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Old 09-16-15, 08:33 PM   #1
McMuffin
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Default Help deciding on ES300 (99-01 vs 02-03)

Hey guys, I'm in the market for a comfortable daily and I believe the ES300 is great in that regard. For my job I drive a lot, I probably average about 1500-1800 miles a month and I'm currently driving a civic. It's been reliable, and gets the job done, but I miss the comfort, smoothness, and quietness of a Lexus, so here I am.

I used to have a 98 ES300, and that car has been good to me, I sold it at 127k miles a couple of years back, and the only issue I've had is a leaking PS.

I'm trying to decide if I should get another 99-01 generation ES300, or if I should spend a little more and get a next generation 2002-2003 ES300. I do prefer the body and exterior of the 2002+ ES300, but it's more expensive and usually first years have more problems no?

So I turn to you guys, should I buy a 99-01 ES300 or spend a little bit more money on the 02+ ES300.

Is the 02+ ES300 a much better car? Did it get more standard equipment etc etc? And is it as reliable as the trusty 99-01 Es300?

Any advice/input is appreciated. Thanks in advance

FYI my budget is around $4,000 max. I'd also like to upgrade the head unit to an aftermarket one because I need my tunes (Bluetooth Audio, USB, etc) if that makes any difference.
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Old 09-16-15, 11:05 PM   #2
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All things considered, you're getting a pretty "tired" [aka BEAT] ES300 within a 4k budget...

If its questionable service history, you might get away with a deal, anything that has records and not beat to ****, is worth the 5g range. I did a quick look on craigslist in various Cali areas... exactly my suspicions. If its junk, its under 5k, if its a clean example its ~5k+

They won't get much cheaper, they've stagnated in price the last 6yrs or so from what I've noticed.

Good luck in the search!

Case & point;

This; http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/cto/5225089157.html
Perfect shape, and TOP of the line

Versus this;
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/5208276579.html
Wrong struts in the front/or shot suspension and looks like undersized tires too... body damage.

Last edited by 01LEXPL; 09-16-15 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 09-17-15, 03:52 AM   #3
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I had an 02 and have a 00 now. Lets see. ....


Both are great under the hood BUT the 02 years have that weird shifting problem. Very annoying

00 years look much better on the outside.

02 models are a little bigger and look better inside. I believe they come with more wood grain all over.


Both ride smooth. I honestly cant remember if 02 is any smoother than my current ES


00 has the stupid window design.


I dont remember 02 having more features

Last edited by funcrusher; 09-17-15 at 03:56 AM.
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Old 09-17-15, 02:27 PM   #4
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At first I despised the outside look of the 02-06s, although the interior I like, the updated steering wheel and dash.

Leaky ps, that's a common issue, at least on my 99 Camry 1MZ and my sister's 98 1MZ, I replaced both the power steering pumps(rebuilt on the 99, new on the 98) and changed both pressure hoses, both were leaking, also the various rubber hoses.

On my current '00 there's no leaks yet, but it only has 46k miles, bought it from an old man.

I really like the look of the 00-01, but I can agree that the look is getting a bit dated. the 02-06 to me kinda seems like the ugly duckling period, as the later gens look much better.

Reliability wise, I think if you are familiar with the 99-01 vvti models, and their common problems, you should know which things need attention and maintenance.
1)Leaky valve cover gaskets
2)EGR/Throttlebody/IACV getting dirty
3)Leaky Cam Seals
4)Power steering leaks
5)Cracking/split rack pinion bellows
6)Charcoal canister/vsv issues.

Not sure about the 02-06 but if they are using the 1MZ-FE I would assume the problems would be very similar.

$4k is low for an 02, I don't think you would find one in good condition for that money.

I've been watching CL on and off for almost 2 years for ES300/330s in Honolulu, what 01LEXPL said is right, if you want a good clean, well maintained ES, they are going to go for $5k+. I see some for $2-3k for 97-01s but they are usually well beat up. I finally bought my '00 ES300 a few months ago. Really wanted a low mileage 00-01, for what I paid I could have bought an 02+ but decided on the 00 with low mileage.

Almost every vehicle 99-01 or 02-04 has just about 100k miles or over, idk how important it is for you to get a low mileage but it was for me.

Good luck whatever you decide or find.
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Old 09-18-15, 06:07 PM   #5
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I'd stay away from the 99-01's for the transmission problem alone. There's quite a few threads on here with the U140 transmission going, costing more than the car is worth to fix, because parts can't be sourced from a Camry. I do like the body style, and the fact that they have drive by cable with no tranny or throttle lag, unlike the 4th generation ES.

The 4th gen ES is fairly reliable - especially when it was updated to the 3.3L motor for 2004-06. There were no known mechanical problems with these cars. I love the interior, superior build quality and comfort, though the exterior styling will grow on you as you own it.

As other's have said with a budget of $4k, you're looking at a 99-01 ES, better yet if you can find a really clean 97 or 98 with more reliable tranny's. Look for signs of maintenance as the 1MZ-FE 3.0L motor was known to sludge up if the oil wasn't changed. You might want to cross shop with a Camry V6 XLE or Toyota Avalon with similar powertrains and platforms as the ES.
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Old 09-19-15, 10:28 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your input. So it looks like for my budget I'm going to be looking for a 2000-2001 Lexus ES300. Is the transmission in these years not reliable? This is the first I've heard of it, if true that's concerning. What's the cost for a replacement transmission in the 2000-2001?
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Old 09-19-15, 05:41 PM   #7
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Prices seem to range from $1100 for a used transmission up to $2800 for what I assume is a rebuilt unit. If you Google u140 transmission it will pop up with a series of issues, news to me too.
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Old 09-21-15, 05:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JetsonES View Post
Prices seem to range from $1100 for a used transmission up to $2800 for what I assume is a rebuilt unit. If you Google u140 transmission it will pop up with a series of issues, news to me too.
Not to HiJack this thread but since we are on the topic...

Seeing as which I now have a ticking time bomb tranny damn u140e, what preventative maintenance measures should I be performing to keep my trans from getting damaged/worn out.

I did read up on it a bit, and it appears to a common issue RAV4s as well.. that the ECU/PCM malfuntions and locks up the clutch discs between gears 2-3, which causes them to be partially applied and ultimately causing failure.

I'm at 46k miles, and I was planning on doing a trans flush/filter change anyway, but anything else I can do? idk about ECU issues, not sure much can be done for that but....

so the 1MZ-FE vvti engine ran from 99-01 in the 2nd gen body and 02-03 in the 3rd gen body.

Does anyone know if the 3rd gen PCM is backwards compatible with the 99-01 1MZ-FE engine/wiring? Just wondering if the 02-03 PCM are susceptible to the same failures as the 99-01 units.

Even then, gotta get around the immobilizer... sigh.
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Old 09-21-15, 06:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 808mcv20l View Post
Does anyone know if the 3rd gen PCM is backwards compatible with the 99-01 1MZ-FE engine/wiring? Just wondering if the 02-03 PCM are susceptible to the same failures as the 99-01 units.
The 4th Gen (02-03) ES uses the same motor as the 3rd gen (99-01) 1MZ VVT-i but because it has a drive by wire throttle, the electronics are completely different. Furthermore, the transmissions are different, the older car uses the 4 speed, while a 5 speed auto was used from 2002.

There isn't much preventative maintenance you can do to a transmission other than changing the oil and filter frequently, and not driving it too hard (towing, dumping the gas pedal, etc).

Here's an example:

http://www.clublexus.com/forums/es-1...-99-es300.html

The U140 simply wasn't reliable, which is sad because the post facelifted 3rd gen ES300 were very beautiful cars.
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Old 09-22-15, 10:16 AM   #10
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^ unfair to say that.....

it wasn't the most reliable compared to say, the 97 trans which was simple, but it wasn't "BAD" compared to many other products out there during the same era...

I was one of those that had to change it. A low mileage used on was ~2k CAD installed.... but you're in the USA, where **** it a lot more common for these cars and CHEAP.

I had the ONLY transmission ordered for my car in the whole province!

It seems like they're unreliable [trans.] since most owners will join up on Clublexus to complain or discuss that particular issue, if you look at common issues, the tranny ISN'T common... Many on here have 200k+ with no big issues, a few of us were unlucky - such is every make/model since the beginning of time. Hell, I still got 145k mi. out of it before it needed to be changed. I can't complain for a car that was loyally serving my family for over 14years & 80k mi...

I say go for it nonetheless. My car was doomed since I bought it service-record free. My dad NEVER changed the fluid in the trans, as it slipped his mind for ~35k.

The first drain & fill I did was at 100k MILES... If it was done before that? Who knows... I can chock it up as that alone in my case.

**which** is why I said to get something with service records and get something in the 5k range. The cheaper cars will not have that done, or if they did, it'll be ****ty JiffyLube grade services/cheap oils...
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Old 09-22-15, 02:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 01LEXPL View Post
^ unfair to say that.....

it wasn't the most reliable compared to say, the 97 trans which was simple, but it wasn't "BAD" compared to many other products out there during the same era...

I was one of those that had to change it. A low mileage used on was ~2k CAD installed.... but you're in the USA, where **** it a lot more common for these cars and CHEAP.

I had the ONLY transmission ordered for my car in the whole province!

It seems like they're unreliable [trans.] since most owners will join up on Clublexus to complain or discuss that particular issue, if you look at common issues, the tranny ISN'T common... Many on here have 200k+ with no big issues, a few of us were unlucky - such is every make/model since the beginning of time. Hell, I still got 145k mi. out of it before it needed to be changed. I can't complain for a car that was loyally serving my family for over 14years & 80k mi...

I say go for it nonetheless. My car was doomed since I bought it service-record free. My dad NEVER changed the fluid in the trans, as it slipped his mind for ~35k.

The first drain & fill I did was at 100k MILES... If it was done before that? Who knows... I can chock it up as that alone in my case.

**which** is why I said to get something with service records and get something in the 5k range. The cheaper cars will not have that done, or if they did, it'll be ****ty JiffyLube grade services/cheap oils...
I agree, internet amplification at it's finest.

The U140 transmission is perfectly fine, in a "light weight" application such as the ES with normal fluid changes.
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Old 09-26-15, 07:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hypervish View Post
I agree, internet amplification at it's finest. The U140 transmission is perfectly fine, in a "light weight" application such as the ES with normal fluid changes.
+1 Find a clean ES with service records and you'll be set. Look for an owner who cared for the car.

I couldn't afford a clean example and had to repair/replace a lot of stuff to get the car to where I felt it was close to my standards. You'd be surprised how much of a difference that makes in the long run.
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