Buying a Lexus LS400? Get Ahead of Maintenance and Repairs

First and second-generation Lexus LS400s are fantastic cars. They’re comfortable, reliable, and get decent power. However, they aren’t without fault. The first generations especially are old enough to start showing some fairly detrimental problems if they haven’t been properly maintained, and some owners describe the most common LS400 problems as inevitable. Fortunately, there is a lot of literature surrounding this topic, and LS400 owners need no longer be afraid of the inevitable. When you buy your first-generation Lexus LS400, set some money aside for these repairs.

You’ll need to replace a lot of Lexus LS400 parts

Before you buy your LS400, have it inspected. If everything problem part has been replaced, you’re golden. However, if the previous owner hasn’t replaced anything, yet the stars align, and you find yourself forking over a few thousand dollars, hop onto Amazon or wherever you buy your car parts and start filling up that shopping cart. 

Lexus LS400 accessories need attention

1997 Lexus LS400 parked outside of a house
1997 Lexus LS400 | Lexus

You’ll need a few parts right away, including a starter, power steering pump, and an alternator. All of that will cost about $600 from Autozone, but you can probably find rebuilt parts for less money. These parts aren’t necessarily easy or straightforward to replace. The alternator, for instance, is located near the bottom half of the engine, so you’ll need to crawl under the car to unbolt it. Unlike other cars designed like this, all you need to remove is the dust shield in order to access it. 

LS400 transmission may cause some trouble

Lexus LS400 transmission
Lexus LS400 Transmission | Lexus

If it hasn’t happened already, the LS400’s transmission may start to fail. When that happens, you’ll have to replace it. Transmission failure can present itself in several ways, most notably in a shudder or delay when shifting into another gear, grinding during acceleration, the car shaking, or a burning smell, according to Firestone. Luckily LS400 transmissions are about $500 on eBay, so if you do the work yourself, this problem won’t break the bank. Just make sure it’s a rebuilt transmission and have it inspected. Another problem area for the LS400 is the transmission mounts, so be sure to replace those after you’ve taken out the old, broken transmission.

Strut bars, timing belt, water pump

1995 Lexus LS400 parked outside
1995 Lexus LS400 | Lexus

Other problem areas include the strut bars, timing belt, and water pump. The strut bars should be simple enough to replace, but the timing belt may require an experienced technician. A shop may charge upwards of $800 to replace the water pump, so that may be something you want to look into fixing yourself if you’re out to save money. 

Just like any other 20+-year-old car, the Lexus LS400 has collected its share of problems. It doesn’t mean the car is a bad purchase; it just means you have to take the good with the bad. First-generation LS400s came with 4-liter V8s outputting 250 horsepower, which bumped up to 290 in 1997. They all came with automatic transmissions, and the lightest LS400 clocked in at 3,657 pounds. They’re all comfortable, sporty, luxurious sedans with leather seats and lots of cabin space.

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