I own a Lexus. I know what you are thinking , wow a Lexus. Well let me put it this way the luxury went out of this luxury car a long time ago. Its kind of like there is Beverly Hills and there are the Beverly Hillbillies. Guess what I own?
Its a 93 ES300 with 156,000 miles on it and when it breaks you not only have a broken down car but an over engineered broken down car. First it was overheating so I replaced the thermostat. When it continued to have problems I took a good look up and around the heater and radiator hoses and guess what, it has two thermostats! Why I have no idea. I did some research and found out other newer cars and trucks have the same issue. Next the water pump went out and I tried to change it myself. It turns out you need to remove the timing belt just to get the water pump off. This too is becoming more common in newer cars. Mine is a 93 so it was probably a pioneer in such over engineering.
If any of you have had the misfortune to have to change a timing belt, it is in a word a bitch!!! Not only do you need to tear more parts off of the engine than most people know exist on a car, but if one of the gears involved is off one stinking tooth, the car will NEVER start!! Well after days of hard work, grease and grime I must have had a gear move without my permission as my car would not start. A garage was happy to fix my problem for right around 600 dollars.
Another adventure was the leaking power steering hose. After replacing both thermostats and looking for coolant leaks the car continued to overheat, usually when is was allowed to sit and idle with the A/C on. I know this is hard on an engine but you should be able to do it at least once in a while without risking loosing an engine. well it turns out that unlike normal front wheel drive cars that have an electric fan to cool the radiator, the creative flipping geniuses at Lexus decided this was too simple. They decided to use a hydraulic pump to turn the cooling fan. This pump was hooked up to the power steering system. Of course my dear ES300 had a small power steering leak. Where it was leaking was difficult to determine with all of the dirt and grease around the engine. Again having a luxury car does not help when you have a leak. A grimy engine is a grimy engine no matter what kind of car it is. The only difference with the Lexus was there was so much extra crap under the hood that it was much harder to determine what was leaking and how in the world did you get it off. For some time it was a moot point as I had neither the time or the money to replace it. When I finally did the extra hoses going to the cooling fan only added to the complexity of finding the leak.
Well now I had replaced a power steering hose, a radiator, and a water pump. I also forked out 600 plus for the timing belt. I was hoping I was out of the woods for a while. Mind you I have no illusions about a used car with this many years and miles behinds it. A car this old is going to need some work now and again and what I have dealt with so far was fair wear and tear as far as I was concerned. I had also put new tires on it and that is to be expected. I also an not knocking Lexus either. I think it is an over engineered piece of junk but as far as I know it is a well built over engineered piece of junk.
What happened next goes beyond fair wear and tear and heads into the realm of what I like to call, "now how in the hell did this and WHY did they do it"? I was minding my own business drive down the street as 25 MPH when the engine just died. My mind ran over the possibilities and it was a long list as I have had way too much experience with this kind of situation. It could have been many things. I managed to slowly steer it into a nearby church parking lot. This was a good thing as you do not want to have to push a Lexus ES300 even a short distance.
After a day and a half of checking the verdict was a short. I an not talking about an oh it blew a fuse, I had better replace it type of situation. No this was a turn the key to the accessory position and it blows a 30 amp fuse right now kind of situation. Since I was only a half of a mile from home and I had a tow strap I got an old neighbor of mine (who is a far better auto mechanic than I ever will be), to help me tow it home. Guess what. There is some type of locking system on the gear shift that is electronic and there was no way to get the car out of park to tow it home with a tow strap. Now every other car I know of has a little manual override switch so you can get you car out of park without turning the key but my fine over engineered ES 300 did not have such a pedestrian option. I was forced to call a tow truck. I was lucky the gecko was home and the tow was covered with my plan (I love that little lizard)!
Now to the bad part. After searching high and low for a wiring diagram for my beloved luxury car I found that the wire from the 30 amp fuse did indeed go to the ignition switch. I took the switch off and found a large number of wires had been sliced into. I took off the electrical tape and found that ever single one of the wires going the ignition switch had been cut and stripped and other wires were twisted together with them and then electrical tape was put on probably not to keep the connection together but to hide the ineptness of the repair or whatever it was. After looking at that mess I was amazed the car had run as long as it had. It is part of the crap shoot of a used car. You can look at the engine, the exhaust system, the brakes and all the repair records you want and nothing can be done to foresee a hatchet job like this to a car's electrical system.
By the way have you ever seen a wiring diagram for a Lexus? I never worked for NASA or any of its subcontractors so I have never seen a wiring diagram for even part of the space shuttle. Yet I am sure it would probably look the same . If this is what the modern automobile has become God help us all.
Previous Posts93 Lexus, posted November 9th, 2012, 2 comments
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