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Advice For New 96 Es300 Owner


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Before I say anything, I spent the last 2-3 hours sifting through this entire forum to look through all the topics. :D :blink: I saw a lot of topics, but not very many problems for the 96 models of ES300s. I guess no news is good news...

I've recently won a bid on a 1996 Lexus ES 300. There are no service records, 119635 miles on the car, and sold at $5200 and change.

According to the used car dealer, a timing belt has been changed, but he isn't sure at what mileage. >< He could just be saying this to make me feel comfortable. I called the Lexus dealership and they quoted a price of $1500 for a "60 point" (includes timing belt, flushing fluids, etc). If there's one thing I learned from reading all those topics, I'm also going to give a Toyota dealership a call and see if they do the same work.

My question to the experts is, what should I be looking/checking for, when I go and inspect this car. Couple of things is to check the shocks, brakes (sputtering), error codes on the hvac, the speedometor light, oil fluid, brake fluid, etc. I'm not going to hand the money for the car if it's broke. Can you guys give me some more stuff for a checklist?

For reference: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAP...item=2453977981

Thanks for all your help in advance and patience for a first time owner of a car.

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hmm, kind of light on the details...

make sure you get some documentation on when stuff was done. if he doesn't have the docs, I would be weary.

btw, you don't have to do a 60 point inspection at the lexus dealer. much of that stuff can be easily done on your own.

try and get the service manual (2 vol. set) off ebay and go through the 100k mi checklist on your own. there are a lot of things that are pretty easy to do. Just get the garage to do the things that you can't do or don't feel comfortable doing.

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It's funny you should say that as I was trying to find a set of service manuals for this car. I've asked the dealer about it and he informed me that he might have them available. Unfortunately for eBay, all the service manuals are on a "convenient" CD in my year and make. I know that the 92-96 ES' are essentially the same.

For example, would something like this work for me? Does anybody have any experience on the quality of those CD service manuals?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAP...item=2455731284

I've also read that you can get an owner's manual from lexus upon registration of the vehicle into their database.

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yes, you would be fine with a set of 94 manuals. the es300 changed little from 94-96

I have a 92, which I believe does not have an aluminum block like the 94-96 ones in that body style.

I got one of the cd's off ebay for a 92 es and find it only marginally useful. most of it is not structured around maintenance...it seems to be a lot of specifications and so forth.

I would go with the actual service manuals rather than the cd's. I think you will find them way more useful.

120 bucks, but that is probably less than having a lexus dealer even glance sideways at your car :lol:

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Before I say anything, I spent the last 2-3 hours sifting through this entire forum to look through all the topics. :D :blink: I saw a lot of topics, but not very many problems for the 96 models of ES300s. I guess no news is good news...

I've recently won a bid on a 1996 Lexus ES 300. There are no service records, 119635 miles on the car, and sold at $5200 and change.

According to the used car dealer, a timing belt has been changed, but he isn't sure at what mileage. >< He could just be saying this to make me feel comfortable. I called the Lexus dealership and they quoted a price of $1500 for a "60 point" (includes timing belt, flushing fluids, etc). If there's one thing I learned from reading all those topics, I'm also going to give a Toyota dealership a call and see if they do the same work.

My question to the experts is, what should I be looking/checking for, when I go and inspect this car. Couple of things is to check the shocks, brakes (sputtering), error codes on the hvac, the speedometor light, oil fluid, brake fluid, etc. I'm not going to hand the money for the car if it's broke. Can you guys give me some more stuff for a checklist?

For reference: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAP...item=2453977981

Thanks for all your help in advance and patience for a first time owner of a car.

Some other things you might want to check out. Make sure the oil was changed regularly. I just bought a 96 ES300 and it started smoking when it started up. They pulled the head cover off and there was sludge all inside as thick as molassis. Couldn't find that by just changing the oil (which they did previously), you have to get inside and see it. Like yours, there were no service records that the dealership could pull up on their database. Worse yet, this car only has 55,000 miles. Also, if you ever get a Check Engine light and they determine it is the Charcoal cannister, there is a new EPA recall out that the 95-96 falls under (within a certain VIN number) that will allow them to replace it at no charge. That will save you about 450.00 (if Lexus performs the work).

Best of luck with your "new" car. :)

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Take the VIN # to any Lexus dealership and they can pull the maintenance history. That will let you know what services were done at any Lexus or Toyota dealer.

One thing that concerns me is those wheels. Those are SC400 wheels, typically these wheels have offset problems when installed on the ES because the ES is FWD, and the SC is RWD. Sometimes it requires the use of spacers. I would pull a wheel off and look, if they've been using spacers than there could be premature wear on the hub and suspension components.

The car looks to be in okay shape in the pictures, the paint is a little rough...

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Before I say anything, I spent the last 2-3 hours sifting through this entire forum to look through all the topics.  :D  :blink:  I saw a lot of topics, but not very many problems for the 96 models of ES300s.  I guess no news is good news...

I've recently won a bid on a 1996 Lexus ES 300.  There are no service records, 119635 miles on the car, and sold at $5200 and change. 

According to the used car dealer, a timing belt has been changed, but he isn't sure at what mileage. ><  He could just be saying this to make me feel comfortable.  I called the Lexus dealership and they quoted a price of $1500 for a "60 point" (includes timing belt, flushing fluids, etc).  If there's one thing I learned from reading all those topics, I'm also going to give a Toyota dealership a call and see if they do the same work.

My question to the experts is, what should I be looking/checking for, when I go and inspect this car.  Couple of things is to check the shocks, brakes (sputtering), error codes on the hvac, the speedometor light, oil fluid, brake fluid, etc.  I'm not going to hand the money for the car if it's broke.  Can you guys give me some more stuff for a checklist?

For reference: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAP...item=2453977981

Thanks for all your help in advance and patience for a first time owner of a car.

Some other things you might want to check out. Make sure the oil was changed regularly. I just bought a 96 ES300 and it started smoking when it started up. They pulled the head cover off and there was sludge all inside as thick as molassis. Couldn't find that by just changing the oil (which they did previously), you have to get inside and see it. Like yours, there were no service records that the dealership could pull up on their database. Worse yet, this car only has 55,000 miles. Also, if you ever get a Check Engine light and they determine it is the Charcoal cannister, there is a new EPA recall out that the 95-96 falls under (within a certain VIN number) that will allow them to replace it at no charge. That will save you about 450.00 (if Lexus performs the work).

Best of luck with your "new" car. :)

I was doing some reading and research and found what you said to be true (http://www.autosafety.org/article.php?scid=&did=566) with most all lexus and toyota engines.

Since you actually experienced that problem, you might want to sign your name on the petition here: http://www.petitiononline.com/TMC2003/petition.html and make your voice heard if it is engine failure.

Is there a way for me to pull the head cover off and quickly check for sludge (what does sludge look like anyway?). Thanks for warning me about all of this.

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Take the VIN # to any Lexus dealership and they can pull the maintenance history. That will let you know what services were done at any Lexus or Toyota dealer.

One thing that concerns me is those wheels. Those are SC400 wheels, typically these wheels have offset problems when installed on the ES because the ES is FWD, and the SC is RWD. Sometimes it requires the use of spacers. I would pull a wheel off and look, if they've been using spacers than there could be premature wear on the hub and suspension components.

The car looks to be in okay shape in the pictures, the paint is a little rough...

I'm sorry to say, but as a first time owner of a car, I have no idea how to check the spacers and indicate premature wear on the hub/suspension! :(

I was looking over the pictures again and the one with the tire seems to have a bit of rust on it, shouldn't I be concerned about that as well?

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do a search on "engine oil sludge" here and on google. There is a thread (I forget where) that shows some incredible pictures of oil sludge. I believe it was on an RX, but the engine is the same.

Basically it looks like really thick molasses caked into every nook, cranny can cavity.

steviej

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Take the VIN # to any Lexus dealership and they can pull the maintenance history. That will let you know what services were done at any Lexus or Toyota dealer.

One thing that concerns me is those wheels. Those are SC400 wheels, typically these wheels have offset problems when installed on the ES because the ES is FWD, and the SC is RWD. Sometimes it requires the use of spacers. I would pull a wheel off and look, if they've been using spacers than there could be premature wear on the hub and suspension components.

The car looks to be in okay shape in the pictures, the paint is a little rough...

I'm sorry to say, but as a first time owner of a car, I have no idea how to check the spacers and indicate premature wear on the hub/suspension! :(

I was looking over the pictures again and the one with the tire seems to have a bit of rust on it, shouldn't I be concerned about that as well?

If you pull off one of the wheels the spacer will be obvious, its like a doughnut installed over the standard hub seat.

Actually, I'd borrow the car and take it to a mechanic of your choosing first and just let him check it completely out.

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If you pull off one of the wheels the spacer will be obvious, its like a doughnut installed over the standard hub seat.

Actually, I'd borrow the car and take it to a mechanic of your choosing first and just let him check it completely out.

That's the thing, I'm not sure I can do that since I already hold the winning bid and the sale is AS-IS Final. In the beginning, I thought "ok cool, lexus = toyota luxury, should be very reliable." The more I read, the more this is becoming a pain in the butt honestly. :(

And with that, maybe it's fitting to say "ignorance is bliss" at least until your timing belt comes off or tranny eats 3 quarts of oil in 300 miles or has molassis-like goo inside. :D

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Christmas day saw a 94 ES dropped in my driveway, red bow and everything. 125K miles on it. Lived in Virginia all its life, then it came here.

A week and a half later we get our first cold snap (30 degrees). Transmission fails.

Aamco's diagnosis: just general "not been taken care of". They rebuilt it; even the electronic valve assembly needed replacing. (The giver of this particular Christmas gift paid for it, bless his heart.)

I go back over the maintenance history of the car, and find that for the last two years of its life it didn't go to the Lexus dealer like before; no, it went to the corner Shell station. Twice they did a "complete transmission fluid change" complete with some sort of additive "for longer life". I'm pretty sure Goober just pulled whatever red stuff he had off the shelf and dumped it in, then threw in some Motor Honey for good luck. Either that, or they never touched it but still charged the $35.

Whatever. Now it's great. Man, what a strong motor.

Anyway, just a data point regarding 120K mile ES 300s.

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Well if its as-is, then its not gonna make much of a difference ;)

don't remind me... i'm not sure whether to laugh or cry reading what you just wrote. :-/

i'm going to call the local toyota dealship/shop and check the VIN number as advised above and hope he can tell me some stuff. i'm hoping toyota people are nicer to deal with than lexus people.

and there's supposedly a 'limited 1month/1000mi warranty' as per eBay's listing. of course, i take that with a grain of salt.

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Christmas day saw a 94 ES dropped in my driveway, red bow and everything. 125K miles on it. Lived in Virginia all its life, then it came here.

A week and a half later we get our first cold snap (30 degrees). Transmission fails.

Aamco's diagnosis: just general "not been taken care of". They rebuilt it; even the electronic valve assembly needed replacing. (The giver of this particular Christmas gift paid for it, bless his heart.)

I go back over the maintenance history of the car, and find that for the last two years of its life it didn't go to the Lexus dealer like before; no, it went to the corner Shell station. Twice they did a "complete transmission fluid change" complete with some sort of additive "for longer life". I'm pretty sure Goober just pulled whatever red stuff he had off the shelf and dumped it in, then threw in some Motor Honey for good luck. Either that, or they never touched it but still charged the $35.

Whatever. Now it's great. Man, what a strong motor.

Anyway, just a data point regarding 120K mile ES 300s.

thanks for chiming in and giving me something to reference against.

i wasn't aware that amaco is trustworthy in doing a rebuild of the tranny, first of all. can you inform me as to how much this entire process cost? (i'm aiming for worse case scenario).

if what you say is true, i'm going to be in deep :censored: because nyc dips into sub 30 degree temperatures easily. speaking of which, did your engine have that oil sludge problem mentioned above as well?

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Other way around, Lexus people are always nicer, thats what being better paid and having the fear of God put into you about irritating customers does to you lol.

You're going to have to call a Lexus dealer to pull the computer history, I dont think Toyota has access to it.

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Other way around, Lexus people are always nicer, thats what being better paid and having the fear of God put into you about irritating customers does to you lol.

You're going to have to call a Lexus dealer to pull the computer history, I dont think Toyota has access to it.

i might have to agree with you on that as i got off the phone with the toyota shop and they sound like they are busy busy busy there. maybe it's because it's a monday, i'll give the lexus shop a ring.

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gah! just called the lexus shop and they informed me that (1) they cannot give that information over the phone and (2) they need to see the registration as well.

so it looks like i'm back to the drawing board as to finding out some history about the car before the actual purchase.

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gah! just called the lexus shop and they informed me that (1) they cannot give that information over the phone and (2) they need to see the registration as well.

Um, no lol. Try another Lexus dealer they're just being difficult.

Try stopping in person...

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gah!  just called the lexus shop and they informed me that (1) they cannot give that information over the phone and (2) they need to see the registration as well.

Um, no lol. Try another Lexus dealer they're just being difficult.

Try stopping in person...

that's the nearest lexus dealer... not sure where else i can stop in.

i guess it's time to call some other lexus dealers... what else can i say...

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Congrats on the car, but:

PULL THOSE SC WHEELS OFF RIGHT AWAY!!!!!

The offset is +50mm and will rub right through your rear struts and cause further suspension damage.

i wonder how you guys can tell they are SC wheels or ES wheels or what not. so at the minimum, i'm going to have to buy new wheels before i drive this car home (since i live about maybe 20 miles away). from the description of the listing, it seems that those wheels might have been there for some time as well. how would i go about checking for damage? is the damage only on the rear struts (are there frontal ones)?

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96's run 15"x6" wheels with usually p205 60's

if you are looking for stock wheels, there are always a pile of them on ebay as people dump the stock wheels to get aftermarket wheels.

see previous threads about using GS or IS wheels. there can be suspension/strut problems if you use a wheel with a different offset.

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