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greetings all-

I have been a lurker, learning much and saying little for some time now. picked up lots of tips and info; thanks!

we bought a pre-owned 2002 RX-300 (30k original miles) and have put around 70k on it in 3 years. so far pretty reliable (the D light is burned out however, like most, ha ha). I have NOT changed out the timing belt yet, however. what is the danger of not doing this strictly adhering to the Owner's Manual (says replace at 90k)? also, my local shop (non Lexus dealer) says replace the water pump at the same time. total job around $600. So do I do it or not? Many thanks.

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Here is how to do the D light:

http://home.comcast.net/~rx300how2/index.html

As for the timing belt, It will probably go an easy 125k miles, but changing it at 100k is probably good insurance. Your mechanic is right about doing the waterpump at the same time as it is driven by the timing belt. I took mine to a Toyota dealership and got both changed for around $500 . Make sure your mechanic uses a Toyota OEM timing belt....it is the best quality...then enjoy the next 100k miles.

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FWIW, my local Toyota dealer did the timing belt, waterpump, and all drive belts for $650 out the door including parts. This is on par with quotes from independent shops and far better than the $1700 the Lexus dealer wanted for just timing belt and water pump.

IIRC, the 3.3L in our RX330's is an interference engine so the cost of NOT doing the timing belt could be very high.

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greetings all-

I have been a lurker, learning much and saying little for some time now. picked up lots of tips and info; thanks!

we bought a pre-owned 2002 RX-300 (30k original miles) and have put around 70k on it in 3 years. so far pretty reliable (the D light is burned out however, like most, ha ha). I have NOT changed out the timing belt yet, however. what is the danger of not doing this strictly adhering to the Owner's Manual (says replace at 90k)? also, my local shop (non Lexus dealer) says replace the water pump at the same time. total job around $600. So do I do it or not? Many thanks.

If you have the parts you mentioned changed, tell them to save the parts for you. I'll bet you'll find parts that look almost like new. I have never personally read of or known of anyone who had a timing belt break on an RX, regardless of miles. I just recently changed them all on my DIL's RX at 130K and they were in perfect condition. If it makes you sleep better at night, by all means do it, but don't do it because you think they are shot, they put some of the finest parts I have ever seen on Toyota/Lexus and doubt that you will ever have the car long enough for them to wear out, regardless of how many miles you drive

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Our former 2000 RX300 AWD (now with its third owner) still has its original timing belt with about 142,000 miles on the odometer. The current owner also has a 1996 LS400 with its original timing belt at more than 200,000 miles....

There were a number of design flaws on the early RX models which you can read about in detail on this forum and others like it, but the timing belt is superb. That is typically true across the board for Toyota timing belts....

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FWIW, my local Toyota dealer did the timing belt, waterpump, and all drive belts for $650 out the door including parts. This is on par with quotes from independent shops and far better than the $1700 the Lexus dealer wanted for just timing belt and water pump.

IIRC, the 3.3L in our RX330's is an interference engine so the cost of NOT doing the timing belt could be very high.

The $650. is not at all unreasonable but the $1700., now that is a different story! The timing belt and W/P shouldn't retail for more than $170-$180., even if they replaced the idler pulleys and tensioner (which you didn't say anything about) it still shouldn't run any more than $400-$425. plus tax. Now I've got to tell you $1300. labor is more than insane for a job that someone with a little mechanical ability and not ever having done it before should be able to do in 5 hours. Wish I could make that kind of money!

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FWIW, my local Toyota dealer did the timing belt, waterpump, and all drive belts for $650 out the door including parts. This is on par with quotes from independent shops and far better than the $1700 the Lexus dealer wanted for just timing belt and water pump.

IIRC, the 3.3L in our RX330's is an interference engine so the cost of NOT doing the timing belt could be very high.

The $650. is not at all unreasonable but the $1700., now that is a different story! The timing belt and W/P shouldn't retail for more than $170-$180., even if they replaced the idler pulleys and tensioner (which you didn't say anything about) it still shouldn't run any more than $400-$425. plus tax. Now I've got to tell you $1300. labor is more than insane for a job that someone with a little mechanical ability and not ever having done it before should be able to do in 5 hours. Wish I could make that kind of money!

How about charging my wife $800.00 for a new computer when the current one quit recognizing her master key [ and the 2 valet keys ]. The car would not start! The dealer said they would ONLY charge her HALF of what the true cost of a new computer generally costs. I've never heard of anyone having that problem. I thought that any of the vehicle computers could be re-loaded with the necessary data and current updates. Another " screw-job " from the Lexus service Department!

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How about charging my wife $800.00 for a new computer when the current one quit recognizing her master key [ and the 2 valet keys ]. The car would not start! The dealer said they would ONLY charge her HALF of what the true cost of a new computer generally costs. I've never heard of anyone having that problem. I thought that any of the vehicle computers could be re-loaded with the necessary data and current updates. Another " screw-job " from the Lexus service Department!

I realize you were between a rock and a hard place with the car not starting. I am almost certain I have read of an online advertiser (one of the Lexus forums) in the Midwest that will do an overnight on a computer and is able to do the programing that you are talking about. Not close to $800.!! I think it would be a rare day that you found a dealer that would do anything but change parts, even if they knew the computer could be reprogramed. I am almost certain I have also read (some time ago) that Lexus (Corp) would do a ONE TIME computer replacement for key problems (lost or non-recognize). Sort of a perk because you bought a Lexus and they know it is so expensive. I believe it is about $2000. to replace the computer and keys if you have lost the keys

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How about charging my wife $800.00 for a new computer when the current one quit recognizing her master key [ and the 2 valet keys ]. The car would not start! The dealer said they would ONLY charge her HALF of what the true cost of a new computer generally costs. I've never heard of anyone having that problem. I thought that any of the vehicle computers could be re-loaded with the necessary data and current updates. Another " screw-job " from the Lexus service Department!

I realize you were between a rock and a hard place with the car not starting. I am almost certain I have read of an online advertiser (one of the Lexus forums) in the Midwest that will do an overnight on a computer and is able to do the programing that you are talking about. Not close to $800.!! I think it would be a rare day that you found a dealer that would do anything but change parts, even if they knew the computer could be reprogramed. I am almost certain I have also read (some time ago) that Lexus (Corp) would do a ONE TIME computer replacement for key problems (lost or non-recognize). Sort of a perk because you bought a Lexus and they know it is so expensive. I believe it is about $2000. to replace the computer and keys if you have lost the keys

This car/dealer has been one " screw-job " after another since it has been out of warranty. I can't see us buying another Lexus. In fact I can't see us buying another NEW anything. Both Toyota and Honda have excellent " Certified " vehicles which seems like a much better value than a NEW anything. A 2-3 year old Highlander, which is virtually an RX [ same engine, drive-line, etc. ] can be bought for less than half the price of a new RX and can be serviced by the Toyota dealer who services a hundred times the vehicles that the Lexus service department does. My experience with the Lexus dealer here in Virginia Beach is a " Bummer ". If a computer doesn't tell them what the problem is, then there ISN"T a problem. At least twice since new they have installed the oil drain plug " finger tight ". I always check after them when I bring the car home. This is the competence you get for $105.00 an hour? Kind of " pricey " for a doughtnut and coffee! P.S. The Toyota dealership in Virginia Beach is owned by the same person who owns the Lexus dealership, therefore the Toyota dealership's policy is " we don't service any Lexus vehicles ". So to service the " same " vehicles, Lexus owners must pay double what Toyota owners pay for the identical parts/service. Such as $1000-1200 for timing belt/water pump replacement service. The Toyota dealer charges about HALF for the SAME parts/labor!

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That's the "game" dealerships play, BOWTIE_3 ...and it stinks. All you said is pretty much why I would never buy a new vehicle nor go for service from the dealer. Over my years of car buying, I usually buy 5-plus year old vehicles with ~70K on the odo and search for vehicles with excellent service records/history... and I bet I've paid a fraction of repair costs of people who buy new and have work done at the dealership (and I don't have the hassle of fighting with "what's covered under warranty and what's not"). I also seek out highly-qualified indie repair shops and have been so much more pleased with the level of input, service, and clean/clear diagnostics & price estimates than I've ever had working with a dealer (although there are some good dealerships out there). I can easily afford a brand new vehicle, but why... unless a person wants the latest and greatest in cars, or wants an untouched new vehicle, I don't see the big draw. More reliability? After what I've learned of cars over the years, I think not.

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This car/dealer has been one " screw-job " after another since it has been out of warranty. I can't see us buying another Lexus. In fact I can't see us buying another NEW anything. Both Toyota and Honda have excellent " Certified " vehicles which seems like a much better value than a NEW anything. A 2-3 year old Highlander, which is virtually an RX [ same engine, drive-line, etc. ] can be bought for less than half the price of a new RX and can be serviced by the Toyota dealer who services a hundred times the vehicles that the Lexus service department does. My experience with the Lexus dealer here in Virginia Beach is a " Bummer ". If a computer doesn't tell them what the problem is, then there ISN"T a problem. At least twice since new they have installed the oil drain plug " finger tight ". I always check after them when I bring the car home. This is the competence you get for $105.00 an hour? Kind of " pricey " for a doughtnut and coffee! P.S. The Toyota dealership in Virginia Beach is owned by the same person who owns the Lexus dealership, therefore the Toyota dealership's policy is " we don't service any Lexus vehicles ". So to service the " same " vehicles, Lexus owners must pay double what Toyota owners pay for the identical parts/service. Such as $1000-1200 for timing belt/water pump replacement service. The Toyota dealer charges about HALF for the SAME parts/labor!

Bowtie- Having spent my life in one form or another of automotive work it always distresses me to hear these kind of stories. The independent or dealer that treats their customers with respect and honesty (I can't stand it when my intelligence is insulted, not because of ego, but because how am I supposed to trust them once they've lied to me), will always prosper and have to turn work away. I would certainly look for a GOOD independent shop that specializes in Toyota/Lexus. I have done my own work my whole life (and my family's) so I don't have to worry about it. But we have several OUTSTANDING indie's in this area that can totally be trusted in all areas, and they do indeed thrive. Once they have a customer by word of mouth, they have a customer for life. They don't have to do any advertising.

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That's the "game" dealerships play, BOWTIE_3 ...and it stinks. All you said is pretty much why I would never buy a new vehicle nor go for service from the dealer. Over my years of car buying, I usually buy 5-plus year old vehicles with ~70K on the odo and search for vehicles with excellent service records/history... and I bet I've paid a fraction of repair costs of people who buy new and have work done at the dealership (and I don't have the hassle of fighting with "what's covered under warranty and what's not"). I also seek out highly-qualified indie repair shops and have been so much more pleased with the level of input, service, and clean/clear diagnostics & price estimates than I've ever had working with a dealer (although there are some good dealerships out there). I can easily afford a brand new vehicle, but why... unless a person wants the latest and greatest in cars, or wants an untouched new vehicle, I don't see the big draw. More reliability? After what I've learned of cars over the years, I think not.

blk on blk - I buy my vehicles new (have at least for the last 25 years or so), but having worked for dealers mostly for my career, I know how to buy 'em right and for the last 10 years or more have been able to consistently buy new for the same or less than the same vehicle used a year or two old. I only ever go for warrantee if it is a fairly sizable or major repair and take care of anything more minor on my own. I have been fortunate in having almost NO repair under warrantee on the vehicles I have purchased new. I have (against my better judgement) bought a factory extended warrantee on 2 of those vehicles and not used a SINGLE PENNYS WORTH of it on either the new car warrantee OR the extended warrantee! Don't think I'll waste any more money on extended warranty's, especially since the factory warranty's are as long as they are now.

Sadly, I agree with your assessment of the quality of work that you get today, and then when there is problem that they are obviously responsible for they look under every rock to find a way to blame you for it and escape financial responsibility. Disheartening and disgusting to say the least!

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Thanks for posting, Code58. I was hoping someone would give the positive aspects of buying new (beside just getting a new vehicle). I agree with you in that if one were to buy within a couple years of new, one can probably find a better deal (especially with all the incentives now) actually buying new. It also helps that you have the inside edge on buying new since you have worked for dealers and know your way around. After I read your post, and the more I thought about it, whether one buys new or used, it truly comes down to being fully informed, insightful, and knowledgeable about buying a vehicle and getting repairs done to ensure you get 'your money's worth'. With all the 'schtuff' that dealers and some indie shops pull, one has to be well informed, take charge, and be on the offensive when dealing with vehicle issues. It's the uninformed person who hasn't done their homework nor shopped around that gets taken for a ride.

For me, I've found that I'm always doing my homework and researching what needs to be done when it comes to vehicle repairs. It hasn't been until recently that I've found an indie shop that has gone above and beyond in service to the point that I actually feel comfortable just accepting what they say needs to be done and trusting their pricing is fair. That's a pretty rare thing, and it definitely keeps me bringing my business back to them (and referring them every chance I get).

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Thanks for posting, Code58. I was hoping someone would give the positive aspects of buying new (beside just getting a new vehicle). I agree with you in that if one were to buy within a couple years of new, one can probably find a better deal (especially with all the incentives now) actually buying new. It also helps that you have the inside edge on buying new since you have worked for dealers and know your way around. After I read your post, and the more I thought about it, whether one buys new or used, it truly comes down to being fully informed, insightful, and knowledgeable about buying a vehicle and getting repairs done to ensure you get 'your money's worth'. With all the 'schtuff' that dealers and some indie shops pull, one has to be well informed, take charge, and be on the offensive when dealing with vehicle issues. It's the uninformed person who hasn't done their homework nor shopped around that gets taken for a ride.

For me, I've found that I'm always doing my homework and researching what needs to be done when it comes to vehicle repairs. It hasn't been until recently that I've found an indie shop that has gone above and beyond in service to the point that I actually feel comfortable just accepting what they say needs to be done and trusting their pricing is fair. That's a pretty rare thing, and it definitely keeps me bringing my business back to them (and referring them every chance I get).

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Thanks for posting, Code58. I was hoping someone would give the positive aspects of buying new (beside just getting a new vehicle). I agree with you in that if one were to buy within a couple years of new, one can probably find a better deal (especially with all the incentives now) actually buying new. It also helps that you have the inside edge on buying new since you have worked for dealers and know your way around. After I read your post, and the more I thought about it, whether one buys new or used, it truly comes down to being fully informed, insightful, and knowledgeable about buying a vehicle and getting repairs done to ensure you get 'your money's worth'. With all the 'schtuff' that dealers and some indie shops pull, one has to be well informed, take charge, and be on the offensive when dealing with vehicle issues. It's the uninformed person who hasn't done their homework nor shopped around that gets taken for a ride.

For me, I've found that I'm always doing my homework and researching what needs to be done when it comes to vehicle repairs. It hasn't been until recently that I've found an indie shop that has gone above and beyond in service to the point that I actually feel comfortable just accepting what they say needs to be done and trusting their pricing is fair. That's a pretty rare thing, and it definitely keeps me bringing my business back to them (and referring them every chance I get).

blk on blk- About 6 mo. ago my Dil's brother asked about getting a used mini truck for his son. I told him don't think used, think new, I'll help you get a better deal new than you can get used. I located them 2 '08 Ranger PU's, XLT quite well equipped w/4cyl. Listed at $19,305. each and were fresh stock. Such a good deal at $11,488. that both father and son bought them. His daughter bought a used '88 olds and within 1 month dumped $2000. into it in addition to what she paid, and then it blew up! I said think new, not used, you need something dependable. I found her a fresh stock, '09 Ford Fusion very well equipped. Listed for $20,635. and she got it for $13,000. It's a buyers market like never in my lifetime. These are real deals, and I could have gotten even better if his daughter could have waited a little but she needed a car then. You can't get those kind of deals on everything but you understand why I said think new, not used.

Every local has a good indie somewhere, you just have to find them. I much prefer indies that specialize in one brand, not all brands.

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Wow... those are some serious deals!! I wonder how enticing of a deal a person can get on a vehicle that isn't such a commodity car? I mean, Rangers and Fusions are not exactly coveted vehicles (great clean & functional transportation, though). Plus, with them being domestic vehicles, that changes things on pricing... domestic vehicle's prices have plummeted. I wonder what kind of a deal one could get on something a little more prized, like an Acura MDX, or Murano, or RX? (I recently helped my sister find a good deal on a used Acura MDX. I missed out on 5 vehicles because I couldn't call them fast enough when they were first listed. We finally found one, but there was no amazing deal to be had on one of those, new or used) Still, those are amazing deals you noted! My wife and I are looking to replace her ES300 with some sort of SUV/Crossover. She really wants a Murano, but we saw an amazing deal on a new Ford Escape. The only problem is she said, "I don't like those... at all."

As for the purchase of the '88 Olds... awww, C'mon! You're killin' me here with that example. A domestic car in the height of the ultra-poor quality era? She might as well of bought a Chrysler K car... those things just about came apart driving them off the lot, let alone 20 years later!! I wouldn't have touched that car she bought... wouldn't even take one if someone gave it to me! She actually paid money for it? Or was it a gift? I'm believer in buying used, but buying the right used... an old late-80's Olds isn't the right car.

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Wow... those are some serious deals!! I wonder how enticing of a deal a person can get on a vehicle that isn't such a commodity car? I mean, Rangers and Fusions are not exactly coveted vehicles (great clean & functional transportation, though). Plus, with them being domestic vehicles, that changes things on pricing... domestic vehicle's prices have plummeted. I wonder what kind of a deal one could get on something a little more prized, like an Acura MDX, or Murano, or RX? (I recently helped my sister find a good deal on a used Acura MDX. I missed out on 5 vehicles because I couldn't call them fast enough when they were first listed. We finally found one, but there was no amazing deal to be had on one of those, new or used) Still, those are amazing deals you noted! My wife and I are looking to replace her ES300 with some sort of SUV/Crossover. She really wants a Murano, but we saw an amazing deal on a new Ford Escape. The only problem is she said, "I don't like those... at all."

As for the purchase of the '88 Olds... awww, C'mon! You're killin' me here with that example. A domestic car in the height of the ultra-poor quality era? She might as well of bought a Chrysler K car... those things just about came apart driving them off the lot, let alone 20 years later!! I wouldn't have touched that car she bought... wouldn't even take one if someone gave it to me! She actually paid money for it? Or was it a gift? I'm believer in buying used, but buying the right used... an old late-80's Olds isn't the right car.

I guess you'll end up doing what I did: try out a lot of cars/SUVs, decide which one(s) you can live with (both in attractiveness and repair history/reliability), then try to get the best deal for one of those. At this point in time, and depending on your money situation, buying new with a (very) large discount may make financial sense for some vehicules. In the SUV field, there are some super deals on new / one year old (2008) models. The dealers know that they have a short time only to get rid of them beofre they become unsaleable, and they 'give' easily. Since one has to live with the car/SUV for awhile, it makes sense to base the decision on liking the car/SUV

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Yeah, I think that's where we'll net out. We're looking to buy a new house in the near future and I'm deciding between paying cash for a newer vehicle or financing it and keep the cash for a bigger down on the house. Ah, decisions decisions.

If I remember right, Pauljcl, you said you got something like 10% off list for your latest purchase. Code58 is getting nearly a solid 40% off domestic commodity vehicles. Somewhere in there in the mix is the sweet-spot on pricing vs. what you get.

One thing I wanted to note was the reliability/history aspect. One thing I'm leery of with new vehicles is buying new when there has been some unique change to the vehicle, such as the CVT in the Murano. Buying new with an introduced technology makes the buyer the Guinea pig consumer to see how the product actually fares in the real world. It's nice to see at least a few years of proven durability before putting something different in the garage.

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Wow... those are some serious deals!! I wonder how enticing of a deal a person can get on a vehicle that isn't such a commodity car? I mean, Rangers and Fusions are not exactly coveted vehicles (great clean & functional transportation, though). Plus, with them being domestic vehicles, that changes things on pricing... domestic vehicle's prices have plummeted. I wonder what kind of a deal one could get on something a little more prized, like an Acura MDX, or Murano, or RX? (I recently helped my sister find a good deal on a used Acura MDX. I missed out on 5 vehicles because I couldn't call them fast enough when they were first listed. We finally found one, but there was no amazing deal to be had on one of those, new or used) Still, those are amazing deals you noted! My wife and I are looking to replace her ES300 with some sort of SUV/Crossover. She really wants a Murano, but we saw an amazing deal on a new Ford Escape. The only problem is she said, "I don't like those... at all."

As for the purchase of the '88 Olds... awww, C'mon! You're killin' me here with that example. A domestic car in the height of the ultra-poor quality era? She might as well of bought a Chrysler K car... those things just about came apart driving them off the lot, let alone 20 years later!! I wouldn't have touched that car she bought... wouldn't even take one if someone gave it to me! She actually paid money for it? Or was it a gift? I'm believer in buying used, but buying the right used... an old late-80's Olds isn't the right car.

blk on blk- The Olds was something she bought on recommendation of a mechanic friend (not me for sure, your assessment was dead on) because it was owned by an old lady and had very low miles. Both kids are college students and needed DEPENDABLE transportation! I recommended the Ranger (he wanted to buy a used V-6 S-10) in a 4cyl. because they are within about 3 HP of the 3L V-6 now that they use the all aluminum twin overhead cam engine. And though they aren't glamorous, they have a reputation for being bullet proof. They have been very happy with them. As far as the Fusion, his sister was thinking something smaller and cheaper but when she realized she could get that much car for that little she was ecstatic . Has the same 4 cyl. as the trucks and it gets up and moves and is very well loaded with full power & auto. I recommended that because I have never read anything bad about them since they came out and Edmunds gives them a 10 in reliability. Maybe not glamorous but good solid reliable transportation at an incredible price. That's what they needed and they were both thinking used. As far as the deals, I almost always go for "advertised specials". There was a day when those were old stock, purple with pink polka dots. NO MORE! they put the kind of stuff that people want to buy with the equipment you want. The 2 trucks were XLT Super cabs with Auto, P/S,P/B, Air, Am/Fm, Cd,bed liner, jump seat, P/L, one red and one white, just what they wanted and both with build dates 2 months old. The Fusion was brand new stock and a medium silver gray, just what she wanted and full power and auto. A lot of the dealers put up to 5 on at specials like this and generally never an oddball. I don't always buy on special, but I ALWAYS BUY RIGHT and NEVER buy what I wouldn't at full price. Probably a lot of areas of the country that you can't get those deals and probably not often on Luxury cars. Although my son and DIL bought a new Suburban last July (new stock also) that listed for over $52,000. for $39,xxx+ and that was before the bottom dropped out.

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