Jump to content

Opinions Wanted: Buying a 1996 Lexus LS400


Recommended Posts

Hi Guys. I found a 1996 Lexus LS400 in beautiful mint condition for sale in Saskatchewan, Canada. It has 60,000 miles on the odometer, second owner (an older couple) for about 13 years. He bought it from an older gentleman when the car had about 30,000 miles on it. The car has never seen snow, stored in a garage during the winter months and driven only in summer months. During his ownership, he only had stabilizer bar bushings replaced due to squeaky noise, plus regular oil changes. The timing belt and water pump were original. There has not been any transmission flush in the last 13 years. He is asking for $7500 Canadian. I don't like the fact that the timing belt condition is a big unknown and may need to be replaced if I buy it. I also don't like the fact that no other scheduled services were done in the past 13 years. However, the car was never abused. Do you think it is worth buying it? What could be the potential problems as it is a 21-year-old car after all. I have owned a 1994 LS400 for 3 months, with over 200,000 miles and really like the handling and comfort of the car despite some issues. Thanks so much for your input.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

probably is a super car, 95-97 were the strongest ever built, but I love the soft ride of 98-2000 myself, I have owned 5,6,& 7's along with a  94, and if your $$ will reach, do it, if not try to get him lower... personally I would not worry about timing belt , the 94 I bought had 235k on the engine before the original belt broke (made $$ on that one). just start doing the 2 qt tranny change every oil change, many do this..... check for PS leaks on Alt.... (ls weakness) ...if you get it show some photos, these were some of mine............








Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks very much for your quick response, Billy! I did some research on timing belt on low mileage old cars. It seems that heat has a much larger impact on timing belt than age. Because timing belt is "hidden" under the timing belt covers, which are hidden under the hood, weathering of the belt with age should be minimal. Plus the car has been sitting in a garage when not driven. So I agree with you suggestion and I shouldn't worry about the timing belt until after 100,000 miles (probably even after 125,000 miles). I realize that the LS400 timing belt is extra strong. Your opinion made my decision making much easier. By the way, your Lexus cars look very beautiful in those pictures.


Someone else is selling a 2002 LS430 Ultra Premium package for $10,500 ($3000 more than the 1996 LS400) with about 100,000 miles on it, timing belt done around 85,000 miles. However, the seller was not willing to provide any other maintenance history. Which one would you go with? Those air struts big dollar items.


Attached are some of the pictures of the 1996 Lexus LS400 on the ad. The car looks almost identical to yours in the first picture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

for trouble free driving, I like the 96, we drove 430's and was not pleased.. just stayed with 99's (we have had 5 99's) only one now, 213k bought in 2010..best car I've ever had.


here it is:



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even if the belt is fine, I would replace the timing belt on any LS 400 that is 1995 or newer. Despite the low mileage, the rubber is 21 years old on that car.

1990-1994 LS 400s had non-interference engines, while 1995+ LS cars have interference engines. This means that if the belt breaks on a 1995+, the pistons could smash the valves in the engine... This would cost a lot more than just taking care of the belt and pulleys.

If you have a shop do vehicle maintenance for you, see if you could get the seller to lower the price so you can pay for the job. You might as well consider replacing the water pump too while you're doing the belt, because it's a pain to tear down the engine multiple times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I bought my 1995 with 90.000 miles on it  three years ago. Had never had a cam belt exchange. Not smart. Exchanged belt etc myself immediately after purchase and it looked okay still.  
Read about failures after 140000 miles and 20 years that ruined the engine though. Luck and climate etc matters I guess. 
20 year old rubber is scary.  
The 1995 is a nice car . I really like it. Meant to use it as a summer car only but used it most of the year.
Take things that do not work seriously.  Can cost a lot to fix .For example a broken radio can cost 1000$ to get fixed. Not easy to go aftermarket, cabling non trivial . I ended up accepting not having a working radio. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...