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After buying mine last month and letting my heart rule my head, I thought I had better post this here to help any other potential purchasers.  The majority of this is from something that someone else posted a while back (thanks whoever that was) but I've added to it with some of the issues that have affected my car.  As an aside, I'd recommend buying a cheap OBD reader and installing Torque on your phone so that you can check any hidden fault codes.  I'll use mine with any car I potentially buy now.

Here are a few pointers when viewing potential purchases:
Make sure it has a full or at least a good service history which includes the cambelt change. The cambelt should be done every 100k miles or every 10 years.

It should start quietly and quickly. Any graunching noises indicate the starter motor is on the way out.  This is not an easy job as you need to remove the inlet manifold.  It is also worth changing the Vacuum Switch Valve if you need to do this job as they are sometimes prone to fail.

The engine should run quiet and smooth. Any rumbles could be a misfire which means it needs at least the injectors cleaning but I’d budget for a good service.

If you are lucky enough to have an LPG system, make sure it runs smoothly on gas and petrol. Any misfire could be as simple as needing the injectors cleaning but don't bank on it.  Make sure you have a spare wheel in the boot!

On driving the ride should be quite smooth comfortable with no noises or creaks from the suspension.
 
Gearbox changes should not be noticeable
 
Upon starting the steering should tilt and retract - test and make sure the mechanism works as motors are very expensive
 
Braking should be quiet and smooth - if you get a groaning noise when coming to stop that’s a sign of cheap aftermarket brake pads - they will need replacing.
 
Check colour of gearbox oil it should be red with no smell of burning. Radiator “fix” should be done. Note that facelift models do not have an ATF dipstick.
 
Check colour of coolant - it should be the correct Toyota red - ensure no oil in the bottle
 
Check all electrics work.

Check Air Con works. No air con could be a simple re-gas or it could be the compressor or the pump that need replacing.
 
Check the Sat Nav works - there have been reports of some failures
 
Check the sound system properly to ensure no blown door speakers or woofer.
 
Check the air suspension works  - when the switch is flicked the car should rise about at inch slowly - and the compressor does not make any noises
 
Check the bonnet struts hold the bonnet and the boot struts hold the boot.
 
Check for rust around the doors near the plastic trim and around the boot area
 
Check rear quarter panel glass for cloudiness - this indicates the glazing has failed (pre face lift)
 
Ask if the cabin filter has ever been changed - these are often over looked.  Note that Euro Car Parts equivalent does not fit so best to get genuine – The air filter from ECP is a perfect fit though.
 
Check the bonnet pull works as it should - some of them fail

Check the lock between the bonnet pull and boot pull works
 
Check toolkit is present (with tools!)
 
Make sure there are no warning lights lit in the dash (see OBD note above)
 
Ideally you want 3 remote keys
 
Check the car has a matching set of tyres and whether they are branded or not - this should give an indication whether the car has been pampered or neglected
 
Before driving off make sure you have the sat nav code and locking wheel nut key.

hope this helps

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so what were the issues post purchase ?

Malc

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I expected the fault codes due to the LPG system, but being ignorant, I ignored the massive misfire it has when it's on petrol and the complete lack of history. It has got low mileage and the MOT tests back this up but I wasn't observant enough to notice that it spent a few years abroad (Nor'n Ireland maybe?). It had only been in to Lexus in NI to have the seats checked. The starter crunched each time it fired up and is now not catching at all. It's booked in to have a new one fitted next week (I've been quoted £168 for the labour) and I've supplied the gaskets and new starter myself (Thanks Lexus Parts Direct and Ebay) and a new set of NGK spark plugs. It hasn't got a spare wheel, the smart key system doesn't work and my locksmith mate who can do 99% of cars can't do this one.  I had the timing belt done by Lexus and got a clean bill of health from them...then the starter motor went!

I'm hoping it will run more economically as it's nowhere near as efficient as it could be. Torque tells me there's a misfire on cylinder 8. Which one is cylinder 8? I'm hoping it's a knackered spark plug rather than a coil-pack.

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best of luck with sorting out your steed .....................  looking forward to any update

Malc

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Good list. A couple of additions from my experience:

Aircon not working could also be a corroded and holed coolant line. In my case, to the rear unit near the fuel tank making a fix very awkward (some just cut and blank the line and thereby lose the rear unit, relying on the front).

Front arches on my 2003 were starting to bubble so watch for that.

Satnav screens can start to dim a little.

Check the exhaust carefully. Any replacement section involving a cat e.g. central Y pipe will be ££££ from a dealer and not many aftermarket options about. You'll be looking at used parts or bespoke made (which is still cheaper than Lexus parts).

Transmission problems is what killed mine - radiator corrosion leading to coolant and ATF mixing - so I'd emphasise your point about shifts up and down should be all but unnoticeable. Any thumps or even slight lurches when shifting are atypical and shouldn't happen. If you buy one change the rad asap unless you know it's been done recently.

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For the Smartkey problem, have you made certain that the button under the steering wheel (next to the TPS reset button) is in the out position? If it's in, then it disables the Smartkey system.

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Thanks. Very useful to have a checklist to refer to. I will have an LS430. I WILL have an LS430...

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    1. 1. If you were to consider buying a Hybrid model over 5 years old, would you be worried about the reliability of the Hybrid system?


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