Problems with Tokunbo Lexus cars before 2012 in Nigeria


Posted by: 234DRIVE x NAIJAUTO.COM

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The Lexus cars in Nigeria are mostly sold as Tokunbo and with time they develop a particular pattern of problems. Click here to discover more.

Lexus is now the strongest rival to any Mercedes and BMW car in Nigeria and all over the world with Audi somewhere in the mix. 

This is why 80 per cent of the Lexus cars in Nigeria are sold as Tokunbo aka foreign used. It is a car brand that is in high demand by Nigerians that want to enjoy luxury cars which are significantly cheaper than Mercedes-Benz cars.


The Lexus ES300 is a beauty 

Over time, the Tokunbo Lexus cars in Nigeria have developed a particular pattern of complaints from buyers and this is why we have come up with an article that clearly points out the problems of Tokunbo Lexus cars before 2012 in Nigeria for prospective buyers.

Some of these problems are repairable while some would just have to grow on you as a norm because tokunbo cars are can never be as brand new cars no matter how clean they come in on that ship.

IIn the meanwhile, if want to know how to maintain a Lexus car in Nigeria, we have already had an article on this which has been posted on our website before.

Problems of Tokunbo Lexus cars in Nigeria 

1. Melting/Cracking Dashboard 

This is the number one problem you will experience with Tokunbo Lexus cars in Nigeria because of the amount of sun intensity we experience here in Nigeria. It is not even a Nigeria thing.


There have been 3 lawsuits filed against Toyota and Lexus because their cars between 2003 and 2011 have dashboard materials that would either crack or melt after a couple of years. You know that in Nigeria, we buy Tokunbo cars from foreign countries from owners that have used them for over 7 to 15 years.

There are no proven solutions to this dashboard cracking or melting in Lexus cars but owners overtime have used dashboard mats as a solution. Tinting the car windows also helps reduce the sun rays that cause this mess in Nigeria.


Cracking dashboard and interior is its biggest flaw

If you are buying a Tokunbo Lexus car in Nigeria, just prepare your mind for a messy dashboard with time if it hasn't started melting or cracking.

Lexus has corrected the problem after 2011 and we are grateful for that.  

2. Suspension Problems

Once these cars leave the shores of developed countries with proper roads and start living in Nigeria where the road condition is so bad, they start to develop suspension problems.


Suspension problems on a Tokunbo Lexus occur a lot of times 

These are problems you have to spend money rectifying; nevertheless, it gets draining if you don't buy quality spare parts. The problems with the suspension start to happen repeatedly when you don't drive your Lexus with utmost care on rough road area. 

The suspension problems are always accompanied by random noises as you drive, learning how to diagnose your suspension yourself will help you keep your Lexus safe from harm. 

3. Transmission Failure 

When you buy Lexus cars that have been badly maintained with the wrong transmission oil and driving process abroad, it is in Nigeria that the transmission starts failing from the backlog of events that it has experienced from the country it was bought. This is why you should know when to change your transmission fluid in cars like Lexus. 

I once drove my friend's 2007 Lexus RX350 that would take about 2 seconds before the reverse gear kicks in. This transmission failure also comes with a loud kicking sound that just makes you understand that the car is in a bad state.


Newer Lexus cars have way fewer problems 

This is one of the reasons why testing a car in depth is the best thing that would happen to you in Nigeria.

Also, when you buy a Lexus as Tokunbo in Nigeria you should only use the recommended transmission oil to service it.

4. Rattling Noise 

The more you drive Tokunbo Lexus cars in Nigeria below year model 2012, the more you start to hear rattling noises that are not from the engine. Those displeasing sounds in models like the RX and ES come from the window area or dashboard area.

These sounds are always like something is shaking somewhere but would never pose a more serious problem than just disturbing the quietness of the car.

5. Infotainment Screen Drying Up 

The Lexus ES350 2007 - 2009 comes with a type of infotainment screen that is affected by the heat of the sun and after a while, it loses its bright display colours.

When the screen dries up, the display becomes messy and difficult to navigate because you won't be able to see well. It also disrupts the aesthetics of the car.


This android screen is best for Lexus cars before 2012 in Nigeria 

This is why I always advise that Lexus car owners should always change their infotainment screen to the latest LCD display that is not affected by the sun. It is the common cause we love to upgrade Lexus cars in Nigeria just to achieve better and modern looks.

6. Leather Seat Failure

First of all, Lexus is a luxury car but the common RX, ES and IS models are not premium luxury cars, they are entry-level luxury cars, which means that their level of luxury is not high up there.

You won't be getting the Bentley or Rolls-Royce level of luxury from any Lexus car in the 3 models I mentioned earlier.


The sun is the greatest cause of this cracking leather

This is why a lot of Tokunbo Lexus cars experience a cracking leather seat after being used for some years especially if the previous owners or yourself haven't practiced good maintenance for leather seats.

In most cases, the failure of leather seats on Tokunbo Lexus cars is inevitable because of 'Mr Nigerian Sun' once again. Let me explain how it happens.

At night when everywhere is cool, the leather gets so cool then by noon it heats up again. This alternate heating and cooling of the leather seats would make it start losing its form then it cracks as people sit on it. Only the first owners of these Lexus cars enjoy the A days of the leather seats.

A proper leather upholstery technique is all you need to keep your Lexus leather interior in the best form for as long as you own the car. 

7. High Fuel Consumption

The fuel consumption on Tokunbo Lexus cars starts to increase with time and I do not know exactly why. I am starting to think it is the bad quality of most Nigerian fuels that affect the car but this is a mere assumption with no facts to back it up.


A lot of people expect Lexus cars to run on cheap fuel economy like Toyota, but sorry it does not. 

My colleague at work with a 2009 Lexus ES350 has experienced a 1000 naira increase in the amount of money he spends fueling his car weekly.

The good thing here is that you never get to spend as much as you would have if it was a German luxury car like Benz, BMW or Audi.


Now that you know the problems with Tokunbo Lexus cars before 2012 in Nigeria, you should know the anomalies that come with buying one for use here in Nigeria.




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Crank - the head of content for 234DRIVE is a mechanic/car enthusiast/car vlogger that writes and creates relatable motoring experiences. Whenever he lays his hands on any car, he reviews them in depth. He calls himself the 'Educative Car Guy'.

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