CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2004 Lexus RX 330

I am looking for a used vehicle and apparently made the mistake of sitting in this Lexus RX 330. It’s in unbelievable condition - like new - which wouldn’t be quite so amazing except that it has 220K miles.



Based on the online research, the price they are asking is good - not too good to be true - but good - right at $10 (which is what I am hearing is right around trade in value - even with this mileage which says something I guess).



Anyway, is it possible for this vehicle to still be a good bet even with all those miles?

Unless you have very complete maintenance records that can be reviewed, I would never pay $10K for any car that has this many miles on it. Realize this is an upper ended luxury brand, but that is not enough to get me part with that amount of cash.

Even well kept this is 2/3rds the life of the vehicle. I would find another with low miles to test drive to feel the difference between the two and judge it from that. If there is a considerable difference in engine feel, suspension ride quality etc. It may be better to pay a few grand more and wear it out yourself. I’m not scared of high miles my truck is 250k and my car is 218k but they don’t drive as good as they used to. Don’t cheat yourself to save 20-40 bucks a month.

It wouldn’t be $20-40 per month… the closest I can find is another with about 120K miles and it’s over 10K more. Can’t afford that right now. My options because of my needs are things like minivans with significant miles on them (like Chrysler T&C (2007) with 70K miles or a Honda Odessey (2002) with 120K miles, etc.). Based on lifespan if well maintained and reliability the Lexus seems the best of these three examples at least… and that causes a disconnect for me too which is why I am asking for the input.

I’m not a car snob or even a car afficionado… what is attracting me here has more to do with the fact that for my price range and needs this vehicle even with the crazy miles seems as good a bet based on reliability factors as anything else I can consider.

I’ve been told that longevity should be 300-350K miles additionally if the engine is what went I could have a good used one installed for around $1200 because there are plenty available used. Transmission could be similar I know. I don’t doubt that repairs could be an issue and yea, the mileage makes me a bit crazy too but in comparing to a used minivan that probably has a lifespan of 200K (and isn’t as well engineered so I know I’ll be needing regular brake work, etc. for example) - anyway, just seems that if these figures are right that I am as likely to get another 100K out of this Lexus as I am out of the minivans I’ve seen and I get AWD.

I would be more likely to absorb any costs associated with the Town & Country. Biggest issues appear to be suspension, brakes, body integrity. These issues are mostly affordable to deal with.

I would also look at average cost to repair. Lexus parts & labor at dealers around here don’t come cheap, labor-wise. Depending on your load requirements and driving habits, that vehicle might make more sense economically.

Actually, not that I know anything much about it, my uncle is a mechanic and former trainer of auto technicians for Toyota. He lives about 45 min from me so he could do the repairs but he actually said that any good Toyota tech can work on Lexus and that the parts aren’t more than for other vehicles. My initial inclination was the same as yours, that being upscale repairs were inherently more of a burden.

My local Yota dealer can’t work on Lexus. At least that was the case a few years ago. The software is different.

Can you find a good service history? Perhaps records in the glove box, receipts, or run the VIN# at a Lexus dealer and see if any records show up?

High miles generally means alot of highway miles, ie. in the case of a sales rep or someone with a long daily commute. I won’t be scared off by the miles, but I’d try to find out as much as I can about the car.

Pre-sale inspection by a mechanic is important. With the mechanics report you can do some more negotiating if you are still interested in the car.

I’d say nothing doing to a high mileage Volvo, but Lexus tend to hold up well and maybe worth a look.

At least you have a possible support network that I do not have access to. Probably need to see if your uncle would do a prepurchase inspection on this one. My Toyota Corolla and a Geo Prizm clone were the best and longest lasting vehicles I ever owned, but I also bought them new, they had manual transmissions, and had few bells & whistles.

Keep in mind that even quality vehicles reach a point of diminishing returns. Wear items are still required to be repaired – the real issue is whether the more expensive items would work out in your favor. The more complicated the car is (bells & whistles), the more likely something expensive is to break.

At this point, I think you are saying you might get 50% more life out of the Lexus, and I am thinking you can get more than 50% of life out of the Chrysler for the same money.

I would stay away from the Odyssey because 02 is the year that Honda appears to have had the most transmission problems.

Found out - via the Club Lexus forum that I can get the service history at least as far as dealership is concerned - with the VIN number and going to the Lexus website. Makes it even easier than checking with the dealership.

I agree that the odds are that either vehicle could/should go another 100K - however, while I recognized I likely couldn’t get 4wd (fwd was my fall back position cause I live in the country and deal with snow occasionally) - so the mini-van was already a bit of a compromise. Second, have you ever driven a T&C and an RX 330? There is NO comparison with the ride/drive even with all the miles on the Lexus. There’s a reason I was sucked in! LOL

Take it to a trusted mechanic and get a thorough pre-purchase inspection. If you put on less than 15,000 miles per year, it might be worth buying. BTW, according to Edmunds, the price is at least $2000 below book value, even after a $2500 mileage deduction. Maybe your uncle could look at it for you.

Oh, I seriously doubt I will do less than 15K, but within a couple years I should be in a position where I could buy a Lexus new if that is what I wanted to do with my money so I’m not as concerned about lifespan in terms of time as I am in terms of mileage. I wouldn’t finance for more than a couple years in any case.

Do not buy it until after you see the history.

"I’ve been told that longevity should be 300-350K miles additionally if the engine is what went I could have a good used one installed for around $1200 "

“should be 300-350k” Who knows? Once you’re over 200k anything might happen, transmissions in particular. And I’d be surprised if you could swap an engine for a total of $1200.

Actually I have driven several Chrysler minivans and ridden in a RX350 (I think). The RX350 was in a city environment and its ride quality didn’t make an impression on me one way or the other.

It appears you may be sold on the RX330, so good luck in your choices.