1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Sleeps With The Fishes

October 10, 2012

Sleeps With The Fishes

It seems I neglected to "knock on wood" on the ES' wood trim yesterday after writing that it "seems to be running strong." And now I get punished by the irony gods. The ES is out of commission, marooned in the parking lot of my daughter's elementary school.

The situation: I drove to the school for afternoon pickup. Park, get the kid, come back to the car. Couldn't have been more than 3 minutes expired. Get buckled up. Turn the key. Nothing. Hmm. No turnover, no "click-click-click" sound. Just one "click." The car's accessories are working, though. Try a few more times. Same result.

Dying battery? That's my first guess. But it seems strange since the car's been starting fine and was just running a few minutes ago. Natural guy reaction: I pop the hood to take a look. Of course there's little reason to do this. I have no tools, no jumper cables and have no idea what to look for other than loose battery cables. If only a gremlin would pop out, laugh manically and then run away.

Naturally, being school pick up time, there are other parents pulling into the lot and getting their kids. One particularly good looking mom sees me standing in front of the ES with the hood open. "Need a jump?" she asks. I'm a bit flummoxed. The distressed, saved by the damsel. Yes, I say. I also mumble something about the ES not being my car, suddenly not feeling the love for the green, gold-packaged ES. She says she has her husband's truck, and it might have cables. She goes off to check. Meanwhile, my daughter is asking: "What's wrong, daddy?" So I get to tell her about cars and batteries.

Hot mom comes back. No luck on the cables. She apologizes. So plan B. I call a friend who's not too far away. "Come help me with this car," I ask. He knows what I'm driving. "About time, new car Romans," he says. "Where's your super awesome BRZ now?"

So my daughter and I wait around about 30 minutes until he arrives with some cables. We get everything hooked up. Turn the ES' key and ... nothing. Same problem. Oy. So it's not the battery. Maybe it's the starter. Or maybe the battery is just super dead because of a bad alternator. Or maybe it's the flux capacitor.

Anyway, we abandon the ES in the school lot so I can get my daughter home. I'm going back now, maybe to fix it, probably to get it towed. Whee. More on this tomorrow.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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