What It’s Like to Own a Million-Mile Lexus

As we previously reported, Toyota, which includes Lexus, ranks second in the list of cars that people want to hold onto forever. Lexus and Toyota account for 9 of the cars in the list of twenty most reliable cars of the decade. Though overall statistics of reliability are significant but what does it feel like to own a million-mile Lexus? Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire took it upon himself to find out. He relates his experience in Road and Track as the sixth owner of a 1996 Lexus LS 400. The car had 897,000 miles on it when Matt took possession of it in December 2014. Four years later, in March of 2019, it became the million-mile Lexus.

In the Beginning…

Matt’s affinity with the Lexus began when he was only 9 years old when his dad bought a new Lexus LS 400 in 1991. Note that the Lexus model was introduced just the prior year, in 1990. Matt says that even back then, the Lexus was such an exquisitely well-engineered vehicle that its engine was so silent you couldn’t hear it while idling, nor notice the wind or tire noise when it was running at 80 mph. As mentioned in the book “Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit”, the original design criteria for the Lexus were luxury, fuel efficiency and cost. But Lexus turned out to be a very durable model as well, the kind that can run for a million miles without costly repairs.

It is also remarkable that Matt’s million-mile Lexus was not a well-cared for, single owner car like his dad’s. Instead, Matt was the sixth owner of the car, and he recruited very many drivers to drive it for the last 100,000 miles of its life.

The Challenge

Matt noticed the car through someone who issued the million-mile Lexus challenge to his circle of friends through email. Matt accepted the challenge, bought the car for $1200 and drove it from the used car dealer in Florida to his home in California. The car completed that trip of 2500 miles without a problem. A thorough inspection in California resulted in repairs to its steering column and shaft, shocks, springs, bushings, and brakes. Its radiator was replaced and all fluids flushed. Then Matt acquired a commercial license and let his Twitter followers know that the #millionmilelexus was available to whoever wanted to drive it. The only condition for driving it was that the drivers must fill out a logbook about where they took the Lexus and their experiences with it. Thus began the car’s journey to becoming the million-mile Lexus. And it ran and ran and ran…

The Last 100k Miles

20,000 miles into the journey, the car needed a new transmission which cost $3700. Over the last 100,000 miles, it also needed changes of brake pads, bushings, filters, rotors, shocks and several other miscellaneous parts. The car had to be towed only once due to engine failure. All this, while the car was being driven by several people; some used it for their daily commutes while others put more than 10,000 miles each on it. It was used to drive up Pikes Peak and Mount Washington. It was even used to tow broken down race cars.

The Finish

In March 2019, Matt Farah took possession of the car to drive it for the last few of the million miles. When the odometer was at 999,780, Matt almost got a ticket for driving the car at 89 mph in a 65 mph zone; instead, he got off with a warning because the cop appreciated Matt’s story about the Lexus. Clearly, the car still drove smoothly at almost 90 mph even with almost a million miles on it. Shortly afterward, Matt had the pleasure of watching the odometer get permanently stuck at 999999. A mile later, it was the million-mile Lexus. Mission accomplished!