HELP VSC, Check engine, traction lights on...engine totaled?? - Club Lexus Forums

HELP VSC, Check engine, traction lights on...engine totaled??

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Old 06-08-14, 04:10 PM   #1
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Default HELP VSC, Check engine, traction lights on...engine totaled??

Was driving down parkway at 65 mph, VSC, check engine and traction control lights turn on. Seconds later, car stalls and all power lost including brakes and steering. Car overheating. Got to side of road. Waited for 15 mins and started car. Put water in radiator and continued driving. No problems. Light came on again later. Went to Lexus dealer and was told that coolant was low and would need new water pump (~ $1500-2000). Stopped using car and 6 months later, took car in to same Lexus dealer and had water pump replaced. Car drove great for 3 months then last week, VSC, check engine and traction lights come on for 15-20 seconds. I pull over and turn off motor. I check under overheating or evidence of overheating (smell, smoke). Start car up and lights are all off. Car driving great. Call Lexus anyway and set up appt. The next morning, drive to Lexus, no lights on and car driving great. They call me later to tell me that the engine is totaled, aluminum something or other is bent/warped. Need new engine ($12,700) or used ($5,500). They tell me that it was my fault and it happened 6 months ago. I asked them why they would install a new water pump if engine was totaled 6 months ago???? They will not budge. How do I know when this happened. Is it my fault? No warning whatsoever abouth overheating??


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Old 06-09-14, 01:52 PM   #2
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From your profile, i gather that you have an ES350. From the sound of it, it appears that you lost all the coolant in the car due to a leaking water pump and overheated. You refilled it and kept driving. It overheated a second time and you let the car sit before repairs were made. It is likely that the damage was already done from overheating the engine twice. The damage was done to the inside of the engine, im guessing a blown/warped headgasket and probably warped heads/cylinder block. Its like tearing a sheet of paper halfway down, its still intact for a while, but eventually its going to rip the rest of the way. It sounds like thats what happened with your engine. It was damaged, but took a few months of driving for it to really surface. Its an unfortunate situation...
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Old 06-10-14, 03:11 PM   #3
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Although I posted in another thread yesterday on this subject, I just found this one and so I'll post my new information here today.

Similar to SCBoogie, I also had a situation in our 2007 ES350 Friday night where the "Check VSC" warning illuminated along with the master caution, check engine and traction control annunciator lights. This was on the turnpike. My wife googled the warning & lights and the search results indicated that this wasn't a serious problem. I snapped a quick iPhone panel shot, and detecting no noise or loss of power, we kept driving. The engine stopped 65 miles later without any loss of power or unusual noise of any kind. The dealer service advisor said that the engine is totaled and will cost $7,000 to replace with a used block, including new water pump, fluids, taxes, etc.

I've driven cars and airplanes that have had engine failures, and there was NO QUESTION what was happening from the moment the first component failed. The noise, vibration, loss of power and usually ejected fluids made it obvious what was happening, and that immediately securing the engine was the course of action.

I recognize that when the panel lights up it's time for Plan B. But when the engine is performing exactly as before - and online searches indicate that it isn't a critical issue - why WOULD you pull over, call a wrecker and have the car taken to the shop? Like everyone else I've had far more erroneous instrument readings than blown engines.

This entire situation is baffling to me, especially on an ES350 with 89,000 miles.

Last edited by tomokc; 06-10-14 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 06-10-14, 05:21 PM   #4
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Check engine lights come on for a reason and shouldn't be diagnosed by "google"
There is also this helpful thing called a temp gauge . Water pumps give plenty of warnings they make a rattling noise. Even if one does not heard the sound one should know that when the mil light turns on an the temp gauge is pinned at H it's shouldn't mean continue driving.
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Old 06-10-14, 06:27 PM   #5
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There are hundreds of reasons the check engine and VSC lights may come on, from something as simple as a gas cap loose (keep driving forever with no issues), to very bad things like coolant temp or oil pressure issues...

Most of the time, the issue is no biggie, however, once in a while, you have something catastrophic in the works... Also, coolant temp sensors do not work well unless they are covered in coolant, so, a car may lose coolant, overheat and not show any immediate signs aside from the generic warning signs...

There are ways to fix both the above motors without complete replacement, I would imagine... Head gasket and/or head replacement is the most likely avenue to be taken, but without seeing it, its hard to say for sure...
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Old 06-11-14, 03:18 PM   #6
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This is the explanation by both a Lexus service tech and an independent repair shop owner who saw the car this morning: When the water pump failed, the computers shut down non-essential systems as a protection, one of which was the stability control system. When stability control was disabled, the "Check VSC" message was displayed.

Wht95scort - I defend my actions even in hindsight because of the information that the car presented to me:
1) Within five seconds the caution annunciator lights illuminated (master caution, check engine and traction control), the "Check VSC message appeared, and the analog coolant temperature gauge pegged full cold, full hot and then full cold.
2) There was no change in vehicle performance, operation, sound, smell, acceleration, braking or turning. Were it not for panel indications, you'd never know that anything happened.
3) Immediate research - including what we found on this forum - indicated that it was likely a non-critical electrical problem and/or sensor error which could be reset either by a mechanic, or possibly by disconnecting both battery terminals for a few hours. Likely worst case? The Vehicle Stability Control system had failed, which wasn't a problem.
4) This is my wife's Lexus ES350. I drive a Mercedes-Benz ML350 which has a similarly-complex computer system, and I recently began receiving erroneous messages. The mechanic detected evidence of water on a circuit board which was replaced and the compartment resealed. The car and its systems were fine, but it was giving multiple error messages.

Factoring all of this in led us to the reasonable conclusion that it was a sensor problem at best, or a VSC problem at worst, either of which are driveable scenarios, especially at 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night, 70 miles from home.

Now if the warning read "Check Coolant" or "Water Pump Failure" instead of "Check VSC," I would have pulled over immediately.
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Old 06-17-14, 04:08 PM   #7
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tomokc, that is a bummer as well. My dealership admitted that Lexus does not have proper warnings with regard to overheating and/or water pump warnings. Your scenario is quite odd. Unlike mine, your car seemed to perform well throughout. How would you have possibly known there was such a severe problem??? Good luck. In my case, I had about a 5 second warning then everything shut down @ 70 mph!!!!! No power brakes, no power steering. After pulling over, having coolant filled and waiting a couple of hours. I was on my way. No hoses broken, no performance problems and all lights off. Car drove great...........Except for one thing, the engine is totaled.

Oh well.
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Old 07-18-16, 04:34 PM   #8
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I'm a new member, and after doing a google search, I found this thread. I realize that the thread is 2 years old. Anyway, I have (or should I say had) a 2008 IS250 AWD. It had 130,000 miles was serviced at the dealers since I bought it new in 2008. It was just serviced two weeks ago for a regular maintenance.

A very similar problem at the beginning of this thread happened to me yesterday. I was driving 65mph on the highway. The check VSC warning came on the messages. The engine light came on and the traction light came one. I pulled over and did an internet search and found that it should be ok to drive home. I went back on the highway. I drove for another 5 minutes and then I lost all power. No other lights came on. I coasted off the highway. Called a tow truck and towed it to the dealership. Found out today that the engine was blown. 9000 for a new engine and 8000 for a used engine. Seriously? The car's not worth that much.

Service department said that they can't explain it and it was a "freak" accident. They offered me $100 trade in for a new car. Yeah right, I can sell it to a salvage yard for more than that.

That's my experience with a 2008 IS250 that was serviced religiously at the dealership. So much for that.
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