1996 Lexus ES 300: Props for Quick Repair
June 11, 2012
Dan Edmunds was right -- I found out how to prop open the hood of the 1996 Lexus ES 300 in a gas station in Utah. I used my Scotty Cameron putter. It provided great touch and feel. Most importantly, it gave me confidence to stick my head under the hood and check the oil and the coolant level.
I was checking the oil every other tank of gas and keeping an eye on the coolant level. However, as I was approaching my friend's house in Detroit last Thursday, I saw the temp gauge rising. My GPS showed I only had 3.4 miles left so I decided to go for it. As I rolled up out front of his house the needle was climbing. All I could think of was all the barren stretches of road where the Lexus could have overheated. Instead, it was nearly at my friend's house. Talk about great timing.
Early Friday morning, I followed my friend to a local Toyota dealership, Fox Automotive of Rochester Hills. The service advisor, encouragingly named Bradley Ernest, said they had a very full schedule and, if parts were needed it would have to have to wait until Monday. I told him I was driving cross country and needed to leave Sunday morning. I also asked him to change the oil and rotate the tires. Having done all I could, I did the only logical thing: went out and played golf.
When I got done, I had a message from Brad. I called him back anticipating a long song and dance about delays and extra charges.
Instead, Brad told me, "You're good to go."
"What do you mean?"
"It's all fixed. Come and pick it up."
When I got back to Fox, the Lexus was washed and waiting for me. Brad informed me that the hoses leading into the firewall were loose and the coolant had been leaking from there. Also, the radiator cap didn't hold pressure so they replaced it. The total bill for all items was $178. It seemed a little steep but I was rolling again and ready to stay on schedule.
Today I left Detroit, holding my breath and half suspecting that the leak would somehow reappear. But the temp gauge we level all day through 90 degree heat. Tomorrow I will be in Boston and halfway done with my trip.
Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 142,056 miles