Now I found out the climate control assembly will be another $375 for parts along with a couple hours of labor, and the solar sensor is bad, costing another $100 or so.

If I had known all this was going on, I would never have paid for the A/C to be fixed, but I was $1500 into it when I found out that it still wasn't fixed, so I didn't want to throw my money away.  Now, over $3000 later, I'm still in the same boat, as it still doesn't work right.

Hope you have better luck.

You live down towards Portland, OR. We've had a unusually hot summer this year so I see why you want your A/C. That's a lot of money to put into a used car for repair. Sorry to hear that.

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Let's see . . . .

I bought it when it had around 140,000 miles on it (give or take).

I replaced the power steering pump because of a "leak" (actually turned out to be the "O" ring between the reservior and the pump).

Two alternators, both because of the PS leak, 2nd just because I was in there already and it already was covered with Dexron II.

Auxillary drive belt tensioner.

Timing belt, timing belt tensioner and idler bearings, and water pump, (none of these items failed, it was just past time for the belt and all the other stuff is in the belt drive path).

Manifold gasket on the A/C compressor (had leak) and the receiver/dryer in the A/C system.

Radiator (developed a leak due to sloppy PM work before I bought the car).

Replaced small driveshaft in driver's seat that connects the left and right seat back tilt drive mechanisms.

A/C ECU currently has a bad display (has since I bought the car).

Radio just died (volume know loosened and I didn't re-tighten it in time). Don't yet know how that's going to turn out but will post the results.

Of the above items two are apparently known issues with the LS-400: the power steering pump and the A/C ECU display. (This display failure appears to me to be a design defect; after all, the radio's display exists in the same environment and hasn't failed. In my humble opinion it's disgraceful of Lexus to ignore this issue.)

Rich, how long did it take you to replace your alternator. I'm pretty sure mine is going out. I can hear a faint chirp once in awhile from the alternator and I see a some PS fluid caked ontop of it. When I drive sometimes the battery, brake, oil, etc lights come on in the dash for no reason. When I rev it up they go away after so many RPMs (6K+?). Then it will do it again later. Today it did it quite a bit. It was annoying. I think the alternator is about to give up the ghost?

Do you have a online step by step that you can point me too? I replaced some stuff (alternator, radiator, theromstat<-that was harder than it sounds) on my old 300ZX's which was difficult. I got use to the cramped space and I did a lot of my own work on my Z32. I have a '91 LS400 shop manual that I'm borrowing from a friend. I'll look thru it tonight. So I need to replace the O ring on the PS pump then replace the alternator. That is a bad place where they put that PS pump. A design flaw by Lexus. I'm sure it has to do with limited space more than anything? There are not too many flaws on the LS400 but the placement of the alternator and the starter is 2 of them. The starter is buried in the back, rear of the engine. As you know...

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WE bought our 1990 LS 400 with 153k miles on it and its stilllllll going strong.

right now the problems are

A/C - doesnt work, had a guy at CANADIAN TIRE look at it, he said its a lexus and he cant do anything!. so i will go to dealer or independent shop.

A/C ECU - black display ... 600 CAD for a new one, searching for one on ebay/used parts/yards

ENGINE SHIELD underneith, its 'saging' I have how ever fixed this with advice from fellow members with some screws

just recently my REAR BRAKE LIGHT went off..

:blink:

thats pretty much it, I quite possibly have the most well - kept 1990 model in canada, there are absolutely no engine/tranny problems period! im lucky for that! :pirate:

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