thechauffeur

Undiagnosed electrical issue with 1993 ES 300

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Looking for some ideas on what to do next. I have a 1993 ES 300 that I've owned for just about 3 years, and have had tons of electrical problems with. I am the third owner and it came with a huge file of receipts for maintenance and work done over the years, it all looked pretty normal - nothing alarming.

Since purchase I have replaced the battery and alternator 2x each. Here are the problems/steps taken so far:

  • Battery kept dying; replaced battery under warranty - everything is good for approximately 3-6 months
  • New battery started dying, did some at-home testing/readings with my "car guy"; replaced the alternator with a used one from local junkyard - everything is good for a few more months
  • Battery continues to have problems with dying, took car into local Japanese auto place with good reviews. They diagnosed the issue as a short in the CD player draining the battery; disconnected CD player - everything's good for a few more months.
  • Battery continues to have problems, assume the battery got fried from the bad alternator/short draining it; replace battery again, good for several more months
  • Start having battery/dying problems again; confirmed alternator is failing with my "car guy", replace with another junkyard alternator - good for approximately 3 months
  • Present day, my car will not start and is difficult to jump to boot. When it does get jumped and runs, everything charges up the way it should - it just doesn't maintain charge.

During this time I've experienced a lot of other odd little electrical problems. My headlights dim slightly when I brake or use the power windows. Dome light stopped working, though I assumed that was just a burnt out bulb - have not bothered replacing so not totally sure there. Some lights on my dash/stereo that used to work have stopped working. I've noticed that the numbers on the clock are not displaying quite right; there are bits of other number parts remaining when there shouldn't be (if that makes sense). My antenna has a hard time going up and down, and at this point does not go up/down at all. One of the back windows doesn't roll down and hasn't since I got it, but I have just assumed that was a burnt out motor that I didn't care to replace. At this point I imagine it's all connected though.

I make sure to turn off all systems/lights/etc before turning off my car, there is nothing basic like that that is draining the battery. The car never dies while I am driving it, but when I start to have problems it'll be slow to turn over when starting, and eventually stops starting at all.

Not sure where to go from here. I'm apprehensive to take it back to the Japanese auto place I've been before since they just diagnosed it as a short in my CD player when clearly there is a bigger problem. I tried to get in with another local mechanic that everyone swears by, but they are booked out for 2 weeks. The nearest Lexus service center is over 50 miles away. I have considered ordering a rebuilt alternator through a vendor, but think it will likely be a waste of money because it seems there is likely a larger problem at play.

If anyone has had similar experiences or has thoughts on what to look into as the source of the issues, I'm all ears. Thank you!

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I was thinks it's got to be a bad ground wire somewhere, the original ones have connectors that appear to get corroded on the terminals I just haven't had time to replace them

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