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Starting And Idle Problems


Goz
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Starting and Idle Problems with 1997 ES300

Problem:

(1) The car will not idle properly. In the time it takes to move my foot from the accelerator to the brake in order to put the car in Drive, the engine stalls. It does not cough to a halt, just immediately goes from foot on accelerator to dead.

(2) Intermittent ignition problems. With key in the ignition and turning to start, there are no dashboard lights, no sounds, no clicking noise and no turning over. This seems to be corrected by toggling the battery terminals, but will reoccur at random times.

Question:

Does anyone have suggestions on a possible fix for both the intermittent starting problem and the continuous idling problem?

Details:

On Saturday afternoon (3 days ago) my Lexus starts fine and I go to the grocery store. Returning to my car 15 minutes later, the car will not start. With the key in the ignition and turning to start there are no dashboard lights, no sounds, no clicking noise and no turning over. I figure to get out and check/toggle the positive and negative terminals on the battery. Coincidence or not, the car turns over immediatel, but now the car will not idle properly. In the time it takes to move my foot from the accelerator to the brake in order to put the car in Drive, the engine stalls. It does not cough to a halt, just immediately goes from foot on accelerator to dead. We were in a hurry, so left car in parking lot returning 5 hours later only for the car to start and run fine. Car runs fine for the next two days even traveling 50 miles to/from work.

Then this morning, I start the car fine and stop 5 miles down the road to run into the store. I return to the car only for the same thing to happen in the same order as described above on Saturday afternoon. Again after toggling the terminals, the car starts without a problem but again I have an idling problem to the extent that trying to drive home the car stalls as I approach intersections or slow to make turns (basically whenever the engine goes < 1,000 RPM). Thinking it is an electrical issue, I cleaned the terminals when I returned home, but that did not fix it.

As for the starting problem, my friend suggested cleaning the contacts on the back of the ignition switch. If no help, maybe it is sign the starter is going out. As for the idling problem, I plan to check the alternator tomorrow as I have read that Lexus has an automatic low voltage engine shut-off and may be the problem when the battery tries to hand off to the alternator. I have also read (albeit in the RS300 forum) that it may be worth removing the air intake values and cleaning the valve with a carb cleaner.

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are the battery terminals clean? if they are full of green or yellow or odd colored powdery stuff, you may need to get a wire brush battery post cleaner. For 2 bucks, it should remove all the crap. It should fix that problem unless the cables are rotted out. How many miles are on this 97? i have the same year, but dont have this problem. You should add some seafoam into the tank so it can clean out the fuel lines, do a few times with following instructions. add at every fill up for about 4 times or more, just to increase efficiencey and ensure that the lines are clean so that the car doesnt lack fuel and run to lean and die on you. You should also have your fuel filter replaced. If this is helpful at all let me know.

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Thanks guys. Safro, yes the terminals were the first thing I checked and throughly cleaned and all looks fine. I agree that I think I'll get after replacing the fuel filter and performing a good throttle body cleaning and idle air control valve cleaning this weekend in hopes that does the trick.

One last thing, could it be the alternator? I read that Lexus has an shut-down mechanism if the alternator doesn't work properly when taking over for the battery and the fact that the car doesn't even idle and quickly dies when taking foot off the accelerator...has me suspect.

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Check the alternator with a voltmeter, if while the engine is running the voltage at the battery is 13.5 to 14.5 volts the alternator is working. You may want to look at your cables carefully. If they were corroded it may have gotten into the wire under the insulation. Also the ground to the engine may be loose or corroded. Check the starter connection also (12v) line.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have a 1997 ES300 (about 150,000 miles) as well as had a very similar issue as well. I have had the idle issue intermittently for over a year and my mechanic (certified Toyota/Lexus) told me I would need to replace the idle air control valve eventually. I haven't done it yet but it is very intermittent. Just every now and then I will have to give it some gas when I start it and let it run for a little while. Probably occurs once per month.

This morning, I got into the car, turned the key at the halfway point I heard the normal chime sound and as I turned it to start it, there was nothing. I checked all the blade fuses and all are good. I was then thinking the theft deterrent system may be an issue so I read how to reengage the system - at this point I realized I could not even lock and unlock my doors, or open trunck or gas cap. After shutting the hood and giving up, I got in the car and heard the CD's shuffling around. I put the key in, heard the chime, and drove my other car to work. I didn't try starting it yet but will today after I check my battery posts. I did check voltage of the battery with no load on it and it looked good. I'll keep you posted...

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