really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
59,005 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Lexus ES 300 Owner Comments

problem #8

May 212015

ES 300

  • 177,500 miles


I purchased a used 2003 Lexus es30from used car dealer. After a couple days of driving it I noticed it was shifting gears innormally. It would surge up to 4000rmp before shifting to 2nd gear and at one point wasn't moving while I hit the gas the acceleration very fast out of nowhere. My mother also had this same year make and model vehicle a few years back and it had the same problem before the transmission went out. I did some research online and found many other Lexus customers experienced the same problem. I found a web site that claimed that there was a tsb put out for this vehicle and that the Lexus/Toyota dealerships would fix this problem with an upgrade. I was wondering if this upgrade is still available and if my vehicle would qualify? and if so how would I go about this process.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #7

Oct 242013

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 86,541 miles
I purchased my vehicle from carmax about 2.5 months ago with an extended warranty. After driving my vehicle daily back and forth to work, I noticed the hesitation while coming to complete stop or a traffic light. The RPM would increase while the transmission would hesitate when I pushed the accelerator between the speeds of 10 - 35 mph. At first sign, it appeared the transmission was defected, so I decided to take it to carmax service center. Two days later I received my 2003 Lexus ES300 with a clean slate (the service technicians indicated the transmission did not indicated wear) and I was told to bring it back if I still had the same problem. I am taking my vehicle to the service center with more information tomorrow. Lexus/Toyota needs to either recall these vehicles to fix this issue or they will have a major lawsuits from a lot of people with a class action suite. This is a very dangerous situation and needs to be address from Lexus/Toyota representatives to keep Toyota/Lexus in good standings. After reading other complaints, I am really nervous about driving my vehicle and I just purchased it.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #6

Jun 152010

ES 300

  • 57,000 miles
We have experienced on several occassions that vehicle hesitates when trying to accelerate at stop sign or when initialy in start to drive at about 20-30 miles per hour at times for few seconds & at times it rattles 3-4 times. This car was purchased as certified pre-owned from Lexus dealer in excellent condition in 2006 that came with extended warranty upto 75000 miles but this problem started with slight & smooth jerk about 3 years back, took it to dealer after noticed for few times to diagnosis. At first instance they could not feel it since it was not consistent but when again complained for second time was told that it could be fuel injectors cloged followed by other list of potential service items we were talking about $1000+ expense which we denied it since we have always maintained our car good & always use 93 or 89 octaine gas with maintenance service as recommended. This one is my wife's vehicle & used to commute to work mostly on express way. We do have couple other issues with this car but not as important. Now, lately this hesitation frequency have increased & from what I hear is that we are not alone and this seems to be an ongoing issue with some other ES300 owners as well.

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #5

Mar 032010

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles


1. the vehicle hesitates with initial acceleration (slow or quick acceleration). 2. the automatic transmission also hesitates. I suspect that ounce the acceleration problem is fixed that the transmission problem would be fixed. 3. I have gone to the Lexus dealer to update the computer with a new chip to help resolve the problems with no success. 4. I have discovered on the internet that hundreds of Lexus owners have the same complaint. In some cases the dealers have the audacity to suggest thats the way the car was designed! why isn't Lexus listening to all the complaints? thanks

- Pittsburg, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 252008

ES 300

  • 25,000 miles
I was driving slowly, less than 10 mph, approaching a red light behind another vehicle. Suddenly, my car accelerated forward and could not be stopped by braking. I collided with the rear end of the car in front of me. There were no injuries, but both cars had significant damage.

- Great Neck, NY, USA

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problem #3

Oct 152003

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles
The transmission in this car is unpredictable. It jerks, jumps and on occasion lurches ahead. It will hesitate when starting from stand still or when moving ahead at very low speeds. I have repeatedly taken it to the dealer. They have done 2 computer down loads of a supposed fix. The first lasted a day. I've been told to use only premium fuel, as this would help. I've used premium since that time with little change in the cars perfomance. My wife does not want to drive the car because of a near T-bone in a cross pattern traffic. I've had 4 similar experinces. This probem became apparent at about 1000 to 1200 miles and exits tody at about 4000 miles. All of these querky problems exist below 40 miles per hour. If you drive very aggressively (stomp on the accelerator)they aren't evident...to some exte the same is true if you barely depress the accelerator when starting to move.

- Muskego, WI, USA

problem #2

May 152003

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
There is a pronounced hesitation when the accelerator is floored. This has been there since I leased the car and I do not know if it is due to a transmission lapse or throttle problem. I have had a number of near accidents when I pulled out to pass and there was no acceleration. Lexus has acknowledged this problem and offered a fix, but it did not solve the problem. They now say that the car is performing as designed.

- Miami Shores, FL, USA

problem #1

Sep 102003

ES 300

  • miles
After starting the vehicle, the consumer pressed on the accelerator pedal and the vehicle hesitated before moving. The cause was not determined.

- Miami, FL, USA

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