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Lexus instrument lights problem

numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
edited March 2014 in Lexus
I am going to file a class action lawsuit against
Lexus for their failure to recognize a critical
design engineering flaw with their instrument panel
lights and gauge pointers. The pointers will
eventually burn out and create a serious safety
hazard during night driving (you can't tell what
speed you are traveling even if the background
lights are placed on maximum). I have been
disgusted by the Lexus dealers who say this is a
"typical" problem with "older, high mileage" Lexus
models. This is a major flaw that Lexus needs to
address openly and honestly with vehicle owners.
The quoted prices to fix a burned out speedometer
LED pointer is $400 to $500 and that is just for
the speedometer portion of the instrument panel. If
the tach or other illuminated pointers burn out,
the price to repair will be even greater and
require numerous repair services as the various
pointers burn out over time.

Please post any comments regarding similar
problems with Lexus models to help me prepare for
the lawsuit. Thanks


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    btroybtroy Member Posts: 92
    Good luck with your lawsuit. I personally don't think our court system needs to be burdened with a suit over a burned-out bulb, but that's just my opinion. Meanwhile another approach is to use the federal Department of Transportation's mechanism for resolving safety problems and possible recalls in automobiles. Check out www.nhtsa.dot.gov to file a safety complaint.
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Below is a message I received from Lexus on 01/13/00. Though you all might get a kick out of this.

    Mr. Tucker,

    Per your request, we reviewed your concern with your dealership and our factory
    management. Based on factors including service history, age of the vehicle and
    expiration of any warranties. Lexus respectfully declines any assistance on
    this request. We are sorry this was not the resolution you had hoped for, but
    Lexus does review each request fairly. Thank you for the opportunity to assist

    Mario Nunez
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    jtomskyjtomsky Member Posts: 1
    This case illustrates one of the advantages of the old-fashioned mechanical dials. Unless Lexus specifically claimed that the instrument light bulbs would never burn out, I don't see where you've got a case. If your brake pads wear out, you get them replaced, you don't start a lawsuit.
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    black_tulipblack_tulip Member Posts: 435
    Look, it's a seven year old car, long
    out of warranty. Something breaks, you fix it.
    Why do you think Lexus needs to do it?
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    dave1442397dave1442397 Member Posts: 12
    Maybe you can find a wrecked LS 400 and just buy the entire instrument module.
    My friend did that with his 300 ZX, only cost him $150. He also dropped 56,000 miles off his car by installing the complete module (odometer included), but that's a whole other story...
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    I agree that a 7-year-old car might need to have the breaks replaced as an out of warranty problem. However, when you buy a car, you do not generally expect the speedometer to become invisable after a few years of ownership. The instrument lights on the lexus that use an LED pointer are ill-conceived and ill-engineered. Hope you own one after about 5 years and have to pay $1500 to replace the instrument cluster just so you can see your speedometer at night. Seems like a lot of money just to tell your speed doesn't it. I suspect that you guys are really Lexus people who are trying to make light of this serious safety issue. Ligic would dictate that the engineering is wrong and that Lexus should be responsible for correcting the safety issue. I have noted at least 100 other Lexus owners who have the speedometer burn out problem on their Lexus automobiles across the model spectrum. Perhaps you should apply to become Lexus salesmen since you have no clue as to the gravity of this issue.
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    I have contacted Lexus Japan and Lexus USA and they refuse to do
    anything about this problem. They state that Lexus has one of the best
    warranties in the industry but that a 1993 model out of warranty is tough. I believe that this is a safety issue and not just a warranty issue
    and I have notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the problem. Who knows if they will take any action at all. I guess someone has to die in an accident related to the lack of being able to tell ones speed due to
    the speedometer indicator failure before anything will be done. I am absolutely astounded by Lexus (Toyota) lack of concern for this matter.
    Please check back occationally to see the status of my class action suit on
    this issue.
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    chumsaechumsae Member Posts: 61
    First, some things are expected and normal wear-and-tear items. Brake pads, windshield wiper blades, carpet matting are all expected in the normal use of any car. You can also "expect the unexpected" when you car is in warrantee or not;failures do happen.
    But, when or if a high-quality moniker like Lexus
    has a design fault, THEN the game has changed. I
    would support the original author on two counts:
    1. IF he can substantiate a number of similar failures then he has a case for specific performance failure on Lexus. The originator should not have to prove systemic failures - only
    that the problems are not unique to a few cars.
    2. A safety-related design fault, as this may be,
    that costs something approaching 5%-10% of the value of the car to repair is not going to GET
    repaired by many owners. They will live with the
    problem even though it clearly compromises safe
    operation of the car.
    Here, it could be that Lexus engineers made a cool
    looking display without regard to future failures
    and the cost to correct those failures. Now, in my opinion, and if the problem is not a onesee-twosee failure, Lexus ought to step up to the plate and fix it.
    Me, I like my Lexus and everything about it. My
    car does not have the same type dashboard as the originator so I am not supporting him on the off
    chance that I might benefit. It just seems to me
    that people at Lexus took a chance on their design
    and THEY, not the customer, should pay to fix it.
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Thank you for your comments. At least there is one person out there who understands what I am trying to do. I have copied your message and am going to post it on the Yahoo Auto Bulletin Board in hopes that other Lexus owners who have the same needle pointer failure will step forward and support my campaign to get Lexus to acknowledge their responsibility on this issue.
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Will someone out there help me in my complaint about the Lexus instrument light problem? Seems that there is a tremendous apathy to get involved in this issue. The illuminated instrument lights on the Lexus are poorly engineered and will cost the average customer a bunch of bucks if Lexus does not acknowledge this issue. It is a safety issue that all Lexus owners should be aware of!!!
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    hayabusahayabusa Member Posts: 26
    I'm sorry.... Didn't read the User Agreement.
    Anyway... numbersman... It is like any burned out bulb on any car, except that it is expensive and really cool. You might as well sue all the car companies who have such lighting systems. They
    will all fail eventually.
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    bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    ...why no one is threatening to sue GM for the Corvette dashes that also had this chronic problem.

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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    you know, you are absolutely right. We fell for it, now we all suffer the consequences. What a lame, petulent, response to a REAL safety issue. Hope you do not have the issue affect your life.
    Al Tucker
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    I am sorry you are experiencing problems with your Corvette. However, I have all I can say grace over with Lexus. Good luck in you endeavor to correct the manufacturing issues you have with GM.
    Al Tucker
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    In discussions with a potential attorney who may take this case, he has
    indicated that he needs the following information. I am helping him collect
    as much information as possible to aid in him in deciding whether or to take
    this case. It is my understanding that the primary focus of the suit will
    be the failure of the Optitron needle pointers on the Lexus instrument panel
    (especially the speedometer gauge). I have had numerous responses from
    people who have had to replace background light bulbs. Although the repair
    of the background lights might be expensive, it is not the intent of this
    suit to pursue this issue. Our focus here is only the Optitron illuminated
    pointer needles on the various Lexus models. In my opinion, it is the
    needle pointer burn-out that constitutes the engineering design flaw and
    subsequent vehicle safety issue.

    Specifically, we need to know the following:

    1. Model and year of your Lexus that has the needle pointers burned out
    (includes any of the instrument gauges, but especially the speedometer).

    2. In what State in the USA is your vehicle registered? If outside the US,
    in what country is the Lexus located?

    2. The approximate mileage on the vehicle when the needle pointer burned

    3. Did you get it fixed and if so, how much did it cost you to get it

    4. Did Lexus participate in the cost of repairing the instrument panel. If
    so, what was your total out of pocket expense?

    5. Do you know of any other people who have had the needle pointer
    burn-out? If so, try to report their experience also with attention to the
    same questions.

    It is not necessary for you to identify yourself or give your address, but
    if you like, you can provide this info if you desire.

    The theory of a class action suit is as follows:
    Where numerous people have a common claim, one or more of those people
    (frequently called "class members") can file a suit on behalf of everyone in
    the same situation. Other Lexus owners whose vehicles are affected by the
    problem do not have to volunteer to be included in the suit, but would be
    given the ability to "opt out" if they so choose.
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    hello25hello25 Member Posts: 30
    Don't you have to show causation as in: seven year old bulb failure caused injury and death to affected? Do you think you have a cause of action because bulbs burned out at seven years (and how many years after expiration of warranty?)? Why?
    Because it "may be" a safety issue? Nothing else which goes wrong with a car, if not fixed, is not a safety issue?! I recommend researching the maintence histories of car makers Toyota and others to gain some perspective on "bulbs burn out" after seven years. Resultant in a safety issue or not that seems like an incredible thing about which to complain. Finally, look at some real class action litigation about safety issues like cars or trucks
    failing on road causing injury or death or cars or trucks actually exploding in flames because of design flaws.
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    hello25hello25 Member Posts: 30
    Electroluminescent gauge pointers are a safety hazard from the word go-- for the opposite reason you site which is that they are too bright. Neurologically the brain is wired in such a way
    that you can not put laser beams in cars or digital gauges where the numbers change change change change every 1 mph and expect much better
    than a light show.
    The electroluminescent gauges are modern and elegant and go with with car I guess but I never drive any Lexus without first turning the "brightness" setting down.
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    black_tulipblack_tulip Member Posts: 435
    I got that somewhat nasty email from you, because
    I disagreed with you. Since your address in
    the mail is "altucker@altucker.com", I have
    no option but to reply in here. If you have
    shown to Lexus the attitude you have shown in
    the email, it comes as no surprise that you
    are getting nowhere with Lexus.
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Forgive me. I was angry. I still do not agree with you a bit, but I agree that you have a right to you opinion, however flawed it might be.
    Al Tucker
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Beginning with the 1998 Lexus models, Lexus designed the optitron needle pointers so that just the needle can be replaced at a cost of about $100. Any model before 1998 must have the entire instrument cluster replaced at a cost of $1,500. Now do you understand what we are trying to do here. It is a design engineering fault by Lexus that in addition has led to a safety issue. Cost of repair is a factor here and it is my experience that car owners will not pay for repairs such as these when the cost of the repairs exceeds 5% to 10% of the market value of the car. This means that they will generally continue to operate the vehicles in an unsafe condition (can't see the speedometer).
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    bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    Not being able to see the speedometer is more likely to mean getting speeding tickets than affecting the safe operation of the vehicle.

    I DO NOT rely on the speedometer to tell me if I am driving too fast or too slow. My eyes, my brain, the other traffic and the seat of my pants tell me if I am going too slow, just right or too fast.

    Imagine this, My Porsche 911 has the tachometer positioned straight ahead of the driver. It is the largest gauge. The speedometer is off to the right side and the oil pressure (and temp) gauge is off to the left side. Oh, and did I mention it only has markings for every 20 MPH, you have to estimate whether you are going 45, 50 or 55.

    Do I feel that Porsche compromised SAFETY because the speedometer is hard to see? NO

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    fuji_hi_ltdfuji_hi_ltd Member Posts: 12
    I agree, a car on this caliber should NOT have this engineering defect. Lexus engineers ran across this problem, and modified this problem to be a repairable situation on 1998's and later, as you noted. This means maybe the instrument cluster design was hurried, and made non serviceable. Besides that I think all gauge lamps or etc. should be engineered to last the lifetime of a car.
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    luvdmyblackes3luvdmyblackes3 Member Posts: 1
    Al, I am new at this- just came across your topic
    tonight, and can't believe what I've just been
    reading! This is one for
    your attorney-
    I had a beautiful 93 ES300 with 129,634 miles on it until
    a guy plowed into me a
    week ago and totaled it
    for me. That's how I
    discovered this website-
    I've been looking for
    another Lexus, but after
    reading about their
    customer-no-service, now
    I'm wondering if I
    shouldn't seriously
    consider looking
    elsewhere- maybe American!

    Anyway, I don't think this manufacturer defect had
    anything to do with
    causing my accident,
    although I can't be too
    sure- after all, I
    couldn't tell what my
    speed was- just going by
    the "seat of my pants" I
    guess. My pointer lights
    started going out at about 80 to 90K, over a year
    ago. In fact, I got my
    first speeding ticket
    because of it (on Hwy 400)
    almost exactly 1 year ago! Lucky for me, the officer
    failed to show up for
    court, so my charge was
    dismissed, but the Fulton
    county judge warned me to
    get it fixed "immediately" as it was in his opinion,
    a serious safety hazard!
    I'd been procrastinating
    because I just thought it
    was a simple bulb that
    would need replacing & had no idea it was something
    so costly! Although I took this seriously, and felt
    the judge's warning was
    some kind of an omen, I'd
    grown so used to it, I
    still kept forgetting to
    mention it when I took my car in for service.
    (I'm not usually this
    forgetful, but I've
    had a lot going on in my
    life for the last 2 years, dealing with a tornado
    disaster for one.)
    Anyway, as you've
    probably summized, I never got mine repaired. In
    fact, each of my pointers
    had gone out, one after the other. That's right! I'd been judging my fuel level,etc., all by the seat of my pants! My idiot lights had kept me from
    running out of gas at
    least twice, and once my
    car overheated on an
    interstate because I
    couldn't read the gages! My husband had checked the fuses and they weren't the problem.
    Al, this is 100% true, and can be substantiated by
    witnesses and maintenance
    records. You see, my
    Lexus was black on black,
    and without those needle
    lights, you couldn't read
    the gages sometimes even
    in daylight! I'd said they (Lexus) could have AT LEAST made the needles red or some different color, so that they could be legible in the event the lights failed to
    come on. I find it hard to believe that they didn't realize this! Please let me know if there is anything more I can do. I not only have a vested interest in this as a Lexus-lover, in the market for another, but you know I believe things happen for a reason, and someone's life may be saved if we can get something done before that kind of sacrifice has to be made!
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Thank you very much for your comments. I will forward the information to the attorney who is considering taking the class action suit against Lexus.
    Al Tucker
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Thank you very much for your comments. I will forward the information to the attorney who is considering taking the class action suit against Lexus.
    Al Tucker
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    numbersmannumbersman Member Posts: 14
    Thanks very much for your thoughts on this issue. You are obviously a very intelligent person who understands the gravity of this issue.
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    hello25hello25 Member Posts: 30
    People, the only danger your car is going to pose to you is the danger you are going to pose to yourself by not keeping it maintained. When something goes wrong on a 7 year old car, 3 years out of warranty- which may affect safety, and it may-- you do not have a warranty claim let alone a class action suit.

    In the case of the judge who TOLD YOU- an officer of the court told you to fix your car (I'm sorry for the trouble with natural disaster) and you did not. Well:

    1. If it was a safety issue, were you not endagering other people's safety, not just yours?

    2. A judge told you to do it, you did not, now you think you might participate in litigation? Get real.

    Lexus owners live in a rareified world in terms of "car trouble." Should we feel sympathy for luxury car owners who chose luxury cars and assumed ANY repair prospects after warranty? Do you have any idea how many BMW 7 Series cars have problems or how serious they are?
    Should we sue BMW when we don't "feel like" we should have to spend money on our seven year old BMW? Case dismissed.
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    ericmuiericmui Member Posts: 5
    If the problem really bothers that much, buy a camry or a BMW or somthing else; have some peace of mind and prevent the blood pressure go through the roof.
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    bill11770bill11770 Member Posts: 29
    i'm still trying to get them to fix the radio nob on my Yugo.... the whole country went 'out of business' cause of it....

    i'm just kidding....
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    chumsaechumsae Member Posts: 61
    I rarely disagree with a lady but have to gently set my foot down here. Judge Judy, if your Camry
    had a headlight failure at 140,000 miles and 4 years out of warrantee you'd pay to change it out, right? Sure! UNLESS the cost of the new headlight was $2500. BECAUSE Toyota took a chance
    on some unproven technology, wouldn't you want them to fix it for you? Buyers simply don't expect to pay incredible sums to repair simple
    things. Chances were taken. Buyers were not told. Lexus ought to pay.
This discussion has been closed.