Need Advice on a used ES330

I don't have any experience with owning a Lexus so I'm hoping that I can get some advice. I found an 2005 ES330 with 17000 miles with pretty much the
basic ES options. The car new would have cost about $35600 but is now dealer priced at $31900 and is classed as a Certified Preowned Lexus. I can find other CPO Lexus ES330 for anywhere from $29000 up to 33000 so the dealer so the asking price is not out of line.
Edmund says that the fair market trade in value for this car would be $27200 and the price I could expect to buy it off a private individual would be $28600 but since I have no experience with buying a Lexus to don't know if dealers typically negotiate the price or is what you see is what you pay. Naturally I don't want to pay any more than I have to for a car and was hoping someone could tell me what I might expect out of a Lexus dealer during negotiations. In other words will they negotiate and if so, about how much might I expect them to come down on this $31,900 price?
Also can anyone give me an idea of what to expect in the way of resale value over time? I don't want to offend anyone but I have also been looking at a new 2006 Toyota Avalon with similar equipment as the Lexus for about the same price. Now I know that an Avalon is not an ES 330 dispite the fact that Toyota makes both. I'm just wondering if it is really worth it, over time, to buy a used vehicle for the same money as I can buy a new vehicle for given Toyota's resale values.
Is there anything else, as a non-Lexus owner that I should be aware of when considering buying the Lexus ES 330? Buying a new car is such a major expense one can ill afford to make a financial decision that turns into a disaster.
Any help would be appreciated.
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wrote:

You're right--the 06 Avalon is probably a nicer car than the current ES.
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We have two Lexi a '92 LS400 and a '04 RX330.
Lexi are very nice cars that depreciate much less than most cars and are worth the money if you keep your cars a long time (we do). Very reliable.
Since you are looking at a 2005, I'd guess it has at least 3 years of warranty left plus more on the powertrain. Lexus Certified gets you 3 years/100,000 miles and the miles figure is better than the original warranty. If you drive a LOT Certified is worth it in your case, if not get the dealer to knock off $1,000 and tell him you don't need the Certified Warranty. The Certified warranty is worth $1,000. You will not get a Lexus dealer to sell you a car at a private party price. There is a good chance he gave the person who traded the car better than trade-in on it to get them to buy a new Lexus. Besides, someone has to pay for the nice showroom and coffee they serve you...and it's not them.
Now, I personally think you would be ill-advised to get an ES instead of the Avalon. The Avalon is a bigger car, has the new V6 which is very powerful and better than the ES V6, and is (from what I saw looking at one at a Toyota dealer) every bit as posh a an ES. You don;t get the Lexus name plate and it probably will depreciate a little bit faster (not much), but if you can live with that you are far better off.
Remember, the ES is a Camry in a tuxedo and the Avalon is a better Camry.
Toyota could slap a Lexus badge on the Avalon and no one would object. It's that nice.
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Thanks for the reply. I went in today and spoke with a loan officer at my credit union. He said that there are two numbers that he tells people to work with -- NADA Retail and Trade. He said that if the dealers price was in the retail zone then he said that I should use the Retail numbers for the value of my car. If the car was priced in the Trade range then I should use the trade numbers for my car. What the dealer is attempting to do is use the Retail for his price and less than Trade for my vehicle. In this area he indicated that competition is stiff and that we are going into a time of year when car sales get depressed anyway and it didn't matter if the car was a Lexus or not that I would be getting taken if I didn't get a far better deal than the initial quote. He also indicated that if there was a dealer somewhere else that was selling the same car for less then I should use that price to my advantage by showing the local dealer that I can get a better deal elsewhere.
Thanks for the tip on the warranty as I didn't realize that you could take it without the extended warranty at a reduced price.
On the Avalon vs ES I guess I didn't realize that the Avalon was bigger and had a bigger engine.
My biggest concern is this..... Let's assume that I'm on trip to see my parents in mid-Missouri and my car breaks down. The nearest Lexus dealer is in St Louis or Kansas City so what does one do then? On the other hand there are plenty of Toyota dealers in and around where they live to fix my car. Above and beyond this concern, my next biggest concern is cost of maintenance. Can you tell me if you feel like the cost of parts and labor on a Lexus are higher than normal just because the car is a Lexus? GM was notorious for charging more for the same exact part at is used on Cadillac vs an Oldmobile assuming that the if you could afford to pay more to have a Cadillac you could also afford to pay more for service. Anything you can tell me regarding this?

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Not a lot. Our older car, the LS400, has no Toyota equivalent and the only things that have "broken" on it are two light bulbs (which are hard to find other than from Lexus dealer, although a substitute is available), wiper blade refills (that you can only get from Lexus at about $15 a set), battery (generic replacement), brake pads and rotors (done at a Midas shop at $500), timing belt replacement ($400 at Lexus dealer shop), a set of bushings (at dealer under warranty) and a HVAC display that had partially blanked out ($300 for the rebuilt part with exchange and I replaced it myself - I have the shop manual). I do my own fluid changes and those are no more expensive than any other car. The car has been EXTREMELY low maintenance and still looks and drives like a two year old car while it is 14 years old in fact. A FANTASTIC car. My wife still loves it even though she is now driving a 2004 RX330.
In general, the unique Lexus parts will be more expensive than Toyota parts. You can, however, get better prices by using an on-line Lexis dealer for parts (like Bell Lexus in AZ, e.g. local dealer wanted $375 for a hitch while Bell wanted $225 plus $30 shipping) or for some parts you can get rebuilt items on the web. That's what I did to get my HVAC dimming problem dealt with. There are several Lexus news groups and web sites where you can seek advice. Not all Lexus drivers are rich guys out to pay too much for everything they buy.
I know you can have the Certified warranty removed because we did that on our RX. The car was a "Certified", I would not pay what they were willing to sell it for, they offered to knock off $1,000 if I declined the Certified warranty (which given that the car was 9 months old and had over 3 years of original warranty left, was a no-brainier). I know that the "list" price for the Certified "warranty" is $995. If the dealer will not knock off $1,000 to pull the warranty, don't buy the car (unless you want the warranty). He is just being a jerk and you don't want to do business with a jerk...or he wants the profit from the warranty. Some dealers offered to pull the Certified when we were shopping and some said they would not. The latter I took great pleasure in telling I had bought from another dealer because his price was too high when he called me back after I had already bought.
Don't worry much about a breakdown while travelling in your Lexus. If no dealer is close buy, they will send someone else to get your car under contract.
Lexus dealer labor is unquestionably more expensive than other shops (again, someone has to pay for the nice building and free fancy coffee). for example, the Lexus dealer who wanted $375 for the hitch wanted $925 total for it installed. The installation is a do-it-yourself 1.5 hour (if you work slowly) job. Fortunately, you an do all routine maintenance wherever you want or yourself. These are cars, they are not F117 NightHawks that you need special training to work on. In warranty, the dealer fixes the rare failure. Out of warranty, go to a good import shop.
A tip, if you are at all handy and buy from a Lexus dealer make them give you a bottle of touch up paint and a service manual set or you will not buy the car. This stuff costs them next to nothing and would cost you a lot otherwise.
Nevertheless, as I said before, the Avalon is better deal on a bigger, just as comfy, car. Consumer Reports loved it. Very quick, too. I personally would not buy a new ES instead of an Avalon. The ES gets a re-do in a year and then the story may change.
- GRL
Once out of warranty, there is a good chance that a Toyota shop would be able to service most, if not all, mechanical itens on an ES.
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Do you belong to a credit union? I was able to buy a new ES330 at $300 over invoice through my credit union. No negotiating, no BS just pay the money and drive away.
I have also owned an Avalon and my wife now drives an 05 ES. The fit and finish of the ES is a notch above the Avalon but, if I had been able to talk here out of the ES we would have had a new Avalon. The prices you quoted are in line with what I found while shopping for my wife's new car.
As the others have stated, the Avalon is a little larger, just maybe not as plush. The ES has a learning curve for the type of driving you do. I don't care for that feature much at all, the engine control is all fly by wire and you often are faced with lag when you don't want or need it.
Consider also how far away your "local" dealer is. I have to travel 200 miles to get to the nearest Lexus dealer. I get to make that drive this coming Friday.
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I went in and talked to my Credit Union this morning but they mentioned nothing about being able to buy one at just over invoice. What he did tell me was that given this geographical area their prices weren't even close to the numbers I should be paying. He says that they need to come down at least $2000.
Can you explain more about this fly by wire thing? This concerns me both from a technology perspective but also from a cost perspective if something goes wrong with it.
You are right about the distance thing. The problem with Lexus is that there just isn't enough dealers and what does one do when your car breaks down and the nearest dealer is 125 miles away. I checked yesterday and if my car were to break down while visiting my parents in Mid-Missouri the nearest dealer would be in St Louis or Kansas City. In the case of Toyota, there are quite a few dealers between my house and my parents.
I asked this of another person who responded to my original post.... What can you tell me about the cost of maintence on a Lexus? I'm a bit concerned that Lexus might charge more for parts and labor just because its a Lexus figuring that if you can afford to buy a Lexus you can afford to pay more for parts and labor as well.

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The maintenance cost is usually the same as Toyota. I had all major services done on my 98 es-300 at a Toyota repair shop. The repairs were the same as a v6 camry.
Before you buy an es-330, drive an Rx300 or Rx330. I just purchased a certified 03 rx300 for 31k.
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I have a 2005 ES 330. It has about 3500 miles on it. If I had to buy one again, I'd go for the new Avalon. The Avalon is roomier, has a newer, more powerful, engine. The ES 330 is simply a fancy Camry and some people are having a problem with the transmission. It seems that when you slow down for a red light, etc., then step on the gas before stopping, it sometimes has a hesitation and/or jerk. Lexus came out with some kind of software update for this problem but it doesn't always make it better and, for some, it made it worse. The service rep at the dealer told me that once you install the update (they don't like to refer to it as a fix) it cannot be reversed and you're more or less stuck with it. I have this characteristic in my transmission. If I'm gentle with the gas peddle, I don't notice it as much. My wife's 2004 4cyl Camry is smooth as silk without any jerk or hesitation. Also, you are right to be concerned over the cost of maintenance and repairs at a Lexus dealer. It's not just high - it's very high. I understand however, that some Lexus owners take there car to a Toyota dealer and the cost is not as high. It shouldn't be hard for the Toyota dealer to service a ES 330 since there are many similarities to the Camry (but not the transmission and engine). If you still like the ES 330. Make sure you can give the car you will buy a good test drive and pay attention to any hesitation or jerks when changing speed. If it's not always smooth. stay away. Al
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Thanks for all the replies and advice. To my good fortune I found a dealer that had a 2005 ES 330 that had been part of the dealer's loaner car fleet. Had less than 7000 miles on it and not a scratch or mark anywhere. Because it was a fleet car I was able to save a ton of money off the price. Got a verified CarFax report, a copy of the maintenance history and a CPO Lexus warranty thrown in. CarFax verified that it had never been wreck and was not a New Orleans flood car. Could not find anything negative about the deal other than the fact that I had to drive 150 miles to get the deal. I've been driving the car now for over a week and am VERY happy with the purchase.
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Good luck! Hope the transmission lag that AndyK mentioned doesn't get to you. It's not too bad unless you have to do a highway merge quickly or take a left turn quickly when there's oncoming traffic.
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