Repeat Business - 1996 Lexus ES 300 Long-Term Road Test

1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Repeat Business

March 6, 2013

1996 Lexus ES 300

The key to keeping maintenance costs down on a car is to find a reputable mechanic and build a working relationship. Seems like a no-brainer piece of advice, but for us it hasn't always been easy to follow. We've taken our 1996 Lexus ES 300 to a number of mechanics, based on who was driving the car and where we were at the time.

We really liked the service we received from our most recent mechanic, Alberto Garcia, who repaired our gauges. We decided to have him examine the cause of a pesky check engine light.

To recap, the Lexus was giving a P0441 code, which was related to the evaporative emission control system. The mechanic called us to say it was fixed about an hour after we dropped it off. The problem was the exact same one that commenter "mdj61254" experienced in his car: a leaking vacuum hose. While the commenter had to pay $180 for the diagnosis, we got a nice surprise when we asked what our tab was.

"It was just a small hose, you can have it," said Garcia, of A&M Motors. "Consider it a Christmas present."

This was a low-cost part for him and not charging us was a nice gesture that makes us want to go back to his shop for any future repairs.

Days out of service: 0

Total Cost: $0

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 153,713 miles


  • yellowbal yellowbal Posts:

    Wow great service! Take all your old cars to him if needed.

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    Can't beat that price!

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    You had vacuum hose issues before, and that other commenter pointed you in that direction...can I ask if you tried to check out the vacuum hoses yourselves before taking it to a shop? This is supposed to be a low-budget operation with this car. Great that the shop owner did this for nothing - he sounds like a keeper.

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    better put him on your christmas list! how many bad/loose vacuum hoses have you had so far?

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I think if I were the typical owner they are trying to channel, I would buy $10 worth of vacuum line, grab a set of sidecutter pliers and replace everything. It would take about 45 minutes and end this death of a thousand cuts (see what I did there?).

  • rm2008 rm2008 Posts:

    fordson1, I took a quick peek under the hood to look for any loose hoses, but I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. I'm guessing the hose was deeper into the engine bay. -Ron Montoya

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Thanks for the reply - I hope this does not keep popping up for you, since all of those hoses are of the same vintage...old. I like this car and think that basically it's a keeper.

  • benson2175 benson2175 Posts:

    That's nice of him. I notice in the picture the corner of a Mercedes W140 peaking out; as someone who owns one, I figure he gave you the hose for free because he makes a killing off that W140 owner.

  • mdj61254 mdj61254 Posts:

    As the unfortunate soul who got to spend $180 for the vacuum hose leak, wanted to let everyone know that several shops told me I had to go to a facility that had a "smoke machine" that could identify the location of the leak. Apparently the leak was allowing the fuel vapor management system to "depressurize" which caused the system to throw a code, or at least that's what I was told!

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    mdj61254, I don't think you're unfortunate at all. I used to own a 1991 LS that would cost me $700 to $1,000 each time I brought it in. $180 is very reasonable for any type of luxury car.

  • bhysjulien bhysjulien Posts:

    Customer service! Kudos to A&M Motors and Mr. Garcia!

  • bhysjulien bhysjulien Posts:

    Customer service! Kudos to A&M Motors and Mr. Garcia!

  • sodaguy sodaguy Posts:

    Wow, that was nice. I'm guessing that the problem must have been very obvious for him to not charge for diag time.

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