Buying a SC430? SC430 Buyer's Guide-What to Look for When Buying a pre-owned SC430 - ClubLexus - Lexus Forum Discussion

SC430 - 2nd Gen (2001-2010)

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Buying a SC430? SC430 Buyer's Guide-What to Look for When Buying a pre-owned SC430

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Old 12-28-10, 12:15 PM   #1
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Post Buying a SC430? SC430 Buyer's Guide-What to Look for When Buying a pre-owned SC430

Request for Sticky: Starting this thread after hundreds of posts from new users or lurking potential owners of a pre-owned SC430 wanting to know what to look for or if the SC430 they are considering is a good deal.

Let's start at the top for the best possible search for the most quality SC430's on the marketplace-and those are the Lexus Certified Pre-Owned vehicles.

Lexus Certified Pre-Owned CPO

CPO cars are special because they offer a 161 point inspection and repair/replacement of any part of the vehicle that is not up to lexus standards. Perhaps the best value from these vehicles is that they offer a bumper to bumper 3 year/100k mile warranty at the time of purchase and many times this warranty can be extended even beyond that for an additional cost. Anything from as small as windshield wiper blades to transmissions to tires can be replaced in this process. Vehicles must be less than six years old and fewer than 70k miles to qualify to be a CPO vehicle.

Click here to start your search:

Next purchasing/browsing searches are ones that we all know about, but I'll put them together in one list for you all in order of popularity and content:

Vehicle Comparison Sites-compare the SC430 to other potential vehicles, get user and editor reviews:

General Comparisons and information, reviews for

Direct comparisons and real tests by automotive experts:
Car and Driver:

Motor Trend:

Automobile Mag:

Vehicle Pricing Best Sources: ***do a search for all cars in the nation or region and get an average price, high and low of all cars (at bottom of screen)

Edmunds also offers a great "prices paid" site that specifically talks about offers, incentives, etc mainly on new cars, however there is a lot of great information from users on what they paid, what the dealers offered, etc:

Vehicle History Searches

While these history searches have not proven to be foolproof over the years, they may be the best defense you have to ensure that the car you are buying has not been in an accident. Remember-many times accidents are not reported to insurance companies due to insurance limits (deductibles), the nature of the incident (non-moving, etc) or the amount of damage done. If you have a great relationship with your insurance agency, you may want to contact them as well perhaps they can do a deeper "claim search" for you as well before you buy.

These are the most popular history searches/reports you can buy:
Links to VIN locators of all states:

Lexus service resources:
Search history by VIN

Is there a best year or better years to buy? No. Not necessarily. The SC430 had outstanding ratings/reviews throughout it's lifecycle. Certain model years may be more desirable than others, such as the 2002 model for the first year or the 2010 model for the last year OR perhaps a special edition model (Neiman Marcus or Pebble Beach) but for the most part the SC430 throughout the years has been an oustanding vehicle to own. Generally speaking about all cars, typically the first year to two years of a model have more problems. In 2006 as mentioned the SC430 went through a mild cosmetic change as well as a technology and transmission update, but nothing drastic. Most pre-2006 owners have added some of these options to modernize theirs.

General Automobile Cautions or Red Flags:
Tape marks-open all doors, hoods, trunk and feel along the surface corners for a tape mark or uneven surfaces.
Overspray-look for a light misting/spray of paint on any black rubber, plastic, headlights or glass. Typically if a car has been painted light misting of paint shows up easily on these surfaces. Open doors, hood, trunk.
Bubbling or Feathering of paint-typically when paint is over applied or blended too much you will see these irregularities
Paint Meter-all dealers have a paint meter, you can even buy one yourself on eBay. Ask the dealer to measure each panel in front of you and look for large discrepancies between the panels. If one panel reads 4 and the other reads 6 you may have had some paintwork and/or accident in it's history.
Water marks on carpet or mold smell-may indicate flooding or water damage
Smoke smell
Pet marks
VIN # doesn't match on corresponding body parts-typically when an accident occurs the repairer replaces a body panel, therefore the panel will not have the VIN sticker or a different matching one if it came from a salvage yard.
Missing VIN sticker or sticker is not straight-same as above concern.
Warning Lights-while the TPMS light is a common light that comes on for all used cars (tire pressure is low), if your Check Engine Light or VDC light is on you may want to abort this mission!
Steering wheel shake when brakes are applied-rotors need service
Brake squeak-needs pads
Car pulls on highway-needs alignment
White or Black smoke coming out of exhaust
Coolant smell coming from engine-may be a leak
Runs hot-needs coolant change
Rough shifting transmission-may indicate trans problem or needs fluids change

*******Generally what to look for on all pre-owned SC430's*****
This buyer's guide will provide a general outlook on SC430's, common problems or things to look for. While this is a general guide, there are certainly other issues to look for with all cars, such as paint work, abuse, flooding, smoke/pet damage, rodent damage, lemon buy-back and other issues that you should be aware of not-specific to the SC430.

Before we start, the Lexus SC430 has been one of the finest performing automobiles of all time in it’s segment as rated by JD Powers and Consumer Reports and other car experts in terms of short term and long term dependability as well as owner ratings. JD Power, the most respected authority in automobile ratings gives the SC430 a 5 circle for initial quality and 4.5 circles for predicted reliability. Very few owners have complained of the convertible top having issues, which is a huge compliment to the quality of Lexus/Toyota craftmanship given the complex nature. Lastly, check out this link to see all the accolades the SC430 has won in it’s lifecycle:

Rough Ride (multiple issues)
Could be tires-see next item
Early models 2002-2003 had front suspension arm issues and if they have not been replaced this may cause it.
Needs alignment, tire tread is low or shocks/struts
Run Flat Tires
Typically run flat tires are much harsher than regular tires. Most if not all SC430 owners have complained about the harsh ride. Having run flats allow for no spare tire on the car however most owners replace with regular tires and either get a spare tire kit or have other methods for preparing for a damaged tire.
Pie Plate or Dinner Plate Wheels
This problem (aesthetically displeasing to most) is easily solved by purchasing the “star twist” center caps and replacing those unsightly “dinner plates or pie plate” center caps.
No iPod Connection in a 2005 car? What? How can I add?
There are several options to add iPod integration and Aux cable to this car. It’s easy to find and fairly easy to install.
"Clunk" noise coming from front suspension, metal on metal sound
Could be the aforementioned control arm bushings commonly found in 2002-2003 models.
Pop sound when you first put car in reverse and then stop for first time
This is not a problem and is common behavior in most SC430’s due to the brake calipers releasing for the first time you turn on the car.
Error 5 on stereo headunit
This is a common error found due to a CD getting stuck in the head unit-most likely caused by a blank cd because the head unit has a hard time with these.
No Disc Detected message on Nav Screen
Common problem with earlier SC430’s with the laser reader on the DVD player that runs the navigation system in the trunk.
Navigation screen door won't open
Common problem as well-motor on navigation door does not work. There are some relatively inexpensive fixes for this.
Top won't go down/up (2 potential issues)
# 1 reason why is that the cargo cover is not pulled back (towards you) in the trunk and is a safety feature of the car. # 2: There is a valet button in the glove box that needs to be pressed in as well in able for the top to work. If the button on the dash is solid but the top is not moving, then it’s time to take it to the dealer. If the red light is blinking, then that means that either the cargo cover is not secure in position OR the valet button is enabled.
VDC/Check Engine (multiple potential issues)
These are more complex issues relating to the ECU/computer on the car. One easier fix will be that the gas cap is not on securely or on too tight (too many clicks) or perhaps needs to be replaced. Other owners have reported bad O2 sensors, bad ignition coils and other issues. Most of the time these are trips to the dealer and can be as inexpensive as a new gas cap or can be over $1k in service depending on the problem. Some reported cases were bad gas or the wrong gas used.
TPMS (several issues)
The SC430 is outfitted with Tire Pressure Monitoring system. These warning lights will be triggered if the tires are low on air, but also come on when the battery in the units wear out, which typically is happening on earlier models. DIY by refilling tires with air, Nitrogen air has been proven to keep pressure longer and many owners have found this to be a nice solution. TPMS sensor rebuild and battery replacement can be fairly costly and some have just opted to disable the system altogether which can be done.
Mark Levinson Speakers and how to check
It is VERY common for Mark Levinson speakers, especially the subwoofer and door speakers to fail on these cars. There are many options from a $5.00 fix with some glue DIY to a used speaker to a new replacement OEM or aftermarket speaker but the bottom line is that they do fail quite often. How to check-move the fade and balance buttons to all sides and front to back to see if you can hear for any popping or distortion at higher levels of volume. Most owners have experienced speaker failure. Brand new OEM speakers can be expensive, however fixing them is not relatively speaking and non-oem speakers can be substituted for better sound and durability. Doors and subwoofer most common as mentioned.
Trunk or Hood won't stay open or closes too fast/slams
It is most common for trunk struts to loose compression/gas and eventually fail. This is a fairly inexpensive and easy DIY. The hood could have the same issue.
Shaking at stop light while idling in Drive or Park
This could be a fairly expensive problem-engine motor mounts (while in park it shakes) and transmission mounts if it does it while in drive like at a stop light. Dealer service.
Antenna Stuck up about 1/3rd of the way
Common problem with the antenna guts, fairly inexpensive fix and a DIY as well.
Headlights pointing up/down leveling
Common issue that can be fixed by adjusting headlights under the hood. DIY
Stinky air
Common issue with a dirty cabin air filter. Replace inexpensive filter-DIY and easy.
Daytime Running Lights DRL
Most owners dislike the yellowish DRL’s that run all the time during the day. If your car was purchased at a Lexus Dealer, you can possibly go through Lexus Personalized Settings to have it turn off, or you can also replace/upgrade to LED or HID DRL’s. DIY
Steering Wheel Noise when turning
This is a common problem called the spiral cable. About $500 to repair and will need to be taken to dealer for service.
Headlights cloudy-there are some great products to clear these up and this is not a big issue. Plastic-X is one of them.
Belt Squeak-serpentine belt most likely. $40 at aftermarket parts store or $70-$80 at Dealer. Very easy DIY and much more costly at dealer to have done. Very common.
Other miscellaneous issues when buying a SC430: Lost keys or not enough keys-most new owners do not get all the keys to the car for some reason. These can be purchased and programmed/cut on your own much cheaper than the dealer charges (nearly $200) but requires a little work and a little hunting for a locksmith. Keys can be bought from vendors or on eBay easily.
Battery-since the SC430 has many electrical parts and typically is not a daily driver for most, oftentimes it will need a battery. There are many great choices.
Remote not working-replace $2 battery inside
Books/manuals-many great resources are available online, but you can also purchase books and manuals from Lexus vendors as well as on eBay, Amazon and more.
Floor mats filthy-especially on Ecru or light interiors-many owners with Ecru interiors switch to the black floor mats that match their dashboard which saves on wear and tear as well as stains. OEM Lexus floor mats are readily available and are a great addition to your new SC430!

Detailing and caring for your SC430There are many great resources online for this topic as well as on this forum. Most popular brands to detail the SC430 from it’s owners are Zaino and Meguires as well as many others.

Recommended Service Intervals (see attached file):The link is a good general Lexus recommended service interval sheet for all vehicles, for your specific SC430 you will need to apply that year to that specific vehicle. I’ve attached one for the 2005 SC430 for example.

Colors-please click on link below for colors by year, names and codes:

Using Club Lexus "Search" Function-Search is your Friend!
Please use the “search” button on Club Lexus, go to advanced to find more detailed items before you post a new thread. More than likely your question or topic has been discussed about the SC430 in the past ten years!

Club Lexus FAQ on the SC430http://<br /> <br /> https://www.c...the-sc430.html

SC430 Recalls, Service Bulletins-this is a fairly comprehensive but not total list on this link:

General SC430 Model information:
Produced from Q3 2001 till July 2010, model years from 2002-2010. Only significant update came in 2006+ models which added: New headlights, new tail lights (LED style), 6-speed manu-matic transmission and lower rated horsepower engine specs (288 vs 300) due to pressure on Lexus/Toyota to properly rate their performance-nothing actually changed on the engine. Other updates include an illuminated dashboard during the day, new AFS adaptive front lighting system and several other subtle changes. Click here for the model library:

Special Edition VehiclesThe SC430 was available in a Neiman Marcus and Pebble Beach Edition in the US models for several years. These cars offer different styling, colors and options than regular SC430 vehicles.

See Club Lexus Definitive Special Edition Thread:

Modifying the SC430The SC430 is not a highly modifiable car relatively speaking. It is a luxury cruiser. If you are looking to increase the horsepower with a chip by 100hp then this is not the car for you. Most owners who modify the car make more subtle changes that enhance the aesthetics or intake/exhaust or handling of the car. The most common top ten modifications for the SC430 are as follows in order of popularity:
1) Wheels/Tires most commonly 20” staggered setups, 18” OEM accessory wheels, non run flat tires. Another common mod is replacing pie/dinner plates with stars
2) iPod integration-Vais Tech, Soundgate
3) Lighting (mainly rear tails, DRL, LED’s everywhere)
4) Intake/Filters K&N, Blitz, Injen
5) Bluetooth (on 2004 and older cars), Parrott
6) Navigation Discs-update to include new POI’s, newer geographies and highways
7) Suspension-Lowering/Coilovers-Tanabe, Tein, K Sport, Megan as well as strut tower braces
8) Body kits-front spoiler, rear skirt and side skirts, Tom’s, Wald
9) Aluminum Pedals
10) Spare Tire Kit for trunk (when you get rid of the RFT’s you will need these!)

Other General Performance and Appearance: Blitz Throttle Controller, Tint, Backseat Cover, Front Mask/3M Paint Protection, Exhaust/headers/y-pipes, plugs, pulleys, etc.

Please visit the Club Lexus Vendor Marketplace Forum for all the vendors. Below is a list of some of the most frequently shopped vendors specific to the SC430 that also give us discounts regularly.

Club Lexus Vendors:
Sewell Lexus: Mainly OEM parts, accessorcies
Carson Toyota: OEM and Non-OEM parts, accessories
Vais Technology: iPod, XM and Aux

Other OEM and non-OEM upgrades, modifications, wheels, coilovers and aero parts:
JDM Parts:
B2 Auto:
Circuit Motorsports:
TH Motorsports:
Other non-Club Lexus Online Vendors for Parts/Accessories:

Other Lexus Enthusiast Sites (note: The SC430 was called “Soarer” in Europe and Asia until 2005 when the 2006 models came out and Lexus of Japan Launched).

After you buy your SC430 or even during the hunt, you might really like this post/link that talks about all the wonderful not-so-obvious things about the SC430 that make it an even greater car to own!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf SC Maint Schedule.pdf (211.0 KB, 2176 views)
File Type: pdf SC430_LPS.pdf (444.3 KB, 1446 views)
File Type: pdf 2005SCspecs.pdf (76.4 KB, 1088 views)

Last edited by scdroptop; 12-28-10 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 12-28-10, 12:29 PM   #2
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nice to know you put everything together.
i was just wondering when you were going to start one since newbies don't like to search.
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Old 12-28-10, 12:31 PM   #3
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Thanks! LOL I know...

If we could only create a "good deal" meter and have lurking owners plug in their numbers and we vote or the thread automatically spits out a number or something to tell them if they are getting a good deal or not! I'll start working on that!
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Old 12-28-10, 12:40 PM   #4
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This is so awesome, great job. Thanks a lot. Sticky please.
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Old 12-28-10, 04:37 PM   #5
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My god man... I vote for scdroptop to get the award for SC430er of the Year.
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Old 12-28-10, 05:58 PM   #6
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Great job, D! Now, no matter what the question, we can just tell someone to check the sticky at the top!
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Old 12-29-10, 06:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by huy33 View Post
My god man... I vote for scdroptop to get the award for SC430er of the Year.
Second the motion!

Somebody else ratify the motions!
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Old 12-29-10, 06:41 AM   #8
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Nice job!!!
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Old 12-29-10, 11:23 AM   #9
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Default SCDROPTOP for President!!!

Best write up of all, on any forum on the planet. THX SCDROPTOP.
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Old 01-02-11, 11:23 AM   #10
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I should have included this in the upgrade section, but a lot of new owners or potential lurking owners want to see what their new car or future car may look like with different wheels. Here are a few of my favorite wheel viewers online...there are tons of these:
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Old 01-23-11, 10:19 AM   #11
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Nice job putting this together for newbies.....thank you scdroptop.
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Old 01-24-11, 03:17 PM   #12
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One suggestion that I think is a must: Have the car inspected by a mechanic. A thorough inspection not only on the engine bay but the suspension. I did this but my mechanic and I were so impressed with the engine and differential and tranny that we overlooked the suspension issues. Like busted Upper arms, lower arms, etc. Seems that these can be easily seen.

Last edited by mandyfig; 03-28-11 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 03-30-11, 06:12 PM   #13
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Fantastic effort, thanks!!! Anyone know if there's a resource like this anywhere for the SC300/400?
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Old 04-14-11, 06:56 AM   #14
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Great job! Tons of good info!
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Old 04-14-11, 02:42 PM   #15
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Default opportunity to purchase a 2006 sc430

I have a opportunity to purchase a 2006 sc430 indigo ink blue with a white interior. Canadian car. 27,800 kilometers- 16680 miles, Firm price of 34,000CDN,
Car retailed for almost 100,000 in Canada in 2006. Any thoughts or advice?
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