Buying an IS200: What to look out for


Buying an IS200: What to look out for when purchasing a Lexus IS200

This is a list of things to check when viewing an IS200. If you are unsure about checking these items it is recommended that you get an independent inspection carried out.

  • Ball joints – Perform full lock turns and try to drive over speed bumps and listen out of a knocking noise or loose steering feel.
  • Water pump – Look at the front of the engine for signs of any red fluid. The engine coolant is red and is easy to spot if the water pump is leaking.
  • Alloy wheels – 17” wheels on the SE and Sport are prone to corrosion. If the car is within the 3 year manufacturers warranty they can be replaced. Otherwise except to pay £40-50 per wheel for refurbishment or look on eBay as there as many sets of IS wheels now appearing there.
  • Stone chips – Take a good look at the bonnet and front bumper as stone chips are common.
  • Stereo – Try to insert a few CDs into the changer and play tracks for different discs. Any problems with the mechanism will result in ERR3 being displayed. Lexus have extended the warranty on the stereo due to this common fault. This is only a common problem for early style stereos which have the CD slot at the bottom of the unit. A newer model with the CD slot at the top started to be fitted to the IS during the year 2000.
  • Ignition lock – Insert the key into the ignition, turn on, turn off and remove the key. Repeat this a few times. Any sticking may indicate a problem with the ignition barrel (Note that the key needs to be pushed in when turning from ACC to OFF). Cost is around £80 for a new barrel.
  • Folding mirrors – Open and close the mirrors a few times. If a mirror sticks it is normally nothing more than dirt which can be cleaned with soapy water and a quick squirt of WD-40.
  • Gearbox – The 6-speed gearbox fitted to the IS200 is not the most forgiving however some do seem to be worse than others. Check for poor change between 1-2 and 2-3 gears.
  • Clutch – Check for judder when pulling away and when changes between 1st and 2nd gears.
  • Tyre wear – Front tyre wear occurs on the inside edge. Put the car on full lock so that the inside edge can be checked. Tyres cost around £90-120 each.
  • Sat Nav screen – If the vehicle is fitted with satellite navigation then open and close the screen a few times and check there is no colour loss/lines/missing sections on the screen. Any problems indicate a fault with the flexible screen cable.
  • Sat Nav version – If the vehicle is fitted with Satellite Navigation then check the CD version which is written on the disc. Anything under 3.x will not have full UK road coverage. To upgrade will cost around £100. A DVD based system will contain all road data but newer versions support enhanced features. To upgrade a DVD system will cost around £120. Updates are available from your Lexus dealer or online:

  • Master Keys - The vehicle should come with two master keys and one sub key (valet). You need a master key to have additional keys programmed, without such a key the engine ECU has to be replaced to obtain a new key and will cost around £800. Do not purchase a car without a master key and if it only has one master key then obtain another one ASAP which will cost around £100.

To determine if a key is a master or not insert it into the ignition, the security light should be off. If you insert a sub key the security light will illuminate for 1 or 2 seconds before going out. Master keys will also normally have three buttons and be able to lock the boot and glovebox. Sub keys only have two buttons, missing the remote boot release.[/indent]

We have collected furthr members recommendations and compiled them for you.

Member: Felix says:

  • overall conditions, extra attention to the give-way signs such as excess wear on steering wheel, gas peddle, seats.
  • accident/repair signs?
  • timing belt/water pump changed? evidence of changing?
  • ball joints
  • uneven wear of any tyres?
  • start the engine when cold with bonnet open, listen to it, after it warms up shut the bonnet, you shouldn't be able to hear the engine running

Member klexus Says:

  • Check power steering by locking each way.
  • Check rear hub bushes.
  • Gearboxes in a lot of IS's are poor.
  • Check for clutch judder.

Member D6NGR says;

  • check calipers they intend to seize

Member atce4 says:

  • Check front fogs are working - they can corrode and new ones are around £140 each
  • Also check for front inner tyre wear, a known problem.

Member kev dood says:

  • clutch judder is a pain, but then its so common and can be throughout the life of the car, so am not sure if its a walk away thing or not.
  • Check radio works - try inserting all 6 CD's from fresh, playing and ejecting (removing fully) then reinserting. Error 3 is common issue as well as missfeeding.
  • Check clip is present for front drivers car mat - if there is one - this was an original recall issue on the earlier cars due to the good old Toyota accelerator sticking due to slipping car mat issue! When will they learn!
  • Check inner left well in the boot for signs of water - apparently there is a drain for the sunroof in there which can get blocked and the boot gets wet.
  • Check full size alloy spare is present - they all came with one.
  • Not all IS200's had isofix, so if this is important, check in the rear seat gaps - it cannot be retro fitted. Think it was standard from Sept 2001.
  • There is also a current recall on the IS200 from 2003 I think regarding the brake cylinder or something.
  • Check if original windscreen is fitted or if its a Pilkington replacement - they have a common problem with leaking around the heater cable from the bottom part of the screen and can fry the main relay/control board if you are unlucky - over £500 to replace! Pilkington/AutoGlass should be aware of the issue but I doubt they have done anything about it other than be careful when fitting. Just something to be aware of - you can check under the drivers side corner of the dash for signs of water - or ask the owner if he has ever had issues with the front lights being left one and not turning off - or with locking/alarm functions.
  • IS200 exhaust system is stainless steel but they are starting to get a little old now so might be worth checking the condition.
  • Check braking in a straight line as the frontg calipers sliding pins and lower pistons have a nasty habit of siezing.
  • Listen out for a scraping noise from the rear brakes - if had newish rear discs, as the commonised the parts and the inner lip rubs on the inner backing plate - Lexus rectification - grind it back!
  • Think spark plugs are 100k lifespan so if mileage higher than this then check they have been renewed. (denso iridium)
  • Inner tyre wear is common and to some extent expected of a car with wide tyres and from camber - but it shoudl NOT be excessive if tyres are not that high mileage.
  • Front ball joints used to go a lot, as did water pumps sometimes. Check cambelt as idler roller used to push the belt onto the cover and wear it down.
  • Don't worry about the fact that all the nuts/bolt heads etc are rusty to hell - that seems normal for Lexus! Grrr.

Member psl says;

  • cd deck died;
  • ball joints;
  • bonnet hood rod recepticle snapped;
  • fuel release flap release tensioner snapped

Member Rincewind Says:

Would also add the infamous 'knock', usually on the n/s/f.

Member Conchain Says;

Check that the Security Wheel Locknut Key is not damaged and make sure that you know which of the many variations in design of the Security Locknuts is correct for the car in question. The Locknut should be in a box complete with a label listing the design style number of the item. If the locknut is damaged - a very common fault caused by using impact air wrenches when new tyres are fitted - without this identification number you are lost and the only way to get the locknuts off the wheels is to smash them off risking damage to the alloy wheels.

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