Is an IS250 reliable as a used car?

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Answered by: Matthew, An Expert in the Advice for Car Owners Category
The second generation Lexus IS (XE20) model was launched in 2005. The model range at launch included the petrol engined IS250 and the diesel powered IS220d. Later another diesel model, the IS200d was added as were two new petrol models, the powerful v8 ISF and the IS250 C, a folding hard top convertible. Since their launch, the IS family have maintained Lexus' reputation for unfailing reliability and exceptional build quality. The UK based extended warranty provider, Warranty Direct, recommends the second generation IS with an overall rating of 76.00 on their official index. This indicates that overall the IS range are reliable cars with a below average number of breakdowns and failures.

However, anecdotal evidence and community review websites indicate that the majority of mechanical failures suffered by the IS range are for the diesel models who have engine, turbo, exhaust catalyst and transmission problems. These failures tend to be expensive and most review websites recommend that buyers avoid the IS220d and IS200d models and purchase the petrol alternative, the IS250.

Is an IS250 reliable? According to the annual customer reliability and satisfaction survey carried out by JD Power, the petrol powered IS models the IS250 and IS350 were awarded a maximum 5 star rating for both build quality and dependability in 2009. Lexus as a brand routinely scores highly with JD power and the IS is regularly their highest scoring model.

Maintenance will always play a big part in the performance of a used car. and one of the things that may contribute to the good record of the IS250 is the buyer profile. Lexus' are premium vehicles and the typical buyer will be more mature and affluent. As a result the car should be regularly maintained by a franchise dealership. Professional Lexus mechanics will be able to spot any problems early on and perform preventative maintenance. The IS 250 follows a modern trend of having chain driven cams rather than a cam-belt. Used car owners will be aware of the potential problems caused by a snapped cam-belt and the very high repair costs that go along with them. Having a chain cam does remove this concern but the timing chain must me monitored regularly and kept lubricated as a chain failure, however rare will cause extensive and expensive damage.

Maintenance costs however, may be a factor that effects the earliest IS250 models and could potentially have a negative impact on their reliability. As early models devalue, second hand owners may not continue to service their vehicles with a franchised garage. The recommended service intervals on the IS250 are also somewhat closer than on BMWs and Mercedes. This may cause a car owner to put off maintaining the vehicle, potentially causing undue wear and tear. Original parts are also costly. Important consumables such as brakes and clutches will come with quite high replacement costs. It may be worth shopping around to get a better price from Toyota or an aftermarket supplier for such items. Lexus do have a service plan where payment for scheduled services is taken in advance, by direct debit. This helps a car owner to budget for servicing and benefit from a 25% discount on parts and labour.

When asked the question, "is an IS250 reliable?" The answer must be yes, as long as it has been maintained appropriately, the IS250 and IS350 models are amongst the most reliable cars ever made and potentially a very wise choice for a used car buyer. For best results, look for a low milage example with an automatic transmission that has been maintained by a Lexus dealership.

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