Used car buying guide: Lexus SC430

The Pot comes in many forms, including the present one, the Lexus SC430 2001 to 2009.

For most folk, it is an awful thing strangled at birth by clumsy handling and a lumpy ride, made fragile by run-flat tyres. Changes to the suspension in 2002 and 2004 improved things but the mud sticks and it stuck particularly 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 not a viewer, but it is different in the herd and on paper, this is the kind of specification, we will soon be drooling over in the 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.)

The 2+2 cabin is a gadget lover’s paradise and, because of this, a Lexus, you won’t have to worry about any of this does not work. The climate control system can detect if the roof is open or closed, as well as the speed of the car and the ambient temperature, and automatically redirect refrigerated or warm air as needed. There is a knock-out 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 kingdom may replace it with a state-of-the-art one that will talk to the Mark Levinson music centre for £2200. Pay a little more and they are going to wire a rear view camera. It fits perfectly in the original space.

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

Prices start at around £3000 for a 2002 car with 110,000 miles. If this is the end of the year 2002, there is a chance that it has modified the suspension which has made improvements to ride, handling and refinement. Still not satisfied, Lexus has added new dampers and tuned in to the chassis at the end of 2004. The result has been a more absorbent ride, allied to the sharper handling. These mid-life, the cars start at about £7500. In 2005, the SC has been slightly facelifted with revised bumper and restyled 18-inch alloy wheels.

SC owners are loyal and demanding, so that you will find a lot of cherished cars with one or two former keepers, full Lexus stories and reasonably low mileage. Even the youngest cars are now nine years old, so expect some wear and tear. However, the first are as old as 17. On the latter, check for underbody rust, clonky suspension, the evidence of the timing belt and water pump replacement, healthy levels of fluid and the smoothness of the gearbox. At all ages, oxygen sensors and tire pressure monitoring system are weak points. Still want one? Good Pot is pretty nice, once you get used to it.

Click here to see used Lexus SC for sale on PistonHeads

An expert’s view

Lee Massey, the owner: “I am a former Lexus technician, and have owned two SC430s, including my current car, a 2004/04 with 80 000 km. I remember the SC430 from my Lexus days as being reliable and well built and my used have not given me any problems. If you like floating about of something powerful and different that will not give you sleepless nights worrying about repair bills, it is hard to beat.”

Buyer beware…

ENGINE – Some head gasket failures have been recorded due to very low levels of coolant. Check the condition of the lower radiator hose, which can leak into the gearbox oil cooler. Similarly, the fluid in the gearbox can lead to a leak in the coolant. The oxygen sensor in the exhaust system may fail. Verify the starter works ok, because it is located inconveniently under the intake manifold, which has to be removed to replace it. The vapor cartridge is there, too, and these can fail, dear. Change the timing belt is every 100,000 km. Water pump should be changed at the same time, since it is a weak point, as it is the centre of the belt tensioner.

Gearbox – It should be very smooth. If juddery, suspect coolant contamination. The Transmission fluid should be changed every 45,000 km.

The WHEELS, BRAKES AND SUSPENSION – Check for wear high the suspension arms to the rear and worn front wheel bearings. If the ride on the first car is rough, suspicious of the front arm bushes. To listen to clunks here. Steel parts, aluminum suspension rot. Check the brake pipes of the state. Ensure the tyre pressure monitoring system works. Some owners turn off the valves to fail, but it is a WORD of the question. Steering wheel noise when turning could be the spiral cable (an expensive repair).

BODY – control underbody corrosion, especially at the rear around the rear axle and the chassis.

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

INTERIOR – Ensure that the music system is free of defects: subwoofer and door speakers can fail.

Also useful to know

Surprisingly, you can always buy an approved used SC430 Lexus. At the 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 partial stories of service.

£4995-£6995 – Mixture of 2002-2003 cars with 100k miles in good condition, most with a complete service history and few previous owners.

£7000-£8995 – Mainly 2004-2005 cars with about 75 km. £9000-£10,995 for Most of the period 2005-2007, the car, about 70k km.

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

The one – Lexus SC430, 2004/54, 70K MILES, £7995

This SC has a full Lexus service history, including recent timing belt replacement. It is mid-2004, a model for the revision of the suspension to cure the model of questionable ride and handling. Coach considered that the amendments are to be successful.

Click here to see used Lexus SC for sale on PistonHeads

John Evans

Read more

Click here to see used Lexus SC for sale on PistonHeads

2017 Lexus LC 500 Sport+ review

Hardcore Lexus LC F primed for 2018 launch

Lexus fettles SC430 2005