By on November 4, 2013

Mehran writes:

First of all I wanted to thank you for your great blog, I read it daily. Now I recently have bought a 2010 Lexus RX 350 with 30K miles on the clock. the original warranty will expire this coming January, since I have bought the car I have put about 5K on it without any problems, now should I buy the extend warranty or not?

The car was a returned 3 year lease which I got a pretty good deal since the dealer was a family friend; at that time they quoted me $2000 for the 5 year 75K extended warranty.

Sajeev answers:

Thank YOU for contributing!  Everyone who clicks/reads/writes to this series helps fuel Citizen Sierra and fund the rotisserie restoration on my other brown project from 1983, a Fox Body Lincoln Continental.  But enough about me and my fantastically bizarre life with cars…

In general, consider these points:

1. Factory or no?  Factory warranties can make life easier: problems with warranty claims goes smoother with a call to Lexus’ official 1-800 number compared to a no-name aftermarket warranty company. Will you ever have a claim problem with a factory warranty, fixed at the dealer?  What about servicing at the dealership where there’s a shiny new Lexus loaner car, gourmet coffee and snacks, high-tech lounges, spa treatments and all the other luxurious crap this brand is (sometimes) famous for? Depending on the amenities of your local Lexus dealer, consider the luxuries before signing anything.

2. Do you need a warrantyany warranty?

  • Parts Cost: they shall be cheap, even the unique Lexus bits from the dealer.  The RX is basically a Toyota Camry with a lift kit and a far nicer body/interior. Any wear items (unplanned, not brake jobs and the stuff in the owner’s manual) in the next 70,000 miles won’t necessarily “outspend” the warranty cost…including labor.
  • Parts Availability: I don’t expect significant downtime waiting for Lexus RX spares. The odds of having parts on backorder from a Japanese/American brand is less likely than the low-volume models from Europe with unique engines/interiors/etc.
  • Knowledge Base:  who can actually fix your car properly?  Is your local mechanic gonna cringe at the sight of an electrical problem on your Mercedes E350 Lexus RX?  Again, refer back to the Camry heritage.
  • Labor rates:  Some cars are harder to diagnose and remove/install parts.  The Camry based RX isn’t making me sweat, compared to other vehicles with super-tight access and tons of mechanical bits like turbocharging plumbing.  More to the point, there’s no need to swing open the RX’s face like a barn door to access the front of the engine like some Audi products.

Considering all these factors, I wouldn’t recommend an extended warranty on a vehicle that’s so cheap to fix, so reliable and so commonplace.  Then again, if you want the piece of mind and the free loaner cars at the Lexus dealership…

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

44 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Extended “Luxury” Period...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    Have the latest Audi’s dispensed with the “service position” that makes access to the front of the engine less painful? (I have the Audi-platform B5 Passat, and putting the front in service position takes about 10-15 minutes if you’ve done it before; not that rough at all.) Do you now have to actually swing the front end out of the way?

  • avatar
    gasser

    I have had several RX 350s. They all have a 6 or 7 year, 70,000 mile power train warranty included. I doubt that anything else which might break by 75,000 will cost $2000 ( your 75K warranty price). Skip the pricey add on warranty.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Way, way, way too much. My Toyota Platinum warranty (7yr, 75k) on my 4Runner was around $500. That is the extended warranty through Toyota. Shop around. Any dealer can sell you the warranty, not just the one that you bought from. That warranty should be in the $1000 or less range for dealer cost.

    Anyway, that $500 warranty I bought on my 4Runner is not proving to be all that useful. I haven’t had any issues with it in 37k miles.

    Also, if you did buy it, you can “return” the warranty assuming you haven’t started using it yet. They will pro-rate if you have gotten into the extended warranty range.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    Put the 2 grand in the bank toward any repair. You’ll likely have most of it to spend on another car in several years (plus interest).

    John

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    If you can afford to self-insure go for it.

    I just bought a 2004 Lexus GX470 on Saturday. 107,300 miles on the ODO, clean Carfax and over 3 pages of maintenance records from mylexus.com. The 90,000 mile major servicing was done and the truck also has a new radiator and fan, plus a new windshield. No drive line ‘clunk’. Driver’s seat is like new (no leather cracks) so, guessing highway miles. Tires are excellent.

    I’m confident this as-is purchase will work out O.K. And yes, I’m aware of the terrible gas mileage! (My other car is a clean, stock ’91 CRX Si)

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Lexus GX (which is a rebadged and luxed-up Toyota Land Cruiser Prado) has to be one of the most dependable vehicles on the planet. It’s good that you bought the 2004, because that’s when they added the reverse camera (if you got the navigation package), and fixed several niggles from the first production year, which was 2003. I believe they added Bluetooth connectivity in 2005 or 2006, though…and of course there was the 2007 facelift, but those are still quite pricey.

      The only thing that I wish Lexus had done with this car is hinge the rear cargo door to the left so that it opens toward the curb instead of away from it…

      • 0 avatar
        myheadhertz

        The cargo door? Yes, why did they do that?

        I made the mistake of test driving a GX470 with 145,000 miles on it about 6 months ago. Nothing else in this category compared to it.
        Even cars with 1/4 the miles. Finally pulled the trigger and bought a GX. From what I’ve read on the forums, radiator weeping and drive line clunk are two major issues with the 2004. Already ordered the USB port/bluetooth/aux in after market add-on. This car seems to have every 2004 option except the infrared night vision.

        If anyone is interested:
        http://www.gromaudio.com/store/usb_adapters/

        • 0 avatar
          Battles

          +1 for Grom Audio gear.
          I have a 2005 IS200 (euro) that came with an effing tape deck and no iPod input. The dealer put me onto Grom and gave me a print out of a workshop manual describing how to get the radio out properly.
          It’s my wife’s car now, only 90k everything except the tyres and brakes are original.
          Second best car I’ve ever had, the bext being my ’89 W124 Benz. A hard act to beat.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Years ago, I bought one of these for my wife that was traded in after 18 months for a Toyota. It still had years and miles left on the factory warranty, but the Toyota dealer was trying to get me to buy an extended warranty for it.

    I told him (and I firmly believe it today) that I was buying an RX because it is basically a luxury Camry and I don’t expect it to break. If I was buying a luxury car that needed an expensive warranty, then I would buy something flashier like an Mercedes.

    The RX was solid for the time I owned it. You don’t need an extended warranty.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I think warranties are mostly for your peace of mind on fairly new Japanese products. If I were to buy a new Saturn I would have to have it. The two cubes I have bought have had zero problems. The price is about right.

    Most repairs at a good independent mechanic (mine, at least) make the warranty a poor bet. Having said that, we bought one for each cube. Happy we didn’t use them. Happy that one still has over 50k to run.

    YMMV.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    If I bought a Lexus, I wouldn’t buy an extended warranty, either, due to the fact that these are very reliable. I have never heard anything bad about these, either. I don’t know about fuel economy, though.

    Apparently, this car has seen very gentle use with only 10K miles/year. Congrats! You seemed to get your hands on a very nice vehicle.

    Enjoy your car and may all your traffic lights be green.

  • avatar
    slance66

    My 07 RX350 has required a right rear strut (Lexus covered it even though 3-4 days out of warranty), a right front strut ($725), both right and left rear bearings (about $600) each and normal oil/brake/tire needs. Interestingly enough, sought quotes from the local Toyota deal for several of these and they were higher, (50-75% higher) than the Lexus dealer, with no free loaner or other niceties (Herb Chambers Lexus outside Boston is a palace). So while I consider this car to be something of a lemon for a Lexus, it still hasn’t cost me $2000 for warranty related items.

    The simple reality is that the transmission and the Toyota 3.5L V6 are almost certainly not going to break down in 70,000 miles. So all you’ve got coverage for is electrical bits, and suspension pieces. Mine consumed the latter at a high rate and still I’m better off.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      $600 each for wheel bearings? I suspect that you are really talking about rear CV joints, not wheel bearings, but it would’t surprise me if it was only wheel bearings.

      That points out a real issue with modern cars. Those of us who have been driving for more than 30 years tend to have repair prices in our heads that we expect. My previous car (a Cadillac STS) had a motor mount fail at about 80K miles. In my mind, motor mounts are low-cost parts that are easy to replace. In this case the cost was about $2500 because the rear motor mounts were integrated into the k-member which had to be replaced as a unit. Since the car was a CPO car, Cadillac paid for it, not me. The complexity of modern cars has made many repairs economic minefields.

      The CPO warranty cost on that STS was $1200. When I got my CTS Wagon, the dealer quoted me the CPO cost of $2400 (which I negotiated down to something less than that). I wanted it because the motor mount issue was fresh in my mind. The CTS has been rock-solid through 43K miles and shows no signs of any impending issues. It’s highly likely that it could go the length without having any warranty claims. The term of the note against the car was calculated to equal the CPO warranty length, we’ll sell the car just before the expiration.

      Given the rising costs of CPO warranties and the low cost of leases, I think the sweet spot now is to lease a high-volume mid-luxury car (3-series, etc.) and live off the original factory warranty. But, as they say, your mileage may vary.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Wow, just wow on the motor mount I’m sorry to hear that… which model Seville the K-body through 03 or the 05+ Sigma derived one? I’m saddened you can’t even buy a Cadillac anymore without running into such repair stupidity.

        “The complexity of modern cars has made many repairs economic minefields.”

        Good point, although I would add “needless” before complexity. The engineering team who integrated a motor mount to the k-member (or the beancounter(s) who made them do it) in your case should be drummed out of the business.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          It was an ’06. I loved that car, but I have to agree that making a fungible component part of something that, essentially, never wears out (and is expensive) is bad design.

        • 0 avatar
          wsn

          “The engineering team who integrated a motor mount to the k-member (or the beancounter(s) who made them do it) in your case should be drummed out of the business.”

          They were. But then bailed out.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bunkie

            Ok so it was the newer one, I expected to hear it was the previous design since the Sigma Catera is supposed to be God’s gift and all. I could see the argument for say making the transmission itself a PITA to replace because its a “lifetime” part. The argument is still flawed but I could see this being the case, but a motor mount is definitely a replaceable part. Someone cut corners, and they should know slipshot work is not helping to rebuild their shattered brand. Standard of the world indeed.

            @wsn

            Good point.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        OK so once again, in 2 minutes of Google searching I found a diagram of the motor mounts for an STS and none of them are “integrated” into anything. They are all replaceable. Now it might have cost that much to drop the K-member and replace them, but it wasn’t parts. And I would bet that an indy mechanic could have done the job for a lot less.

        It’s like people don’t even try to see if you are being ripped off or not, I don’t get it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Good sleuthing, I would say though alot of folks just don’t have the engineering mindset to look for repair doucments or diagrams and then deduce they are being ripped off if/when the mechanic (dealer or indy) tells them they “need” a new K-member along with motor mounts.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The number one rule of extended warranties is that if you end up needing one, you won’t have it, and vice-versa…

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      My wife also has a ’07. She only drives it to work, it’s always garaged, and it has very few highway miles.

      At 45k miles both headlights got hazy and one started leaking. The cost to replace the leaking headlight: $1400!!!!!!! Also, her power steering pump went out – $900!!!!!!!! For her model year there was only a 3/36 warranty.

      As with slance66, it shows Lexus are NOT cheap to maintain.

      • 0 avatar
        tooloud10

        At the dealer. They’re not cheap to maintain AT THE DEALER. Your $1400 headlamp assembly is $75 (halogen) or $100 (HID) shipped on eBay. The power steering pump? About the same price.

        Extended warranty on a late model Lexus? Sometimes I don’t feel like I live in the same world as some of you guys. All that money you guys spend on warranties, you should take and just put in the bank and use to fix problems if they come up. It’s amazing to me that I can keep high mileage versions of some of the most unreliable vehicles on the road for fewer dollars than some people pay to keep a Toyota maintained at the dealer.

        My rule of thumb on my used German cars is that I can take the dealer parts cost and hand that sum of money to my independent mechanic, and he can do the whole job for significantly less than that number.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Geez whatever they did with the RX350 made the headlights stupidly expensive even on Ebay. Found a pair of China’s finest on 04-06 RX for $242.51 shipped, but 07+ yikes.

        Does anyone know if you can you swap in the cheaper “Toyota” level parts into their Lexus “cousins”?

        • 0 avatar
          slance66

          Generally yes, as I understand it. Brakes for example, seem to be exactly the same. The engine is almost exactly the same save some electronics. Transmission is identical to a Highlander.

          But the HID light assemblies won’t be the same, obviously. In my case, the Toyota dealer was much more expensive than the Lexus dealer. Lexus oil changes are also $25, so not a bad deal there. They gave me a right rear strut when they didn’t have to, and earned some trust. I won’t pay them to install filters I can buy at the local Advanced Auto however, what a racket.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            I don’t know about cutting them slack for the strut…you wound up with one new strut in the front and one in the rear. At a bare minimum, they should be replaced in pairs, unless the mileage is very low. But if you were out of warranty, you had what, 60/70K? Not good practice.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I know the RX had a facelift for MY2007. Is that the first year that the projector-beam HID units were standard equipment?

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I found them in 2 mins for $199 shipped, either side. My MR2 headlights are almost double that.

        A Lexus isn’t some magical high tech space age vehicle. It’s a Toyota with fancy leather. The parts are generally no more expensive than the Toyota models. And you could have fixed that leaky headlight seal too, didn’t have to be replaced.

        They are expensive to maintain if you just go to the dealership and bend over. So is most any car. If you are going to be that type of owner, you truly are better off leasing.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      I still maintain that your RX was in an undisclosed accident as this doesn’t jive with available reliability data nor my own anecdotal evidence (five RXs of the same vintage, including my wife’s CPO 07). Known weak points on these are the leaking headlamps and VVT oil line (3.5L engines).

  • avatar
    thegamper

    My experience with an aftermarket warranty was horrible. They are in the business of denying coverage. If the car is rolling and running, they will not pay. I had an issue that I very much believed they should cover, they denied coverage and after several phone calls and a letter on my firm’s letterhead, (the extended version which lists over 100 attorneys at the firm) basically telling them they are paying for it on principle one way or another, did they finally relent.

    The aftermarket warranties arent worth the paper they are written on. Go factory or nothing. Given what I believe is a pretty solid reliability history for the RX and the fact that it is pretty low mile vehicle, you are probably better off skipping the warranty in my opinion. Warranties generally do not cover wear items or things that may fail as a result of a wear item, sometimes this may even extend to things like gaskets, carbon buildup, etc.

    I would only recommend extended warranties on vehicles that are driven very hard (hooned) or vehicles that have complex systems such as turbos, AWD systems and newer (less proven) drivetrains.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I learned from the indy dealer side of the coin to never trust my money with a third party warranty company.

      I very much agree with your last point.

    • 0 avatar

      Aftermarket warranty story: Client buys Volvo. Buys warranty too.
      Volvo spits the valve belt. Pistons hit valves. “new-used” car is immediately a $3500 headache. Warranty company disclaims. Warranty company claims that valve train drive belt is NOT ‘an internally lubricated part” so its failure is not covered…. I send attorney letter. Warranty company sends a $1000 good faith payment directly to client, not my office (cap on policy is $1500 per incident in fine print) The Warranty company just go out from under and screwed the attorney-nice touch.
      We sue the dealer for the difference. Dealer also claims that internally lubricated parts are covered but that the belt isn’t one. Luckily, the Judge decided that the belt failed, then causing the failure of an internally lubricated part….and gave Judgement to the buyers. The dealer paid after a Judgement was presented.

      Car dealers expect to be sued and aren’t scared. The warranty company has so many holes in the warranty that you are better off in most cases saving the money “just in case”. Even CPO warranties are “holey”…although you don’t usually buy those separately.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Generally all extended warranties cost more than the amount one should reasonably expect to spend on repairs within that time period. The manufacturer loves them because they get your money now and make interest off it. At best, assuming nobody makes a profit on extended warranties, the price is equal to the average parts+labor spent on repairs within the warranty period. In this case, just keep your money and spend it only when needed. At worst, you are subsidizing some other owner’s expensive repair.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Buying a car without any kind of warranty is a roll of the die no matter any way you cut it. Odds may be against catastrophic issues in this case (as they were with my last major automotive purchase) but that doesn’t mean you’ll be completely trouble free, even Toyota/Lexus puts out lemons from time to time (or use an ineffectual power steering rack design that breaks at exactly 70K). If you are in a financial position to do so, I would spend the 2K and know you’re covered for some time. Then if I had a trouble free experience X years and miles later, I would research common wear items (excluding brakes/tires etc) and then shortly before the expiration demand some of these items be replaced under warranty thus getting something out of it and better setting you up for out of warranty ownership.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Sounds to me like your buddy is trying to make up some of the lost profit on the car with a warranty. $2k for a Lexus warranty? To only 75k miles? Even VW and Land Rover extended warranties aren’t that expensive and at least those were to 100k.

    Extended warranties are a sucker bet for the most part, especially on a car that is known to be ultra reliable like your Lexus. Put $2k in a CD or something in case you need it. But most likely you won’t, especially not by 75k miles anyways. If you are that concerned that something so expensive will break, you would be better served leasing a new car and trading up to a new one every few years.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    I agree with the above posts. Were I buying a BMW, Benz, Porsche I would definitely consider the warranty. But this is an RX350, basically a fancy Highlander. You should have many trouble free miles.

    In 2011, My brother had decided on a ’09 Honda with just under 30k miles. After bargaining on a price we all thought was fair, you’d think that the hard part would be over. But then you have to run “additional add-ons” gauntlet of the F&I department.
    – No, we don’t want the installed alarm for extra cost
    – No, we don’t want the extra shiny protect-o coat.
    But the worst one in my mind is the extended warranty coverage. Since the original warranty was almost done the F&I guy was REALLY pushing the extended warranty. My brother was on the fence about it when I explained to him that a Honda with 30 k mile was just getting broken in. It should easily reach 100K miles before something serious goes wrong.
    My brother said “no” and the F&I guy gave us the “I can’t believe you’re being so stupid” look. Luckily, my brother was paying cash so our time with him was blessedly short.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    My take on the extended warranty is that these are a good idea if you are buying an unreliable car-which the RX is NOT.

    The only time I every got one was on a first year Dodge Intrepid. The warranty paid for 3 evaporators at about 800 each with labor. I also got a rental car with each job as this repair always took more than a single day due to parts and or labor availability. Mechanic said that they knew on both the first and second repair that these would not last as there was some poor joints that were well known. I believe the warranty cost about $1200 at the time-so while I made out on the repair cost, the pissed off factor was pretty big. Each time it went out I was in city traffic, sometimes hours from home and I don’t like being hot.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Extended warranties are a PROFIT CENTER for the company offering them. They expect to take in more revenue from the cost (to you) of the warranty, than they expend on satisfying claims. Why would you want to bet against the house?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you but depending on what you buy it could make sense. Sometimes you get a lemon transmission and it blows at 60K, for some its a matter of pay me now or pay me later. Given the lifetime fluid nonsense of late and overall tight engineering standards on many models, it wouldn’t surprise me if even a used Lexus won’t require a very expensive trip back to the dealer moving forward.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    On this particular car, I would say it’s a waste, you’re better off just setting the money aside for potential repairs. There’s other brands though where I would likely buy it but Lexus is about as good as it gets.

    I agree with the consensus that aftermarket warranties for just about any product are a rip off. When you do have to use them, they make your life miserable with the hoops and the denials. i ahd a few family members that went through this. But also keep in mind, even the manufacturers extended warranty will try and play games that they wouldn’t on a new car warranty, at least that’s what I’ve seen.

    Financially speaking, you’re almost always better off taking your chances than buying any type of warranty for ANY product.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You’re not going to have some catastrophic failure before 75K miles, and the regular maintenance stuff like belts or struts isn’t covered with a warranty anyway – so avoid.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States