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Old 12-01-2010, 01:53 AM   #1
alimoalem
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Default New (to me) Car: 1998 Lexus GS400 or 2005 Nissan Maxima SL

Hey everyone,

I'm looking for a new (used) car to get. Really the only thing I'm concerned with regarding these cars is reliability. Which car do you think would be more reliable and is there anywhere I can find information on this? I've read peoples' posts on various forums but don't think this is an accurate way to compare the two cars.

1998 Lexus GS400 - $7300 (haven't negotiated yet)
92k miles
clean title

2005 Nissan Maxima SL - negotiated down to $11k plus seller will pay half the DMV fees
79k miles
Fully loaded (Leather, Nav, etc.)
No transmission issues (I've heard some Maximas have this issue)

Thanks ATG

CLIFFS:
- Want to buy a car
- Is a 1998 Lexus GS400 more reliable or a 2005 Nissan Maxima SL?
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Old 12-01-2010, 02:43 AM   #2
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Both engines have been on Ward's Best Engines - properly cared for, I would expect either one to serve you well.
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Old 12-01-2010, 02:59 AM   #3
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1998 is old. Don't buy that Lexus.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:13 AM   #4
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I had a 99 GS300 and thought it was a decent car. No power and a bit boaty in handling but it was very comfortable. The only problem I had with it in 3 years was the LCDs in the dash going bad. Some of the lines in the numbers were blown out. It would have been very expensive to replace it so I just left it.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:06 AM   #5
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My mom drives a 97 ES300 with 84,000km on it. Still a great car, drives like new. Only problem is the leather starts to crack as they age. Cars can last a long time if properly cared for. Especially if it's not in a harsh climate.

I cant speak for the Nissan. Never driven one.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:09 AM   #6
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That GS is a hell of a highway cruiser. Just a great car in every way, comfortable, reliable, quiet, luxurious.

Have it inspected before you buy it and you should be able to go another 100k miles if it has been properly looked after.

My wife's best friend has a 2002 ES with 260,000 miles on it and the only thing she has done to it besides routine maintenance is a power steering pump.

I own a 2003 Maxima SE and it isn't as tight as a Lexus. I'm also not fond of the newer style.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:40 AM   #7
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Both of those are great cars; how does the suspension look/feel on the Lexus? That may be something that needs replacing if it's still running on stock suspension parts.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:46 AM   #8
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I would take the Lexus. You have a good $3k extra for any type of maintenance and future breakdown. If not, you can always add some spinning rims yo!
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:36 AM   #9
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Maximas of that generation have some issues with the engine, specifically timing chain tension guides. It affects a lot off Nissans, not just Maxima's. I'd stay away.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:08 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses. It looks like most people prefer the Lexus. I'm going to wait another day for more responses to see what others say. Other than the fact that I NEED a car, the owner of the Nissan is moving across the country soon so I need to make a decision fast.

Is there a reliable website which sells parts for cars? I want to compare some replacement parts costs (alternator, brakes, etc). My uncle had a mechanic shop until a couple months ago so I always took my old car to him for repairs but I can't do that anymore.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:19 PM   #11
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If it was my money, I would get the Lexus without thinking twice about it. 92K on a Lexus (assuming it isn't abused) is nothing. The car is hardly broken in yet.

GS400 = RWD 4.0L V8 (one of the best and most bullet proof engines every built)

Even used you will get better service and support from a Lexus dealer than you ever will from a Nissan dealer. Lexus bends over backwards to make customers happy. You can talk your way into a lot more free and/or discounted service work at a Lexus dealer.
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Old 12-01-2010, 12:21 PM   #12
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I own a 98 GS400 myself. Bought it back when it had ~60k miles and now I'm at 160k. Besides regular maintenance I had to replace the front lower ball joints (common issue in the GS), starter, and alternator (probably due to my audio system). It is lowered on springs with 18" wheels from the 3rd gen model. The lower springs removed most of the floating feeling but along with the larger wheels does bring a louder and slightly harsher ride.

Besides the engine there's not much difference between the 300 and 400 but the v8 in the 400 makes it a totally different beast. I've never driven a maxima so I can't say thing anything about it but you surely won't regret going with the GS. IMO it has a timeless design so although it's over 10 years old it doesn't really look it.
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:55 PM   #13
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i like how everyone states the engine is bullet proof on the lexus ( which i agree on) but the main problem with them are the suspension... I think its a little more costly to repair stuff on the GS. I know the older LS400 can easily make +300k miles on them.

I wanted one as well, but the insurance was way too much at the time for me.

Both the maxima and GS should get close MPG, maxima wins out by 1-3 MPG, the VQ is a thirsty motor as well.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:40 PM   #14
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Check here for auto parts
http://www.rockauto.com/
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2urtle View Post
i like how everyone states the engine is bullet proof on the lexus ( which i agree on) but the main problem with them are the suspension... I think its a little more costly to repair stuff on the GS. I know the older LS400 can easily make +300k miles on them.

I wanted one as well, but the insurance was way too much at the time for me.

Both the maxima and GS should get close MPG, maxima wins out by 1-3 MPG, the VQ is a thirsty motor as well.
Ball joints are ~$50/ea and KYB OEM replacement struts are less than $100/ea. Upper strut mounts are less than $50. Labor on that shouldn't be ridiculous, and suspension is a pretty easy job if you're doing it yourself anyway.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:58 PM   #16
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T2urtle, what do you mean by the suspension is the problem? As in it feels floaty or it needs to be repaired often?

jtvang125, my friend's GS300 needed a new starter and I think they replaced the alternator, too, so that seems common but those types of issues I can definitely live with.

I like the comments I'm hearing, very helpful.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulesMaximus View Post
That GS is a hell of a highway cruiser. Just a great car in every way, comfortable, reliable, quiet, luxurious.

Have it inspected before you buy it and you should be able to go another 100k miles if it has been properly looked after.

My wife's best friend has a 2002 ES with 260,000 miles on it and the only thing she has done to it besides routine maintenance is a power steering pump.

I own a 2003 Maxima SE and it isn't as tight as a Lexus. I'm also not fond of the newer style.
I remember driving on the highway one day when my ex-wife asked me if I realized how fast I was driving because of the look on the face of the driver of a Corvette I passed. I looked down and I was going 105MPH. The car was that quiet. It sounded and drove the same at that speed as it did at 65MPH. It is definitely the car I preferred to take on long trips. I drove my E36 325i for quick local trips for fun.

My car the day before I returned it at end of lease.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:34 PM   #18
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+1 for the Lexus.

$4k less, has half the mileage per year, 98 Lexus should be equal to an 05 Maximum in luxury and amenities, and the 90's is the decade that Toyota didn't mess around and made their best cars.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:38 PM   #19
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Quote:
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+1 for the Lexus.

$4k less, has half the mileage per year, 98 Lexus should be equal to an 05 Maximum in luxury and amenities, and the 90's is the decade that Toyota didn't mess around and made their best cars.
Ftw.

Not that the Maxima is a bad car, but I think they peaked with the 03SE, and probably the best gen competively was the 95-99 years.

That GS is really nice. Of course it goes without saying that any 13-year-old car will need some parts and TLC here and there.
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:32 PM   #20
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This may or may not help you, but I rode a lot in a friend's '00 Maxima back in the day, and my parents owned an '02 GS300 and the Lex wins hands down for highway cruising. The Maxima was a bit more responsive in corners, but the GS is driving the correct wheels.

My aunt and uncle own a LS400 and both Lex cars give that same "I am going this fast?!" response. This is a mixed blessing of course, especially for me, as I had a '94 Integra GSR at the time and the road feedback of my Honda was a big plus.

Try to get a test drive if you can, but if that is unfeasible then decide your priorities. If it is comfort above all else, then the Lexus takes the cake no contest. Cost of repairs might be a bit higher, but it is nothing like owning a European car of the same pedigree.

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Old 12-02-2010, 11:08 AM   #21
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Tough call. If it were an 02-03 Maxima it would be a different story...
I really do love that generation of GS..
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:49 PM   #22
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Thanks for the replies guys.

I'm working with someone on a 2001 Lexus GS300 w/93k miles for $9k. I've driven both the GS300 and GS400 and I'm satisfied with the GS300's power. If I can knock another $500 off the price, I think this is it. 3 years newer than the GS400, the owner has taken REALLY good care of it, and the fuel economy is better.

Wish me luck.
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:49 PM   #23
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I love my 01 GS3. Currently has 100k on it...over due for a timing belt change. I don't think the 01's have the ball joint problems the earlier models did. Its not as quiet as it use to be...probably from the seals on the windows drying out or something, but when I first got it, the thing was totally quiet. Sometimes I couldn't even tell when the car was on when it was idling. Oh and the gas mileage on the thing is terrible...18 miles city 21 hway I think.
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Old 12-02-2010, 03:08 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alimoalem View Post
T2urtle, what do you mean by the suspension is the problem? As in it feels floaty or it needs to be repaired often?

jtvang125, my friend's GS300 needed a new starter and I think they replaced the alternator, too, so that seems common but those types of issues I can definitely live with.

I like the comments I'm hearing, very helpful.
starters, alternators are expected on any car with 100+K. I wouldn't even list it as a problem but something replaced.

Well Jlee listed prices for parts below. I think that chassis has more specfic bushings in the subframe and etc that should be worn by 100k, that can get pricey. We establish the engine is ROCK solid, so you gotta move on from that, on to everything else. THese cars are boats in sense, but worn parts can make it feel ever more like a boat. Drive a LOT of them if you can. Even ones your not interested in with low miles so you know what one should feel. GS3 is enough power for the average joe. But a modded GS3 without going turbo will never come close to a GS4. I rather have a GS3 since the engine is a little more common, so parts should be more readily available and such. They've used a variation of a 2jz since like 94 with the 1 gen GS/SC.

The maxima's VQ35 has been in almost everything nissan/infiniti since 02 maxima/quest/altima/g35. I like the VQ line, i went from a VQ30 in the maxima to a VQ35 in the G35. I have had no engine issues period. 98 Maxima i had to replace common suspension stuff, mainly struts/shocks and bearing, sway bar endlinks and bushings, both CV axles and couple small sub $50 part repairs, i did all the work. The G will need a couple of bushings replaced but nothing hardcore.

I will lean with the LEXUS, both are great cars. Both cars will be cheap to keep for the next 50-75k if you know how to do simple minor work on the car. Clublexus.com and maxima.org both have a strong supporting cast to learn about your car and great DIY with pictures and breakdown of what is needed and why for most repairs.

If your looking at 01 GS3 with 93k for $9k, can i throw in a 03/04 G35 sedan RWD. Those can be had for a bit more in the same miles, the G35 will have about the same amount of power or more then the GS4.


Quote:
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Ball joints are ~$50/ea and KYB OEM replacement struts are less than $100/ea. Upper strut mounts are less than $50. Labor on that shouldn't be ridiculous, and suspension is a pretty easy job if you're doing it yourself anyway.
Those part prices seem in line. I remember someone told me about something pricey on that car that i found was higher then norm. The LS4's had power steering rack issues i recall hopefully it didn't cross over to the GS4.
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