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Old 07-31-14, 08:21 AM   #1
haserfauld
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Hey everyone,

New user, here. I am generally the kind of person that likes to spend a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks researching all options, reviews, ratings, etc on numerous choices when looking for a new vehicle. I currently drive a '96 Acura, my wife has a Honda, both my parents have Hondas, my brother has a Honda, and in general, that's where I look. My wife and I are looking for a slightly bigger car as we move towards starting a family. I was pretty settled on a CRV.

However, my grandmother reached out to me yesterday, because her best friend recently had to give up driving and go into assisted living.

She has a 2003 Lexus RX300 (non AWD) with 104K miles, garage kept, dealer maintained, asking $7K for it. She was a realtor, but has been out of the business for about 5 years. It probably had 75K in the first 5 years, and then ~5K/yr since. This sounds like a good price to me. Good enough to sway my decision from the CRV. The MPG is lower, but I have a 6 mile commute to work, and every store imaginable is within 3 miles from me.

The only thing I don't like is the urgency I feel to make the decision. I wasn't going to make my new purchase until closer to Christmas. I haven't researched the RX300 at all before yesterday. I'm hoping that you all, a collection of owners with experience, can steer me in a helpful direction. Maybe it's a fantastic price. Maybe it's a good price, as long as a, b, c, etc...maybe that's about average and not worth bumping up my purchase by several months.

Thank you for any advice, I appreciate it very much!
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Old 07-31-14, 08:41 AM   #2
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Has the timing belt been changed?

Being a 2003, you have less things to worry about. Most kinks were worked out by then.

If everything checks out, at $7K, I'd buy it in a heartbeat! Heck, someone offered me close to $7500 cash for my RX300.
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Old 07-31-14, 09:50 AM   #3
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The best thing I see in purchasing the RX300 is that you are getting it for a price that you could own for a couple years and not have depreciation. The other is the safety advantage if you'll be having a family. RX300's are really strong and very safe vehicles. You'll learn the other advantages as you drive your RX300.
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Old 07-31-14, 10:01 AM   #4
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I agree with Hyper, if that timing belt maintenance has already been done, for 7K that's a good buy.

Being that you won't have long legs in the back, yet, you can move the back seats forward which actually opens up the trunk a few more inches..but if you show your wife she may see that as a huge space, you know, for diapers and cribs.
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Old 07-31-14, 10:23 AM   #5
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Can't add much, other than to read over the posts on maintenance and common problem areas. Which on the 2003 , are minimal...
It's a lot of vehicle for the money. Much nicer than a CRV.
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Old 07-31-14, 10:43 AM   #6
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Thank you all for the input!

I will check the dealer maintenance records, assuming she has them (which is likely). I've read about timing belt and transmission issues sprouting up around the 100K mark. If the timing belt has been replaced, it sounds like this would be a good purchase to pursue.

If it hasn't, however, it feels like a bit more of a dice roll. Although, purchasing a used car always is, and this is much less of a dice roll than buying from a stranger, and significantly cheaper than buying from a dealer.

Last second-hand car we got had odometer tampering (to the tune of 50K miles!). Admittedly didn't do my due diligence on the purchase, but that's a lesson learned.
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Old 07-31-14, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haserfauld View Post
Thank you all for the input!

I will check the dealer maintenance records, assuming she has them (which is likely). I've read about timing belt and transmission issues sprouting up around the 100K mark. If the timing belt has been replaced, it sounds like this would be a good purchase to pursue.

If it hasn't, however, it feels like a bit more of a dice roll. Although, purchasing a used car always is, and this is much less of a dice roll than buying from a stranger, and significantly cheaper than buying from a dealer.

Last second-hand car we got had odometer tampering (to the tune of 50K miles!). Admittedly didn't do my due diligence on the purchase, but that's a lesson learned.
If the belt has not been changed, you will have to spend 500 -1500 to get it done.

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Old 07-31-14, 01:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salimshah View Post
If the belt has not been changed, you will have to spend 500 -1500 to get it done.

Salim
That is very good information. If it does need to be done, that would explain the ~$2K under blue book. Regardless, I'm in the process of getting the VIN to run Carfax, and see what paper maintenance records they have as well. Timing belt will be my first question. Seems to me, if it does need that done, it goes from a fantastic deal to an average deal. Not bad, just not great, and perhaps not worth of altering my previous plan? Or would, worst case, $8500 post timing belt replacement still qualify as a good deal. It's still under KBB. Only one I can find from a dealer in my area is $9K with 125K miles.
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Old 07-31-14, 01:42 PM   #9
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You could negotiate a lower price to cover the cost of timing belt / 90k service. 90k service is needed going forward if it hasn't been done. Once you have the VIN you can enter it here to see what the Lexus service history is for this vehicle.

https://secure.drivers.lexus.com/lex...-lexus/home.do
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Old 07-31-14, 02:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbug View Post
You could negotiate a lower price to cover the cost of timing belt / 90k service. 90k service is needed going forward if it hasn't been done. Once you have the VIN you can enter it here to see what the Lexus service history is for this vehicle.

https://secure.drivers.lexus.com/lex...-lexus/home.do
Carfax shows dealer servicing through 80K miles, and then through local PepBoys. 25K miles in the last 6 years. Owner said he's pretty sure timing belt has not been done. Shows maintenance inspection at 102K in the service history. We actually bought a car from this couple about 15 years ago, and while they aren't family and we never really see them, there is a small bonus in the history with them. He said someone else has expressed interest, but as far as he's concerned, the friendship with my grandma gives me first pick if I want it.

Going to take a look at it in a couple hours.
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Old 07-31-14, 02:42 PM   #11
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Most Lexus dealers will mark the timing belt cover when timing belt was serviced, so look for a label there.
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Old 08-01-14, 10:25 AM   #12
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Just an update for those who may be interested. Didn't end up making it last night, because traffic would have been so horrible, it would have been nearly dark. We both agreed buying in the dark is a bad plan, so I'll be going to look Saturday morning.
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Old 08-04-14, 02:35 PM   #13
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Not sure if you bought the car, but the price is good. I had a 2002 with 111,000 miles on it that I sold for $8800 (toyota dealer maintained regularly, etc). I don't know if my timing belt was changed. I did all of the required/suggested maintenance though. Granted there aren't too many RX's for sale where I live. I only had 3 people look at it in the 2 weeks I had it for sale, but I knew it was worth every penny of that 8800 - great tires still on mine.
At any rate, let us know what you decided on.
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Old 08-04-14, 05:47 PM   #14
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If the car is in good condition and has been regularly maintained, I would go for it over a CRV in a heartbeat. If the timing belt hasn't been changed, don't worry about that (an independent generally won't mark it like the dealers do). You should be able to get the timing belt changed for about $500 at an independent and if the water pump needs changed, that should be an additional $350. Replace the idlers/tensioners while your at it and the cam seals if there's any evidence of leakage.

The car should go for another 100,000 miles no problem.
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Old 08-05-14, 02:02 PM   #15
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IMHO, you should purchase this RX that you are looking at. It sounds like a great deal, timing belt or not. My Mother has a 2004 CR-V, top of the line with leather. I have driven it a lot of times and it is very nice. BUT, my wife has a 2003 RX and there is absolutely no comparison between it and the CR-V. The only advantage I would give to the CR-V is that it gets better gas mileage.
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Old 08-05-14, 02:02 PM
 
 
 
 
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