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Old 6th November 2010, 13:54   #1
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Default Buying/Inspection Advice - 2001 Lexus LS 430

Hi,

I came across a 2001 Lexus LS 430 in Delhi. Went and saw the car, took a TD and fell in love with the machine. Drove like no other car I'd ever driven, luxury to the hilt, super smooth and responsive engine, literally scratch-less and immaculately maintained. I am seriously considering buying the beauty. However, this being my first attempt at buying a pre-owned vehicle, leave alone an import, I have several questions. Could find answers to a lot of them while searching the forum, down below are the others.

Apart from the good things, an enthusiast like me could notice the following quirks in a couple of minutes:

1. The MID in the instrument panel said "Check Engine". Apart from this message there was nothing wrong I could observe with the engine. It made no sound, accelerated like a rocket (tried 0 - 120 kmph).

2. Some part of the suspension seemed broken or asking for repair. It made a thud like sound over potholes. But, mind you even then the suspension felt smooth. Had I plugged my ears, I would have barely noticed the problem.

3. Cruising at a slow speed - 20-30 kmph - I could notice a constant "chhak-chhak" sound seemingly coming from the wheels.

4. The car had headlamp washers which were aiming for the windscreen instead.

The sound system sounded awesome, the air-conditioning was super effective (it also had auto-swinging aircon vents like the one's we get in room AC's ), I tried almost every button I could hit and everything seemed to work fine.

I mentioned all the issues to the owner's representative and he said he'll come back to me with the details on the issues/repair costs after consulting the repair shop that had maintained the car for the past 8 years. This is what he said for the 4 points-
1. Just regular service/oil change required.
2. The rear suspension needed repair/replacement
3. The noise was from the ball bearings. Needed repair/replacement
4. Didn't come back on the washers.

I bargained hard and said I wanted a clean maintenance free car with all problems sorted out before delivery. He came down a meager 7% on his initial asking price and offered to get all things fixed within the price. He said the workshop's estimate of the repairs is around 1.5 lac.

Now for the questions:

1. Any pointers to the most trusted workshop/mechanics in NCR for imported Toyotas/Lexus. I have no clue but I am sure the car needs a professional examination in addition to my cursory inspection. I asked the guy about their workshop. At the time of the TD he kept mentioning Galaxy Toyota, but later on when he came back with the details and the repair estimate he said it wasn't Galaxy. He mentioned some other name, which certainly wasn't a standard Toyota dealership/repair shop, which I can't just recall.

2. What's a good price to pay for such a car?

3. Would I be able to handle the upkeep/maintenance? I dream cars, I can read all about them - so investing some time for the upkeep shouldn't be a problem. But, I would certainly want to keep maintenance costs predictable and not end up spending close to the cost of the car. How is the parts availability for Lexus. More importantly knowledge availability for repairs?

4. Should I get the repairs done from the seller or take a discount and handle the maintenance myself later on?

5. Resale - Can I find buyers just in case I'd like to part ways with it. Although, I don't think I'd like to sell it very quickly unless it turns out to be a real nightmare to maintain. I have owned a Mitsubishi lancer for 10 years - stills looks the same, still runs the same and I still love it the way I did when I first drove it out of the showroom

I have tried to cover all important aspects I could think of. Anything else I might have missed - please point out. I'd appreciate every bit of advise from the veterans.

Thanks!
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Old 6th November 2010, 15:55   #2
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Here are some pics of a 2001 LS 430. I couldn't take any of the car in question. But it looked exactly the same as these pics - same color, same condition - just that it had no sunroof.
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Old 6th November 2010, 18:12   #3
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Quote:
1. The MID in the instrument panel said "Check Engine". Apart from this message there was nothing wrong I could observe with the engine. It made no sound, accelerated like a rocket (tried 0 - 120 kmph).
Could be blown air mass sensor

Quote:
2. Some part of the suspension seemed broken or asking for repair. It made a thud like sound over potholes. But, mind you even then the suspension felt smooth. Had I plugged my ears, I would have barely noticed the problem.
Rebushinh, or may be new struts

Quote:
3. Cruising at a slow speed - 20-30 kmph - I could notice a constant "chhak-chhak" sound seemingly coming from the wheels.
It might be wheel bearings or even a nail in a tyre!

Discount the price and do repairs yourself to avoid a jugaad solution
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Old 6th November 2010, 18:53   #4
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Get it evaluated it thoroughly by Toyota. Take the representative along so that he also knows what is wrong. In case the owner does not agree, stay away from the vehicle as it may spring a few surprises at a later stage.

As a bonus you would get to know the cost of maintening of the vehicle as well as the cost of regular service.
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Old 7th November 2010, 11:10   #5
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Thanks ajmat! Thanks roy!

Is the air mass sensor an expensive part?

I'd thought about going to Toyota. But, does Toyota India entertain, or even have the expertise for, Lexus imports?

thanks!
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Old 7th November 2010, 11:31   #6
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Originally Posted by prabhpreet View Post
Thanks ajmat! Thanks roy!

Is the air mass sensor an expensive part?

I'd thought about going to Toyota. But, does Toyota India entertain, or even have the expertise for, Lexus imports?

thanks!
You can ask them. Otherwise I believe there are independent importers for car parts. Some member in Delhi can chip and advise you who are reliable.

I still recommend that you try the Toyota Dealer, at least for diagnosis.
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Old 8th November 2010, 10:48   #7
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The LS is a true luxo-barge. Plus, being a Toyota, if its kept well (read = timed maintenance, no flood or accident damage), she will serve you well for a long time to come. Remember, the tolerance levels for Lexus' are slimmer than even the regular Toyotas on the production line.

You haven't mentioned how many kms on the odo? How many owners? Either ways, you MUST get the LS checked inside out by a Toyota workshop. Pay the inspection fee and they'll be more than happy to accommodate your request.

Be prepared, however, for the good & bad that comes with imports. Example : Parts for such rare cars always entail wait periods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by prabhpreet View Post
He came down a meager 7% on his initial asking price
I know we Indians love to bargain, but if & when the asking price is reasonable, should we still expect a further reduction? Now, I don't know whether his quote is high or low but you shouldn't gauge a fair deal based on how much you can bargain out of him. Decide independently how much you think the car is worth.

Last edited by GTO : 8th November 2010 at 10:49.
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Old 8th November 2010, 12:08   #8
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@prabhpreet:Man, be very sure that you have considerable time and resources to maintain the car.

Im guessing the car must be coming to you at a price that sounds reasonable for the snob value and gadgetary that it offers upfront.But, keep in mind parts availability for such an import is always an issue if you do not have technical knowledge and access to the right importers of spare parts.Apart from that you must keep aside a sufficient buffer-amount for annual maintenance every year.Why I say this is that, there only a certain level of ready service that Toyota service centre can offer such as routine oil changes and stuff, but anything apart from that and your car will almost be sitting at the garage for days on end.So this definitely cannot be your daily driver.Reason being that this model was never and still isnt officially sold here and I daresay wasnt as popular as other imports of the same vintage and class like say the BMWs and Audis that we see being maintained by numerous independent garages.So fat chances of your readily sourcing parts even from the grey markets.Hope you get my point.

Apart from that, this is a beautiful machine and reliability is definitely a bonus on this car unlike some other luxo-barges of the same class.Go for it if you are ok with the points I mentioned above.Hope my advice helps.

Last edited by octane1002 : 8th November 2010 at 12:18.
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Old 8th November 2010, 12:59   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
You haven't mentioned how many kms on the odo? How many owners?
It's done 130,000 kms. But, it felt like a sparingly used vehicle in all ways - no sign of wear on seat leather, control panels or even the exterior. The guy seemed very upfront and honest about the car and the high odo number actually instilled more confidence. He said people typically tamper with the odo and underclock. Our's is a well maintained car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Either ways, you MUST get the LS checked inside out by a Toyota workshop. Pay the inspection fee and they'll be more than happy to accommodate your request.
I checked with galaxy Toyota. They said they can only do an inspection and give a report. They are not equipped to do the maintenance because they might not have the parts. The inspection would be free of cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I know we Indians love to bargain, but if & when the asking price is reasonable, should we still expect a further reduction? Now, I don't know whether his quote is high or low but you shouldn't gauge a fair deal based on how much you can bargain out of him. Decide independently how much you think the car is worth.
He's asking for 11.25 lacs with all the repairs done, which he quoted comes to around 1.5 lacs. My guess is he'll give it last for around 9.5 lacs as is without the repairs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
How many owners?
Forgot to mention, it's a single owner car. Was used by the GM of a Japanese firm since it was imported by them from Japan in 2001.

Last edited by Jaggu : 8th November 2010 at 13:14. Reason: Back to back post, please EDIT the original post instead. Thanks
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Old 8th November 2010, 13:33   #10
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@octane1002 Thanks for the awesome advice. It surely helps

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Originally Posted by octane1002 View Post
Man, be very sure that you have considerable time and resources to maintain the car.
I guess my interest in cars would help me find the time. I actually have been searching for a car in the sports coupe category that would satisfy my urge for sheer driving pleasure. After going through so many ill-maintained, and ridiculously priced, cars (painful!, sigh!!) when I drove this one I thought it was a fantastic combination of luxury, awesome engine and a satisfying drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by octane1002 View Post
Im guessing the car must be coming to you at a price that sounds reasonable for the snob value and gadgetary that it offers upfront.But, keep in mind parts availability for such an import is always an issue if you do not have technical knowledge and access to the right importers of spare parts.
This is the part that freaks me out. I've never ever owned an import and have no clue of where and how to get them repaired. Ready to learn and explore? - A resounding, yes!! if getting fleeced and disillusioned is not the only result it leads to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by octane1002 View Post
...but anything apart from that and your car will almost be sitting at the garage for days on end.So this definitely cannot be your daily driver.
Sure! I intend to use it as a delicacy. So, I'm prepared for the foreplay, the drive and the orgasm ... and wait a little while to do it all over again

Quote:
Originally Posted by octane1002 View Post
Reason being that this model was never and still isnt officially sold here and I daresay wasnt as popular as other imports of the same vintage and class like say the BMWs and Audis that we see being maintained by numerous independent garages.
That's the part that perplexes me. What gives the BMWs and the Audis an edge over this seemingly beautiful piece of machine? Pardon me if it's my ignorance, but I am not sure if there is an Audi/Merc/BMW from that age, in a similar price bracket, that offers such a complete package (read - blistering performance, great drive and luxury). If there is, I'd certainly not mind the wait and some more hunting for the priceless peice of mind on the maintenance front.

Thanks!

PS - It could be my over-enthusiasm but I've been going nuts over the specs - 4.3-liter V8, 294 PS @ 5600 rpm , 434 NM @ 3400 rpm, RWD, 5-speed auto, 0-60 mph in 6.4 secs.
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Old 9th November 2010, 10:24   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prabhpreet View Post
It's done 130,000 kms. But, it felt like a sparingly used vehicle in all ways - no sign of wear on seat leather, control panels or even the exterior.
Quote:
Forgot to mention, it's a single owner car.
Excellent. Get the car verified by Galaxy Toyota. If it's clean, and doesn't have major accident / flood damage, you can easily extract 3,00,000 kms out of her.

Things to keep in mind:

- Ensure that all custom duties have been paid

- You will need an excellent independent mechanic to look after the car. Start looking for one

Quote:
My guess is he'll give it last for around 9.5 lacs as is without the repairs.
Its direct competitor - a 2001 S Class - would cost you over that rupee. Plus, the S320 has a smaller engine. If the car is clean, 9.xx could be a fair price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by prabhpreet View Post
What gives the BMWs and the Audis an edge over this seemingly beautiful piece of machine?
Quote:
It could be my over-enthusiasm but I've been going nuts over the specs - 4.3-liter V8, 294 PS @ 5600 rpm , 434 NM @ 3400 rpm, RWD, 5-speed auto, 0-60 mph in 6.4 secs.
The Lexus is fast, no doubt, and a 10 year old Toyota's reliability will beat a brand new Mercedes. However, the Germans have an advantage in dynamics. Don't expect the Lexus to give you a "pure" driving experience. The car is designed for luxury; enjoy the plush ride, refinement & comfort instead!

P.S. The V8 will blow your mind.
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Old 9th November 2010, 15:10   #12
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@GTO Thanks a ton for the info.
I'll get going now with the inspection.

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
- You will need an excellent independent mechanic to look after the car. Start looking for one
I know you are from Mumbai, but still, any leads for one in Delhi - or where I could start my search from?

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P.S. The V8 will blow your mind.
I so look forward to that
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Old 9th November 2010, 22:14   #13
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Search on the forum, especially threads of Delhi BHPians who own imports. You could also try Pandit & Co (Contact Info here). Considering that the NCR region accounts for the most luxury car sales in India (by a MILE), it wouldn't be too difficult to find a good independent. Lastly, don't miss the obvious. Get in touch with the same garage that maintained this LS430. If the car's condition is as good as you make it to be, they certainly deserve some credit!!
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Old 10th November 2010, 09:28   #14
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Originally Posted by prabhpreet View Post

That's the part that perplexes me. What gives the BMWs and the Audis an edge over this seemingly beautiful piece of machine? Pardon me if it's my ignorance, but I am not sure if there is an Audi/Merc/BMW from that age, in a similar price bracket, that offers such a complete package (read - blistering performance, great drive and luxury). If there is, I'd certainly not mind the wait and some more hunting for the priceless peice of mind on the maintenance front.

Thanks!

PS - It could be my over-enthusiasm but I've been going nuts over the specs - 4.3-liter V8, 294 PS @ 5600 rpm , 434 NM @ 3400 rpm, RWD, 5-speed auto, 0-60 mph in 6.4 secs.
My pleasure helping you out.The reason for importing the Germans in large numbers in 90s was primarily snob value.It had nothing to do with their superiority from an objective point of view.Add to that Lexus was a relatively new brand with more or less no heritage attached to it unlike the Germans.

IMHO, buy the Lexus for the comfort/gadgetary/snobbery and take the reliability/performance as a bonus and you wont be disaapointed.Alright, Il make it a wee bit easier for you.If I were you,I would:

a. make all the necessary checks relating to ownership documents/duties
b. zero in on a reliable workshop maintaining imports and get an independent valuation done
c. Buy the car at 9-9.5 keeping aside a couple of lakhs for the suggested repairs
d. Start an ownership report on team bhp with the pics of course.

All the Best.

Last edited by octane1002 : 10th November 2010 at 09:29.
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Old 10th November 2010, 16:09   #15
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Just made him an offer with all the bells and whistles -
1. Want to get an independent inspection done to verify "what I see/hear is what I get" - Seller says OK!
2. Want all docs - service history, import duties etc. - Seller says OK!
3. Price - Will be getting back in a short while.
4. Asked him the name of the workshop that maintained their vehicle - seller says "hmmm ... ummmmm ... achha mein apko paanch minute mein boss se price confirm kar ke call karta hun"???????

Tick-tock, tick-tock, ...

Will be posting every bit of progress ... and yes, the ownership report if it goes through
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