1996 Lexus ES 300



October, 17, 2008 AT 2:52 PM

Steering problem
1996 Lexus ES 300 6 cyl Automatic 220000 miles

I just drove my car from Michigan to Arizona and since I've gotten here, my steering is hard (I have noticed that its after the car heats up a bit too). I have to fight it to turn curves on the highway but more when I'm in the city. Sometimes it gets so hard (mainly when turning) and I can't move it at all and I have to turn the car off and turn it back on then it is fine. I replaced both belts and the problem is still there. Power steering fluid looks fine/full. No whining or any sounds really. Just hard to turn. Mechanic thinks it's either the power steering pump or the rack and pinion. Now these are both expensive jobs so I want to get some advice on what I should change first hoping to fix the problem the first time! I really appreciate the help! Thanks!



3 Answers



October, 17, 2008 AT 3:52 PM

Hello Christine
Hope this is what you need. Thank you for the donation.
Not sure if you know, but you do have a recall on Steering Wheel Set Nut Loose. So please get with the dealer and have them check to see if this has been performed as soon as possible since this is a safety item. Recalls are free to check/fix. Verify with the dealer.

Recall 99V307000: Steering Wheel Set Nut Loose

Vehicle Description: Passenger vehicles. The steering wheel set nut may not have been sufficiently tightened causing steering vibration and looseness.
This can result in a loss of vehicle control.
Dealers will tighten the steering wheel set nut.
Owner notification began November 30, 1999. Owners who take their vehicles to an authorized dealer on an agreed upon service date and do not receive the free remedy within a reasonable time should contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus at 1-800-255-3987. Also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).


Your mechanic may be right on. In what you explained to us though nothing was mentioned about the electrical side though I am sure he may have mentioned it. The steering is also electrical. To me, if it was constant then it would be mechanical. Example, it the hinge on your front door is not lined up, every time it is opened or closed it will bind. That's mechanical. However, you said you can turn the car off and then back on and it is okay. Even if for a while. I suggest have your mechanic do this check on the solenoid valve first and see what he finds out from that first before going on. Also, have the codes on the car checked. Auto Zone or O'Reilly's can do this for free.
Thank you for the donation - let us know if this helps.


1. Disconnect solenoid wiring connector.
2. Measure resistance between SOL+ and SOL-, Fig. 33.
3. If resistance is not 4-9 ohms, replace solenoid.
4. Check solenoid operation as follows:
a. Connect battery positive terminal to solenoid terminal SOL+.
b. Connect battery ground terminal to solenoid terminal SOL-.
c. Ensure solenoid clicks. Do not apply voltage for more than 30 seconds to avoid burning out solenoid. If procedure must be repeated, wait until solenoid cools down enough to be able to be touched by hand.
d. If solenoid does not click, replace solenoid valve.
e. Connect solenoid valve.



June, 28, 2009 AT 8:24 AM

I had close to the same issue with my 1996 Lexus ES300. There were certain points during turning the steering wheel that seemed harder to turn than others at low speed. After doing some circuit tests of the PS ECU, I have resolved my issue. After testing the voltage coming from the ECU to the Solenoid, I discovered the specified voltage output was not correct according to specification sheet which then stated the PS ECU module was bad. Having a electronics repair background, I decided to open up the module and take a look. After testing several components, I discovered the main switching transistor in the module was not making a good connection to the PC board it was soldered to. I reheated several solder connections, including the transistor, and once I put it back in, the steering issue was resolved. I hope this helps. Thanks!



July, 5, 2009 AT 1:17 PM

Hello -

Thanks for the information. This should assist our viewers.

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