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Lexus ES Starting Problems



  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I had one with the same problem. It turned out to be fuel pressure leak down while the car was off. The pressure in the injectors took a few seconds to re-pressurize upon starting. There's a valve that is supposed to prevent that, which was failing.
  • I have a 2003 ES 330 that's been humming along beautifully, and today while returning from a local store, it just - wouldn't start.

    I turn the key, get the radio and lights, all is well. But no engine action. It doesn't crank, click, nothing. Just the radio.

    I tried a second key to see if the electronic key wasn't working, but that didn't help.

    Any ideas?
  • Had a "starting" problem with my 2007 ES350 2 years ago. After 4 attempts to duplicate..............over a 6 month period...........Lexus found problems in the wiring harness.
  • Found the problem with my car. The symptom: I turned the key a notch and the power comes on, radio, lights, air, everything. I turn it further to start the car and - nothing. Not a crank, not a click, absolutely nothing. I tried a second key, since they say sometimes the electronic key code in your key is the problem - as in "the key broke" - but no difference. A service rep told me on the phone that it "could be the battery", even though I had power. And it was a 3-year battery that was four years old, so I thought - sure, why not, I bought a brand new one and dropped it in. No difference. So last night I towed it to a Toyota dealership and this morning I just got the call - it's the starter, and for the 2003 Lexus ES 330, I've been quoted $619 to replace the starter by the Toyota dealership.
  • steveo24 - Like many others on this thread including yourself, I just started experiencing the exact same issue with my '02 ES300 over the past couple of days. I absolutely LOVE my Lexus, but this is SOOOOO frustrating!!! No warning anything was going to happen so I could be prepared.

    Since your post was only a couple months ago, I'm wondering if the new starter fixed the issue?

    Thanks - Toby S.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Not sure what "warning" you were expecting with a starter failure. If they hit a bad spot on the armature, they don't turn. Sorry for the inconvenience - but machines don't last forever....
  • jet15jet15 Posts: 2
    Having the same problem with my 2007 ES 350. This has been going on since February. New starter relay, new ignition switch, new battery. Dealer hasn't been able to find the problem. Interested in the wiring harness, can that be diagnosed when the car is not exhibiting the problem? I have lost confidence in my car, I can't afford to be stranded in the summer (I live in Tucson).
  • steveo24steveo24 Posts: 7
    Toby S. -

    Sorry that I'm just now responding to this, I suspect your reply in November may have got caught in my spam filter. I just received an unrelated reply and noticed your post.

    In answer to your question - yes, I replaced the starter that day, in late November 2011, and as of this writing, which is about six months later, May 23, 2012, the car's been fine, no problems whatsoever.
  • steveo24steveo24 Posts: 7
    nvbanker -

    True, machines don't last forever, and they aren't perfect. The reason I understand the "no warning" concern is this: I've been driving since the mid-1970's, and older cars, prior to electronic-everything, often gave warnings of upcoming problems. When starting mechanisms were wearing out, they would struggle to start the car, but still get it started. The result: you knew in advance that you needed to address something.

    I'm a tech geek and love features and electronics, but if I were given a choice, I would NOT take them in my engine. Engines used to be so much simpler to work on and cheaper to fix. Nowadays, most of the maintenance expense I've had with vehicles involve fancy electronic features I never asked for and never wanted. How many of us have to take our cars in the shop to get warning lights turned off, or electronic monitoring systems fixed? I'd just as soon skip all that nonsense and stick with a simple motor. I just got back from a classic car show and was chatting with lots of people who talk about getting older model cars NOT just for their collectible value, but more as a preferred alternative to the new, complex, expensive, electronics-laden error-prone monstrosities burdened with loads of trivial features that do nothing to help me get from Point A to Point B, they just add to the risk of malfunction and increase the maintenance expense.

    Toyota is something of an exception in this regard, I've been very happy with Toyota or Lexus vehicles, in general. Were it not for that, I think I'd be shopping for an older model simple vehicle, free of all the electronics and their associated maintenance risks.
  • Kirstie@EdmundsKirstie@Edmunds Posts: 10,676
    Could you give more specific details about the problem you're experiencing? Is your starting issue intermittent? And, when you try to start the vehicle, what exactly happens?

    I can't diagnose your problem, but more details might help those with mechanical expertise.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • jet15jet15 Posts: 2
    Sorry, my problem with starting is intermittent. The green light in the ignition switch is on yet when you press it(foot is on the brake) everything lights up but the engine makes no attempt to start. NO sound what so ever. I have been stranded and had the car towed to the dealer and when they pressed the button it started. I must have pressed it 50 times in an hour with no response. It has not started around 30 times in the last 4 months. I am hoping that the person that said a new wiring harness solved his problem. What I want to know is can the dealer determine if there is a problem with the wiring harness if the car is starting. I'd appreciate any advice.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I appreciate what you are saying. I have two classic Fords, a Galaxie and a Mustang, both of which I restored. Everything on the engines is simple, especially on the 65 Galaxie. No smog, no electronics, nothing. Very easy to keep running. However.....

    The trade off is they never run that good! They start hard sometimes, they run lousy sometimes, they diesel when you turn them off sometimes, and they stall out sometimes....none of which happens to a modern engine. That's just the way cars were back then, we were used to it, knew no better. But now, when I drive one of them, it brings back the horror of how badly cars could run when it was cloudy, or hot, or cold, or wet, or just about everything back then. They're fun to play with, but to drive everyday? I'll take my Lexus hands down!

    Just sayin...... I fully appreciate your point!
  • I'm having the same problem as jet15. The green light in the ignition switch is on yet when you press it(foot is on the brake) everything lights up but the engine makes no attempt to start. NO sound what so ever. This has been going on for over a years. I have taken it in for repairs 4 times and they have replaced the Relay Assy. Start twice and the Start Switch once. Still have the problem.
  • My car was running great. Then I hand sponged the outside of my car and gently cleaned the inside. The doors were open while I was doing so. Then, when I tried to start the car, it made a metallic stuttering sound (sort of like holding a light metal rod to the spokes on a rapidly turning bicycle wheel) but would not start.

    When I enter the car, everything comes on okay and my stereo plays and the check is okay.

    Then I put my foot on the brake and the green light comes on on the Start button. When I press the Start button, the car makes a metallic stuttering sound but the car does not start.

    I tried jump starting it with jumper cables connected to another car but I just got the same stuttering sound so it's not a dead battery. I let it be overnight but (sadly) got the same sound next morning.

    Any ideas? Thanks in advance, any advice would be greatly appreciated before I take this in.
  • steveo24steveo24 Posts: 7
    It still might be the battery. My car is a 2003 model, and the way it behaves when the battery is weak or dead is totally different than any car I've had before. Instead of a gradually weakening battery, the car seems to switch from "normal" to "dead" with no warning. It behaves much like you're describing. If I try to jump it with another car, it will often continue to act the same way, and may require about 20 minutes of steady charging before it will finally start, and when it does, it acts normal again. My other cars do not behave like this. With my other cars, the battery might struggle to start the car and you can hear it struggle. Not so with my Lexus, it's either all or nothing. SO - while I'm sure that washing your car did nothing to hurt the battery (unless you knocked it loose or something), I'm guessing that leaving the doors open may have drained the power a little, since the interior light would be on, and perhaps you had other items on as well, like the radio - did you? If it were my car, and if the battery were already weak, I would've sensed no indication from its behavior that it were weak, but it might die from leaving the doors open for an extended period of time, then it would just suddenly do what you're describing the next time I tried to start it. Anyway - just a thought, your problem could be anything, but I would not assume the battery is good, not yet anyway.
  • steveo24steveo24 Posts: 7
    Great post, and great insight into your classic car experiences! My Lexus is tremendous too, a great car.
  • jacob54jacob54 Posts: 2
    edited October 2013
    I own 2002 ES300 for almost 10 years. Now it has 140,000 miles. All the time all repairs and service was done at Kuni Lexus in Denver. I've driven it all over the UT canyons, AZ, NM, MT, NE, WY, etc. Never had any issues until this year.
    Starting problems. May 2013 - couldn't start. Towed to dealer. Starter replaced. August 2013, couldn't start. Towed to dealer. Some relay replaced. September 2013. Couldn't start. Towed to dealer. No problem codes. Car is still at the dealer. Two follow up calls. Still couldn't find the reason.
    Not sure what to do. It is getting pricey to have it towed almost every month with similar problem.
    Spoken to Service Manager and mentioned that I am not confident how this problem is being fixed. Looks like its a miracle. Not sure what to do. Any advice?

    P.S. Sorry forgot to add that after couple towings dealer was able to start it. And ones it died on mechanic on the test drive.
  • I am on my second set of the same problem with my 2000 ES300 (under 90K miles). The first time it wouldn't start, I replaced the battery and it was fixed for about a year and a half, the second time I had the terminals for the battery replaced as the negative one was corroded ($67). Three days later after not driving for two days "CLICK". ARgh! Brought it back and and they said "We know what your problem is, the Starter" I guess it was 'firing intermittently'. Quoted $579 to repair. Getting done this afternoon. I will come back and update you all. Hopefully this is the last problem! Merry Christmas, and Thank You, Santa for the new Starter.

  • Our '08 has recently started cranking longer--5-8 seconds vs. 1-4 seconds--and I think it's likely the fault of the battery. Still has the original battery. Will change the battery if it gets much worse.

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