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Hi, newbie here.  Long story short, I'm after a cheap (under £3k), reliable but swift-ish car.  My first thoughts were GS300s, but they're a bit bigger than I need, so my thoughts turned to the lesser-spotted Mk1 IS300 saloon - with the advantage of being the same engine in a smaller car, I think?  I drove a IS200 a long time ago and was impressed, but as I say, it was a long time ago.  I've got used to a lot more power so perhaps the 300 might fit the bill.

Anyway, I found this one which apparently is owned by a member, looks good and is not far from me.

So, does anyone have any general advice for buying these cars, and/or is it known by anyone active here?

is300.jpg

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nice smooth cars definately better than the 200 in terms of grunt. owned one for 3.5 years before my GS..engine and gearbox well built. things to get done if not already changed by previous owner is cambelt and most likley water pump. drive belt. also check condition of radiator as they are now ageing and also exhaust mainlyh mid to rear section all these are due to age.. calipers on most if not all lexus models tend to seize after a while so worth checking if car is pulling to one side when braking. besides above cant think of any common issues with these models. pick one with decent service history and you wont go wrong.

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Hi Stephen, and welcome.

I have a saved search for IS300 and saw this one pop-up the other day; looks very tidy and hopefully the owner will see your post here and be in touch. As John said, check any candidate for it's last cambelt & tensioner change, ageing exhausts and radiators (I've had all three done) but also I'd add look for rot in the sills and any looseness in the front suspension. I've had several bits done (drop links, wishbones) as the bushes seem rather soft and - unfortunately - according to my mechanic you can't get poly bushes. But the biggest problem I've had has been the front brakes. Again, John has mentioned seized or sticky calipers are a bugbear of many Lexus. If you have any wheel wobble under braking on your test drive I'd say budget on at least one new caliper and getting your discs skimmed or replaced. At any pads change it's a good idea to get the slide pins out and regreased. 

Overall, they are well designed and built and use relatively simple and reliable technology. But be aware, Lexus OEM parts are expensive, and the at the main dealers big bills are very easy to rack-up if they stray from fixed priced jobs. 

As for driving, well you can only tell if it's for you by driving. I know that sounds obvious, but what's right for me might not be right for you. An IS300 is probably not as fast as the power and fuel consumption figures (!) would have you believe. But I find it ideal on the motorway (I reckon it could carry higher gearing) and handles A-roads well with easy acceleration and speed in hand. The auto gearbox takes a bit getting used to; it can feel dumb at times (clunky down changes, slow upchanges, ridiculous kick-downs) but using the buttons helps and being careful with the throttle. Be in the right gear at the right time and you needn't feel intimidated by much more modern and powerful stuff. Steering is positive and weighted just about right. Wind noise is low, but be careful what tyres you pick regarding both road noise and wet traction.

And I can honestly say the interior is still rattle free (now that I sorted out the glovebox lid!).

Hope that helps, good luck in your search. Let us know how you get on.

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Thanks for those comments - useful information.  I remember being amazed how fast an IS200 was back when I drove it, but it was 1999 and my only previous motoring experience then was my mum's Toyota Starlet...  Having had various not entirely sensible cars since then I've got used to a bit of power so don't want to sacrifice that - but cheapness and reliability are important to.  Hence Lexus, I suppose.  Can't tell much without looking at it and driving it, I suppose.  Anyone know of the car? It seems to have had some care and attention lavished on it judging by its aesthetics and the TRD badge.

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I've owned a 2005 IS300 Sportcross for six months after five years with an IS200 Sportcross and I definitely prefer the bigger engine. Much more torque, more relaxed cruising, and a few more toys to boot, such as cruise control, auto headlight adjustment, full leather seats and parking sensors. Also self-dimming heated mirrors, but mine don't self-dim any more and new ones are £600 a pair inc VAT! Agree with the comment about sticking calipers, I've had one, the telltale sign is a squeak at low speeds that goes away when you brake. Otherwise it is showing every sign of being just as reliable as its predecessor. Check that the washers and rear wiper motor are all working OK, I had some trouble with these on the other car and good secondhand items are like hen's teeth.

The Navigator version had built-in sat nav but mine doesn't, apparently late models don't because Lexus ran out!

Downsides? Fuel consumption is higher, but not dramatically so, about 3mpg less than the IS200. Also the lower profile tyres are noisier and give a stiffer ride, but they sharpen up the steering considerably so I reckon that is a fair trade-off.

A truly excellent tool, fulfills so many roles so well.

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IS300 is a good choice of a car, strong engine that will last.

If you like auto then it's hard to go wrong with this

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Hi and welcome to the LOC, we are a friendly bunch and some of us even know how to pull them to bits and put them back together again, with of course the one bolt and washer left over.

We recommend you spend a couple of mins looking over the rules of the LOC, we will be asking questions later.

http://www.lexusownersclub.co.uk/terms-conditions/

 

Regards Mike

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