“I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”
“I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.”

The usual train of thought seems to be that a Lexus IS is the cheap, reliable alternative to an E46, or that an LS is a maintenance free alternative to a 5 series. Get an IS! It’s a RWD Camry! Fuckin bullshit.

First off is purchase price.

Want a stick? Go get fucked, a stick IS300 costs actual car money. $6k for a clean one. The auto? Big old “meh”. For a “sport sedan” it’s about as engaging as corn flakes. Spend half as much money on an equally clean E46 330 and go faster, corner better, and have cheaper parts prices.

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Fun stuff Lexus does: control arms edition. How about we take a common wear item (a ball joint) and integrate it directly into something that almost never needs replaced (a control arm) so that the resulting assembly is ridiculously fucking expensive.

Fun stuff Lexus does: coolant tank edition.

Illustration for article titled Rant: lexus fucking sucks
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Yeah it’s built into the fan shroud, requiring an insane amount of disassembly to replace and is $160 because fuck you.

Here’s a list of common issues LS400s have:

1. Alignment bolts seize to the chassis and have to be cut off

2. Door handles are a weak pot metal design, no longer available, expect to pay $120 for a used one the wrong color (only on the 98+)

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3. Center air vents are incredibly fragile and $150 on the used market (only on the 98+)

4. The factory radio is doo-doo and likes to break but replacing it with something else requires re-wiring pretty much the entire car due to an un-interfaceable factory amp (only on the 98+ with the Pioneer instead of Nakamichi)

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5. The gauge cluster is shit. Full stop. Fucking absolute dog shit. There is some lube applied from the factory that turns into glue after 20 years and on a hot day the motors will “stick” to their stops until you hit the dash with your fist. This also frequently burns out the steppers. The steppers also just die on their own for no goddamn reason. Services exist to rebuild them, expect to spend $400 (all UCF20s I believe)

6. Lexus has nonserviceable ball joints on most of their cars. Control arm prices range from “that’s a bit pricey” to “I have bought cars for less money than this”

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7. The auto tilt/telescope steering wheel. Pre-98 is less reliable but has a button to turn off the automatic function. Post-98 is a complete tossup on if you get the less reliable can motors or the later “ultrasonic motors”, but either way if it stops working you are thoroughly fucked. The only way to disable the auto tilt is by reflashing the ECU with an original Toyota Techstream and every shop I went to was unable to do it, and [local lexus delaership] told me it wasn’t even possible (despite being clearly outlined in multiple Lexus literatures). The net result is that your steering column auto tilts all the way up and telescopes all the way in when you exit the car, then when you get in it again sometimes it just fucking stays there. You can disassemble the dash and unhook the motors once you get it into a comfortable position but the ergonomics weren’t designed around a static steering wheel so have fun if you are anything other than hilariously skinny.

I’m sure there’s more but this is all I can remember at the moment. FWIW the powertrain was excellent it was just all the other shit that makes it a “nice car” is absolute dog shit. The earlier ones got a far more limp-wristed engine and shitty 4AT instead of a 5AT and even worse fuel economy but are far, far better to deal with.

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Oh and the ECUs are garbage and need to be rebuilt, so have fun chasing random issues until that’s done.

Want to change a headlight bulb on an IS300? Take the bumper off then shove it up your ass. Wanna do plugs? Take the throttle body and intake off. Also the dashboard has melted because we’re Lexus and fuck you. Want a manual instead of the worst auto ever put in a sport sedan? You’re gonna pay the cost of two nice 330is for the privilege of a slower, floppier, shittier car with less parts availability because the total north american sales of the IS300 was less than one year of the 3 series.

But hey

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neat tail lights.

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