Timing belt question on 1996 Lexus LS400

Looking at buying this car used from original owner - it has 190,000 miles current owner has never replaced timing belt (nor on his previous 3 LExus')..he says it only needs to be replaced if it breaks...and will not damage the engine. The dealer says the oppposite. Can anyone give me a straight answer? Thanks, Shelley

by in Danville, KY on December 11, 2009
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2 answers 1 comment
ANSWER by , December 11, 2009
He is absolutely wrong. If a timing belt breaks while driving, there is potential for doing damage to internal components of the engine--the most common is bending a valve. These are things that cost thousands of dollars to fix. It's important to do timing belt and water pump work on schedule to avoid big problems down the road. This owner is lucky that Lexuses are often bulletproof, but it might not be a great car to buy. It hasn't been maintained.
COMMENT by , November 11, 2014
WHO EVER TOLD YOU WAIT UNTIL THEY BROKE MUST HAVE BEEN A MEMBER OF CONGRESS. THAT'S LIKE CALLING A CAB TO PUT THE FLAMES OUT IF YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE? REPLACE SOON AS POSSIBLE.
ANSWER by , April 30, 2012
I am reading your post on 04/30/2012; it may too late for your use, but this answer could help others. The response posted prior to mine is accurate; however, I would urge you to definitely change the-- Timing belt Idler pulley Water pump/gaskets Thermostat Price, parts & labor-!,000.00 to 1,290.00. We changed all these on our LS 400 at 91,000, not much wear, HOWEVER it was brittle and with cracks, 12 years is a long time. If the timing belt were to break, some engines would suffer major damage, some would not, it depends on the year the engine was built, Lexus changed models in the mid-1990s. You bought a gem, 30,000 miles! Incredible, most 99s probably register close to 180,000 miles. We have a 1999 and previously had a 1991; that make us Lexus owners for almost 20 yrs.; we are indeed very satisfied Lexus customers.