By James Wong
I always believed our LS was a bastion of reliability, while the Touran had the odd CEL popping up on the dashboard and the S204 reluctantly starting when warm. I had this unshakeable impression that Japanese cars were more reliable. But it was shattered when we sent our LS460 for service last week.
Among other things, it needed a $12,000 replacement of control arms and associated bearings, and a $2850 replacement of both rear shock absorbers. We were also quoted $300+ for a car battery and $24 for a key fob battery.
Mind you, our mileage is currently 120,000km and the car is only 7.5 years old. It’s a huge shock when the bill first came to our hands, and it didn’t fade over the week. We picked a LS with no air suspension, just because we thought the more traditional mechanical suspension setup would be able to last longer. Top Tip: it’s not true! We’re not sure if the air-suspended LS has the same control arms as well, but Lexus should seriously re-think about the longevity of these parts.
At $14,850 this is more than 10% of the cost price of the car when we bought it used!
Apparently, all of the control arms (8) had to be replaced at the same time, and the complexity of getting them out meant that labour was the major cost of the job. I still couldn’t believe every control arm was at least $1,000 a pop.
So we went to an outside workshop which got the same exact job done for a little over $7,000. Still painful, but a lot more bearable. I guess this really shows how much the official dealer is overcharging.
My impression of Japanese cars is quite damaged from this episode, and I’m beginning to think this unfair advantage we give to Japanese reliability is all just a baseless mindset. And it is – how do we easily forget Toyota’s recalls but remember VW’s so insistently?
I’ll need some time to recover. Meanwhile, I’ll go on a Japanese-free diet for a while…