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Micah.Berry

Looking For A New-To-Me Ls

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I’ve been a lurker for some time, and now it’s time to introduce myself. I'm Micah, and I’ve wanted an LS for a long time, and have finally saved a little money to purchase one. I’m starting to seriously search for a 98 – 00 LS. Given my budget, most of the cars that I’ve seen have been in the 110 to 135k mile range, which isn’t a bad thing as I’ve read from these forums. I’m located in NW Arkansas, and there’s not a lot of selection of LS’s around here. I’m prepared to travel to pick up the car. Here’s what I know to look for thus far:

1. TB/WP replacement. Call a dealer willing to look up the service records by VIN.

2. Pay attention to suspension parts

3. Have some one else start the car, stand at the back and see if the exhaust blows white or black puffs of smoke on start up. Wipe the inside of the exhaust pipe to see if the residue is dark black, indicating oil consumption

4. Get underneath the car and look for leaks at the oil pan, transmission housing, and power steering pumps.

5. Check to see that the hoses aren’t cracked or hard to flex.

6. Car should idle dead smooth around 750 to 800 (I think)

7. On a test drive, listen for any obvious clunks going over bumps (indicating worn control arms or bushings) and odd vibrations

8. Acceleration should be smooth and strong.

9. Shifting should be smooth under all acceleration loads.

What am I missing that would cause me to hop back in a taxi and head to the airport?

Things I don’t know:

1. Do heated seats affect the suppleness of the leather? I would think so in a 12 year old car.

2. I’m not in a rush to buy any old car, albeit an LS. Thus, are there any recommendations on sellers/dealers?

3. I know that the radio display is an inexpensive fix with a forum member here, so that’s not a deal breaker. I’m keeping my eye peeled for something pristine, but what are really easy fix-its that I can look over when examining a potential car?

4. Most of the cars that I’ve seen online have engines that have been cleaned. I do not do this with my cars as I had a bad experience getting water where it shouldn’t have been. Do most of you wash your engines? Is this something that I should shy away from when looking at cars?

5. What pertinent questions would you ask the seller?

I currently drive a 90 Miata. It handles incredibly after a few modifications; however, I think I am ready for something a lot more smooth, far more comfortable, and something my family can fit into. Thanks for reading this long first post!! :)

Micah

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Look for maintenance records, maintenance records and maintenance records. And check that every single accessory and function works correctly. Check for bent and scratch wheels, nicks and dings, signs of poorly repaired body damage.

Become familiar with the options and packages that were available so you buy a car equipped like you want -- it's vitually impossible to retrofit options. Here is a link to the specs for a 2000 LS400 -- overtype the years to see specs for other model years: http://www.lexus.com/contact/pdf/2000/2000LSspecs.pdf

IMO, you are better off trying to buy from a private owner than a dealer. I know of several LS owners, like me, who bought their cars new, maintained them perfectly and then sold them privately at substantially less that what they would have cost used from a car dealer.

Seat heaters have zero effect on leather condition -- they don't get all that hot. I love the seat heaters in my 2000 LS400 and will likely not buy another vehicle without them.

I have always washed engine compartments every few months and have never had a problem from doing so. In the days of carburators and distributors I covered sensitive parts with plastic bags but it's not much of an issue with fuel injected cars of the past twenty years -- just don't get carried away.

Look for a car that has had normal suspension wear issues addressed. The front strut rods on a 98-00 LS have to be replaced every 75,000 miles or so but it's no biggie - about $500 if you have a shop do it. Ball joints and control arms last much longer but their replacement isn't all that expensive.

A 98-00 LS with 110 to 135k miles can be in wonderful shape if it has been cared for and horrible condition if it hasn't. My 2000 LS seems like new at 120K miles and I will likely drive it past the 183,500 miles I drove the 90 LS that I had for 13+ years.

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Get a carfax check on the vehicle. It may cost you a small amount or a dealer may do it for free. It is amazing how many of these cars have been in accidents. :whistles:

If you find a car at a dealer with service bays, do no hesitate to ask them to put it up on a lift and do a comfortable and thorough look-see. They *should* be happy to oblige.

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Get a carfax check on the vehicle. It may cost you a small amount or a dealer may do it for free. It is amazing how many of these cars have been in accidents. :whistles:

If you find a car at a dealer with service bays, do no hesitate to ask them to put it up on a lift and do a comfortable and thorough look-see. They *should* be happy to oblige.

Thanks Jim and Landar! Jim, that's great advice... I figure that I will probably print this thread and take it with me. I was originally a little leery of purchasing from a private seller, especially considering that I will probably have to travel a ways to get to the seller. I will certainly reconsider, and include private sellers in my searching.

Landar, I saw your pictures... So sorry for your loss! Also, thanks for the tip on Carfax and getting the car on a lift. I was figuring I'd need to bring a towel, and prepare to scoot around on the ground! A lift would make things easier! :blushing:

Micah

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My advise is not to rush into anything.

There are incredible deals to be had if you can wait for them to appear. I wanted a Lex for about three years before the right deal popped.

Save up more cash, keep your eyes and ears open and wait for it.

Patience!

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If you want the best deal you have to have cash ready and move fast you and thousands of others search for the cream-puffs.

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Some will disagree with me for this but save up for a 430, the amount of car you get jumping to the 430 is like going to a 460 from a 430. For a few more dollars you get much more automobile.I loved my earlier LS's but the jump to the 430 was amazing.

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A belated welcome to the LOC! Lots of good advice here. You will most likely find the best deal buying privately. However, you will be on your own with regards to any warranty. Complete maintenance documentation is always preferred. Carfax is a good start but often doesn't have the entire vehicle history. Be aware that some presenting themselves as "private" sellers are actually used car professionals often working without proper licences/permits as required by the state. This makes a thorough inspection all the more important. By all means look for the tell tale signs of previous accidents, flood damage, etc. However, both private sellers and dealers are very clever at hiding signs of body damage. A competent body shop will put it on a lift and tell you within minutes if the car has been cracked and where. Curbsiders are also clever at manipulating ownerships and reassembling writeoffs they've picked up from wreckers! Watch out for zipper cars. A zipper car is one that has been assembled from 2 previously totalled cars. All the more reason for a qualified inspection! Do some of it yourself. Such as lifting the carpets inside both the passenger area and the trunk. Look for pieces of broken glass behind the bumpers, spliced wiring in the engine bay, old fluids, etc. Here's an informative link to W5's investigation of the used car business in Canada:

http://www.ctv.ca/se...00306?hub=WFive

Both the suggestion to wait for the right car and the suggestion to be ready to move quickly when you find it are valid. It may take some time to find a car that meets all of your requirements, and there will be many that fall short. It depends on how long you want to search and what kind of compromises you're willing to make. On the otherhand, when you finally find one, don't hesitate to start dealing once you've done due diligence or someone may scoop her from under your nose. Good luck and happy hunting! :cheers:

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Some will disagree with me for this but save up for a 430, the amount of car you get jumping to the 430 is like going to a 460 from a 430. For a few more dollars you get much more automobile.I loved my earlier LS's but the jump to the 430 was amazing.

Within the LS430 years(2001-2006) is there any which may be more "desirable" over another? Or known problems in which to steer clear?

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A belated welcome to the LOC! Lots of good advice here. You will most likely find the best deal buying privately. However, you will be on your own with regards to any warranty. Complete maintenance documentation is always preferred. Carfax is a good start but often doesn't have the entire vehicle history. Be aware that some presenting themselves as "private" sellers are actually used car professionals often working without proper licences/permits as required by the state. This makes a thorough inspection all the more important. By all means look for the tell tale signs of previous accidents, flood damage, etc. However, both private sellers and dealers are very clever at hiding signs of body damage. A competent body shop will put it on a lift and tell you within minutes if the car has been cracked and where. Curbsiders are also clever at manipulating ownerships and reassembling writeoffs they've picked up from wreckers! Watch out for zipper cars. A zipper car is one that has been assembled from 2 previously totalled cars. All the more reason for a qualified inspection! Do some of it yourself. Such as lifting the carpets inside both the passenger area and the trunk. Look for pieces of broken glass behind the bumpers, spliced wiring in the engine bay, old fluids, etc. Here's an informative link to W5's investigation of the used car business in Canada:

http://www.ctv.ca/se...00306?hub=WFive

Both the suggestion to wait for the right car and the suggestion to be ready to move quickly when you find it are valid. It may take some time to find a car that meets all of your requirements, and there will be many that fall short. It depends on how long you want to search and what kind of compromises you're willing to make. On the otherhand, when you finally find one, don't hesitate to start dealing once you've done due diligence or someone may scoop her from under your nose. Good luck and happy hunting! :cheers:

Thanks again for the advice. CarFax helped me avoid a car that had been hit, with a side airbag that went off. Called an out-of-town Lexus dealer who stated that the car had no record of a 90k service. I'm guessing that the mileage that I'm looking for (100 to 130k), I'll probably have to factor a timing belt change. I'm not afraid to turn a wrench, but that job makes me shake my head...

Lex460, I would enjoy a 430 - in fact, I like the design of the interiors better (though I'm partial to the exterior design of the 98-00). My thought is that I would be looking at 430's with 170k miles, which gives me hesitation - even given that the car is a Lexus. Thus, the search for the previous model. I drive about 10k miles per year, so that's approximately 4 years or more of driving that I'm giving up by moving up to the 430. Don't know if that's the right way to look at it though.

Every one is right about being able to wait until the "right" car presents itself. I will have cash in hand when the car does present itself, but wow... Patience can be hard. I know that the benefits will far outweigh the costs in the end. I know that I am going to have to travel somewhere to get the car. A long distance purchase of this magnitude is new to me. I'm willing to do make the purchase, but as everyone has said, patience is paramount.

Thanks again for all the advice. I am continuing to search! :)

Micah

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Hello Micah and welcome to the Forum. If your budget will allow it I would start looking for a LS430 rather than the LS400. And I would look for the 2006 as I believe they had probably worked most if not all of the bugs out by then. Also as it was the last year of the LS430 it "may" IMHO be worth a bit more further down the line. All things being equal it will more than likely have substanially less mileage than the LS400 as well unless you find a garage queen. I haunted EBay and was never able to pull the trigger quite fast enough and always felt an undue amount of pressure about the whole transaction. Kind of like buying a proverbial pig in a poke. I decided I wanted to buy the Ultra so that made the search a little more lengthy. I bought mine after locating it on Cars.com. I bought it from a dealer and it was a CPO unit and had the remainder of the original warranty as well as the CPO warranty. Personally I'd rather buy from a reputable dealership. I feel as though the CPO could be worth its weight in gold if you ran into some repairs. Do your homework and take your time. Now is a great time to be looking. Good luck and let us know which one you wind up with.

Brett

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Thanks, Brett. I'm fairly certain my budget will not allow for an 06 model, unfortunately. I'm determined not to finance the car, so adding to my savings with a bank loan is not an option (though somewhat tempting). But I'm happy searching for a 400 while I will start saving for my next Lexus, which will be for my wife, who really likes the LX470. I've not put any research into those except for the occasional look to see where pricing falls.

My question for everyone related to the 430 versus 400 posts above is would any one look for a high mile LS430 (like 170k plus miles) over a low mile LS400 (again, in the 98 - 00 year model range). My thought is that the lower mileage LS400 would be the way to go, noting that it *is* an older car, thus fluids, belts, and hoses will probably need attention quickly. Wouldn't the same mechanical issues that plague all high mileage cars affect an LS430? I'm specifically thinking about suspension, maintenance oversights, electrical gremlins, and so on.

Thanks so much for everyone's help.

Micah

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Thanks, Brett. I'm fairly certain my budget will not allow for an 06 model, unfortunately. I'm determined not to finance the car, so adding to my savings with a bank loan is not an option (though somewhat tempting). But I'm happy searching for a 400 while I will start saving for my next Lexus, which will be for my wife, who really likes the LX470. I've not put any research into those except for the occasional look to see where pricing falls.

My question for everyone related to the 430 versus 400 posts above is would any one look for a high mile LS430 (like 170k plus miles) over a low mile LS400 (again, in the 98 - 00 year model range). My thought is that the lower mileage LS400 would be the way to go, noting that it *is* an older car, thus fluids, belts, and hoses will probably need attention quickly. Wouldn't the same mechanical issues that plague all high mileage cars affect an LS430? I'm specifically thinking about suspension, maintenance oversights, electrical gremlins, and so on.

Thanks so much for everyone's help.

Micah

I will drive my 95 LS "standard business only class" LOL till it cant go anymore - if you compare all the models, in my opinion the 95 & up LS400 models are the best "budget without financing" vehicles especially if you find one just around 100k - bought mine at 186K and changed the belt and fluids and as a mild/wild mechanic it was a piece of cake - (comparitavely much easier than changing a Honda V6 timing belt. also the 95 to 97 models are slightly lighter and have slightly better gas mileage than the rest of the LS's (if you believe Edmunds Database).

so anyways Happy Hunting and hope you land a good one!

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Some will disagree with me for this but save up for a 430, the amount of car you get jumping to the 430 is like going to a 460 from a 430. For a few more dollars you get much more automobile.I loved my earlier LS's but the jump to the 430 was amazing.

Within the LS430 years(2001-2006) is there any which may be more "desirable" over another? Or known problems in which to steer clear?

Now that I have had some time to drive my LS430, I have to say that it is a nicer ride than my 98 LS400. Feels more refined and tighter fitting all around. No noticeable throttle lag like the 98. I am wowed. Love the color. Changes with the light. Mystic. "Its an 'orse of a different color" :lol:

Although I like the lines on the 98-00 a little better, the 430 is growing on me.

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Some will disagree with me for this but save up for a 430, the amount of car you get jumping to the 430 is like going to a 460 from a 430. For a few more dollars you get much more automobile.I loved my earlier LS's but the jump to the 430 was amazing.

Within the LS430 years(2001-2006) is there any which may be more "desirable" over another? Or known problems in which to steer clear?

Now that I have had some time to drive my LS430, I have to say that it is a nicer ride than my 98 LS400. Feels more refined and tighter fitting all around. No noticeable throttle lag like the 98. I am wowed. Love the color. Changes with the light. Mystic. "Its an 'orse of a different color" :lol:

Although I like the lines on the 98-00 a little better, the 430 is growing on me.

now for my wife I have been trying my best to convince her to get an LS430, but she says they look like "old people" cars. she likes the Bodystyle of the new 460, but that purchase is many years down the road. she will just have to keep pushing the Honda till then!

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Quick question for anyone...

I've identified a 99 LS400 at a reasonably close Toyota dealer. Price quoted to me is $8900. That's within my budget, but the very top of my budget. The car has had its 90k and 100k service completed according to the delaer and is a no wreck car (at least according to CarFax). According to the pics, it looks good inside and out except for a few paint chips on the front air dam. Miles on it are 112k.

I really like that it has had the services completed. Is this a good price? Shoot me straight. I'm tempted to take it, and I need to decide somewhat quickly.

Thanks!

Micah

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Bought it. I pick it up in a week. Pictures to come!

Congrats!! I think that's a good price for a serviced non wrecked 99 - enjoy and post pics!!

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