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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
28,192 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Lexus ES 300 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Lexus ES 300 Owner Comments

problem #13

Oct 252013

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 156,342 miles


Dealer and finance company claim clean title but documents reflect otherwise.

- Van Nuys, CA, USA

problem #12

May 012002

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
When the transmission shifts between first and second gears at a slow steady speed(approx 20mph) the car will frequently violently jerk. My car has 75000 miles and has done it since day one.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #11

Aug 072013

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 58,920 miles
My wife, who drives the Lexus all the time, was preparing to drive the car from the garage to drive downtown. She had her foot on the brake pedal (as is necessary to move the transmission to reverse). The moment it was engaged the car leaped backward, leaving tire marks on the cement of the garage and also the driveway itself. Her efforts to stop the car by stomping on the brake pedal had no effect. She grazed the house, moved through a flower bed, leaving a tire mark the whole distance, struck the corner of the house and continued up a small incline in the neighbor's yard, luckily missing a large tree there and came to a stop. The corner of the house removed was about 3-4 feet on each side of the corner juncture itself. There were two witnesses across the street in front of the house, both of whom immediately came to her aid and voiced the opinion that the car was truly moving at a high speed. My wife had no injuries other than being very shook-up and thankful that neither she or others were injured. Of course, the car is a mess: Bricks from the house impact fell on the hood, top, and trunk lid. A the right side of the car is scraped, one rear window is broken, the large rear window is gone, the trunk lid is in bad shape as is the rear bumper. The top has several dents and window trim also. My primary concern is whether or not the car is safe to drive after the external repairs are made. I believe only Lexus can tell me, if they will.

- Pantego, TX, USA

problem #10

Dec 192012

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 150,001 miles


My 2002 Lexus ES300 has been jerking and shifting very hard on acceleration. It seems to have more of a problem when I accelerate slowly in the lower gears. It jerks very noticeably. I was told it was just the nature of the car, but it has been getting much worse over the course of the last year. It also hesitates when stepping on the gas after deceleration.

- Cayce, SC, USA

problem #9

Nov 202009

ES 300

  • miles
On 11/20/09, I was parked in front of my house in my 2002 Lexus ES300. When I put the car in drive, it boomed forth, and the brake didn't work. I tried to get around the car that was parked in front of me but the speed was such that I hit it. There was damage to my car and the car I hit. The driver was in the car and has since claimed she was injured. I had another instance of unintended acceleration 2 years prior to this incident but was able to stop. I urge you to push Toyota to admit that there are cases of unintended acceleration in models that pre-date the ones they are recalling and to rectify the problem.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

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problem #8

May 072004

(reported on)

ES 300

  • miles
2002 Lexus ES300 has a lag in time between stepping on the gas and the transmission responding to put the car in motion. The hesitation is most pronounced when braking and then needing to rapidly accelerate. The consumer feels the inability of the vehicle to respond in a timely manner is hazardous. The manufacturer was contacted.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #7

Dec 102002

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 228 miles


Transmission gets confused when shifting into and out of the lower gears, then spends too long trying to figure out what gear to be in. This causes dangerous delays in acceleration, the effect is the same as a momentary engine stall. We have had this happen on several occasions, freeway ramp entrances are certainly the most dangerous place that this has occurred. Dealer acknowledges that there have been complaints about the shifting delays but they say no fix is available. This is our third ES300, the previous models used a cable between the gas pedal and the throttle, this new one uses what is called "fly by wire", a position sensor on the accelarator that a computer is supposed to use to figure out what to tell the engine and transmission. It isn't working very well. If not rectified this problem will certainly lead to a crash someday, then we'll get to see how good the safety equipment is.

- Worthington, OH, USA

problem #6

Oct 012002

ES 300

  • miles
The consumer states that he cannot view the instrument panel during the daytime. The mfr advised the consumer that the panel is designed that way. The consumer states that the white numbers on the instruments were okay, but it is extremely difficult to see the red needle during the day light (unless your in the shade/or in the evening). The consumer states that he is unable to tell the speed of travel, whether the engine is overheating, and/or the amount of fuel left. Also the multi-information displays and the odometer readings are barely visible during the daylight hours. The consumer states that he receives a standard answer that the instrument panel is working as designed.

- Palm Desert, CA, USA

problem #5

Jul 232002

(reported on)

ES 300

  • miles
Can't read speedometer in bright daylight with headlights on and driver wearing sun glasses.

- Bellevue, WA, USA

problem #4

Jul 072002

(reported on)

ES 300

  • miles
Very difficult to see speedomoter - dark background with dark needle requires too much time to see speed.

- Shawnee, KS, USA

problem #3

Jun 262002

(reported on)

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Cannot see speed reading on dashboard in sunlight. Dealership is aware of problem. The consumer also states that the change of instruments did not correct the problem. The service department said that this model has the same lighting. Right front door hard to close due to being misaligned, dealer adjusted door striker, speedometer needles difficult to see.

- West Bloomfield, MI, USA

problem #2

May 032002

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
In day light hours when sun is out consumer can't see dials on speedometer, unable to tell how fast vehicle was going. Consumer felt this was very unsafe. Consumer also can not see the fuel gauge, engine speed and engine temperature.

- Hendersonville, NC, USA

problem #1

Jan 312002

(reported on)

ES 300

  • miles
While driving when sun is shining consumer is unable to read speed odometer due to poor design, black back round with white numbers and a black needle. Dealer has been contacted.

- Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

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