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youngdoog

Radio Code-just Another Lexus Money Maker?

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I went to the only Lexus dealer here in Las Vegas, and got a partial vehicle history for my 94 LS400 with 100K miles. Being pro-active, I asked for the radio code for the Pioneer unit-I had already checked that there is an SEC code installed in the radio. The response was "Bring it in-We have to get to the back of the radio." Sounds like a lot of work to me-and labor hours.

So the question is-Is this true? Do I have to pay the money-grubbers to get the code-or should they have it already? Or can they tell the code with a quick computer diagnosis? While I don't expect to lose power in the car, I noticed that, while I easily replaced a right side fog light bulb, that the left side fog light is tight behind the battery, and I think I would need to remove the battery to replace the bulb. As a result, I even bought a 12v plug-in thingy to keep power to the radio/computer if I have to remove the battery. But I'm still screwed if the battery simply goes dead in the night.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

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The dealer doesn't have the code for the radio. It is set by the owner. If your car is pre-owned, the previous owner should have given it to you. You should consult your manual regarding how that feature works.

The right side foglight bulb can easily be replaced. There are only three screws you need to open, the two on top and the one on the side. Once you open up these screws, pull the foglight out by holding to the lower part and pulling. Again, your manual shows how you can do this. If you don't have a manual, get one for free by registering at Lexus.com.

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What happens if you didn't get it from the old owner? The Nakimici in mine has problems and I was thinking of replacing it. This could be another reason to do it.

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If you didn't get it from the old owner your most likely gonna have to take it to the dealer.

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I didn't get the code from the owner, because I bought it at a used car dealer. They probably got it third hand from a Lexus dealer-no way to know.

It's still a beautiful car-One owner who lived in the desert here. So no rust, salt, corrosion of any kind. Looks brand new. I'm just trying to anticipate problems-like the power steering fluid leak. Thought !Removed! were smarter than that-Maybe they went to General Motors '71 Chevy Vega University for awhile. Talk about bad....

Again, thanks.

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The radio head unit is easy to remove so I doubt that the price would be all that big at the dealer. I've done it several times on both a 90 and 00 LS and could probably remove and reinstall the radio head unit, console wood, ashtray and center vent in less than 15 minutes. Instructions for 90-94 are at

http://www.carstereohelp.com/stereoremovalLexusLS400str.htm

At some point Lexus stopped putting instructions in owners manuals on how to replace remove the headlight units and replace all the bulbs in the car -- I don't know if the 94 owners manual still has the instructions. The owners manual for my 00 LS says to take the car to a dealer whenever a bulb burns out. Yeah, right.

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Thank you for that great attachment showing how to remove the radio. I wish all repair descriptions were so clear.

But sadly, removing the radio doesn't answer the basic question-If my dealer says they need to get into the "back of the radio", what do they do then? It's obvious that, yes, they are concerned about radio theft, but it's also true that they stand to make money by charging honest second hand owners to re-code a radio if power is lost. And we know that second and third hand owners stand a better chance of losing power than an original owner. Right?

I went to the dealer with the title. Asked to know my code. I can't put in a new code without knowing the code that is already in the radio. Was told they won't tell me without getting paid. So if my car goes dead in the night, I can fix what went wrong-and then pay Lexus to re-code the radio. Radio is dead. No choice. Can't believe all of the expert mechanics on this forum think this is OK.

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It is not the dealers fault that you don't have the security code. Nor is it the dealers fault that they have to remove the radio to reset the code. That is just the way it is and they can't be expected to do it for free. Like I said, the radio is quick and easy to remove so it should be relatively inexpensive.

I've had quite a few $1,000 plus repair/service bills in my 14 years of Lexus ownership. If spending $100 to get the radio code reset is a big issue, then you may be in for a shock when it comes to maintaining an LS.

Don't mean to be harsh but these cars can be very expensive to maintain if you don't have the skills or time to do everything yourself.

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Aha. the answer. You think I'm being so cheap wanting to know how to reset the radio code.

However, I think you're being foolish accepting the fact that you might have to pay to reset the radio due to an unforeseen power outage.

You see, I know that resetting a radio code is not equal in cost to replacing a power steering pump-usually along with a new alternator. Which is a burden many of us used Lexus owners have to face. But I do think that we need to try and prevent any malfunctions and subsequent additional costs which can be prevented-or at least mitigated with a used car.

No, your response is sadly typical of those who are found at the side of the road with a loss of steering-and maybe a malfunctioning alternator. Scratching their heads. Gee, I wasn't pro-active enough to prevent this dilemma.

Hope your radio works while you're waiting for the tow truck. Doubt it. Toss an extra hundred bucks or so in the pot at your local dealer, while you're waiting for the bill, Mr. Moneybags. It isn't a question of "Skills or Time", it's a matter of common sense. Must have been an expensive 14 years.

I did like the radio removal instructions, however. Thanks.

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I think youngdoog is missing my point. I have for a great many years been in a business closely tied to the franchised auto dealer industry. From this and other life experiences, I am painfully aware of how difficult and competitive the auto dealer business is. Have you ever called on a dealership and found out that it went bankrupt just before you got there? I have. You may think dealerships are a "gravy train" business but it is not. I have lots of friends and relatives in the dealer and repair shop business. None of them can afford to operate as charities. The dealer mechanics who work on our cars are just like you and me. They want to be paid a decent salary and to get health care and other benefits. They want to be paid for removing your radio and resetting your security code. The cost of maintaining a 94 LS is similar to the cost of maintaining a 2004 LS. Adjusted for inflation, the new cost of a 94 LS and a 2004 LS are not very different. And of course, the cost of owning a 94 LS is a lot higher than the cost of owning a 2004 LS since a 2004 LS is under warranty. And you should be aware that the medium annual income of a 2004 LS purchaser is over $175,000. If you don't like these figures, then don't whine about the cost of owning an LS. As a frugal LS owner I have learned to perform much of the maintenance myself. And I drove cheap Hondas and Volkswagens and "paid a lot of dues" until I got to a fairly advanced age and only started to buy expensive cars when I could afford to properly maintain them. -- An "Olddog".

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Your response was appreciated. Sad, however, since it seems you're assuming that you are addressing a beer belly construction/truck driver type. Wrong, Mr. Thurston Howell.

But that's OK. If you'd rather waste your money believing whatever the dealer tells you, then more power to you. It's obvious that you think gaining a little wealth equates to an immediate increase in intelligence. I don't. Happily shelling out a grand or two for repairs doesn't make you smart-or smarter-just lighter in the wallet. Although you might impress the chicks?

By the way, have you read that new car dealers now make the bulk of their profits on repairs-not new car sales? Has something to do with competition. With your attitude, I imagine the red carpet rolls out when you're spotted in the parking lot. Lucky guy. Your empathy for auto dealers is admirable, if misplaced. Their tawdry reputation is based on fact, not hard times.

Enough of this. Does anyone else know what to do after removing the radio, in order to reset the code? Thanks.

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Okay, this arguement is going to stop right now.

Youngdoog:

Here's a dumb question; do you need to re-code your stereo? I have my doubts if many of us have done this ourselves--no need to since most of our stereos are not stolen, and thus don't need to be reset. If you do, I know of a couple of places that can do it for you (sorry, small fee will be charged, not $100).

If you don't have to, why are you bothering the dealers?

After you remove the radio, you have to flash it with a code reader. It removes the previous code, and it switches to the next code. There is a procedure to return the unit back into the car. This is only for the Nakamichi system, but the Pioneer should be a plug and play unit.

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Oh, yes I am aware of the fact new car dealers make the bulk of their profits from the service Department, and not as much from new vehicle sales. Although, Toyota is currently ranked as the # 2 Auto- seller in North America right after GM, the above stated fact will change once again to new car sales.

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Not to beat this subject to death, but when I cleaned the throttle body today, I did NOT disconnect the battery-as recommended by the instructions. Can you imagine how infuriated upon completion I would have been to have a smooth running car-smooth enough to drive the 25 miles to the Lexus dealer to have the radio code reprogrammed? Of course, some of us don't worry about such petty things.....

I did cover the battery with a wood protective cover-and blew fresh air on it. I may be cheap-but not totally stupid.

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I agree with you youngdog. I think the whole thing is a lot of bull. I bought a toyota because they are easy to maintain. But this whole thing with the code convinces me to get and aftermarket stereo and never to to the dealer.

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The code for your radio is likely the last three digits of your vin number.

I had the "exciting" trip to a Lexus service department and the insuing argument with the service manager who insisted that it was a huge deal for them to input my code. They eventually did it (twice, for free, they would not show me how to input it myself the first time...). Now I know the sequence of entering the code so no more annoying trips to a dealer.

BTW - this car has been basically free to own so far ('93 LS). I have replaced the brakes (inexpensive but effective slotted/drilled rotors), a few bulbs, changed the oil and - yep - that's it. Now at 190Kms! I love it!

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