Lexus IS300 Problems to Avoid and Best IS300 to Buy

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

When it comes to luxury cars, the Lexus IS300 undoubtedly captures your attention with its style and performance.

But as with any vehicle, it’s essential to be aware of common issues that may arise.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common problems faced by IS300 owners, so you can make an informed decision about this popular car model.

With this knowledge at hand, you’ll be better prepared when it comes to maintaining and enjoying your Lexus IS300.

Lexus IS300 Problems

Performance and Powertrains

When it comes to the Lexus IS300, there are a few key aspects related to performance and powertrains that you might find interesting.

Engine Options and Horsepower

The Lexus IS300 offers a few engine options for a blend of power and efficiency. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 260 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.

You may also find the all-wheel drive (AWD) variant equipped with a V6 engine, offering more power. For even more performance, you can consider the Lexus IS350, boasting 311 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.

Transmission Types

Most Lexus IS300 models are fitted with an automatic transmission for smooth shifting and effortless driving.

Specifically, a six-speed automatic transmission is standard in many models, efficiently managing the power provided by the various engine options. This ensures a fine balance between performance, acceleration, and fuel efficiency.

As you explore the Lexus IS300, it’s essential to keep in mind its performance and powertrain features.

This will help you make a well-informed decision when considering which model best suits your needs and preferences.

Remember, the engine options, horsepower, and transmission types are all central factors that impact the overall driving experience.

RELATED: Get more expert detailed direction for Lexus IS 350 vs ES 350, as well, Lexus IS350 vs Lexus IS 300 battles of sedans.

Reliability and Common Problems

History of Reliability

The Lexus IS300 has been deemed one of the brand’s most reliable cars by Toyota enthusiasts.

First introduced in 1998, the first-generation IS300 features a 3.0-liter inline-six engine providing 217 horsepower.

With options for either a manual or automatic transmission, the car has built a strong reputation for longevity and dependability.

Common Vehicle Issues

While the Lexus IS300 is known for its reliability, there are a few common issues reported by owners.

Keep in mind that these problems may be minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s essential to be aware of them.

Oxygen (O2) Sensor Problems:

The IS300 is known to have issues with the O2 sensors, particularly the ones in the exhaust manifold and engine bay area.

These sensors measure the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gases and help adjust the air-fuel mixture, which, if faulty, can negatively impact your fuel efficiency and engine performance.

Rear Engine Main Seal:

Some owners report [issues with the rear engine main seal which can cause oil leaks. If you notice an oil leak or excess oil consumption, it may be necessary to replace the seal.

Brake Issues:

The IS300 may experience master cylinder circuit malfunction causing random ABS activation. In this case, you may need professional assistance to diagnose and repair the problem.

When shopping for a used Lexus IS300, it’s helpful to carefully inspect the vehicle for these common problems. By being aware of these issues, you can make a more informed decision about the car’s potential cost and reliability.

RELATED: Go here for more researched information about Sedan ES and Lexus-GS facts and more detailed guide for Lexus ES vs IS rival sedans.

Interior and Tech Features

Infotainment System

Your Lexus IS300 offers a user-friendly infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The Lexus Enform system allows seamless integration with your smartphone.

Interior Design and Comfort

On the inside, you’ll find the Lexus IS300 boasts a comfortable and luxurious interior. Keep in mind, though, legroom might feel just appropriate for a 6-foot-1 person, but headroom could be a bit tight.


Enjoy navigating with ease through the optional in-built navigation system, further enhancing your driving experience and convenience in the Lexus IS300.

TIPS: What are the best and worst Lexus IS 250 to avoid for these models?

Which years should I avoid when buying a Lexus IS300?

For the IS300, there isn’t a clear consensus on which years to avoid. Some owners suggest that the best years to buy are 2005 or 2006, as an earlier 2003 model had its share of problems.

However, individual experiences may vary, and it’s essential to consider the specific vehicle’s maintenance history and condition.

When evaluating a potential Lexus IS300, a buyer’s guide for the first-generation model (2001-2005) may also be beneficial.

Additionally, newer Lexus IS models will have improved features and performance, so consider a 2023 Lexus IS 300 if you’re interested in a newer car with a premium package.

In summary, focus on the specific vehicle’s condition and maintenance history rather than strictly adhering to avoiding certain model years. Always consult trusted resources and experts before making a decision.

Suspension and Handling


The Lexus IS300 is a sport sedan with a solid chassis designed to provide a nimble driving experience. As you drive, you’ll appreciate the balance between comfort and handling.

Coil Springs

Your IS300 features coil springs that play a crucial role in the car’s suspension performance. These springs absorb bumps, maintain smooth handling, and give you a comfortable ride.

Suspension Setup

The car’s suspension setup, including the rear wheels, is designed for both daily driving and sporty performance.

You might encounter a few common issues with the IS300, such as faulty sway bar bushings or worn-out struts, which can affect the car’s handling and braking. To keep your IS300 in top shape, it’s important to address these issues promptly.

Fuel Economy and Efficiency

Your Lexus IS300 offers decent fuel economy, but may not be the most efficient option on the market.

Based on 45% highway and 55% city driving, you can expect an annual fuel cost of $2,600. Filling up the 17.4-gallon tank will cost around $76.

While it’s not the most fuel-efficient sedan, the IS300 remains a capable and stylish choice. Just keep in mind that fuel costs may be higher than some of its competitors.

Dealer and Repair Experience

Working with Dealers

When experiencing issues with your Lexus IS300, working with dealers can be a smooth and friendly process. Dealers are known for their professionalism and commitment to customer satisfaction.

Cost of Repairs

According to RepairPal, the Lexus IS300 is considered one of the more reliable cars, keeping repair costs relatively low. Keep in mind that factors like location and specific issues can influence the cost of repairs for your vehicle.

The Lexus IS300 Best Years

Here’s a little help navigating the best years for the Lexus IS300, so you can make the right choice for your needs.

1998-2005 (First Generation):

The Lexus IS300 first generation is considered one of the most reliable cars among Toyota enthusiasts.

With 217 horsepower delivered by a 3.0-liter inline-six engine, you can experience the joy of driving a rear-wheel-drive vehicle available in both manual and automatic transmissions. These models are known for their durability and excellent performance.

2006 (Second Generation):

According to Lexus IS Forum, 2006 can be considered a good year to look for a used IS300. Some users reported that their 2006 models are still running strong, even at higher mileage.

Remember, the condition and maintenance history also play a significant role in a car’s reliability, so make sure to check them before making any decisions.

Although the search results were limited to these two options, you should also keep an eye on newer models like the 2021 Lexus IS300, which is appreciated for its responsive chassis, quiet cabin, and racy looks.

However, there are some downsides like lackluster infotainment and limited interior storage.

Competitors and Comparisons

BMW 3 Series

When considering the Lexus IS 300, it’s essential to compare it to its competitors, such as the BMW 3 Series.

The 3 Series offers a more engaging driving experience and a wide range of engine options. Its interior is also more spacious, providing a comfortable environment for you and your passengers.

However, the Lexus IS 300 stands out with its extremely quiet cabin and racy design, but be aware of 3-Series unreliable model years with problems.

Alfa Romeo Giulia

The best used Alfa Romeo Giulia brings a unique Italian flair to the compact luxury sedan segment. It boasts impressive handling and acceleration, making it a strong competitor to the Lexus IS 300.

The IS 300 prevails in terms of reliability and build quality, offering a more dependable choice overall.

Infiniti Q50

Another competitor worth your attention is the Infiniti Q50. The Q50 has a more powerful base engine and offers more standard features than the Lexus IS 300.

However, Lexus’ reputation for reliability and its responsive chassis give it an edge over the Q50. We dtiled the best and worst Infiniti Q50 to avoid and 5 problems associated with them!

Audi A4

Lastly, the Audi A4 presents itself as a well-rounded compact luxury sedan with its upscale interior, advanced technology, and excellent performance.

While the A4 may be a strong contender, the Lexus IS 300 sets itself apart with its more aggressive styling and superior cabin quietness. Checkout the list of worst Audi A4 to avoid and issues drivers complained!

In conclusion, the Lexus IS 300 faces tough competition with each of its rivals offering distinct advantages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Lexus IS300 cars reliable?

Yes, Lexus IS300 cars are generally considered to be reliable vehicles. They have a reputation for being well-built and having few major issues.

The first-generation models, produced from 1998-2005, are particularly known for their reliability, as they were equipped with the durable 3.0-liter inline-six engine that sent 217 horsepower to the rear wheels.

How long do Lexus IS300 cars typically last?

With proper maintenance and care, a Lexus IS300 can last for well over 200,000 miles. As with any vehicle, the longevity of your IS300 largely depends on how well you take care of it.

Regular oil changes, tire rotations, and adherence to the recommended maintenance schedule can help ensure a long life for your car.

Are Lexus IS300 cars expensive to maintain?

Lexus IS300 cars are not particularly expensive to maintain when compared to other luxury vehicles. While the cost of maintenance may be somewhat higher than that of a non-luxury vehicle, it is generally in line with what you would expect for a car in its class.

Regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, should not break the bank. However, specific repairs or parts replacement might be more expensive, especially if you choose to use genuine Lexus parts or require service at a dealership.

What causes hesitation during acceleration in a 2004 Lexus IS300?

Hesitation during acceleration in a 2004 Lexus IS300 could be caused by several issues. Some common causes include problems with the engine management system, such as a faulty mass air flow sensor or a malfunctioning throttle position sensor.

Additionally, issues with the fuel system, like a clogged fuel filter or failing fuel pump, can lead to hesitation during acceleration.

If you’re experiencing this issue, it’s best to have your IS300 diagnosed by a qualified mechanic to pinpoint the exact cause and address it accordingly.


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