really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 2
Average Mileage:
45,775 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Lexus ES 300 Owner Comments

problem #8

Nov 012005

ES 300

  • 40,000 miles


2003 ES 300 - air bag sensor issues: This issue is ongoing as of Nov 2011 and started back in 2005. Why doesn't Lexus offer a way for consumers to fix error codes on their own vehicles? I know what my error code is - B1186 - though, Lexus wouldn't tell me this. I had to find out by doing my own diagnostic testing. Depending on who I spoke with, they told me different things from needing a driver sensor replaced, to the passenger sensor, to the center sensor, to the driver airbag, to needing all of it replaced. Each person I spoke with was extremely reluctant to provide me with any information about the problem and said that I needed to bring the vehicle back for them to fix. The first time I took it in, they said it would cost about $700 (2008). Last month, they said it could be anywhere from $1500-$3500. I have done my share of research, reading all I can online, including consumer forums. I have read 100S of complaints about airbags - sensor issues, lack of deployment, check light on, etc.. it appears that Lexus has had issues with airbags for years. Yet, there has not been any recalls or even class action lawsuits. I can't sell it with the light on and its not worth putting that much money into it. But, Lexus won't offer me another solution except to fork over all my savings.

- Savage, MN, USA

problem #7

Oct 222011

ES 300

  • 100,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Lexus ES300. The driver was traveling 45 mph and lost control of the vehicle. The driver crashed into a row of bushes and then struck a tree. The air bags did not deploy. The cause of the crash was undetermined. The driver and a passenger were killed. A police report was filed and the vehicle was destroyed. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Grand Prary, TX, USA

problem #6

Jul 062011

ES 300

  • 139,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The contact stated while driving approximately 35 to 40 mph merging into traffic, another vehicle crashed into the drivers side of her vehicle. Upon impact none of the air bags deployed. The driver sustained injuries to her arms, legs and was transported to the hospital via ambulance. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where they investigating the failure. The failure and current mileage was approximately 139,000.

- Boling Brook, IL, USA

problem #5

Aug 102010

ES 300

  • miles


I had a total loss car crash, a Lexus ES 300 on my way to college, my neck and back were affected and not even one airbag opened to protect the passengers, that thank god I was the only one, that tragic day. I bought that car, not for luxury but for the safety and security it offered and that in my case didn't work. My car has a defect and a very serious one. How many other Lexus might have the same defect? do someone will have to die to solve this.

- Vega Baja, PR, USA

problem #4

Dec 152007

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Owner of the car was traveling approximately 50 mph on interstate, crossing a bridge, tapped brakes when approaching slush and snow, Lexus ES300 went into a spin, spun around once, spun onto the shoulder and rolling down an embankment, rolling over twice and landing upside down in drainage ditch. Driver was suspended upside down, hanging in seat belt that had deployed the full length of the belt. Seat belt did not hold driver in the seat, windshield, back glass and passenger side window shattered. No front or side air bags deployed during crash or roll over. Driver sustained concussion, neck and shoulder injuries. Car was deemed totaled by insurance carrier.

- Lake St. Louis, MO, USA

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problem #3

Oct 132007

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Lexus ES300. The contact's wife was involved in a two vehicle crash. While driving 10 mph, another vehicle struck the contact's vehicle on the passenger side. A police report was filed. The other vehicle was traveling approximately 25 mph. The contact's vehicle was destroyed and none of the air bags deployed. The failure and current mileages were 20,000. Updated 11/14/07.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #2

Mar 102004

ES 300 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,200 miles
While waiting in heavy traffic at an intersection and without warning vehicle suddenly accelerated. This caused the driver to rear end the vehicle in front. Upon impact, both air bags did not deploy. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The insurance company totaled the vehicle. The dealership insisted that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. The consumer contacted the manufacturer and was told that nothing could be done.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

problem #1

Jul 312003

ES 300

  • miles
While driving, the air bag light illuminated on the dashboard. The was dealer notified. The dealership returned the vehicle to the consumer with the air bag light illuminated. The mechanic later stated the dashboard needed to be replaced. Consumer had to wait for a replacement dash to arrive.

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

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