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Bought A 99 Ls400 - Dealer Quoted $6300 In Maint/repairs - Should


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I could really use your advice guys. First LS400, and I'm not sure what I should do.

Monday, October 13th - I responded to a CL ad for a 1999 Lexus LS400 with 174,000 miles, advertised as well maintained and clean. We sent several emails back and forth, after which I was still interested. I found out they live 1.5 hours away, but that they were coming into town to trade the car in on their new Subaru the next day. I agreed to meet them at the Subaru dealership.

Tuesday, October 14th - I met them around 5pm to check it out and take it for an extended test drive. Overall, the car was quite clean. The interior was in great condition, and exterior was pretty decent. It seemed to run well, shift well, and everything seemed to work.

After the visual inspection and test drive, there were three things that needed to be addressed:

1. Tires / Alignment - It pulled hard to the right, and one of the front tires is at the cords. Once replaced, it would definitely need an alignment. The rear tires were fairly new.

2. Unknown Timing Belt / Water Pump History - There was no record of the TB/WP service being performed. Regardless, it was/is almost time for it again.

3. Mystery Noise - There was a very faint sound that sounded like it was coming from the front end, only heard when braking or decelerating. I would describe it as a grinding or a friction sound.

I've always taken vehicles in for pre-purchase inspections before making a purchase. It wasn't an option at this point, due to the distance and the time, but the sellers told me if I had the PPI done afterward, and I didn't want the car, that they would give me a refund. I wanted the car, and that sounded fair. They were asking $5000, and accepted my offer of $3500. The bill of sale reflected what they told me about taking the vehicle back, based on a PPI.

Wednesday, October 15th

I scheduled the PPI and dropped the car off later that afternoon. The results weren't horrible, but they were more than I was expecting.

- Replace Timing Belt / Water Pump / Crank Seal / Rad Hoses - $1350

- Replace Power Steering Pump - $1170

- Replace Steering Column - $2400 :eek2: - I wasn't sure why this was recommended. The SA said it was due to a leak, but that doesn't make sense to me. I called today for clarification. Anyone ever heard of this?

- Replace Leaking Valve Cover Gaskets - $740

- Replace Fog Light & Sidemarket Bulbs - $125

- Verified Mystery Sound - $130 for additional diag

Thursday, October 16th

I called and spoke with the sellers, who offered to take the car back. I'm really not sure what I should do, so I'd like some opinions. I'd like to keep it, I'm just not sure if I should look for one without the problems and maintenance due.

What would you do?

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I would take anything the dealer said needs fixing with a grain of salt. They are notorious for recommending repairs just cause they think you will pay. With that said, the only thing on the list that I know you might need is the timing belt service as well as the power steering pump since they tend to leak and will eventually kill your alternator if not fixed. Now I'm not saying the pump is bad since I don't know. How long have the couple owned the car before selling it to you? At the very least you need to change the TB/WP, etc... for peace of mind but I would find an indie shop and let them look over it before I kick out that kind of dough or better yet give it back to the couple and continue your search.

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I agree with the above post. Firestone here charges more for a timing belt on an LS400 than does the dealer. The 1350 looks okay for that work and parts etc. The PS pump price is way off. Steering column? don't get that one. If its leaking seal it? Valve cover gaskets, maybe 400 ish. I know of a place here that wanted 600. I'm not sure about the bulbs deal. What ever, its still better than the price of a new car.

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for 3500, keep the car and erase the dealer prices from your mind, just keep the list and have the TB/WP replaced and fix the P/S leak... 1500 sounds high for both to me, and you are good for 100k miles.. do you have any mechanical skills at all? brakes, tires & alignment is next and you are good to go. even if you get used tires, about 100 dollars here and they will last a couple of years while you save... VC gaskets are not a big deal or big money.... just think it over

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I agree I took my 94 in for a check engine light and the telescopic wheel not working. 2400$!!!!!!! It was the mass air flow sensor! Bought one for 100 used on ebay. Used the bottle cap method and fixed that telescopic wheel for free!!! Thanks to this forum. The dealer is known as the stealership

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What the dealer has advised doesn't address what you describe as a hard pull to the right. That's not normal and has to be fixed. Having a tire worn to the cords means that the owners didn't care, and that the tire wore out quickly. Neither is a good sign.

And of course the t-belt has not been serviced and needs doing. The PS pump is not a big deal to replace, but of course the dealer wants to install a new, not remanufactured one.

I'd return the car. You still don't know why it's pulling ( could be accident damage ) and you will have a $6k plus car very quickly at this rate.

Buy the best one you can, with service history, and no known issues.

Run from this one.

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TB/WP job's a must-do, especially with an unknown past belt and pump change. Most of these items on that list are DIY-able, anyway.

You'd be surprised how quickly front toe being off will make for a pronounced pull to either direction and chew up a tire edge--been there, done that. More important is to get the front off the ground and check condition of tie rod ends (both inner and outer) and ball joints. In a pinch, one can check and adjust front toe at home pretty closely using a string (tied to rear wheel, stretched across the length of the car and across the front tire), then adjusting the outer tie rods as needed.

If the sellers have service history on the car and have had the car for a long time, it's probably a decent bet. Otherwise, there'll be others. For $3500, buy it, check the front end over, replace what needs replacing then get it aligned.


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I got all the following parts from rockauto: valve Cover gaskets upper and lower intake manifold gaskets, spark plugs, gates timing belt kit (includes pump tensioner idler pulleys gasket for wp etc) for 277 dollars shipped. I had my starter and timing belt components along with lower intake manifold gaskets replaced for less than 800 dollars valve covers new spark plugs all that jazz. I have went to this shop before and they really hurt me by leaving my 2001 jaguar xk8 I had previously bought to replace the lexus they replaced the engine and the guy hooked the wiring harness !Removed! backwards car has a zf transmission which is bmw and an ajv8 which is a Ford motor. Car sat for six months literally till I said hey I already paid you 5 grand fix it or I'm getting the bbb. (what a mistake problem after problem even with the new engine I had to change the radiator water pump all sorts of other stuff o2 sensors and soooooo expensive parts wise. and the people on those forums think their *BLEEP* don't stink helpful but called my lexus a Japanese beater, *BLEEP*ers... that's beside the point also they wouldn't let me delete my account but disabled it as they continued to talk trash if anyone here knows about anything I can do about that please let me know I don't want my info on their website.) Pull the cam cover right side I'd you're sitting inside the car and check the belt for cracks and wear. My car had been in a slight wreck but was rebuilt I got her with 106k on the clock. After having the starter timing belt valve covers intake manifold gaskets and all that jazz replaced for less than 800 my car has been great. The owner gave me a used starter I had it rebuilt at my local electric shop for 95 bucks. They redid everything. So I had faith in this guy the owner not his mechanics which weren't so bright and he primarily worked on the car and the owner did everything right car runs amazing now smoother than before. Take it to an alignment shop immediately though Firestone has unlimited alignment for each vehicle for 180 I believe so as long as you own the vehicle you can get it done for free which is awesome get it on all my vehicles. They will do a shake down test and tell you if there's anything wrong with it. With my wheel slightly tilted to the right it will not pull one way when I let go until the surface of the road changes. I mean I let go the other day and almost counted to 60 before it started to fade but alignment must be done to straighten the wheel. Sorry for long post! IMPORTANT: check timing belt, check alignment at a shop find a local indie shop that will not charge you 100hr for labor just because it's a lexus. The owner even said all you have is a fancy toyota and I agreed. A nice reliable comfortable ride that will never let me down and at 108k it's just now broken in with all its new components good luck. Hope to hear some good news.

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