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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
30 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
13 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,473 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.

2003 Lexus ES 300 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Lexus ES 300 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #28

Jan 132010

ES 300

  • 77,000 miles


On January 13, 2010 while my wife was driving our Lexus ES 300, the car accelerated as she was entering a parking space, causing the car to collide with a pole in the parking lot. The dealer where we purchased the vehicle (Lexus of louisville) would not repair the vehicle because it claimed the car was not one of the models recalled. We repaired damage to the body at a cost of $2500, but are now concerned that the vehicle is not safe to drive.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #27

Oct 172009

ES 300

  • 105,000 miles
My 17 year old daughter was driving my 2003 Lexus in town. We have never had any previous similar incidents, and have not experienced the same thing since. She had stopped at a stop light, but was too far back, so she wanted to pull up a little. She took her foot off the brake, and the car moved forward. She repeatedly pushed the brake, but they did not work. The car stopped when she hit the car in front of her. I had the car checked after the accident, but they couldn't find anything obvious. However, she, and the other passengers, have verified that she repeatedly pushed the brake to no avail.

- Leawood, KS, USA

problem #26

May 212008

ES 300

  • miles
2003 Lexus ES300 with unexpected acceleration. Consumer states that the vehicle was in park and all of a sudden jolted forward. She states no matter how hard the brake was depressed it kept accelerating until it hit a brick column.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #25

Mar 042008

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,785 miles


Pulling into parking spot on left, about stopped and the car accelerater very fast for about 30 feet. Beening the second time this has happened, I was aware of where my foot was, on the brake. Last Oct. Pulling into parking spot to left the same thing happened. Just felt like a nut. This time I am sure it was the car. The contact wanted to add that the drivers floor mat was in the trunk.

- Greenacres, FL, USA

problem #24

Feb 052008

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles
The 2003 Lexus ES300 suddenly accelerated without warning, causing the vehicle to come out of a driveway, go completely across the street, up onto the sidewalk, and hit poles/fence, causing severe injuries. The gas pedal was not pressed down hard at the time, and there was no explanation for the rapid acceleration.

- Ecino, CA, USA

problem #23

Jan 172008

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,800 miles
I was in the drive through at the dunkin donuts in germantown, md giving my order in the speaker. I remember hearing a roaring sound like a train and the next thing I know all of a sudden my car shot forward and hit the back of the car at the service window. It was quite strange. I am convinced I had my foot on the brake. The ems and police said I must have hit the accelerator by mistake. I am not convinced in my own mind that this is what happened.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #22

Apr 032007

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,313 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Lexus 300 ES. The contact stated that the vehicle automatically accelerated while attempting to pull into a parking space. The contact depressed the brake pedal, but the vehicle continued to accelerate. The vehicle stopped only after it jumped a curb. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, but no failure was found. The contact has the repair invoice and pictures. The current and failure mileage were 50,313.

- West Desmoine, IA, USA

problem #21

Sep 192006

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
: the contact stated while turning from a side street onto a main road and applying the brake, the vehicle engine revved. Then, while pulling into a parking space at 3 mph and applying the brake, the vehicle lunged forward and over a small embankment. The engine continued to rev for a short time. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer.

- New Philadelphia, OH, USA

problem #20

May 162003

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Since I purchased the car, I have been complaining about a hesitation and stuttering when accelerating after a slow-down or a stop. I was told there was nothing wrong several times and more recently have been told it is a design flaw in the computer-controlled accelerator and cannot be fixed. I have several times had a close call on the freeway when I needed to accelerate quickly and the car hesitated before accelerating. I have not had an accident, but have been very frightened by the delay in performance. I have had 2 previous Lexus ES 300's that did not have this problem.

- Pacific Palisades, CA, USA

problem #19

Jun 212005

ES 300

  • miles
As I was pulling into a parking space, my 2003 Lexus ES suddenly accelerated and went over the curb and a small grass embankment. I immediately applied brakes and it did start slowing down. I finally got the car stopped. Thankfully no one was in that parking lot. Don't know what damage has been done to the car. This is frightening because there was absolutely no control over the car.

- Dothan, AL, USA

problem #18

Jan 202005

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,658 miles


On Jan 20, 2005 at about 7:30pm I was returning from work driving my Lexus 2003. Just before reaching my home, I turned right into notley road from stone gate drive at silver spring, md after stopping at the stop sign. Before I realized, the car knocked over the mail box of the house on the right side and started racing on the yard of the house. Next the car knocked down the street light, crossed a road and raced towards a tree. Although I applied, the brakes were not working. Ultimotely the car crashed on to a tree, turned over and I was lucky enough to crawl out of the car with much effort. I was taken to the montgomery county general hospital by ambulance and after being examined by the physician and xrays I was released. The car was ultimately towed to Lexus body shop and was pronounced a total loss I feel that the Lexus took off on its own when I turned right from a stop sign into the notley road damaging propery and ultimoately crashing on to a tree. Because there was snow on the yard, I was able to videotape the track marks made by the car from the beginning to the end of the crash. I hope that you will investigate this incident and give me some report.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #17

Nov 012004

ES 300

  • miles
Lexus 300 hesitation. Stepped on accelerator, car hesitated and had to pump accelerator to go forward. This problem occurred many times. The consumer almost had an accident while attempting to make a left turn. The consumer applied the accelerator pedal, the vehicle hesitated and the consumer pumped the accelerator to go forward. The dealer could not find a problem.

- Glencoe, IL, USA

problem #16

Oct 042004

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,900 miles
The consumer stated at any time the vehicle accelerated without warning. No impact reported. Please provide additional information. The vehicle sticks in gear.

- Tallmadge, OH, USA

problem #15

Jul 012004

ES 300

  • miles
Verification on the investigation of the 2003 Lexus ES300 involved in surging, reporting 30 crashes due to a possible defect.

- Unknown, DC, USA

problem #14

Feb 222004

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
When the consumer lifted foot of the brake pedal vehicle suddenly accelerated, and hit a women who was standing in the front of the consumer's vehicle, the woman fractured her ankle and arms.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #13

May 072004

(reported on)

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Vehicle suddenly lurched forward and veered to the right running into a wall. No injuries occurred, but there's damage in the vehicle's front end and the garage wall.

- West Hills, CA, USA

problem #12

Feb 012003

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 5,000 miles
Ltr fm brett woody (tx) re dangerous defective transmission software problems in the 2002-2003 Lexus ES300, reply attn Jan crow/ houston ofc. Consumer would apply more and more pressure to the brake pedal but the vehicle wouldn't accelerate. The transmission failed twice. Lexus had given the consumer a new vehicle and it had similar problems. The consumer was almost involved in several accidents. On numerous occasions, after the brake pedal was tapped, the vehicle would accelerate but the RPM's would rise and the vehicle would barely move. In stop in go traffic the vehicle would surge forward. (it felt as if the transmission slipped then the surging occurred) there was an annoying rattle in the ceiling console. Updated 7/5/12

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #11

Jun 012004

ES 300

  • 6 miles
Vehicle hesitated from a standing start position. The rpms went up but the vehicle did not move until it got into another gear. It will drive for a while and then vehicle will stop. Consumer did not feel safe. The technicians claim that the cable from the gas peddle to the engine was removed and replaced by a computer in the 2003 models. On the highway, if the vehicle was slowed down, a hesitation would be present while pressing on the gas peddle to resume speed. The engine light would come on along with the hesitation, also when the engine light would come on the vehicle would lose power along with blue smoke blowing out of the exhaust, and the rear seat contained a flaw.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #10

Jan 012004

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,500 miles
Consumer complained about unexpected acceleration. Consumer took vehicle to the dealer. Also, the Lexus corporation sent a representative to inspect the vehicle, and they claimed there was no problem. Consumer was pulling out from a parking space when vehicle accelerated forward as soon as consumer stepped on the brake pedal.

- Urbandale, IA, USA

problem #9

Mar 182004

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,600 miles
When pulling into a parking spot driver depressed the brake pedal and vehicle suddenly accelerated. Vehicle went over the curb, and hit a light pole. Front left side of the vehicle was damaged. Upon impact, front air bags did not deploy. Driver sustained minor bruises.

- Sherman Oaks, CA, USA

Read the next 8 complaints »

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