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Old 08-04-14, 11:57 AM   #1
tftimm
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Default Looking at 95-99 ES300...

What should I watch out for?

I have had 3 Lexus cars, an RX, SC, GX, and now a CT200. I don't know much about the ES300, especially the mid-late 90's. I'm looking for a well maintained car that I can use as a daily driver back and forth to work. Nothing fancy.

Couple of questions:

1) Common problems
2) Realistic MPG, highway/city
3) Is it true that many of the motor/transmission parts are the same as a Camry?
4) Regular or Premium fuel?
5) How does the leather hold up?

I'm looking in the 125-175K mile range, less than $5K. Thoughts?
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Old 08-04-14, 12:56 PM   #2
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Great cars. All the years you mentioned will have the same drivetrain even though they span two body styles, only major diff I can think of is vvti in 99 for a bit more HP, all will have 4spd auto, near/above 200hp. Mpg should be good for a sedan of this type, I get around 24-26 mixed 50-50 driving in my 97. I've gotten as high as 31.7mpg all highway, pretty darn good for a v6. If you floor it everywhere and drive all city might get low 20s though. Leather is great, but not as thick as merc/bmw. You will see many that all but driver seat is perfect and some where even the bolster and bottom seat on drivers is perfect. IMO I see better leather holdup in ESs than SCs which seem prone to wear (maybe it's just more are neglected), but again rear seats are rarely bad. Yes, mostly Camry mechanicals, or at least lots of carry over. Doesn't really matter IMO as these were high production cars that had components shared on lots of the Toyota line. Common probs, well I haven't had much of any, which is why I own TWO ES300s and drive them day to day like you're planning while my much newer bmw x5 stays at home. This is the epitome of a workhorse luxury car. One you can count on. All I can think of is maybe the stereo LCD blacking out from heat delamination, AC expansion valve, maybe an 02 sensor, keep timing belt changed, valve cover gaskets might leak a small amount of oil (this is not the head gasket it is a much easier to get to non critical gasket), rear seat bushings maybe at high miles but that's getting into minutiae. otherwise I would say if u find a good one go for it. I would also suggest looking for an 00-01 which cost about the same and have a few more styling add ons like more wood int and better tail lights, front bumper, etc.
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Old 08-04-14, 12:58 PM   #3
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Sorry that should state "rear SWAY (bar) bushings" ......effing iPhones
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Old 08-04-14, 01:07 PM   #4
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Good dea. Thank for the response. My mom had a 1999 camry and it was bulletproof. She liked it so much she traded it in on a 2012 Camry. The one I have my eye on is at a Lexus dealer, 1995 with 185K miles.

I assume that if something was wrong, they would send it to an auction. It is a 1 owner. I also have my eye on a 2000 Rav4 manual with 160K miles.

Thoughts on the ES versus the Rav4?
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Old 08-04-14, 09:19 PM   #5
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Rav4 might be longer lasting just because of the manual trans, and it's an SUV, granted very small in 2000 Model Year, but the auto on the ES seems to last a long time on most, but it really is an apples to oranges comparison.
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Old 08-05-14, 08:33 AM   #6
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I've had my 1999 Lexus ES300 for 40k miles now. (150k to 190k) Almost a year now.
Was bought with a salvaged title. Only problems I have had was replacing the Oil Control Valves (Misfires on 1, 2, 3, and 2, 4 ,6) Happened a few thousand miles apart. Been good ever since.
I use Synthetic Oil and premium gas, I usually get the rated 27-29 mpg on the highway, I haven't calculated the city mileage.
Ice Cold AC still, been a great car to me over all.
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Old 08-05-14, 06:06 PM   #7
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Stick with the 3rd Gen ES (97-01).

Problem spots to look out for is engine oil sludging if the oil (and or PCV valve) haven't been changed frequently and worn suspension components (typical around that mileage).

The Lexus ES300 shares many of its steering, suspension, engine and drive-train components with the Camry, which makes repairs cheap and affordable as any mechanic can fix these cars and the availability of aftermarket parts. You drive a luxury car at an economy car price .

Rav4 is no comparison. The interior is really cramped on that first gen, and the ride is rough. Have you driven one?
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