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Everything that’s wrong with my 2003 Lexus GX470

In the studio pictures I shared in my original post about this new to me Lexus GX 470, this beast of a machine looked impressive. But things are not always what they seem. No matter what the seller may say, there will always be some additional issues with a car that is over two decades old.

This Lexus was the first vehicle I bought unseen. I delegated the inspection work to a friend of mine in Atlanta. He knows what to look for, he was my PPI. I looked for vehicles in Atlanta because I gave up looking for Jeep Wranglers, Toyota 4Runners and Tacomas, and Lexus GXs in the northeast – they were all rusted. The good people in the south drive their vehicles a little more than we do here in the northeast, but their roads are better and there is typically less traffic, at least outside of Atlanta proper.

Below are two lists. One is of the things I knew would need addressing. The other is of things I learned about once I had the vehicle home, at Ace Performance. With a few exceptions, I have already taken care of all the things listed here. I was not going to let them linger. I will provide my budget-friendly solutions in future writings.

Things I knew about:

Faded hood: I don’t know why, but the hood, and only the hood, was faded from the sun. Was the hood repainted at some point? Was it replaced? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

Ripped driver’s seat leather: Very typical Toyota/Lexus rips in the leather. I’d be surprised if the originals were not ripped. There are several ways of doing this. I chose the fast and cheap one and the results will be predictable. But it will be an improvement.

Only one key: The keys got lost along the way and there is only one key. This could be tricky, as new keys need to programmed to the vehicle.

Worn brakes: The friend who looked at for me told me that the brakes felt a bit off. Upon driving it, I agreed. But when I had it up on the lift I noticed new, upgraded calipers from the newer Lexus GX460. And new discs, and relatively decent pads. I think that the odd pedal feel is from a combination of long pedal travel that some Toyotas have, different calipers, and much bigger than stock tires.

Dented rear bumper: The previous owner said that a lady hit the Lexus in the parking lot. But I have my own suspicions. I think he backed into something. The car does not have a reverse camera or beep-beep sensors, both of which are very common on modern cars.

No reverse camera: These early GX models, even the ones equipped with the navigational system, did not have a reverse camera, something that I desperately need in the city. Good thing that the solution to this will (hopefully) be simple, using existing modifications.

Tires: The 285/75-17 Toyo Open Country M/T are in great condition. These are excellent tires, especially off-road and in the mud. However, as amazing as they are, their application does not quite meet my needs. I prefer all-terrain tires as they are lighter, more comfortable, quieter, and provide better grip in the winter. And, there are only four of them, and I like having a full-size spare.

Dirt: The damn thing just needs a good cleaning. It’s been parked for a while after its modeling gig, then seldom used, and then sold and shipped on an open trailer. And even if it wasn’t that dirty, I feel icky about driving a dirty used car. It’s like sleeping in someone else’s used bed.

Things I found out upon delivery:

Front half-axles: The inner, as in where the front axles go into the differential, boots are ripped. My friend only looked at the outer rubbers, as those are more common to rip.

Dark tints: It’s a Georgia car, and the sun down there is supposedly very sunny. So much so that the previous owner put 15% (I think) tint on the whole car. In Massachusetts, only 35% window tint on side windows is allowed.

Upper control arm: Driver’s side ball joint had some play in it. That’s not common but not unheard of. But it was surprising as the whole suspension system was in an excellent condition. The solution was cheaper than I expected.

Oil pan gasket: I knew there was an oil leak, I just did not think it was that bad (my standards are low). There may be a few oil leaks, but this is the most obvious one.

Inoperative sunroof: This one was a surprise. I specifically asked my friend for window and sunroof operation. Sunroof issues are relatively common for these GX models. But they can fail is a few different ways, so there is not one clear solution to this. It will require some troubleshooting.

These are the issues that I found so far. There undoubtedly are more issues that I have not found yet. And there are issues that will arise in the future. It’s a twenty year old truck with 200,000 miles on it, so that’s to be expected. Thankfully, it’s one that has a stellar reputation for reliability and durability.

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