1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Service @ 150K Miles

September 26, 2012

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We bought this car to see if a $3,500 car could provide reliable transportation. The only measure of success is whether it is still running and safe to drive. As we consider each repair, we try to imagine a family on a really tight budget. So if it has a slow oil leak would our imaginary family pop for the $350 repair? Or would they just top it off now and then.

But now we have a big decision and we need your help. The fun of the project, for us, is the support and suggestions from you guys, the readers. So here's what's keeping us up at night.

Our ES is closing in on 150k miles and the big service visit that brings. For other Edmunds.com long-term test cars, we would simply whip out the manual and do whatever it said. With these near-new test cars, we expect them to last forever. With 150k on this old guy, "forever" is almost here. Some would say forever has already come and gone. 

Here's what's needed:

• Replace engine oil and oil filter
• Replace engine air filter
• Replace engine coolant
• Replace brake fluid
• Replace air conditioner filter

Then, of course, there is a laundry list of inspections to perform, the repair of each which will likely bring a hefty price tag. For an idea of what it would cost, we checked the 150K service in our Car Maintenance section and it came up with $214. Experience has taught us that a Lexus dealership would charge much more.

So, are we really going to do everything in the manual? Or do we just do the oil change, tire rotation and tell the mechanic to let us know about anything that will, "Stop the car from running?"

And, as you frame your response, think of that family on a tight budget.  Like a lot of folks these days, they're really having trouble making ends meet.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @149,430 miles

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