Question about 2003 Lexus ES 300

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My 2003 es300 has 95,000 easy highway miles. How long can I really go without changing timing belt? Do I really need to put in a new water pump?Is it a non interference engine?

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Easy or hard you need to change the timing belt. on time service will get you the most miles out of your es.

Posted on Oct 03, 2009

  • Hank95 Aug 26, 2011

    I have 2003 es300 with 178k (mainly highway milages) and I just changed the timing belt. It costed me $650 including water pump at small garage. I would not recommend change it yet based on mine. Should change the water pump as well since labor is already paid when changing the timing belt unless you really short on cash.

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How many miles can I go before getting the water pump, timing belt?


The water pump can easily go 130,000 or more miles but will give you warning signs when it begins to fail. It will leak small quantities of coolant onto the pump surface at a weap hole near the center of the pump (check with flashlight) and as it fails it will begin making a grinding noise and you can smell the sweet ethylene glycol odor from the leak.

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However, you need to verify your motor has a timing "belt" and not a timing chain before you schedule a replacement and remember the longer you go the higher your risk of ruining your motor if the belt breaks. If the belt breaks, the cost will easily be 10 times the cost of replacing the timing belt.

Now if you want to change the belt yourself, make sure you have a good shop manual and try to find a friend who has done a similar procedure to check your work during the last couple of steps including removing the slack properly and checking the marks for accurate alignment.

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There isn't really an easy way, as the water pump is driven by the timing belt, requiring removal of the timing covers, timing belt etc to replace. This is definitely a job for a mechanic, or at least a skilled handyman with a lot of experience with timing belt replacement. The timing belt and tensioner will need to be replaced at the same time, but at least then you know that it will not need to done again for 100,000 kms (60,000 miles).

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