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What To Do About Failed Emissions?


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I bought a 1993 Lexus ES300 from someone a few months ago. Car has 99K miles on it. The previous owner seemed to keep it maintained.

I took it in for the state emissions test in IL and failed. A crooked mechanic(recommended by the state) quoted me at $1200 to fix my car to pass. This includes: new PCV valve, EGR valve, oxygen sensors, catalytic converter, fuel injection cleaning, and engine oil flush.

I can't afford to pay $1200 as I'm currently unemployed. I bought a Haynes Repair manual for the 1993 Camry(same thing). I'm thinking about changing the PCV valve, oxygen sensors, and spark plugs myself. I know the catalytic converter is OK since it does not give off a foul smell.

Has anyone else had emissions problems with their ES300?

Also, since I need to disconnect the (-) on the battery when I do all this, my stereo probably won't work. I bought this car used, so how do I go about getting a code to reset the stereo so it will work.


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was the car hot or cold when it was put on the scope?

Check the laws in you state to find out your options. You can do some of that stuff yourself. Can you bring it to another facility?

I used to change the oil and filter, run it on the highway for 30 minutes then drive right to the testing garage. Never a problem. But then again, the cars are always maintained under my ownership.

I would not trust the garage that wants to do a shotgun approach. The should be able to pinpoint the problem. Start witht the cheapest and work up. O2 sensors and EGR failures trip a CEL code.

Have the car tested hot at another facility. If it still fails then start with fresh oil and filter, new PCV ($5.00), new plugs and have the car tested hot again.


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BTW, I should throw this out there. I hardly ever use my car right now...maybe once or twice a week short distances.

On the day of the test I drove around the city for 15-20 minutes. Could this be what's causing the high readings? The state recommends driving for 15 minutes prior to the test. Maybe I should have taken it out on the highway and come back.

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I got the oil changed an hour before the test. Don't know the last time the spark plugs or air filter were changed. The more I think about it, not warming up the car properly and not driving it enough day-to-day are probably the reasons why I failed the test. I'm going to dump some fuel injection cleaner in this weekend and drive it out of state...hopefully that will clean it out.

Wouldn't I want to use premium gas for the test vs. regular? Doesn't premium burn cleaner?

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I went through this already, and not over yet. Mine is 92'ES300. So much trouble from the begining. I almost dislike this car. When I had a 86 Galant (until 2000), I never had a smog problem (instead transmission problem).

When you take a car to a mechanic, usually they say PCV valve, oxygen sensor, spark plug, etc. The point is they do not know exactly what to fix. So they list all the possible things related with emissions. Typically, dealer is more expensive, but accurate in diagnose. Means repair the only one that needs to be fixed.

2 years ago when I bought mine, the mechanic replaced 2 oxygen sensors (cheapest one), catalytic converter, cleaned egr valve, replaced spark plugs (wrong type!). It costed me almost $1000 then. Now I replaced spark plugs, wires, dist cap & rotor. Corrected one fuel injector seating. I dumped fuel injection cleaner. Yet I failed smog test. It was close, but HC was slightly higher.

After replacing one oxygen sensor & timing, I am going to check one more time.

It is strange that all the mechanic said this car must be good.

I don't know in what sense! It is sucking so much money.

Maybe this is the cost of owning the "once" luxury car.

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I hear you. What state are you trying to pass emisisons in?

I live in IL. If you spend more than $450 on emissions fixes you can get a 1 year waiver. As long as you provide the receipts and they see some improvement you can get the waiver. But you have to deal with it a year later so you're still screwed.

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