1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: A Nagging Problem Fixed

June 18, 2012

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I've been holding off writing about this because I wanted to have some resolution before I said anything. The first day of driving cross-country the check engine light came on. My approach to CELs is to see if there are any sudden new noises, weird smells, a change in performance or a drop off in fuel economy. If the answer to all these things is no, then reading the code can wait. Since none of these warning signs were present, I decided to look for the first chance to read the code but kept driving.

The next day the CEL went off. And then the following day the CEL came on again. Since it was going on and off it seemed that whatever was triggering the light was borderline.

When I reached my father's house in Barre, Mass., I used his code reader and got a code of P0401. A quick Google search showed that this was caused by the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve. I found a wonderful little how-to about fixing the EGR valve, which showed me how to locate it on the top of the engine. I was pleased with what I found.

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 A small hose was lying unconnected on top of the EGR valve (near the yellow tip of the pen I set on it). The hose may have inadvertently been knocked off when other work was done on the engine. It was a simple matter to push it back into place. I used the code reader to clear the code and, 1,500 miles later, it hasn't reappeared. And I've made it all the way to Colorado where I'm staying with my brother in the mountains above Denver.  

Wouldn't it be nice if all repairs were this easy?

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 145,690 miles

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