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The GS300 was an executive sedan from Lexus that stopped production only recently in 2020. On paper, it was a triumph, with the Toyota Supra’s fabled 2JZ-GE inline-six and 225 horsepower to the rear wheels via an automatic transmission. However, on the road, it was a different story. The GS300 apparently handled like a boat, and in Japan, customers could have the twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE with 300 horsepower or all-wheel drive with a V8. America got shafted once again by the Japanese brands, at least with the GS300’s first and second generations. With them came a few problems, but luckily most of them were easy to fix. If you’re thinking about buying a first or second-generation Lexus GS300, here’s a few things to be aware of.

The Lexus GS300 and its bad lower ball joints

1999 Lexus GS 300 on Pendine sands
1999 Lexus GS 300 on Pendine sands | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Connecting the control arm to the steering knuckle, you have what’s called a ball joint. These aren’t always difficult to change, but sometimes car manufacturers will use a machine to press them into the control arm, and that’s where it gets expensive. Mechanics need to take off the control arm and feed it through a press to remove the old ball joint. It’s normal wear and tear; if you own a car long enough, eventually, you’ll have to replace the ball joints. The problem with the GS300 is its ball joints wear out much faster than other cars, and when the ball joint fails, the knuckle can separate from the control arm. 

Easy to fix GS300 problems

The GS300 has a handful of other issues, but none of them are showstopping. Door lock actuators are a big one, and that can get expensive if you have to chase down electrical gremlins to resolve it, but the parts aren’t expensive. Variable valve timing solenoids can fail as well. You’ll know if the car suddenly loses power. The part is cheap, and it sits right on top of the engine underneath the cover. The GS300 also needs the occasional sensor replacement. O2 sensors stick out of the exhaust and are easy to locate. The GS300 MAF sensor also has a tendency to fail prematurely. 

Slightly more expensive problems

1999 Lexus GS300 driving through sea at Pendine sands, Wales
1999 Lexus GS300 driving through sea at Pendine sands, Wales | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Lexus GS300s also suffer from starter motor issues, which can get expensive and more difficult to fix, as it’s attached to the transmission. As the GS300 gets older, some parts can come loose, like the dashboard and sunroof, and they can create a rattling sound. A more complex problem is moisture collecting inside the headlights. You’re better-served getting a new set, which can cost a lot, especially if you buy OEM parts. 

GS300 is a great car


Most Common First Generation Lexus IS300 Problems

These are all relatively minor issues, and otherwise the GS300 is a solid, reliable machine. It’s a comfortable and luxurious car, and although they handle terribly from the factory, many shops, including Fitment Industries, have devoted themselves to fixing that part of the GS300 and even turn them into drift cars. If you’re in the market for a cheap luxury car with decent power and plenty of room, check out the first and second-generation Lexus GS300.