"But the car's only worth so much"

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First time doing a front end job on Lexus LS430; this particular vehicle is a 2005 with ~38,000 km (23,750 mi) on the clock, but time and extreme temperatures have taken their toll on the bushings. A friend inherited the vehicle from his grandfather, and it remains a garage queen.

Looking at the factory parts catalog, the bushings are not available separately (except for the caster bushing or the "No. 2" bushing as Toyota calls it) and you have to buy complete control arms. The upper arms are $480 each, the lowers are $270 each, bringing the controls arms to $1,500. There's zero reference to upper ball joints in the catalog, but add the lower ball joints at $125 each, and you're up to $1,750 already. Add the sway bar links at $103 a piece and $39 for the bushings, and you're at $1,995. The rear suspension is fine, but the sway bar links and bushings are shot, so add an additional $160 for the links and $39 for the bushings. Now the grand total is $2,194.

Ordering online could work out cheaper, but when you're shipping just the four control arms with a combined shipping weight of 60 lbs half way across the world, you're looking at $315 for freight alone, plus customs and miscellaneous clearance fees imposed by FedEx. The sway bar bushings don't weigh much, but add the ball joints and the links, and that will go up quite a bit more.

Siberian Bushing is often my go-to, because it combines the durability of polyurethane with the softness of natural rubber and I've never had issues with squeaky bushings on any of countless applications I've used them on. That being said, they have the upper control arm bushings available, as well as the rearward caster bushing on the lower arm, but not the forward bushing. Out of curiosity, I've looked at other brands such as SuperPro, Energy Suspension, Prothane, White Line, Powerflex, etc. and a lot of them don't even offer anything for this specific application. The most common one is the caster bushing, and I don't see the point of having just one polyurethane bushing and the rest of them rubber.

The only rubber bushings available for this application are from Thailand, which is not a bad deal at $140 for all 10 of them. But the upper ball joints are integrated into the control arm, and cannot be bought or serviced separately. No point buying bushings for an arm with a bad ball joint that cannot be replaced.

Next option is the aftermarket. Delphi has control arms for this application made in the U.S. (wonder who the supplier is?) and while the upper arms are readily available, the lower ones appear to be discontinued. Lower control arms are available from Mevotech, but the fact that they're made in China put the owner off of installing them on his prized possession.

In the end, OE was chosen path forward. Factor in an additional $120 for front and rear brake pads, $220 for brake hoses, $75 for new parking brake shoes (since the friction material was coming off), a set of four Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires and it was $3,857 in parts alone. They charged about $70 for alignment, and while he didn't have to pay labor, it still hit the ~$4,000 mark.

It was a fun car to work on, and my friend certainly learned a lot as he actively helped put it together. Certainly a different animal compared to his '13 F150 that he's used to and had since new. With the exception of the wheels, everything was untouched like it left the factory and that alone makes it that much more pleasurable to work on.

Having said that, for all the people who complain about the cost of a repair because the car is old, or not being used much, or whatever the excuse may be, the cost of parts do not adjust to inflation. This car was worth $60,000 when new, which is probably about $80,000 in today's money. Moral of the story, even though this car has a market value of $9,000, you're still going to be paying for parts for a car that's worth $80,000. :)
 

Falcon_LS

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I’d spend money on something old rather than something new. That’s just my preference of course because older cars are better for the most part. Yes those parts are costly but often worth it.
With the preference for technology and "sporty" handling, it's difficult to find a car today that rides as good as this Lexus does. I've driven a '20 LS500 and very much prefer the ride of this LS430 after all the suspension work.
 

AutoMechanic

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With the preference for technology and "sporty" handling, it's difficult to find a car today that rides as good as this Lexus does. I've driven a '20 LS500 and very much prefer the ride of this LS430 after all the suspension work.
I agree and if you do find one it usually is pricey. Majority of my stuff is older and based on the newer cars I’ve worked on and been in I can say I prefer the older ones.
 
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I talked to an old guy back in the seventies that made a really good point about repairing old cars. BTW he was driving a Green Plymouth Valiant at the time, didn't they all. He called it the 10 Cent rule. If a repair costs say $500 then if you drive the car another 5,000 miles you've made you money back on the repair. Being that the Lexus is a garage queen with very low mileage it is well worth the cost of the repair as long as the owner gets another 40K miles out of it.
 
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Probably not being in the US makes it a lot more expensive, we probably have some of the cheapest parts in the world. Looks like Rockauto carries some aftermarket parts. Shipping wouldn't have been an issue in the US. In some countries, luxury cars are 2-3x what they cost in the US due to taxes/tariffs. Mercedes actually starts cutting the price of some of their parts after it reaches a certain age as people who pay 5-10k for a 60k car are going to start to cry when the parts are 1-2k.
 
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it depends on YOU, do you like the car enough to spend $$$ + of course upity cars that cost more new have costlier parts even when older!! i too have older rides + dont want any DI engines or modern slush box trannies or CVT's for sure. repairing older rides is generally less costly + worthwhile IMO if the overall car is good to better! but as always its your $$$$
 
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I list one classic car in my signature, my 1970 MGB that I've had for a little over 5 years now.

I paid $6K for the car.

A year or so back, I was talking to a local friend/MG owner who was a bit "down" on his car. The conversation went something like this "I'm at about $15000 total invest in this car including what I paid for it and how much I've spent on it, and I doubt I'd be able to get $10,000 for it." A little later on, he asked me how much I'd spent, and if there was a point where I'd call it quits.

I answered him honestly, which was that at that point I'd GUESS I was probably that deep or a bit deeper in my car, but that I had quit keeping a running total a while ago. I said that I certainly could give him a pretty close number if he really wanted to know(again, owner to owner, and someone considering bailing) if I spent a few minutes adding up invoices and so forth, but that it wasn't something I kept at the top of mind.

My next question to him was why he bought the car. His answer "It was a ton of fun to drive and looks great, plus it's easy to fix." I then said "Is all of that still true?" His answer-"Of course it is."

Part of this conversation too was that he was looking at dumping his MGB for an MG TD that he thought was in better condition and would need fewer repairs. My advice was to buy the TD for the sake of wanting a TD(I certainly do) but that he'd be getting a car fundamentally based on a design that was over 80 years old and a car that itself was 15 years older than his MGB, and even though it's still a ton of fun it was a very different and much more primitive car. To add to all of that, it's less reliable on the whole, parts are less available, and what you do find is more expensive.

Basically the end of our conversation was that if you still enjoy the MGB, keep it and keep fixing it and don't worry about what you're spending. There are plenty of hobbies out there that are more expensive.

Since then, BTW, I've dropped an extra $6K or so into my car. I feel like now I have a car that I might get $12-14K for to the right buyer, but since I don't have any immediate plans to sell but rather to just keep driving, I'm going to enjoy what that $6K in work bought me. That reminds me to that there's a set of poly bushings out in the garage waiting for me, and I need to get started on my long overdue front suspension rebuild.

In a broader sense, I never expect to get back out of a car what I put into it. I remember having that same discussion a few years ago when the A/C went out in my 2004 Lincoln LS, then my daily driver and with an optimistic book value of $4K at the time. My dad even asked me at the time if I shouldn't just shop for something newer rather than spend $1500 to have it fixed(standard spiel about even though it was a dead compressor, they will only warranty it if you replace everything, and as it turned out the compressor had ground itself into oblivion anyway to the point where it needed to be done). My answer at the time was that I still liked the car, I knew it inside and out after 100K miles, and that $1500 wouldn't buy anything anywhere near what I had with that car.
 
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Anymore I'd say just about any vehicle that's not rusting through is worth fixing, although rust probably isn't a huge problem in Kuwait unless you park on the gulf. The used car market here has gotten ridiculous some of it is inflation over time, but I think the big thing is the supply is getting more scarce during the last recession the new car market shrank and then the cash for clunkers thing destroyed like 700,000 used cars at that time so the supply is running short forcing prices up, if you got a car you like, it's best to keep dumping money into it to keep it going unless the frame is rusting through.
 
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if I did it I would replace the bushings. if it was just a compromised boot there’s some outfit in bulgaria that makes replacement ball joint boots in a million different sizes
 

Pew

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Indeed, the saying goes if you can't afford it new then you can't afford it used. I saw a lot of this when I worked for BMW as a porter years ago, people would buy a high mileage BMW and end up not being able to afford the maintenance. I remember an older 7 series sitting on our lot for MONTHS because the owner couldn't afford the maintenance bill. It took me ~20 minutes to get it unstuck from a few mm of snow because of it's super bald tires.
 
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That’s why I don’t have interest in owning old cars. Unless they’re at the point of collector status I am much more willing to spend $100k for a new LS than $15k for a 2005 LS. If I can’t afford it new(or atleast late model year) - then I can’t afford it at all.

I’ve had old luxury cars before and I’ve played the game. Take a $10k car that needs 3k of work here, 3k of work there, then something catastrophic happens and another 5k. All that money later and there’s still small things that don’t work(like my old BMW’s rear window shade, HVAC blower motor dead, iDrive knob dead etc.)

imagine buying a new Corolla for 20k and somehow spending 20k in repairs over 3 years...would you still want it? Might as well take the 40k spend and get yourself a nice car. same idea.

I will say if you have the technical knowledge and tooling you can own a old luxury car, especially one that was popular as parts will be fairly cheap. That’s what I did. But I see far too many people buy these $3500 cars thinking they’re getting something amazing then end up paying the DEALERSHIP $1500 for LCAs, $1200 for brakes Becuwse they have no clue how to do their own work. Or, they bring it to my shop for repair then refuse to pay...lol
 

Falcon_LS

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Probably not being in the US makes it a lot more expensive, we probably have some of the cheapest parts in the world. Looks like Rockauto carries some aftermarket parts. Shipping wouldn't have been an issue in the US. In some countries, luxury cars are 2-3x what they cost in the US due to taxes/tariffs. Mercedes actually starts cutting the price of some of their parts after it reaches a certain age as people who pay 5-10k for a 60k car are going to start to cry when the parts are 1-2k.
While vehicles are relatively affordable in Kuwait (the country is tax free), it gets tricky when it comes to replacement parts. Your only options are OE or cheap, aftermarket garbage in most cases. People think OE parts are the best there is bar none, and the aftermarket is just to keep the car running long enough to sell it.

In the United States, you get a variety of aftermarket offerings and get to choose what level of quality you want to pay for; e.g. Lemforder or some brand I've never heard of before like API. That's not to say you get a lot of junk from known brands in the U.S. - that certainly happens, but you got more options. Obviously market size has a huge impact, and with this being such a small market, naturally the options are very limited.

I can't speak for Mercedes-Benz, but I know a lot of manufacturers like Ford offer second tier parts they call their "Value" range. They are cheaper, but they're also not something I'd want to put on my own vehicle, personally. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

it depends on YOU, do you like the car enough to spend $$$ + of course upity cars that cost more new have costlier parts even when older!! i too have older rides + dont want any DI engines or modern slush box trannies or CVT's for sure. repairing older rides is generally less costly + worthwhile IMO if the overall car is good to better! but as always its your $$$$
Absolutely. In this particular case, the car has sentimental value, being that the owner was particularly close to his grandfather and the car means a lot to him. So he certainly didn't mind spending the money on this, or the ceramic coating treatment the car's in for right now.

I list one classic car in my signature, my 1970 MGB that I've had for a little over 5 years now.

I paid $6K for the car.

A year or so back, I was talking to a local friend/MG owner who was a bit "down" on his car. The conversation went something like this "I'm at about $15000 total invest in this car including what I paid for it and how much I've spent on it, and I doubt I'd be able to get $10,000 for it." A little later on, he asked me how much I'd spent, and if there was a point where I'd call it quits.

I answered him honestly, which was that at that point I'd GUESS I was probably that deep or a bit deeper in my car, but that I had quit keeping a running total a while ago. I said that I certainly could give him a pretty close number if he really wanted to know(again, owner to owner, and someone considering bailing) if I spent a few minutes adding up invoices and so forth, but that it wasn't something I kept at the top of mind.

My next question to him was why he bought the car. His answer "It was a ton of fun to drive and looks great, plus it's easy to fix." I then said "Is all of that still true?" His answer-"Of course it is."

Part of this conversation too was that he was looking at dumping his MGB for an MG TD that he thought was in better condition and would need fewer repairs. My advice was to buy the TD for the sake of wanting a TD(I certainly do) but that he'd be getting a car fundamentally based on a design that was over 80 years old and a car that itself was 15 years older than his MGB, and even though it's still a ton of fun it was a very different and much more primitive car. To add to all of that, it's less reliable on the whole, parts are less available, and what you do find is more expensive.

Basically the end of our conversation was that if you still enjoy the MGB, keep it and keep fixing it and don't worry about what you're spending. There are plenty of hobbies out there that are more expensive.

Since then, BTW, I've dropped an extra $6K or so into my car. I feel like now I have a car that I might get $12-14K for to the right buyer, but since I don't have any immediate plans to sell but rather to just keep driving, I'm going to enjoy what that $6K in work bought me. That reminds me to that there's a set of poly bushings out in the garage waiting for me, and I need to get started on my long overdue front suspension rebuild.

In a broader sense, I never expect to get back out of a car what I put into it. I remember having that same discussion a few years ago when the A/C went out in my 2004 Lincoln LS, then my daily driver and with an optimistic book value of $4K at the time. My dad even asked me at the time if I shouldn't just shop for something newer rather than spend $1500 to have it fixed(standard spiel about even though it was a dead compressor, they will only warranty it if you replace everything, and as it turned out the compressor had ground itself into oblivion anyway to the point where it needed to be done). My answer at the time was that I still liked the car, I knew it inside and out after 100K miles, and that $1500 wouldn't buy anything anywhere near what I had with that car.
I agree. I don't keep track of what I spend either if I'm being honest, although I keep a very comprehensive service history for each vehicle in a spreadsheet. I will look at old receipts from time to time just for giggles, to see how much the price has changed out of curiosity. I am, however, particularly picky about what replacement parts I buy, as well as the country of origin.

When something has to be replaced, I tend to look at the bigger picture and that definitely drives the cost up for even the simplest of jobs. For example, radiator hoses don't generally tend to last very long in this part of the world because of scorching temperatures in the summer. The hoses on my Envoy are now swollen, and require replacement. Since I'm going to be flushing out the coolant (been 5 years since the last service), I'm replacing the thermostat and radiator cap as well while I'm in there. Last thing I want is to replace the hoses, replenish the coolant and have a thermostat stuck open less than a year down the road. The cap, naturally, is a no brainer. I'm more concerning about being in there once, and not having to do anything on that particular system again for a good length of time. In this case, it's $160 worth of parts, but it might not be as cheap for some other stuff.

Anymore I'd say just about any vehicle that's not rusting through is worth fixing, although rust probably isn't a huge problem in Kuwait unless you park on the gulf. The used car market here has gotten ridiculous some of it is inflation over time, but I think the big thing is the supply is getting more scarce during the last recession the new car market shrank and then the cash for clunkers thing destroyed like 700,000 used cars at that time so the supply is running short forcing prices up, if you got a car you like, it's best to keep dumping money into it to keep it going unless the frame is rusting through.
Being a dry desert climate, rust is luckily not an issue. Slight surface rust is inevitable, but that is certainly nothing serious in comparison to a vehicle operating somewhere like the Northeast. C4C was certainly a disaster though, and not exactly a good use of tax dollars IMHO, but we'll leave the politics out of it.

if I did it I would replace the bushings. if it was just a compromised boot there’s some outfit in bulgaria that makes replacement ball joint boots in a million different sizes
The ball joints themselves were in pretty rough shape; when I pulled the upper control arms off, the stud would move just by shaking the arm. Out of all four ball joints, only one was in "serviceable" condition, and I say "serviceable" because it had a torn boot with a lot of fine sand mixed in with the grease. Once the boot's torn and allows sand in, suspension components don't live very long here.

Indeed, the saying goes if you can't afford it new then you can't afford it used. I saw a lot of this when I worked for BMW as a porter years ago, people would buy a high mileage BMW and end up not being able to afford the maintenance. I remember an older 7 series sitting on our lot for MONTHS because the owner couldn't afford the maintenance bill. It took me ~20 minutes to get it unstuck from a few mm of snow because of it's super bald tires.
Personally, unless it was bought brand new or has super low miles on it with a fully documented service history, I would avoid used luxury cars like the plague for this very reason alone. The cost of replacement parts aren't going to be any cheaper just because the vehicle's value has depreciated, and out here they are a nightmare once the heat takes its toll on stuff like electrical connectors, etc. and everything you touch will crumple and break.

For many out there, the "prestige" factor overrides logic and they'll dish out thousands for the sake of driving a high end car. Knowing the owner, he wouldn't have gone out and bought a car like this, but inheriting it is a different story and he wants to keep it. The other thing the car has going for it is the fact that it's lived out most of its life in an air conditioned basement garage, protected from the elements for the most part.

I question if all of those parts were truly needed.
And you're welcome to, but you also have to take into account this isn't California. This particular vehicle may have been garage kept, but that didn't save the bushings and ball joints from failure due to terrible roads ridden with huge potholes and chunks of missing asphalt. Factor in the amount of time it spent idling in heavy traffic with an ambient over 125°F, well exposed to additional heat from the engine bay, and the rubber is done for.

If the control arm bushings are shot, I'm not pulling a control arm off and leaving the old ball joint in there; that's bonkers. In this case, three out of four were well worn anyway, and the forth wasn't too far behind. Sway bar links were knocking and the rubber bushings were torn, why leave those when I'm already this deep into it?

Perhaps the factory brake pads could have been left alone with a hair over 25% remaining, but they were pulled off anyway. Why put the worn ones back on, and have to do a brake job again a few months down the road? Replacing nearly 17 year old brake hoses and 11 year old tires is a no brainer.

That’s why I don’t have interest in owning old cars. Unless they’re at the point of collector status I am much more willing to spend $100k for a new LS than $15k for a 2005 LS. If I can’t afford it new(or atleast late model year) - then I can’t afford it at all.

I’ve had old luxury cars before and I’ve played the game. Take a $10k car that needs 3k of work here, 3k of work there, then something catastrophic happens and another 5k. All that money later and there’s still small things that don’t work(like my old BMW’s rear window shade, HVAC blower motor dead, iDrive knob dead etc.)

imagine buying a new Corolla for 20k and somehow spending 20k in repairs over 3 years...would you still want it? Might as well take the 40k spend and get yourself a nice car. same idea.

I will say if you have the technical knowledge and tooling you can own a old luxury car, especially one that was popular as parts will be fairly cheap. That’s what I did. But I see far too many people buy these $3500 cars thinking they’re getting something amazing then end up paying the DEALERSHIP $1500 for LCAs, $1200 for brakes Becuwse they have no clue how to do their own work. Or, they bring it to my shop for repair then refuse to pay...lol
Goes back to what I was saying about buying new, or a super low mileage vehicle with a complete and documented service history. In this part of the world, a lot of the electronics fail due to heat, well before any of the drivetrain components, and that alone is enough reason not to buy a a luxury car in the first place. But people still have their reasons, and if someone is an enthusiast and knows the ins and outs of a particular vehicle well enough, they will know what they're getting themselves into.

Having said that, I do like the way this particular example rides and drives. It doesn't feel like a go-kart, which is what I associate the ride with on most new cars these days. Didn't like the LS500's ride as much as I liked this one.

Have you looked at Figs bushings?
I have over 100k mi on Megan Racing front upper control arms on my GS400, another option.
I certainly have, and spent a lot of time reading on Club Lexus.

I didn't want to mix and match different bushing material, and since my friend wanted to maintain the original ride, he opted for OE. It seems easier to get stuff for the IS and GS, but seems to be a bit of a challenge for this particular generation of the LS. Couldn't figure out how you can get upper control arm and caster bushings in polyurethane but not the forward bushing on the lower control arm! LOL
 
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I'm surprised that none of the parts come off a Toyota Avalon or something similar. Gotta pay to play. It's still a free car with sentimental value.
 
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