Repair or Sell?

My husband has a 1999 Lexus SC300, and we recently noticed that it was leaking oil. We took it to our mechanic and were told that in order to fix the leak they would have to take apart the entire engine (I don’t remember exactly what was leaking, I just know it’s buried deep within the engine). So the estimated cost was about $1200 to fix it.
We are now trying to decide if we should:
a) just sell the car as is (currently has 150k miles, KBB says its worth about $6500 in excellent condition) or
b) fix the car then sell it or
c) fix it and keep it.

This car is mainly a weekend car for us, not a commuter car. We drove it about once a week. We are a bit worried that the car will become a money pit, but we’ve also heard these cars will run forever. Other than this leak, the car is in excellent condition

Also, if you do suggest selling it what do you suggest for a going price? We noticed there is only one other Lexus SC (with the same body style as ours) within 500 miles of where we live for sale. Would this make it more of a rare car…perhaps we can get more for it because of this? My husband said there were only like 13 or 14 of them for sale in all of the US.

Thanks for any input!

– Shanna –

Find another mechanic. If it’s buried deep in the engine…then it’s NOT leaking. And if they had to take the entire engine apart it would cost $6000 NOT $1200.

Is the engine running OK???

Would this make it more of a rare car…perhaps we can get more for it because of this?

A rare “Classic” car would fetch more money. A rare every day car (which this is) would fetch LESS money. But probably not much less. This is not an unusual vehicle. It’s built on the same platform as the Camry and Avalon.

If the vehicle is running well I’d keep it. Find out exactly what the problem is. What you described is NOT possible.

How bad is the leak?? You can buy alot of oil for $1200…LOL… I work at a car dealership and we had one of those cars it did not sell very fast, you have to keep in mind you car is 13 years old and has 150,000 while it may be in good shape with the oil leak it is no longer worth Excellen condition. I looked up your car on MMR which is a dealer web sight that has auction prices on all cars. So these are prices on real cars being purchased by real dealers… Only 6 of them have been sold in the US recently. One with 199K sold for $3200, one with 180K sold for $3850 one with 165K sold for $3900 and one with 121K sold for $4800… As such on trade your car is wroth around $3900, so as a retail price $6,000 is not far off. THAT IS WITH OUT THE LEAK though…

My advice is keep it as your weekend car, add oil as it needs it and just enjoy it.

Your husband must be thinking of a different car. There were 1,910 SC300’s sold in model year 1999, which makes it more common than my MR2, and that’s considered uncommon but not at all rare.

Yep, this is just a nice used cars, it has its fans, but it’s not one pursued by folks very hard. There are 62 for sale on, just about all priced under $10,000, half under $5,000. So if you want to keep it, either put up with the leak (how much is it leaking), or get it fixed. Or sell it, just don’t expect big$$.

For $1200, the only seal that I can think of that would be in this price range is the front crankshaft oil seal. They don’t have to tear the whole engine apart, but they do have to remove the timing belt/gear and the timing gear. If its leaking just a little but, you can just keep oil in it and drive it, but with a car that is only driven occasionally, this seal can tear and let out a full crankcase of oil in just minutes. That can happen suddenly. But since it just started leaking, it may be a year or two before it needs to be changed.

I just checked and you do have a timing belt, and your timing belt also drives the water pump. If it is this seal, and you have not had the timing belt changed in the last 4 years, then I would recommend that you have the timing belt, the water pump and this seal as well as the camshaft seals replaced all at the same time. That will extend the life of your car at least 6 years. The total cost for this would be around the $1200 quoted just for the seal, because all that other stuff has to be removed just to get to this seal. Get a couple of quotes. In this case, fix and keep, or fix and sell it to me for $3900.

BTW, get a quote from the dealer as well. My uncle, who lives in So Cal has a Toyota with this same engine. The dealer did all that, plus new CV joint boots, new front disc brake pads and rotors, spark plugs and a dogbone motor mount for $1800. He has had 6 years of troublefree driving with it since.

Thanks for all the input guys! So I talked to my husband and got a little more detail as to what is leaking. He said the problem is with the variable timing control. The module is leaking.

We asked our mechanic if he would be interested in buying the vehicle as is, and he offered us $3k for it.

Oh also, we were told that we can go another month without fixing the leak, but after that it will probably start to cause even more damage to other parts of the engine and be an even more expensive fix. We’ve been going to our mechanic for years now, and he’s always proven to be very honest and reliable.

That’s a gorgeous car. If the rest of it is in great shape and you like the car, to me it’s worth the $1200 bucks. Where else are you going to find that nice a car on good shape that you know the history of and like for a mere $1200?

Honestly, sometimes it’s a question of “is it worth it to ME”. Its value to you, its bluebook value, and the cost to replace it with something similar may be wildly different numbers. $1200 ain’t that much for a car you know and like.

I would get a 2nd opinion just because the mechanic that wants to fix it also will buy it. There is conflict of interest and that makes this statement;
"we can go another month without fixing the leak, but after that it will probably start to cause even more damage to other parts of the engine and be an even more expensive fix"
a bit suspect.

Keep the car! Since it is used as a once-a-week spare, it might provide you with twenty more years of faithful service. Why spend thousands on a different car to do the same thing?

As to repairing it, get a second opinion. You might also seriously consider the suggestion made above of just adding oil periodically. It’s an economical way of postponing a decision that need not be made right away – or even for several years.

I’d have to agree wiuth Steve; a car only used occasionaally, and not critical for getting to work can be nursed along for years and still give good service. Check the oil and fluids frequently, and put a cookie tray with some kitty litter under the oil pan in your garage.

Often a car that uses or leaks oil runs just fine and reminds you to way back when even new cars used 1 quart every 1000 miles.

I’m with Doc and Steve. It couldn’t be as bad as my first car that leaked auto trans fluid so bad, I put a tray under it when parked and dumped it back in before driving away. Save the $1200 till it gets too bad to live with. It is a great car…compared to what I drive/drove.