Lexus LS 460 & LS 600h Buyer’s Guide & History

If you are looking for luxury but want something dependable and reliable you can’t really go far wrong with the Lexus LS 460. It followed on from the massively successful LS 430/Toyota Celsior and brought Lexus up to an even greater level in the luxury car segment.

In this guide we will be covering everything you need to know about buying a Lexus LS 460 (XF40) from the history of the car to its specifications and common problems that can occur with them. While the LS 460 is a fairly reliable machine, a poorly maintained one will be a money pit, so watch out!

We are also going to be looking at the hybrid version of the LS 460 known as the LS 600h. This model didn’t sell nearly as well as the LS 460, so it is quite hard to find out in the wild.

How to Use This Lexus LS 460 Buyer’s Guide

This guide covers a lot of information so use the table of contents below to skip to the section you want to read. The first thing we will look at is the history and specifications of the LS 460. Following those two things we will dive into the buyer’s guide section of the article and then look at more general car purchasing advice. The last section of this guide will cover advice on how to import a Lexus LS 460 from Japan.

The History of the Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h

Credit: machu

Lexus and Toyota began development of the fourth generation LS (also known as the XF40 in 2001 under the codename “250L”. Chief engineer, Moritaka Yoshida, and chief designer, Yo Hiruta headed up the design team for the new car and the final production concept was completed in 2004.

At the Tokyo Motor Show 2005, Lexus unveiled a hybrid concept known as the LF-Sh that was designed as a preview of the upcoming LS 460. This LF concept featured identical exterior dimensions of the standard wheelbase version of the fourth generation LS, however, it did not influence the design of the production car as it was created after the final concept was completed.

The LF-Sh concept had a number of features that differed from the final production LS. Among them, was the integrated exhaust vents that were a seamless one-piece design rather than a chrome-plated version. Additionally, the LED headlamps were gone on the production car, however, they would reappear on the hybrid LS 600h and LS 600h L when those released at a later date.

Following the reveal of the hybrid concept, the production LS 460 was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January 2006 as a 2007 model year. It was the first Lexus model to be offered in both standard and long-wheelbase options and it was based on Toyota’s all-new N platform.

The Design of the Lexus LS 460

Credit: Lexus

The fourth generation LS was given a new sleek body design that obviously drew inspiration from the previous generation, while being up to date with its competitors. This new design direction was labelled L-finesse by Lexus and it would eventually be carried over to the company’s other models as well.

The main design cues of the new LS design were body forms running the length of the car, sporty flared wheel arches, arrow-shaped chrome trim, a grille set lower to the ground and crystalline headlamps.

To expand interest in the new car from more markets, Lexus offered the fourth gen LS in two forms, the standard LS 460 and the LS 460 L, a long wheelbase version of the car. This extended version of the LS features a wheelbase of 3,091 mm (121.7 inches), 122 mm (4.8 inches) longer than the standard car.

Credit: Lexus

Both the LS 460 and the LS 460 L were equipped with Toyota’s new 4.6-litre 1UR-FSE V8 engine that was rated at 380 hp (283 kW) and 498 Nm (367 lb ft) of torque. This new power unit was combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission that provided an extra two gears over the 6-speed from the previous generation. These changes and updates lead to a 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) time of roughly 5.4 seconds, making the new car significantly faster than the LS 430.

When it came to handling and ride comfort, the LS 460 was given continuous controlled Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). This was the first time that such a suspension setup was fitted to an LS model. Along with AVS, Lexus also introduced an updated stability control system that was designed to anticipate skids, and alter the steering assist and gear ratios when needed.

Another first was the addition of an automated parallel parking assist feature, which allowed the LS 460 to steer itself into preselected parking spaces. Other driver assist features included radar cruise control, a brake-hold system, electronically controlled braking and electric variable gear ratio power steering.

The fourth generation LS also received a raft of new safety features from an eye-tracking Driver Monitoring System to a lane departure warning system. The Lexus team also included a pre-collision system that added the first production image processing chip to a car that was capable of identifying vehicles and pedestrians in real time. Other safety additions included a millimetre-wavelength radar, stereo cameras, infrared night vision projectors, and a rear pre-collision system with whiplash-preventing active seat headrests.

Credit: Lexus

On the inside the LS 460 gained a push-button start, a thin-fil transistor instrument display, and a whole load of luxury options that ranged from an HDD-based GPS navigation system to a heated steering wheel, and an XM NavTraffic system.

Standard features included power 16-way driver and 12-way front passenger seats with lumbar adjustment. The seats were also heated and finished in high quality leather upholstery. For tunes Lexus fitted a premium sound system and a power moonroof was also included. The climate control system offered the first infrared body temperature sensors in a production car and the “Executive” package on the LS 460 L included a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a swivel tray table, and a shiatsu massaging ottoman seat.

Pricing

The LS 460 and LS 460 L made their way to dealers in the United States, Europe and Japan in late 2006, while Australian, East Asian and Middle Easter buyers would have to wait until 2007. Base prices for the LS 460 and LS 460 L in the United States were US$61,000 and US$71,000 respectively.

Lexus LS 600h L

Credit: Lexus

Following on from the 2005 LF-Sh hybrid concept and the launch of the LS 460 a year later, Lexus introduced the LS 600h L in 2007 as a 2008 model year. The LS 600h L was the first production car to feature a V8-powered full-hybrid drivetrain and it was based on the long wheelbase version of the LS 460.

The hybrid system in the LS 600h L consisted of a 5.0-litre 2UR-FSE V8 engine that was mated to a high-output electric motor with nickel-metal hydride battery packs. Engineers at Lexus combined the power units with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and the combined power output was 439 hp (327 kW), significantly more than the standard petrol/gas powered LS 460.

Despite featuring significantly more power, fuel economy was increased and the car achieved a U.S. Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating.

Along with the hybrid drivetrain the LS 600h L also had some extra additions that were not featured on the LS 430. These features included the first production low beam LED headlights, a leather-trimmed dash, and blue-tined hybrid badging.

Pricing & Standard-wheelbase LS 600h

In April 2007 it was announced that the base price of the impressive new hybrid Lexus would be an equally impressive US$104,000. This not only surpassed the V12-equipped Toyota Century, but also made it the most expensive Japanese luxury car ever produced at the time.

One month following the announcement of the LS 600h L’s price in America, Lexus introduced a standard-wheelbase version of the car for European and Asian markets known as the LS 600h.

All-Wheel Drive LS 460 Introduced

Credit: Lexus

In the second half of 2008 Lexus decided to introduce an all-wheel drive version of the LS 460 that was based on the same system found in the hybrid LS 600h and LS 600h L. Lexus advertised the all-wheel drive LS 460 models as 2009 cars.

The all-wheel drive system was made available on both the short-wheelbase and the long-wheelbase versions of the car. Power was slightly less than the rear-wheel drive variant at around 360 hp (268 kW), which meant the 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) time dropped to just under six seconds.

Like in the hybrid cars, the all-wheel drive system fitted to the two LS 460 models uses a Torsen limited-slip differential to distribute torque to the front and rear wheels. It is normally set at a 40:60 power split, but can vary from 30:70 to 50:50 depending on traction needs.

Standard features on the all-wheel drive LS 460s included air suspension, a variable heated steering wheel finished in leather and wool, adaptive suspension, 18-inch wheels, and a power rear sunshade.

2009 Updates (2010 Model Year)

Credit: Lexus

By late 2009 the LS 460 was due for an update. The revised 2010 LS 460 and LS 460 L featured a restyled front and rear-end, new side mirror turn signals, and new wheel designs.

Lexus also gave the updated car automatic high beam lights, a self-repairing clear coat for the exterior paint, and an optional pre-crash detection system. On the inside the cabin received additional chrome trim, an optional DVD entertainment system behind the centre armrest, and in certain markets, an all-digital instrument panel with night vision technology.

LS 460 Sport

Credit: Lexus

Along with the 2009 updates for the 2010 model year car, Lexus also introduce the LS 460 Sport. This was a performance version of the short-wheelbase, rear-wheel drive version of the LS 460 and it came equipped with sport-tuned air suspension, Brembo brakes, forged wheels, a body kit, paddle shifters, and a unique interior. The Sport also received the Lexus IS F’s Sport Direct Shift transmission that features rev-matching capabilities and a manual mode.

More Updates in 2012 (2013 Model Year)

Credit: Lexus

With dwindling sales and an influx of new players in the LS 460’s segment, Lexus decided to introduce another update in 2012 for the 2013 model year. While the car was still based on the same platform, the 2013 LS featured roughly 3,000 new parts along with an updated body design that brought it more inline with the competition.

The main changes included a new familial “spindle”-style grille, new LED taillights, optional LED headlights, a powerful-looking redesigned bonnet/hood, reshaped front and rear bumpers that were more aggressive in appearance, and redesigned standard 18-inch wheels.

Credit: Lexus

Perhaps the biggest change to the updated car was the interior. Gone was the old design and materials that many felt were cheap for a car of the LS 460’s price and in came a more contemporary, high quality layout.

Lexus offered several wood trim options and while the interior dimensions remained the same, both the front and rear seats were redesigned for increased comfort and support. The standard rear bench could be complimented by optional executive seating in long-wheelbase versions of the car that included massage and recline functions.

Arguably the most notable design change inside the LS 460 was the redesigned centre stack and 12-inch widescreen display that gave buyers improved readability. The system is operated through the Lexus mouse-style controller and gives drivers access to the climate, navigation and audio systems along with a whole host of web-based applications as well.

F Sport Model

Credit: Lexus

For those who wanted something a bit more sporty, Lexus introduced the F Sport model along with the 2012 updates. The F Sport built on the previous LS 460’s Sport Package, which offered some mild suspension and brake upgrades, along with a set of paddle shifters.

With the F Sport, Lexus took the idea of a sporty LS 460 even further. They replaced the bushings, added bracing and even tweaked the shocks for a livelier driving experience.

Engineers at Lexus also lowered the ride height by around 10 mm (0.4 inches) and gave the car 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminium rims wrapped in 245/45-series all-season tyres. Lexus’s variable gear-ratio steering (VGRS), which varies the steering ratio based on the vehicle speed and steering-angle date was another addition, however, some drivers complained that the system was vague during hard cornering.

The brake upgrades included six-piston Brembo calipers at the front paired with 14.8 inch rotors, while the rear was given four-piston calipers and 14.0-inch rotors.

The End of the LS 460

Unfortunately, due to the Great Recession and changing tastes of luxury car buyers during the 2010s, the LS 460 became somewhat of a forgotten flagship with sales being significantly less than Toyota and Lexus had hoped.

Despite this, just over 10 years after the LS 460 started production, the fifth generation XF50 LS car was introduced.

Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h Specifications 

ModelLS 460 & 460 LLS 600h & 600h L
Year of production2006 – 20172007 – 2017
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel driveFront-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/Engines4.6 L 1UR-FE V8

4.6 L 1UR-FSE V8

5.0 L 2UR-FSE V8 hybrid
Power380 hp (283 kW) – RWD model

360 hp (268 kW) – AWD model

439 hp (327 kW),
Torque498 Nm (367 lb ft)

470 Nm (347 lb ft)

522 Nm (385 lb-ft)

 

Gearbox8-speed AA80E RWD automatic

8-speed AA80F AWD automatic

CVT L110F automatic
Suspension FrontIndependent, multi-linkIndependent, multi-link
Suspension RearIndependent, multi-linkIndependent, multi-link
Brakes4-wheel, power assisted, disc brakes4-wheel, power assisted, disc brakes
Weight1,925–1,965 kg (4,244–4,332 lb)2,370 kg (5,225 lbs)
Top speed250 km/h (155 mph) limited250 km/h (155 mph) limited
0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)5.4 seconds (RWD)

5.9 seconds (AWD)

5.8 – 6.2 seconds (depending on tester)

 

Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h Buyer’s Guide

Credit: Lexus

With the history and specifications of the fourth generation LS out of the way, lets take a look at what you need to know about buying one of these luxury Japanese cars. We will be mainly referring to the LS 460 in this article as that is the most common version of the car, but we will also talk about the LS 600h as well (most of the information is the same for these two variants).

Compared to much of their competition, the LS 460 and the hybrid 600h are incredibly reliable, and, as long as they are kept in good condition and maintained well you should be capable of travelling hundreds of thousands of miles.

However, as with any vehicle, a poorly maintained LS 460 can be an absolute nightmare, so it is important to thoroughly inspect any car you are interested in prior to purchase or get a reliable third party to do so for you.

Arranging an Inspection of a Lexus LS 460.

Setting up an inspection is an important step in the car buying process, so here are some tips to help you out:

  • If possible, meet the seller and their car at the seller’s house or place of business (dealership for example) – By doing this you will be able to get a rough idea of how and where the LS 460 you are looking gets stored. You can also get a general idea of the sort of roads the car is driven on as well, as rough roads with loads of potholes could mean that the suspension components have taken a beating.
  • Try to look at an LS 460 early in the morning – This is really going to depend on you and the seller’s schedule, but if possible, arrange an inspection for a time in the morning. The main reason we recommend this is that the seller is less likely to have pre-warmed the vehicle and it gives them less time to clean up any issues such as an oil leak.
  • Bring somebody with you – It is always a good idea to bring along somebody who can help you inspect a used car. While they don’t have to be mechanically inclined, it is better if they know a thing or two about vehicles. A helper may be able to sport something you missed, and they will be able to give you their thoughts on the Lexus LS 460 you are looking at.
  • Try to avoid inspecting a Lexus LS 460 in the rain – Water can cover up numerous different issues with the bodywork and/or paint, so try to avoid inspecting a car when it is wet. If you do happen to look at an LS 460 when it is wet, try to go back for a second viewing when it is dry before making a purchase.
  • Be cautious of an LS 460 that has been freshly washed, especially if it still has water on the bodywork or in the engine bay – this is largely for the same reason as above, but some owners will also wash the underside/engine bay to hide a nasty looking leak.

How Much Is a Lexus LS 460 or LS 600h Worth?

This is a tricky question to answer as it really depends on a number of factors from the condition of the specific vehicle you are looking at, to what year and spec level it is, and where it is being sold. For example, a late model LS 460 in excellent condition is going to be worth a lot more than a 2007 car that has been treated badly. Additionally, LS 600h and 600h L cars are going to command a higher premium than LS 460 models.

With the above in mind we recommend that you jump on your local classified/auction websites and dealer websites to see what sort of price one of these cars goes for in your area. You can then use the prices you find to work out roughly what you should spend for a specific model and condition level.

Is the Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h Expensive to Run?

If you stay away from Lexus dealerships and instead go to Toyota or a trusted specialist, the LS 460 is surprisingly reasonable to run, despite being a luxury motor vehicle. Doing some of the work yourself will also bring maintenance costs down, but things can get expensive if the car is not looked after properly or something major goes wrong.

Hybrid LS 600h and 600h L models will be more expensive to run, so if you are looking for something with a lower cost of ownership go with the LS 460. Still, the LS 600h will probably be cheaper to run than the equivalent BMW or Mercedes, but don’t expect repairs to be cheap if something major goes wrong, especially with the hybrid drivetrain.

Will the Lexus LS 460 or LS 600h Be a Future Classic?

Anything can become a collector’s item, so there is definitely a possibility that the LS 460 and/or the LS 600h may become classics at some point. The LS 600h and 600h L may be the ones to watch out for as Lexus sold far fewer of these models and they were the top of the range.

VIN

The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is a series of characters and numbers that manufacturers such as Lexus assign to a vehicle at production. You can discover quite a bit of information about a car from the VIN, such as the model year, place of manufacturer and the vehicle’s engine size.

In addition to the above, the VIN can also be entered into a VIN checkup/decoder website that may contain information such as whether or not the Lexus LS 460 you are inspecting has any money owing on it or if it has been written off at any point. Most of these VIN checkup websites/services are region limited, so keep that in mind. You may also be able to contact Lexus in your country and see if they can tell you any more about the vehicle you are interested in.

Where Can I Find the VIN on a Lexus LS 460?

Interestingly, Lexus stopped putting VINs on the LS 460 sometime in 2010, so if you can’t find any that may be the reason. If the LS 460 you are looking at is produced before this point (2009 for example) you should be able to find the VIN tags on the doors, trunk, and bonnet/hood.

If the VIN is scratched off or missing (if it was fitted with VIN tags from factory) it may indicate that the Lexus LS 460 you are looking at has been in an accident and had body panels replaced, or been stolen.

Engine

Credit: Lexus

We will be mainly covering information about the standard internal combustion engine in this section with some of the information applying to the LS 600h as well. We have included a separate section specific to the hybrid powertrain in the next section.

The first time you open the bonnet/hood, make sure that it stays up and the struts are in good condition. The engine should be have a cover over it, so it will need to be removed for the inspection to continue. If you feel like you might break the engine cover, get the owner to remove it for you (however, it shouldn’t be too hard and it should just pop off). Following this, check for the following:

Cleanliness – How does the engine bay look, is it dirty or completely spotless? A really dirty engine bay is usually a sign of an owner who does not look after their car properly. If you notice that the LS 460’s engine bay is completely spotless it is usually a sign of a good owner. However, some sellers will clean their car’s engine bay and underside to hide issues such as a big oil leak. If the engine bay is still wet, it may indicate that this is the case.

Damaged, broken or missing components – Have a good look and check for any damaged or broken parts. Additionally, if anything seems like it is missing you should be asking why. Sometimes there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation, however, if the owner tries to brush it off as nothing or doesn’t know anything about it alarm bells should be going off in your head.

Modifications – Some owners like to modify their LS 460s and while there is nothing wrong with that, it is important to make sure that the mods were installed correctly and are suitable for the car.

Inspecting the Fluids

Once you have had a good general look at the engine bay it is time to check the levels of the different fluids. Incorrect fluid levels (both too low and too high) are a sign of poor maintenance and can lead to increased wear and possibly even component/engine failure. We recommend that you check the fluid levels both before and after a test drive to make sure they are roughly the same height.

LS460 Service Intervals for the Oil & Oil Filter

Don’t forget to check the service history and with the owner to make sure that the oil and oil filter have been changed regularly. If you find that the oil and oil filter have not been changed regularly it is a major red flag. This is because old oil can become contaminated overtime and the oil filter material can breakdown.

Engine Oil

Up until the 2014 model year, Lexus recommended changing the engine oil every 8,000 km (5,000 miles) or every six months. From 2014 onwards they changed this to every 16,000 km (10,000 miles) or every 12 months. Modern synthetic oils are more than capable of going this extended distance, but some owners still like to replace the engine oil slightly earlier at around 12,000 km (7,500 miles). If a non-synthetic oil is used the change interval should be closer to the 8,000 km mark.

Best Oil for Lexus LS 460

It is generally recommended that you use either a 0W-20 or 5W-20 weight engine oil in an LS 460 or LS 600h, with the former being the most recommended by Toyota (standard from 2010). Lots of owners like to use Toyota’s 0W-20 Full Synthetic engine oil, however, oils from brands such as Mobil 1 and Castrol will be perfectly fine as well. Another option that some Lexus dealers/specialists recommend and use is a 5W-30 weight oil, especially if oil consumption is an issue.

Oil Filter for Lexus LS 460

It is recommended that you use the OEM oil filter with the part number 04152-YZZA5 in both the LS 460 and LS 600h. Aftermarket oil filters are available from the likes of Mobil 1, but the Toyota ones seem to be a fair price, so it is a good idea to go for those. The oil filter should be replaced with every oil change.

Carrying out oil and filter changes yourself will save you a lot of money if you do decide to buy an LS 460 or 600h. If the owner has changed the oil and oil filter themselves it may not be documented in the service history.

Inspecting the Oil Condition

When you are checking the oil level, remember to take a good look at the oil itself. If you notice metallic particles or grit in the oil it could be a sign of trouble, especially if the pieces are large.

You should also watch out for any foam or froth on the dipstick as this may indicate that the LS 460 you are looking at has overheated or blown a head gasket (doesn’t seem to be a common issue on these cars but can occur).

Do LS 460s Burn/Consume a Lot of Oil?

Unlike some other cars on the road, both the Lexus LS 460 and the LS 600h are not really known for oil consumption issues. Many owners of these cars do not notice a change in oil level at oil between changes, so it is not a big problem to worry about.

While the above is the case, we do recommend you ask the owner about how much oil the car consumes between changes. If it seems like a lot, there may be an issue that needs investigating or there may be a leak. Sometimes switching to a thicker weight oil can solve oil consumption issues, so keep that in mind as well.

Oil Leaks

Leaks don’t seem to be that common, but it is incredibly important to check for any before making a purchase of an LS 460 or LS 600h. Places where leaks may occur are around the oil filter, the valve cover gaskets, the high pressure fuel pump gaskets, the oil pan gaskets and more. Fixing an upper pan gasket leak will be extremely expensive as it is around a 20 hour job, while the lower is around 3 hours.

If the Lexus you are looking at is leaking oil it is important to get an idea of the severity of the issue. Check the underside of the vehicle and if you notice any large puddles of oil or what looks like a significant drip you should walk away. Unfortunately, it can be hard to determine where a leak is coming from during a short inspection, so you need to be cautious.

Does the LS 460 Have a Timing Chain or Belt?

Unlike the previous generation model, the LS 460 features a timing chain. This means that there is no recommended service interval. However, while it is often claimed that the timing chain should last the lifetime of the engine, the reality is different and eventually it may need to be replaced. The more common cause of timing chain issues is usually down to the chain tensioner and guides, so keep this in mind.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that infrequent oil changes and underfilled oil can lead to heightened wear of the timing components.

If there is an issue with the timing chain, tensioner or guides you may hear a bit of a rattle during idle. While you can still keep on driving the car when it is like this, you should get it checked out as soon possible. If the engine is making a really bad racket and is throwing out codes the car should not be driven and you should probably move onto another LS 460.

If there are any issues with the timing components and you still want to purchase the car, make sure you get a hefty discount as replacement parts and labour will be expensive.

Cooling System

These cars aren’t really known for overheating problems, but it is still important to check as much of the cooling system as possible. Failure of the cooling system can lead to total engine loss and a very expensive repair or replacement bill. Below you can see the main components of an LS 460’s cooling system:

  • Radiator – removes heat from the water/coolant
  • Thermostat – sends water/coolant that is hotter than the target temperature to the radiator to be cooled
  • Water Pump – belt that is driven from a pulley. Pushes water/coolant through the engine (should be replaced with the timing belt).
  • Overflow or Expansion bottle – removes air from the system and provides a filling point
  • Coolant Lines – hoses that allow water/coolant to remain contained as it moves through the engine/cooling system

It is a good idea to check the cooling system both before and after a test drive to make sure there are no leaks and that it is functioning correctly. Make sure you also check the coolant height and the inverter coolant height (only hybrid models) to see if they are at the correct height. You may notice a slight change in the coolant height during a test drive, however, it should only be minor. If the coolant is brown or muddy in colour it indicates poor maintenance.

The Lexus manual states that the coolant should be replaced at 160,000 km (100,000 miles) or at 10 years, and then every 80,000 km (50,000 miles) after that. If you are looking at an older LS 460 or LS 600h make sure that this has been done otherwise it indicates that the vehicle has been poorly maintained. You can read more about which coolant to use in a Lexus LS 460 here.

What are the Signs of Overheating or a Head Gasket Failure?

Be very cautious of any LS 460 that has recently had repair work done due to overheating, especially if it only has a few miles on it. Below we have listed some of the common signs of overheating and/or a blown head gasket.

  • Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
  • Oil that is white and milky
  • Fouled spark plugs (if you can get to see them)
  • Low cooling system integrity
  • Engine oil that smells of coolant
  • Sweet exhaust smell
  • Coolant leaking externally from below the exhaust manifold
  • White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it)
  • High temperatures and heat radiating off the engine

If you notice any of the above when you are inspecting an LS 460 or LS 600h you should probably walk away. Additionally, if the owner mentions anything about overheating or you notice anything in the service history, you need to investigate further.

Another thing to check is the temperature gauge. If it sits on the higher end or behaves erratically it may signal there is a problem with the cooling system and the car is overheating. Alternatively, if it sits on the low side it may be a sign that there is an issue with the thermostat.

Valve Spring Recall (2007 and 2008)

Lexus issued a recall for 2007 and some 2008 LS cars due to a faulty valve spring. This problem only impacted a small number of vehicles but it is important to make sure the recall was actioned upon. If it wasn’t, you should talk to Lexus before purchasing the vehicle to make sure it can be done for free (if you want to buy the car of course).

If the owner can’t tell you if the recall work was done, get the VIN and contact Lexus, they should be able to tell you if the recall was actioned upon.

Inspecting the Exhaust

Credit: Lexus

The original exhaust fitted to the fourth generation LS is robust and reliable, but things can go wrong. We have listed some issues with the exhaust system below that you may come across:

Corrosion – Depending on where you live this may be your biggest issue with the exhaust. In countries with salted roads or those with very harsh winters rust may form more quickly on the exhaust system. Check as much of the exhaust system as possible for corrosion and if it looks bad expect to replace the system in the future. You should also keep in mind that corrosion may form on the inside of the exhaust due to moisture in the system.

Black sooty stains – Typically a sign of a leak and depending on the severity of the problem a simple reweld may be all that is needed to fix the issue.

Cracks or accident damage – If you notice lots of dents, cracks or scratches on the exhaust it may be a result of careless driving and a careless owner. Damage can lead to corrosion, leaks and other issues, so it is important that the exhaust is fixed as soon as possible.

Bad repairs – The exhaust system on the LS 460 can be expensive to replace or repair, so watch out for bodge jobs.

Along with looking for the above, don’t forget to listen out for any hissing, chugging or rattling noises that may indicate there is a problem with the exhaust system.

  • Hissing – usually indicates that there is a crack or leak
  • Chugging – could be a sign that there is a blockage in the exhaust
  • Rattling – exhaust system may be misaligned or may have some other sort of problem

Turning on a Lexus LS 460 for the First Time

Credit: Lexus

We recommend that you get the owner or seller of the LS you are inspecting to start the vehicle for you (do it yourself as well at a later point). There are two reasons for this:

  • So, you can see what comes out the back (smoke, vapour, etc.)
  • To see if the owner revs the car hard when it is still cold (if they do that move onto another LS 460 or LS 600h)

What Should an LS 460 or LS 600h Idle At?

Expect the idle speed of an LS 460 to be in the range of 600 to 800 rpm, whereas the hybrid 600h will probably sit around the 1,000 rpm mark. Expect the idle speed to be slightly higher when equipment such as the climate control system is used and if the engine is charging the batteries (600h only).

If the idle seems poor or rough it may be down to several different issues from a dirty throttle body to a dirty intake system, worn spark plugs and more.

You probably won’t be able to determine the exact cause of the LS’s idling issues during a short inspection. If the fix was simple the owner would have probably already got it sorted before putting the car on the market, so keep that in mind.

It will probably be difficult to determine the exact cause of the problem during a short inspection, so keep that in mind. Additionally, if the fix was a simple one the owner probably would have got it done prior to putting the 370Z on the market.

Below we have listed some other signs that may indicate there is a problem with the ignition system:

  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Reduced acceleration
  • Engine misfires
  • Harsh starts

Smoke from a Lexus LS 460

If you notice a lot of smoke or vapour from the back of an LS 460 or LS 600h (or anywhere from that matter), you should probably pass on the vehicle as some serious expense could be incoming.

A small amount of vapour from the exhaust during startup is perfectly normal, especially if the weather is cold. This small amount of vapour is usually caused by condensation in the exhaust and it should disappear pretty quickly. If the vapour doesn’t go away or seems like a lot it indicates a problem. Below we have put together some information on what the different colours of smoke mean:

White smoke – Typically this is caused by water in the cylinders and could indicate a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is probably coolant.

Blue/Grey smoke – This can be caused by several different things from worn piston rings, valve seals and more. Oil leaking into the cylinders will burn, leading to a blueish smoke (can occur on startup). To check for blue smoke, ask a friend to follow you while drive the vehicle and take it through the rev range. Alternatively, get the owner to drive the car for a bit and watch out the back.

Blue or grey smoke on start-up and overrun could be a sign that the vehicle has been thrashed. Alternatively, if you see a bit of smoke on engine start-up it may be a sign of an oil burning issue, so we suggest you ask the seller about the car’s oil consumption. 

Black smoke – This usually indicates that the engine is running too rich and burning too much fuel. The first things to check are usually the air intake components as if they are dirty or blocked, they may restrict airflow.

Noisy Engine

If you are coming from an LS 430 don’t be surprised to find that the engine in an LS 460 is a bit louder. A tapping noise when the engine is cold is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. It is usually just the injectors ticking or the fuel pump making a noise. A higher frequency electrical-like whining is a known issue with 2013 to 2015 cars, but is not a massive problem to get fixed.

Engine Vibration Problems

If the engine seems to be vibrating excessively or seems like it shifts when gear changes occur, the motor mounts may need to be replaced. This is not a common fault with fourth gen LS cars, but with age and mileage the engine mounts and transmission mounts will eventually wear. Getting Lexus to replace the mounts will be expensive, so watch out for this.

Acceleration Issues

Credit: Lexus

Watch out for hesitation when pulling away from the lights. A number of owners have complained about this issue (usually early cars) and it is usually something to do with the ECU. A simple ECU update should fix the problem, but if the LS 460 you are looking at has this issue we would probably take it to a Lexus specialist before buying to confirm they can fix the issue.

Engine Rebuilds

While the engines in these cars are capable of going on for hundreds of thousands of miles if looked after properly, nothing lasts forever, and at some point, a rebuild or replacement may be necessary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an LS 460 with a rebuilt engine, as long as the work was carried out by somebody who knows what they are doing. Watch out for rebuilds that have been done on the cheap as they will almost certainly be a nightmare to own.

When looking at a fourth generation LS with a rebuilt engine, make sure you check for any receipts for parts and/or labour. Look up reviews of the place that carried out the rebuild and if they have poor reviews move onto another LS 460. Home mechanic rebuilds will probably be few and far between, but if you do come across one be cautious as a lot of home mechanics have more ambition than skill.

We also recommend that you keep away from cars that have just had a fresh rebuild as they are less of a known. An LS 460 or LS 600h with a rebuilt engine that has travelled 5,000 – 10,000 km is a much safer bet than something with under 1,000 km on it.

Engine Swaps

The stock power units fitted to the fourth generation LS are fantastic, so swaps with non-stock engines are extremely rare. If you do come across one of these cars with a swapped engine it is far more likely to be with the same engine (eg. 1UR-FE with 1UR-FE).

The main reason why an owner may have swapped a new engine in their car is if the old one blew up or needed to be rebuilt for some reason. It is often cheaper to swap in an engine from a different car than rebuilding the old one (however, a good rebuild is usually preferred as you know the history of the engine).

If you are looking at a car with a swapped engine, make sure that the work was carried out correctly and it is not an “unfinished project”. Like with rebuilds, we would also go with something that has travelled a few more miles to make sure everything is okay.

Compression Test

If possible, we recommend that you get a compression test done on the LS 460 or LS 600h you are interested in before purchase. While a compression test isn’t completely necessary, it can be a good way to work out the health of the engine. However, it is important to keep in mind that a compression test probably won’t tell you what specific problem an engine is suffering from and only that an issue exists.

The most important thing with a compression test is to make sure that all of the readings from the cylinders are withing about 10% of each other. If one or more of the cylinders gives a completely different reading than there is an issue that needs to be investigated. While you can do a compression test yourself, you may be better off going to a competent Lexus/Toyota specialist or mechanic (the owner will probably be more happy with this as well).

Hybrid Powertrain (LS 600h)

Credit: Lexus

If you are considering an LS 600h or LS 600h L you need to be aware that the hybrid system may be extremely expensive to fix if things go wrong. Not many of these cars were sold, which means that spares are few and far between. Labour is also far more expensive as the hybrid car is much more complicated than its standard internal combustion engined counterpart. Below we have put together some things to watch out for when looking at a hybrid fourth generation LS.

Batteries

This is arguably going to be your biggest concern, especially if you are looking at an older LS 600h. Warranties have expired on many of these cars and if the battery pack needs to be replaced you could be looking to spend a significant percentage of what you purchased the vehicle for.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to drive an LS 600h with the internal combustion engine alone, so if the batteries or hybrid system fails the car will be bricked. Toyota’s hybrid systems are generally very reliable, however, battery failures are not that uncommon once a car reaches into the hundreds of thousands of miles.

Still, there are plenty of owners who have reached 300,000 km (186,000 miles) plus with their hybrid Toyotas and Lexus cars, so if you are happy to take the risk you should hopefully get plenty of miles of trouble-free motoring.

Credit: Lexus

If you are interested in an LS 600h we recommend that you try to find one that has had the battery pack replaced. If it hasn’t had the battery replaced, get a hefty discount on the vehicle and put the money away so you can get the batteries changed at a later date.

The first signs of battery failure are usually warning lights/codes, so if the car you are looking at has any of those be very cautious. We recommend that you get yourself an OBD2 scanner or take the car to a Lexus specialist or dealer to get the codes read before purchase.

Hydrocarbon Switching Valve

Some owners have reported that the Hydrocarbon Switching valve in their LS 600hs has gone bad and needs replacing. The first sign of this problem is usually a Check Engine Light (CEL), so if you see this the codes need to be read.

To fix the problem Lexus dealers have been replacing the entire exhaust system, which is almost as expensive as replacing the hybrid batteries (sometimes more). With the fix being so expensive, many owners just leave the issue until their cars fail an emissions test.

An independent specialist should be able to fix the issue at a lower cost than a Lexus dealer and there are reports of them doing it without replacing the full exhaust system. Unfortunately, finding a specialist who is familiar with the LS 600h’s hybrid system is difficult as not many of these cars were sold.

If you come across an LS 600h with this problem, you are better off walking away unless you can get a hefty discount. Additionally, we also recommend that you ask the owner if their LS 600h has ever had a replacement exhaust for the Hydrocarbon Switching valve issue.

Transmission

Credit: Lexus

Both the AA80 and the CVT L110F automatic transmissions fitted to the LS 460 and LS 600h are overall robust and reliable. Some owners have reported that their cars have developed a bit of a rumble at around 1,200 to 1,600 rpm and the problem persists between changes. A transmission fluid drain and refill has fixed the problem on some owners’ cars, but not all.

Toyota and Lexus do claim that the transmission fluid is a lifetime fill in the United States, but in other locations they state that it should be replaced every 96,000 km (60,000 miles). The main reason for this difference in advice is probably the fact that Lexus wanted to keep the owner cost ratings down in the US. If you do plan on changing the fluid, it should be changed with Toyota/Lexus WS ATF.

Be careful when changing the transmission fluid on high mileage cars that have never had a replacement of the fluid as you may dislodge some wear particles. Only do a drain and refill, and not a flush as this could make things worse.

Apart from the above, make sure you go through all of the gears and positions to make sure that the transmission is working as intended. Loud bangs or big jolts when changing gears or changing the position of the shift lever (eg Drive to Reverse) are a sign of big trouble and possibly expense. Also listen out for any grinding or whining noises, and make sure that transmission shifts well at both low and high speeds.

Watch out for any leaks from the transmission as if the fluid level is not at the correct height it can cause excess wear and possibly even transmission failure.

Suspension & Steering

Credit: Lexus

While the transmission and powertrains are fairly bulletproof, the suspension and steering componentry is where things start to fall apart. Below we have listed some signs any symptoms of worn suspension and steering componentry:

  • Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
  • Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
  • Tipping during cornering
  • High speed instability
  • Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel (could indicate alignment issues or failed ball joints)
  • Delayed or longer stopping distances
  • Uneven tyre wear
  • Excessive bounce after hitting a bump or when pushing down on the suspension
  • Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
  • Sagging or uneven suspension
  • Knocking, clunking or creaking sounds during a test drive (this may be caused by something else, but bad suspension and steering componentry is a common issue)
  • Rattles

Remember to visually inspect as many of the steering and suspension components as possible. Use a torch/flashlight and a mirror to get a good view of hard to see areas. Check for any corrosion, broken or damaged parts that may indicate the vehicle has been in an accident.

Front Control Arms

The front control arms on the fourth generation LS are far more complex than the previous gen model. They have six control arms (3 per side) and the bushings in early models have a tendency to crack. A sign of this problem is usually a clunking sound when you go over bumps at low speeds.

Lexus dealers will often replace the entire setup, which is obviously very expensive to do. An independent specialist may be cheaper and there are some aftermarket options available. Lexus largely resolved this issue by the 2008 model year, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the problem if you are looking at a later model.

Air Suspension

This is a big one for any fourth generation LS. The air springs and shocks are a single unit, so if one goes they both go and they need to be replaced in pairs. Complete failures aren’t that common, but when a failure does occur the shock/air spring unit will need to be replaced at significant expense. Make sure that the LS 460 or LS 600h you are looking at is level on all four corners otherwise the suspension may have to be replaced.

To check that the car you are looking at has air suspension, look for the ‘Sport/Comfort’ and ‘Height Hi) switches on the left side of the dash below the gear selector. Remember to make sure that these switches work as intended and if they don’t expect a hefty repair bill.

If the LS 460 or LS 600h you are looking at has a few miles and it had air suspension from the factory, check to see if it has been replaced at any point. Problems seem to occur after around 160,000 km (100,000 miles), but they can also happen at any point.

Some owners like to replace the air suspension with aftermarket suspension. There is nothing wrong with this, but just make sure that the new suspension is from a good brand and is suitable for the vehicle.

Brakes

Credit: Lexus

It is important to visually inspect the brakes. Look out for any corroded, damaged or worn brake parts. If the pads or any other brake components look like they need to be replaced in the near future get a discount on the vehicle. Getting a Lexus dealer to replace brake components will be expensive, so go to a specialist or do it yourself. The actual parts aren’t too expensive and aftermarket options are available as well.

Make sure that the brake fluid has been changed every two years regardless of mileage. If the owner hasn’t replaced the brake fluid at or before this interval it is a sign of poor maintenance.

During a Test Drive

Both the LS 460 and LS 600h are known to have good brakes, so if they don’t perform well or feel weak during regular road driving there is a problem.  Erratic braking such as pulling to one side is usually caused by a sticking/seized caliper. This usually happens if the car has been left unused for a long period of time. Another sign of this problem is a loud thud when you pull away for the first time.

Juddering or shaking through the steering wheel of the fourth gen LS you are test driving may be a sign that the discs are warped. This problem occurs when the brakes are in use and usually becomes first apparent under high-speed braking.

Squealing sounds could be a sign that the pads need replacing or the rotors have something on them. Other than that, keep an ear out for any loud bangs, knocks, grinding or other strange sounds when the brakes are applied.

Brake Actuator

A clicking noise when the brakes are applied could be a sign that the brake actuator needs to be replaced. This is a very expensive part to replace, so make sure you watch out for this. If you still want to purchase an LS with this problem make sure you get a big discount and then get the work done as soon as possible.

Wheels & Tyres

Credit: Lexus

When you take a look at the suspension and brake components, don’t forget to have a good look at the wheels and tyres. Remember to keep an eye out for any damage, especially if the LS you are looking at has larger wheels. Lots of curb damage is a sign of a careless owner/driver.

Some owners like to fit aftermarket rims to their fourth gen cars. This is perfectly fine, but we suggest that you ask the seller if they have the originals as they will only add value to the vehicle. If the seller doesn’t the have the originals, try to use that point to get a discount (even if you like the aftermarket ones).

While you are inspecting the rims take a good look at the tyres and check for the following:

  • Amount of tread
  • Uneven wear (Can be a sign of alignment or suspension issues)
  • Brand (they should be from a good or well-reviewed brand)
  • Same tyre in terms of tyre make, type and tread pattern on each axle (preferably on all four wheels) – mismatched tyres can lead to poor handling performance and may even be dangerous.

These cars seem to chew through tyres, especially if they are fitted with larger rims. Tyre wear can be reduced by rotating the tyres, so check to see if the owner has done that.

Checking the Wheel Alignment

Try to find a nice flat, straight section of road during a test drive so you can check the wheel alignment. If you find that the LS 460 or LS 600h you are test driving doesn’t run straight with minimal or no driver inputs then the wheel alignment is probably out. You should also check the tyres for uneven wear as that is indicative of bad wheel alignment or some sort of other suspension/steering issue.

Body & Exterior

Credit: Lexus

Bodywork problems can be very expensive to fix, so take your time inspecting the exterior and underside of an LS 460 or LS 600h thoroughly.

Corrosion

Corrosion is far less of an issue on the fourth gen LS than earlier models, however, it can still occur. Make sure you check around the wheel arches, in the wheel wells, under the car, and around the doors and sills. Also watch out for any areas with stone chips as they may lead to rust forming.

If you do notice rust on the LS 460 or 600h you are inspecting, try to get an idea of how serious the issue is. While rust can usually be repaired, it is often a bigger problem than it first appears. If you notice significant amounts of rust move onto another car.

Things That Can Make Rust More Likely to Occur

  • Vehicle has spent time in countries or areas with salted roads (United Kingdom or Northern States for example)
  • The vehicle has been driven in wet conditions a lot
  • Car has spent time in countries or areas with very harsh winters
  • Vehicle is often parked/stored by the sea for significant periods of time
  • If the fourth gen LS you are looking at has always been kept outside (never garaged)
  • Accident damage (stone chips or more significant damage)

If you live in an area with harsh winters and salted roads, the body of a fourth gen LS will probably give up before the engine and transmission.

Looking for Rust Repairs

It is not only important to look for present rust, but you should also keep an eye out for signs of past rust repair. Watch out for any areas that may have been resprayed or cut out and replaced. You should also check the service history and with the owner (however, don’t trust what the owner says completely as they may be trying to hide something from you).

Use a magnet on steel sections of the car or a coating gauge thickness tool such as this one to find any areas that may have been repaired.

Accident Damage

Accident damage is always going to be one of your primary areas of concern when purchasing a used car. Like with rust, accident damage is often much more serious than it first appears. Many owners will try to cover up the fact that their vehicle has been in an accident and some may even claim their car hasn’t been in a crash when it clearly has. Hope for the best and assume the worst with accident damage!

Below we have put together a list of things that may indicate that the LS 460 or LS 600h you are looking at has been in an accident.

  • Bent or broken parts underneath the car – Check to see if everything is straight underneath the LS and watch out for any replaced parts. Take a good look at all the suspension, steering and exhaust components for damage.
  • Rust in strange locations – May be a sign that the Lexus you are inspecting has been in a crash or has some other sort of problem. The most common cause of rust on the bodywork is usually from stone chips.
  • Paint runs or overspray – While this could be a factory issue, Lexus’s quality control is exceptional so it is probably due to repair work.
  • Missing badges or trim – Could be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.).
  • Misaligned panels or large panel gaps – Check that the bonnet lines up correctly and fits as it should. Additionally, check the bonnet catches as if they look new the car has probably been in an accident. You should also check the doors and the lights for any damage or signs of past damage. Once again Lexus’s quality control is outstanding, so this problem is much more likely to be from some sort of accident.
  • Doors that drop or don’t close properly – If the doors drop or don’t open/close properly the LS 460 or LS 600h you are inspecting may have been in an accident.
  • Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different coloured panels – Indicates a respray which may have been conducted as a result of accident damage or rust.
  • If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not – This may indicate that the fourth gen LS you are inspecting at has been crashed into something (even a light knock can cause this problem).

Accident damage shouldn’t automatically mean a dismissal of a vehicle, however, if the accident was clearly very serious or the car has been repaired poorly we would probably walk away. Additionally, watch out for structural damage as in some cases it may not be repairable.

If the owner/seller tries to cover up or lie about the accident it suggests that the problem is worse than first appears. Alternatively, if the owner can’t tell you much about the accident/damage it may have happened when a previous person owner the vehicle.

Wind Noise

Early 2007 to 2010 LS 460 and LS 600h cars often experience a problem with excessive amounts of wind noise. This is usually caused by the triangle-trim located at the front of the front windows. Overtime, the adhesive for the trim fails, which can lead to a whistling noise and poor isolation from sounds occurring outside the vehicle.

There is a documented fix that involves removing the offending plastic and sealing it, which you can read about here. Most cars you encounter will have had the problem fixed, so you shouldn’t worry too much about this issue.

Sunroof Issues

If the fourth gen LS you are looking at is fitted with a sunroof make sure that you check it is in good condition and works as intended. Watch out for any leaks and check the condition of the gasket. If the glass is in a bad way, it may nee to be replaced.

Interior

Credit: Lexus

Lexus completely updated the interior for the 2013 model year, so spring for a 2013+ car if you want the best interior. While the interior on early cars isn’t bad, it certainly isn’t as good as some other luxury cars from the period (although the leather and wood trim is very good quality).

When you are inspecting the interior check the seats for rips, tears or stains. Make sure the seats haven’t collapsed and check that they move properly. If the seats move under acceleration or braking it is incredibly dangerous and will lead to an MOT/WOF failure.

The dashboard and door panel armrest material on early models is also known to be of poor quality and can melt, so make sure they are in good condition. Lexus did conduct a recall for some 2007 models, but the problem of melting trim materials seems to affect a much larger range of model years.

If you notice excessive amounts of wear on the seats, steering wheel, carpets, shifter and pedals for the mileage it may be an indicative of a car that has had a hard life. Apart from that, go over the rest of the interior and look out for any broken, missing or worn trim pieces and parts.

Credit: Lexus

You should also check for dampness around the interior, especially around the carpets, pillars and windows. While leaks aren’t a common issue, they can occur, especially on vehicles that have been repaired due to accident damage. Another area to check is on the boot/trunk as water can ingress there. We also recommend that you lift up the floor mats and check for water residue on the bottom. If you do see any residue it may be due to a past leaking issue.

Remember to have a look at the headlining above the driver’s seat. If it is a slightly different colour it may be a sign that the LS 460 or LS 600h you are looking at has been owned by a smoker. A smell test will also help you determine whether or not this is the case as well.

Replacing the interior trim can be expensive, so make sure the one in the car you are interested in is up to your standards.

Electronics

Credit: Lexus

If the fourth gen LS you are looking at is fitted with a Mark Levinson sounds system make sure it is in good condition. Sometimes the amps can blow and they are expensive to replace. Independent repairers can fix them at a much lower cost, so that is generally the better option. Also check the speakers to make sure they all work and don’t crackle, etc.

Make sure that the owner/seller has the original master keys as these are very expensive to source from Lexus (there should be two). You can get replacements online cheaper (eBay), but there is no guarantee that they will work and your local Lexus dealer may not reprogram them for you.

Credit: Lexus

Remember to check that all the buttons, switches and dials work as intended (heated seats, windows, etc.). Additionally, check that the navigation system works as a replacement will be very expensive from Lexus.

If the air conditioning/climate control doesn’t work don’t let the owner convince you it just needs a re-gas. While a re-gas may simple be what is needed, it may also be a much more serious issue such as a compressor failure.

Don’t forget to check for any warning lights on the dashboard during both engine start-up and while the car is running. If you don’t notice any warning lights during start-up, they may have been disconnected to hide an issue. If you are really serious about getting a good LS 460 or LS 600h we recommend that you take along an OBD2 scanner or take the car to Lexus to get the codes read.

General Car Buying Advice for a Fourth Gen LS

Credit: Lexus

How to Get the Best Deal on an LS 460 or LS 600h

This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.

  1. Research heavily – Prior to starting your search for a fourth gen LS, figure out what specs and condition you are happy with. Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far? Are modifications okay or do you want a stock model.
  2. Shop around – It is always best to shop around a bit before you make a purchase. There are loads of different fourth gen cars out there in different levels of condition and spec, so don’t limit yourself to one seller, dealer, area or auction platform.
  3. Go look at and test drive multiple LS 460s– It is a good idea to test drive a many cars as possible, so you know what makes a good and what makes a bad Lexus LS 430.
  4. Adjust your attitude – Never rush into a purchase. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time when looking for a Lexus LS 460 or LS 600h for sale and only go for promising looking cars.
  5. Use any issues with the car to your advantage – Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
  6. Don’t trust the owner – While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say but back it up with a thorough inspection.
  7. Go between sellers/dealers – If you are looking at multiple cars, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
  8. Be prepared to walk away – If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.

Mileage vs Condition 

Credit: Lexus

Mileage vs condition is always a hot topic for debate, but we feel that it is always better to buy on condition and then on mileage. Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good.

Short distance trips do not allow the engine to warm up properly, which can lead to increased component wear and reduced engine life.

Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.

Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!   

Service History and Other Documentation

It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. While the servicing doesn’t need to be done at a dealer, it should be carried out by a competent Lexus or Toyota specialist or mechanic (especially for major repair work).

The service history will give you a good idea of how the Lexus LS 460 or LS 600h you are inspecting has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications (if the car has any) can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.

If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any vehicle your purchase and will make it easier to sell the car in the future.

Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.

Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner 

  • How often do you drive the car?
  • When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
  • How much oil does it use?
  • What oil do you use in the car?
  • What parts have been replaced?
  • When were the coils, spark plugs, leads changed?
  • What’s the compression like?
  • What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
  • Has the vehicle overheated at any point or has the head gasket failed?
  • Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
  • Is there any money owing on the car?
  • Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
  • Has the air suspension been replaced
  • How are the speakers
  • Is there any rust?
  • Has rust been removed at any point?
  • When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
  • Where do you store/park the car usually?
  • Have the batteries or exhaust (hydrocarbon valve issue) been replaced (LS 600h)

There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.

Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Fourth Gen LS

Here are some things that would make as walk away from one of these cars. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.

  • Overheating problems or blown head gasket
  • Significant Crash Damage
  • Money owing on the car
  • Stanced
  • Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
  • Excessive amounts of power
  • Bad compression
  • Bad resprays
  • Significant rust problems
  • Engine swaps with non-standard engines
  • Significant track use (probably not a major issue as these cars are not known for their track capabilities)
  • Major engine or transmission issues
  • Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)
  • Battery and hydrocarbon valve issues on hybrid models (only purchase if you can get a massive discount on the vehicle)

Notes on the Owner 

The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their Lexus (however, don’t trust their answers completely). Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying an absolute lemon. Here are some things to watch out for.

  • How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
  • Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
  • Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
  • What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
  • How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
  • Do they know anything about the LS 460 or the LS 600h and the model they are selling?
  • What can they tell you about previous owners?
  • Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
  • What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
  • What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
  • How do they react if you ask to do a compression test on the vehicle?
  • How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?

If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another LS 460.

Importing a Lexus LS 460 or 600h from Japan

Credit: Lexus

Lexus sold a number of fourth generation LS cars in Japan, so if you can’t find one in your country you may want to import one from the land of the rising sun. However, remember that not all versions of the fourth-gen LS were sold in Japan.

How to Import a Fourth Gen LS from Japan

While importing a Lexus LS 460 or LS 600h from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually relatively simple. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search something like “import Lexus LS 460” or “import Lexus LS 600h”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for one of these cars based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.

Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.

Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get completely scammed, many of these websites will be economical with the truth about a vehicle. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:

JDM Expo – Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.

Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars.

Japan Partner – Is one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles.

Note: many of these sorts of websites do not provide a grade or auction check sheet. The grade, auction check sheet, and car map are vital to picking a good car. Buyer beware!

Use a Private Importer

While the websites above are a handy way to give you a general idea of what to expect when importing a fourth gen LS, we recommend that you go with a private importer. A trusted private importer will be able to find a suitable LS 460 or LS 600h for you and import it, saving you the hassle. While it may cost you a bit more (sometimes it is cheaper) you are more likely to get a better vehicle.

You can get a full explanation of why we recommend using a private importer here.

How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work? 

The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles

They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.

Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.

While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.

Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.

Use the grade to reduce the number of LS cars you are looking at and then use the check sheet and additionally information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you if possible (hence the recommendation for a private importer).

The Auction Check Sheet 

Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of a fourth gen Lexus LS and where any problems are located.

Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.

What Does the Number Grade Mean? 
  • Grade 7 to 9 or S– New car with delivery miles.
  • Grade 6– Same as above but with a few more miles.
  • Grade 5– Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
  • Grade 4.5– Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
  • Grade 4– Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
  • Grade 3.5– Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
  • Grade 3– Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
  • Grade 2– Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
  • Grade 1– Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
  • Grade 0, A, R, RA– Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade

As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.

The Car Map 

The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.

Our Guidelines for Importing a Lexus LS 460 or 600h from Japan

  • Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
  • If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
  • Try to go through a private importer
  • Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
  • Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
  • Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
  • Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
  • Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
  • Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
  • Avoid cars with unknown mileages
  • Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
  • Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents
Know Your Country’s Importation Laws 

Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.

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