NHTSA — Vehicle Speed Control Problems

2003 Lexus ES 300 (Page 1 of 3)


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 1 of 3)

problem #48

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 #47

Mar 162015

ES 300

  • 89,800 miles
I was pulling out of the garage slowly to pause on the driveway to close the garage door and when I step on the gas in reverse the car flew out of the garage and I couldn't stop it with the brakes. There was a small roofing across the street which stopped the car. No one was nearby so no one was hurt. The accelerator seemed stuck for this incident to happen. However, Lexus had an inspector check the car and didn't find anything wrong that showed on the computer so they won't take responsibility for this occurrence and they closed the case. I tried to speak to someone to send this to arbitration but no one would speak to me. Case closed. This was a very frightening experience with no control in the car.

- North Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #46

Mar 162015

ES 300

  • 88,600 miles
Driving out of my garage usually slowly and when I put my foot on the gas while in reverse to pull out the car just flew out into the street. The immediately tried to brake and couldn't work. When I hit a truck in the street behind me the car finally stopped. I had no control. This never happened before, a first time and a very frightening experience. The car is at the Lexus authorized body shop waiting for the Lexus inspector to go over the car. I would be afraid to drive this car in the future thinking this could happen again anytime. I'm the original owner and felt this is the best car I ever owned until now.

- North Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #45

Oct 092013

ES 300

  • 156,000 miles


My car over the last couple of years started experiencing abnormal acceleration. There were times it uses to surge or sound like it was ramping up to go fast, even with my foot on the break, you could hear the acceleration trying to ramp up like if my foot wasn't on the break it would just take off. Then the opposite started to happen. My car idle would just drop and basically when I would go to take off from a stop, the car would not accelerate at all. It was inconsistent so sometimes it would over accelerate and sometimes under. There was no accident, but I've had a few close calls and some people to get aggravated at my car.I took it to the pep boys they thought it needed flushed maybe injection cleaning like all other scenarios I am just now reading about. After that, it seemed to work for a short while, but then the issue start occurring again. I had my spark plugs changed and new coils, new air flow hose to make sure there was no apparent reason for the issues. The problem still exist so I took it to a Lexus dealership where their suggestion is the problem is in the throttle bottle. It seems to be a common link with the acceleration issue and the same suggestions are made from the mechanics to fuel injection, to spark plugs to seeming like transmission issue and its the throttle body / please have Lexus fix these issues.. they are expensive for the owner to have to go through all the trouble shooting and range of. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #44

Mar 202013

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
I was reversing and trying to turn when my car Lexus ES 300 suddenly picked up high speed acceleration by it self and went forward and hit a fence in front. The vehicle picked up unintentional high speed (full throttle). It was beyond my control. My body went forward and backward violently. For few days I have experienced muscle stiffness, pain and poor night sleep.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #43

Jun 162012

ES 300

  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The contact stated while driving approximately 35 mph, the brake pedal was applied and the vehicle increased acceleration unexpectedly. The vehicle failed to reduce speed and crashed into another vehicle and a fence. The contact suffered from a fractured right arm and sustained bruises to the body. A police report was filed of the incident. The vehicle was destroyed and towed to a salvage facility. The manufacturer was not notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 140,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Marlboro, NJ, USA

problem #42

Sep 012012

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 126,000 miles


Backing up into my driveway making turn to straighten car out and all of sudden the car just speed up in reverse. Causing crash into side of my house. After that I tried to back car into driveway but due to damage was unable to. I pulled car over to street parking. When I pulled car onto street there were no problems. Right after incident I checked to see if gas pedal was stuck I dont believe it was. I was startled and in shock. Reported incident to my insurance company.

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #41

Sep 042011

ES 300 6-cyl

  • miles
On 9/4/2011 at approx. 1: 41 pm, I was pulling my 2003 Lexus ES300 (with my foot on the brake) into a shopping center parking space when it suddenly surged, then accelerated over the curb and onto a sidewalk where people were dining at tables. As the car accelerated over the curb, I pushed harder on the brake and tried to steer the car away from the diners. As the Lexus goes over the curb and onto the sidewalk, the car continued to accelerate like it was being pulled, and the driver's side bumper hit a table of diners. Three people are injured; one with compound fracture. The car continued to accelerate as I continued to push on the brake, trying to will this car to stop. It hit tables and chairs as people jumped out of the way of this runaway car! the car deflected off a building and came to a stop on the sidewalk. My foot was still on the brake. Tire marks from the braking were visible on the curb and sidewalk as local news stations recorded and aired. Airbags did not deploy. The weather and visibility were clear. Around 10/4/2011, one month after the wreck, a Toyota investigator inspected the car's accelerator pedal and found it "operated smoothly and returned to its idle position withoutany binding or sticking...[it was] correctly aligned...no damage observed. The electrical connector was in place and secure....a diagnostic system check showed that there were no trouble codes relating to the operation of the vehicle." But my foot was on the brake. As of 3/12/2012: Property damage: $20,000. Lexus body damage:$9000. Personal injuries: One settled, one countered, one talking with a personal injury lawyer. I no longer own the car. I was terrified to drive it.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #40

Nov 012005

ES 300

  • 40,000 miles
2003 ES 300 - transmission issues: I have been experiencing hesitation upon acceleration almost every time, along with hard shifting 50% of the time. The acceleration hesitation can be scary if I'm trying to enter the highway, or turning left. The hard shifting feels like I got hit from behind. Both problems have been going ongoing for years and Lexus dealer has never been any help. I read many of the online forums and found that both of these problems are very common as are their results for getting these issues fixed - not much luck from the dealer - "it works as it is designed". really? Lexus needs to stand behind their product. I can't believe how many complaints I have read (100S) and their hasn't been a recall. How does a consumer go about pushing for a recall, or class action or will the lemon law work?

- Savage, MN, USA

problem #39

Nov 162010

ES 300

  • 118,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The contact was driving approximately 35 mph when the accelerator pedal suddenly became stuck and the vehicle crashed into a concrete railroad. The dealer had not been notified. The contact called the manufacturer who stated that they would investigatie. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The current and failure mileages were approximately 118,000.

- Corbin, KY, USA

problem #38

Apr 092010

(reported on)

ES 300

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Lexus ES300 with accelerator pedal, automatic transmission, and vehicle speed control issues. Consumer states that the when trying to accelerate from a low speed there is a delay before the engine responds. The consumer stated he experienced a significant abrupt downshift when slowing down from higher speeds and an abrupt upshift when accelerating from a slow speed. It felt as though the transmission could not decide what gear it should be in. The consumer was advised a computer patch was available for the problem, but it usually did not work and it could make the problem worse.

- Bristow, VA, USA

problem #37

Aug 202009

ES 300

  • 54,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The contact was driving approximately 2-3 mph. The vehicle lunged forward and rear ended another vehicle. The vehicle continued to accelerate even after the crash occurred. There were no injuries. A police report was filed. The vehicle was inspected at the dealer, who was unable to diagnose the failure. A complaint was filed with the manufacturer. The vehicle has not been repaired at this time. The current mileage was 55,972. The failure mileage was 54,000.

- Highland, IL, USA

problem #36

Jun 162005

ES 300

  • 32,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Lexus ES. While driving at speeds of 45 mph in the rain, the vehicle abnormally accelerated. The contact was unable to maintain control of the steering wheel and proceeded to crash into the median. The vehicle surged forward and proceeded to crash into the driver's side door of another vehicle. The vehicle was destroyed. The contact suffered major injuries as a result of the crash. A police report was filed. The manufacturer was not contacted. The approximate failure mileage was 32,000.

- Tarrytown, NY, USA

problem #35

Mar 072010

ES 300

  • 50,835 miles
Place of accident - St. Joseph church parking lotmacon, ga 31201. I was turning to get into the available parking space and the car suddenly accelerated without no reason at all. The car flew and hit the electric post in front of me. This all happened in a split of a second. Luckily, the car side swept the electric post otherwise, I would have crashed into car(s) and the building in front of me. There was major damage to the entire passenger side of the car.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #34

Sep 252009

ES 300

  • 38,000 miles
Contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. While coasting toward an intersection at speeds of at least 10 mph, the vehicle abnormally accelerated at a rapid rate of speed. She was unable to maintain control of the unintended acceleration and the vehicle proceeded to veer toward a nearby wooded area. The vehicle crashed into approximately 3 trees before the vehicle came to a stop. As a result, she suffered unknown injuries. The vehicle had since been repaired. The failure mileage was 38,000 and the current was 39,000.

- Center Noriches, NY, USA

problem #33

Aug 152009

ES 300

  • 80,000 miles
Backing out of parking space in small parking lot, car accelerated out of control. Would not stop when stepped on brake and crashed into two other cars. Reported to dmv in ca, where car registered, although accident occurred in Nevada. Car severely damaged and repaired by insurance co. Lexus dealer checked car after repair and blamed floor mats but we disagree. If anyone had been behind car they would have been killed or injured.

- Rescue, CA, USA

problem #32

Oct 012007

ES 300

  • 35,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The driver was driving in a parking lot approximately 10 mph when the vehicle began to accelerate on it's own. The vehicle accelerated above 80 mph which caused the driver to crash into 6 vehicles. The driver was injured and was taken to the emergency room. The police confirmed that the driver was traveling at 86 mph due to the uncontrollable acceleration. The contact was not aware that the vehicle had increased at that speed. The failure mileage was 35,000 and the current mileage is 41,000.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #31

Jun 212005

ES 300

  • 0 miles
ODI 10126111 filed 6-21-2005 sudden acceleration 2003 Lexus ES300.

- Dothan, AK, USA

problem #30

Jun 102004

ES 300

  • 78,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300 purchased April 2004. She immediately began experiencing failures when the vehicle surged and violently lunged forward while it was idle. The dealer stated that the vehicle was a "smart car" and was aware when there was a driver, other than herself behind the wheel, which would "confuse" the vehicle. No diagnostic test were performed. The failure progressed and the vehicle was taken back to dealer a second time. Although the dealer became familiar with the failure; they stated that she needed to wait a year until the "new programming" was available. One year later, the vehicle was taken back to the dealer for the software reprogramming and the failure became progressively worse. The vehicle continued to lunge violently while sitting idle, driving at speeds of under 35 mph or while coasting. When the vehicle lunged it felt as if she was being struck from the rear by another vehicle. There were no additional repairs made to the vehicle. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileages were approximately 78,000.

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #29

Sep 192008

ES 300 6-cyl

  • 44,916 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The contact stated that when the driver was shifting into reverse gear, the vehicle suddenly accelerated and he lost control of it. The driver crashed into another vehicle and a tree. There were no injuries. A police report was filed. There were no previous acceleration failures. She took the vehicle to the dealership and the dealer told her that they could see nothing mechanically wrong. She called the manufacturer and the representative told her that they could not assist her because they had no related reports. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The current mileage was 49,094. The failure mileage was 44,916. Updated 04/19/10.

- Tamarac, FL, USA

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