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  1. One thing that keeps me from buying Toyota is that in this town, the dealer nearest me is a serious rip-off on parts. One thing he does is provide his own internal part numbers on quotes and invoices, so that you can't go elsewhere to get a competitive quote on parts. No sir, no Toyota part numbers anywhere on his paperwork. That one *really* honked me off. If his mechanic does some work to find the problem and he says the fulcrum widget costs $430, I have to do some serious legwork if I want to go source the part elsewhere and not pay his $430. Dealerships are independent businesses, and can run their businesses any way they want. This guy chooses to be pond scum. We have other dealers in town, for other makes, who are honest--believe it or not. (Remember this next time someone says "dealers are by definition scum, go find an independent shop"--the dealership IS an independent shop.)
  2. You almost passed out???? Jesus, man, take a deep breath and calm down. It's only a CAR, fer Chrissakes. Bumper covers are the easiest thing to repair. It costs very little and takes very little time. You'd be amazed if you knew. Just go get it fixed. It's just a plastic bumper cover. If things like this are going to make you pass out, maybe you shouldn't be buying new cars, especially expensive ones. Or at least, don't take them out of the garage. These things happen, and a car is just an inanimate object made of metal and plastic and rubber--all of which is easily fixed.
  3. The best value that will be available will be a two year old 05 Infiniti M45. It will be the same style as today's car (which I love), it will be an "old style" model, the last year before the 06 model changeover, and it is and will be an entirely unappreciated car--which will drive the price down even further.
  4. My experience is that German cars are an utter blast to drive--but they're poorly made and poorly engineered, AND poorly supported in this country. Japanese engineering is, for the everyday driver, heads above anything the Germans are doing. And, from what I can tell the Germans should be utterly embarrassed about their electrical systems.
  5. This won't help you much now, but you've just reinforced my choice to use the AAA Plus service for an extra few bucks a year. Pays for 100 miles of towing, with any excess at $2/mile. That would have put you back only $160 instead of $360. Sorry to hear about the situation. You know, many years ago I had a coolant hose come off while I was driving down the highway; no loss of power, but otherwise the same "white smoke everywhere" look to the situation.
  6. Once you've had black, you'll never go back...
  7. That shop's alignment rack could very well be misaligned itself. I went through this with my Honda dealer for a few months, until they finally had it checked out. They were sending cars out with a major left drift, even though the machine's readings were correct. Once the alignment rack people came in and recalibrated it, all was well. Try another shop.
  8. I can only say this: a couple years ago I bought a Jetta (VR6 5 speed, natch). Once in it, I noticed--for the entire time I had it, about 6-9 months--that every Jetta on the road seemed to be driven by a woman. It sure seemed I was the only man in a Jetta. I kept screaming to myself, IT'S A CHICK CAR! (This didn't diminish the car in any way for me; no, German engineering and lack of attention to detail did that just fine, thank you very much. I dumped the Jetta for an Accord, and never looked back. But then, I'm a Honda guy from way, way back...but I digress...) Fast forward to December 25 last year, when the ES300 found its way into my driveway with a big red bow on it. After getting the transmission rebuilt (SURPRISE! I think maybe Toyota has a weak spot in the trannies, but who's going to argue at 125K miles), I've driven the ES exclusively--and have never, ever, ever noticed the "chick car" thing. So I'm sensitive to it, very aware of the concept from my Jetta days, and the ES simply does not stand out as such in any way.
  9. I removed the A-pillar trim in my 94, to wire up a microphone for the cell phone. It's dirt simple; just pull and you'll see. If you have a later model with airbags in there, leave it alone. I hardwired my Val1 into my Accord, and now that warm weather is here I expect to do the same in my ES. I'm keeping an eye out for a suitable location, but haven't really seen a good one that I like. (Man, that Accord was perfect for the add-ons that I like to do...)
  10. Where did you get the dash kit and wiring harness? Which head unit did you install? I'd like to do this, but interfacing with the factory amp is an issue. How did you get around it? Did you not bother with an amp interface? Did you just hook your speaker outputs directly to the factory wire harness? Or did you hook RCAs out of the head unit into the factory harness somehow? Inquiring minds want to know. Physically, this looks like an easy install--if one can interface with the factory amp. I've not found out how to do that yet...
  11. Use only the Toyota/Lexus brand stuff that's recommended for your transmission. Nowadays it's the Type IV. When it's cold, you'll find the car not wanting to shift but instead wanting to stay in gear and keep the revs up. That's Toyota's way of warming up the engine quicker. My 94 ES does it, and I had a 93 Previa that did it. But note that when you do shift out of park, it goes right into gear--right? If, however, the transmission takes a long time to shift from park into D or R when it's cold--that's a failing transmission. Also a failur indicator is a very long slide from disengaging one gear and engaging the next. If you feel a shudder during this move from gear to gear, like you're going over a long set of rumble strips--that's a failing transmission.
  12. It's called "siphoning" and it uses the siphon effect.
  13. Don't laugh at things like "bolt assembly" problems. Honda had an issue a couple years ago where the front end subframe was bolted on a little too far to one direction, causing a drift to the left. Their solution? Thinner bolts at the front of the subframe assembly, and a large lever. The tech uses the lever to shove the assembly over just a hair and tighten it down in a new location, a location the older, thicker bolts didn't allow for. Things happen in a manufacturing facility. Good manufacturers make it right to the customer.
  14. This is a forum for free thought, and you know my thoughts. Too many people buy the $10 item that calls itself Product A, just so they can say "Look--I have Product A!!" when that's just a knockoff of the real Product A. People *want* to believe that just because it says so on the package, it must be true. You're here in a Lexus forum. I don't understand that, because Hyundai makes a PERFECTLY acceptable alternative to Lexus cars, don't you think? I mean, why would anyone spend this much money on a freaking car when you could spend 1/3 as much and get "an alternative to the pricier (and needlessly said better) Lexus. It does have adequate features and it gets you from point A to point B, though it may not be the best". Quite frankly, I disagree that the Bel is really an alternative to the Val1, much like the Hyundai isn't really an alternative to the Lexus. While they share some features and both purport to do many of the same things, the Hyundai isn't an alternative.
  15. I received my 125K miles 94 ES on Christmas day, and it arrived with the whining noise that I hoped was just a belt. Nope; a week later it showed itself: transmission. $2350 for a complete rebuild. FWIW, the engine appears bulletproof and the car rides smoothly. It was worth the transmission work.
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