Jump to content
The Motorists Guide
  • GUIDES TO MOTORING ABROAD

    601453474_GBFlagcopy2.jpg.acaed72a60dd15289a7f77c1a4bfacd7.jpg   582983291_USAcopy.jpg.28a336ce779814a1456fdf03662bdb31.jpg   560432495_Europecopy2.png.ea8711e12b83774ebffc1576326516d0.png   459823598_RoadTripimage.jpg.42f3c1905e49cf42b17e8f53c5774a81.jpg

  • JOIN THE 'OLD SCHOOL COOL' CAR CLUB - FOR ALL MODERN CLASSIC CAR OWNERS

    1866879865_OSCClub.png.2645f7882ec311dd7a6f61e9dcd4a6ba.png

  • Used car buying guide: Lexus SC430

       (Overall rating from this review)
    Sign in to follow this  
    To most folk, it’s an ugly thing strangled at birth by clumsy handling and a lumpy ride...

    The Lexus SC430 long-haul comfort and its build quality is impervious to high mileage - here's how to get one for as little as £2750

    Marmite comes in many forms, including this, the Lexus SC430 of 2001 to 2009.

    To most folk, it’s an ugly thing strangled at birth by clumsy handling and a lumpy ride, made brittle by run-flat tyres. Changes to the suspension in 2002 and 2004 improved things but mud sticks and it stuck especially well to this wannabe alternative to the Mercedes-Benz SL.

    Click here to see used Lexus SC for sale on PistonHeads

    Today, the SC is still no looker but it is different from the herd and on paper it has the kind of specification we’ll soon be drooling over in motor museums: a naturally aspirated 282bhp 4.3-litre V8 driving the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox, double-wishbone suspension and a folding aluminium roof. (No, it’s not broken. It really does take 25sec to do its thing.)

    066000100_1216135566.jpg

    The 2+2 cabin is a gadget-lover’s paradise and, this being a Lexus, you won’t have to worry about any of it not working. The climate control system can sense whether the roof is open or closed, as well as the speed the car is travelling at and the ambient temperature, and automatically direct chilled or warm air as necessary. There’s a knockout Mark Levinson sound system, powered and heated seats, electrically adjustable steering column and a touchscreen sat-nav.

    Obviously, the touchscreen system is seriously dated but cartronics.co.uk can swap in a state-of-the-art one that’ll talk to the Mark Levinson music centre for £2200. Pay a little more and they’ll wire in a reversing camera. It all fits snugly into the original space.

    The cabin is trimmed in leather and those door and fascia cappings are real wood, shaped and lacquered with the help of musical instrument makers Yamaha. Everything is finished and screwed together beautifully, qualities that serve today’s used SCs very well.

    untitled-15.jpg

    Prices start at around £3000 for a 2002 car with 110,000 miles. If it’s a late 2002 model, there’s a chance it has the tweaked suspension that brought improvements to the ride, handling and refinement. Still not satisfied, Lexus added new dampers and tuned the chassis in late 2004. The result was a more absorbent ride, allied to sharper handling. These mid-life cars start at around £7500. In 2005, the SC was mildly facelifted with revised bumpers and redesigned 18in alloy wheels.

    SC owners are loyal and fastidious so you’ll find a lot of cherished cars with just one or two former keepers, full Lexus histories and reasonably low mileages. Even the youngest cars are now nine years old, so expect some wear-and-tear-related issues. However, the first are as old as 17. On these, check for underbody rust, clonky suspension, evidence of timing belt and water pump replacement, healthy fluid levels and a smooth gearbox. At all ages, oxygen sensors and the tyre pressure monitoring system are weak points. Still want one? Good – Marmite’s quite nice, once you get used to it. 

    Click here to see used Lexus SC for sale on PistonHeads

    055062600_1216135611.jpg

    An expert’s view

    Lee Massey, owner: “I’m a former Lexus technician and have owned two SC430s, including my current car, a 2004/04 with 80,000 miles. I remember the SC430 from my Lexus days as being reliable and well built and my used ones haven’t given me any trouble. If you like wafting about in something powerful and different that isn’t going to give you sleepless nights worrying about repair bills, it’s hard to beat.”

    Buyer beware…

    ENGINE - Some head gasket failures have been recorded due to very low coolant levels. Check the condition of the lower radiator, which can leak into the gearbox oil cooler. Likewise, fluid from the gearbox can leak into the coolant. The oxygen sensor in the exhaust system can fail. Check the starter motor works okay since it’s located inconveniently beneath the inlet manifold, which has to be removed to replace it. The vapour canister is there, too, and these can fail, expensively. Timing belt change is every 100,000 miles. Water pump should be changed at the same time since it’s a weak spot, as is the centre belt tensioner.

    untitled-95.jpg

    GEARBOX - It should be very smooth. If juddery, suspect coolant contamination. Transmission fluid should be changed every 45,000 miles.

    WHEELS, BRAKES AND SUSPENSION - Check for worn top suspension arms at the rear and worn front wheel bearings. If the ride on early cars is rough, suspect the front control arm bushes. Listen for clunks from here too. Steel parts in the aluminium suspension can rot. Check the brake pipes’ condition. Ensure the tyre pressure monitoring system works. Some owners disable it as the valves fail but it’s an MOT issue. Steering wheel noise when turning could be the spiral cable (an expensive repair).

    BODY - Check for underbody corrosion, especially at the rear around the back axle and subframe. 

    FOLDING HARD-TOP - Position sensors can fail with lack of use. Check for leaks caused by perished seals and for roof corrosion.

    INTERIOR - Ensure the music system is fault-free: subwoofer and door speakers can fail.

    untitled-96.jpg

    Also worth knowing

    Amazingly, you can still buy an approved used SC430 from Lexus. At time of writing, there were seven, ranging from £10,990 to £16,995.

    How much to spend

    £2750-£3500 - A cluster of high-mileage (120k) 2002- reg cars with partial service histories.

    £4995-£6995 - Mix of 2002-2003 cars with 100k miles in good condition, most with full service histories and few previous owners.

    £7000-£8995 - Mainly 2004-2005 cars with around 75k miles. £9000-£10,995 Mostly 2005-2007 cars, circa 70k miles.

    £11,000-£13,995 - More 2007 cars with around 50k miles. £14,000-£16,995 The best late-plate cars. 

    ubg_one_we_found_lexus_sc430.jpg

    One we found - Lexus SC430, 2004/54, 70K MILES, £7995

    This SC has full Lexus service history, including recent timing belt replacement. It’s a mid-2004 model with the revised suspension set-up designed to cure the model’s questionable ride and handling. Autocar judged the changes to be successful.

    Click here to see used Lexus SC for sale on PistonHeads

    John Evans 

    Read more    View the full article

    • Like 1
    Sign in to follow this  


    User Feedback

    Create an account or sign in to leave a review

    You need to be a member in order to leave a review

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

    There are no reviews to display.


  • Our picks

    • Mercedes W212 E Class saloon facelift
      The Mercedes W212 E Class was originally launched in 2009 to replace the well-built W211 version, which itself had helped recover Mercedes reputation at building reliable, long lasting cars after the quality control issues of the late 1990s/early 2000s. There was no doubt that both the car and Mercedes engineers had big shoes to fill but thankfully the gamble paid off as the new model was able to build on the good reputation of its forbearer. The W212 was not only bigger than the previous model it was also more refined.
      • 0 replies
    • Road trip through Nevada & Arizona
      Las Vegas – a city synonymous for gambling, partying and generally a play ground for the rich and famous. However, what if you want a change from the hustle and bustle of the city and see more of what the silver state has to offer? The answer is to hire a car and I have devised a perfect road trip which allows you enjoy some of the amazing scenery, ghost towns, mining towns and route 66 which all helped make the states of Nevada and Arizona both famous and rich. Below is a picture of the planned route.
      • 0 replies
    • 2018 Ford Mustang Convertible
      The ford mustang – an American icon but does the 2018 model make a viable purchase? Steve went to Las Vegas to find out.
      I start this car review in an unusual fashion, as I have a confession to make. When I landed at the Las Vegas McCarran airport I was expecting to be driving away in the 5.0 V8 version of the Mustang, however, due to a mix up I, in fact, ended up with a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.3 Ecoboost version with the automatic gearbox. However, I must stress that the Ecoboost engine isn’t lacking in performance as it produced 313bhp and 319 of torque. Unperturbed I felt this to be more fitting to our UK readers where the Ecoboost engine makes more financial sense, both in purchase cost and running cost.
      • 1 reply
    • Essentials everyone needs to keep in their vehicle
      Whether it’s winter or summer, there are some key items you’ll need in your vehicle all year around to help you stay safe on the road. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, provides the eight essentials that you should always keep in your vehicle
      • 0 replies
    • MG3
      I intended to find out by test driving the new MG3 which is a new small hatchback and designed to bring the MG back to the masses. The MG3 I had on the test drive was the top of the range Style model with a price tag of £11,695. With any new car in this highly competitive sector first impression count and the MG3 does not fail to disappoint.  
      • 0 replies
×