So like the OP, I also purchased my 1998 LS400 for $2700. The car had 223,xxx miles, and I currently have almost 235k on it. It’s done two road trips this past year and did phenomenal. During the one trip of over 2500 total miles, it consumed less than a pint of oil, Majority was interstate driving at 80mph.
Fuel Economy is less than stellar, about 17mpg combined, on those road trips I did reach 27mpg on the interstate.
So the car did come with a full service history, so I did luck out in that regard, here’s what I’ve done to it over the past year. I do all of my own work, so no labor cost involved, just parts.
Repairs & Maintenance
Replaced the power steering pump(was leaking when I bought it) with a new aftermarket unit ~$175 with fluid.
Two oil changes, $60 each.
Replaced the sway bar bushings with aftermarket polyurethane(Energy Suspension) units $45, completely transformed the boat’s handling without impacting ride quality.
Replaced sway bar end links(Moog) $120, these were totally shot and clunking.
Replaced the strut bars(OEM) $200, basically the lower forward control arms, as it is double wishbone, these were last replaced at 77k miles and were clunking significantly over bumps, also causing sway on the interstate.
Had the front brake rotors machined due to warping, $30.
Replaced a valve cover gasket as a spark plug tube seal was leaking, $30 for the set.
Air filter $20.
Cabin Air Filter $20.
Replaced old spare tire with a good used tire, $40
I bought a much less worn shift lever for $40 to replace the old one.
I ordered replacement front struts, springs and mounts, got a killer deal on Rockauto as a wholesaler was closing out their supply.
The hood struts are a little weak when it’s cold, but that isn’t a big deal.
Eventually it’ll need its camshaft seals replaced, which is an endeavor, it isn’t leaking onto the timing belt so for now I’m letting it go.
And it could use new front rearward control arms, I assume these are original according to my records not showing a replacement.
Broken or malfunctioning items
Not much to report here, occasionally the power telescoping steering column doesn’t work, but the tilt works fine, everything else works.
This is less specific to this car, and more towards older vehicles in general, occasionally it lets out a puff of blue smoke on start up after its been sitting for a few days, but this is typical of slightly worn valve stem seals, it leaks/consumes about half a quart every 5k miles.
Is it a sports car? hell no, but this barge is plenty fun to throw around on back roads, there’s a very solid chassis underneath all of that plush interior. Set the body roll and ride the wave.
The automatic is still incredibly smooth after all of this time, and in the “power” mode, responds to throttle input pretty quickly, especially for the era it came from.
Front seats and armrest are cracked and worn, but were like that when I bought it, no difference over the year. Seats are still very comfortable and are 14 way adjustable.
A few small creaks and rattles over broken pavement, but I mean it’s 20 years old.
This is a great car, and I honestly recommend it to anyone looking at older luxury cars, but they have their faults, it isn’t going to bleed you dry like an E38. But if you can’t fix it yourself, the luxury tax is real.
As for actually working on the vehicle, everything is logically placed, it really isn’t any different than servicing a Toyota, it doesn’t feel like they intentionally packaged things to be difficult to get at.
In all, there isn’t much about this car that bothers me, it’s a damn good vehicle. There isn’t anything I would change inside, the ergonomics are about as good as it can get.