My RX330 must’ve felt bad for Jake’s IS and wanted to share the love, since it’s had quite a rough week, too.
It all started two Wednesdays ago. I took the Grocery Grabber to the Lexus dealer for the first time in eight years for an oil change, and it must be rejecting the OEM care. Thursday morning and 30 miles after getting fresh oil, the CEL and VSC light turn on as I’m driving into work. This was the first “you’re kidding me” moment of three.
I was about to call the Lexus dealer and ask them to pick my car up and fix whatever they broke, but I decided to swing by Autozone on my way home to get the code read in case they didn’t cause the issue. Turns out they didn’t. The code was P0128 or coolant temp below thermostat regulating temperature, which was also confirmed by a low reading on the coolant temp gauge.
On Saturday, we got our first snow storm of the winter. This is when I discovered that the CEL does, in fact, disable the traction control entirely. The stability control was mostly defeated, too, meaning I got to have way more fun in the snow than normally allowed by the engineers at Toyota.
So I swap cars with my dad on Sunday, since I don’t know any mechanics in the area, and I get my car back with a new thermostat and no CEL on Tuesday night.
After work on Wednesday, I get in the driver’s seat, turn the key, and click click click. Second “you’re kidding me” moment. My battery was supremely dead. So dead, I couldn’t open the electronic tailgate to get to my jumper cables. Folding the seats down and climbing into the trunk to open the compartment it is.
After retrieving the cables, one of my coworkers gives me a jump, but the tailgate still doesn’t open. Huh. Then, as I’m driving down the road, my car starts to intermittently do really fun electrical things like turn the radio off, turn on half the warning lights, and bounce the speedometer needle from the real speed of 50 to 20 mph and back.
I drive straight to a Batteries Plus, and as I turn off the car, the power steering wheel attempts to retract, and moves back and forth at the same frequency as the previous clicking. Nice. One new battery later, my car is idling at 400 rpm.
Toyota does this really fun thing in their cars from the mid 2000s where they save the radio presets when the battery is replaced, but they forget how to idle at a reasonable engine speed.
This really isn’t a big deal as it relearned how to idle by the time I parked my car at work Thursday morning. I thought I was in the clear now, but, boy, did I learn I was wrong when I walked out of work the night after my dead battery to a flat front passenger side tire. Third “you’re (insert favorite expletive) kidding me” moment.
Thankfully my car has a full size spare, and some very nice coworkers got to work in helping me change the tire. Things are going great until we were removing the flat wheel and the car fell off the scissor jack. This can be seen in the lead picture above.
I cannot express how lucky we were that everyone was out of the way when the car fell. And, honestly, I thought a car falling off the jack would be a lot more dramatic. But now the entire weight of the car is resting on the brake rotor.
At this point, I decide to call AAA. While I’m on hold, we attract a bit of a crowd and a floor jack is found in the building. With the proper tool, we get the 16 year old spare on the car and the lug nuts are being tightened as AAA shows up.
Now, after standing outside for an hour and 45 minutes in temps of -2°F with windchill, I start the gentle drive straight to a Tires Plus hoping that nothing was damaged in the fall, and that the tire can be repaired that night. Naturally, they’re busy so I leave the tire with them and they’ll call me when they get to it. I get a call an hour and a half later saying the tire is non-repairable. Fantastic. I decide to try again and take it to my mechanic at home, where he does plug the tire.
So, hopefully, the flat was the third in my series of bad things come in threes. I’d really rather not have to get a set of four new tires on a car with 251,000 miles on it, so hopefully the plug holds.
Anyway, I cannot stress enough how much worse these situations could have been. No one got hurt, and I have freaking awesome coworkers that were out in the cold with me and basically changed my tire for me. I’m also thankful my car took the ground like a champ, too.