The Lexus ES330 is a midsize luxury sedan with a powerful 3.3 Liter V6 engine. The ES330 is known to be adequately sporty while still having a quiet and comfortable ride. While Lexus continues its ES line of sedans until today, the ES330 only ran for three years, from 2004 to 2006, and was replaced by the ES350 in the next generation.
Because of its age, the ES330 has already lost most of its value. According to AutoPadre.com, ES330s made from 2004 to 2006 are only worth around 15% of their original value. They predict it will continue to depreciate an additional 6% of its current value in five years. While this may be bad news for existing Lexus ES330 owners who want to sell theirs, this could be a fantastic deal for people looking for a used luxury sedan.
Is the Lexus ES330 Reliable?
There isn’t sufficient data for RepairPal to give an overall reliability score for the model or its annual repair cost. However, Lexus vehicles are generally reliable, much like their Toyota counterparts. The ES330 is built on the same platform as the Camry, which is very reliable, so it’s very likely the Lexus is just as reliable, if not even more so.
Most owners claim that the car is fantastic. One owner on cars.com has even gone as far as to say that the Lexus ES330 is “the best car they’ve ever owned.” This is due to its overall reliability and ride quality. Several owners did have problems throughout their many years of use, but they were easily solved and could be brushed off as normal wear.
Lexus ES330 Common Problems
While renowned for its overall reliability, the Lexus ES330 does have some problems, and one that’s particularly serious.
Dirty Mass Airflow Sensor
A faulty mass airflow (MAF) sensor may cause various engine issues, such as lack of power, poor gas mileage, and delayed acceleration, in some 2004 to 2006 ES330s. These may be accompanied by an illuminated check engine light. Upon checking with an OBD2 scanner, it may throw error codes P0171 or P0174, which indicate the engine has been running with a lean fuel to air mixture.
Replacing the MAF sensor fixed the issue for some owners. Replacement Lexus ES330 mass air flow sensors can cost anywhere between $30 and $100.
Worn-out Brake Rotors
There were 19 reports on RepairPal about vibrations coming from the steering wheel or the brake pedal of the ES330. This was caused by the car’s brake rotors being warped. While the cause of this warping is unclear, there are also numerous NHTSA reports of various brake problems. These include brake failure and noisy brakes. This issue can happen in any of the 2004 to 2006 models of the ES330.
Bloated Air Bags
The air bags of some ES330s have been reported to crack and expand. Aside from cosmetic issues, the air bags have also been reported to not deploy upon impact. Several owners were injured because of their bodies hitting the steering wheel when the air bags should have cushioned them.
This has been particularly troubling for owners since they have to deal with the possibility that their air bags could pose a danger.
The only possible solution for owners seemed to be to replace the faulty airbag. However, since there isn’t a recall for the ES330’s airbag, owners are unfortunately left with no choice other than to replace it with an air bag that they paid for on their own.
Sudden Unintended Acceleration
Several owners of the 2005 Lexus ES330 have reported that their vehicle would accelerate more than it should when they press on the throttle.
An LA Times article published in 2010 said that this problem occurred in several Toyota and Lexus models, and that the Camry and ES 330 were some of the vehicles affected. The article says the issue has resulted in 34 deaths across different models made by Toyota. In one instance of the problem occurring, the driver struck and killed a pedestrian before the sedan passed through a fence and into a concrete pillar. A month before the accident, the owner had the vehicle checked and Toyota wrote on the report that “the car was operating properly.”
The problem was suspected to be caused by the vehicle’s floor mat causing the throttle pedal to get stuck. Initially, the floor mats were recalled. However, even after the original floor mats were replaced or removed altogether, the problems persisted. Toyota then announced that the issue may be caused by the accelerator pedal. According to Toyota, the pedal mechanism becomes worn, and in certain conditions, the accelerator pedal may become harder to depress, slower to return, or, in the worst case, stuck in a partially depressed position. Thus, Toyota initiated a second recall to fix the pedal’s tendency to stick.
If you’re looking to get a used Lexus ES330, you should be aware that it was one of the models affected by the throttle pedal problem. However, the issue doesn’t seem to recur after it’s been fixed. If you’re looking to buy a used Lexus ES330, we recommend checking the vehicle’s repair history to see if it was part of the recall and if the throttle pedal has already been replaced. Learning from the experience of other drivers can help you decide whether the car you want to buy is worth it or not.