The Lexus Link System Is ... Gone

July 18, 2006

The current car I own (euphemism for the bank owns but lets me insure, maintain, and fill with gas, all for a low, low monthly price) is a high end Lexus. We lucked into the car used one Saturday afternoon and were able to put together a two-for-one trade getting us out of a usury lease on the Audi TT, and upgrading our ES 300 to an LS 430. It's a beautiful car with lots of power and comfort. Quite frankly it's hard to even think about other cars after driving this one for a few years.

The only fly in this ointment has been the "Lexus Link System", which is the Lexus equivalent of the OnStar system many GM cars have as an option. If you need roadside assistance or get lost you can poke the button in the headliner and talk to a human elsewhere for help. There was a hefty subscription fee (I think $250 a year) so we never signed up. Still, every time you turned the key a recorded female voice would announce, "The Lexus Link System is Active." At first it was annoying, then it became a game to try and mimic her voice and intonation in time with the recording, eventually I stopped really noticing it at all.

Until a few weeks ago when a second recorded voice, this time male, was heard after the first message stating, "A Lexus Link System error has been detected. Please contact your Lexus dealer." At first I only randomly got the male voice. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to when it played, other than it's frequency increasing. For the past week it has played virtually every time I started the car.

"The Lexus Link System is Active." "The Lexus Link System has detected an error. Please contact your Lexus dealer."

As it was due for the 95,000 mile check up I made sure to tell the service coordinator that I wanted that stupid voice gone. Turns out I got my wish; Lexus has a recall to replace the old Link system with.... a sunglasses holder! No. Really. The "link system" is really just a dedicated cell phone. My car was built in 2000 and sold in 2001. Cell phone technology has changed once or twice since then. The now six year old phone embedded in the head liner was no longer able to get a good connection to the cell towers in my area, hence the error message. So the whole thing got yanked today (no charge!) and replaced with a sunglasses holder.

Oh, and as for Lexus service -- second to none. The car had maybe a quarter of a tank of gas when I dropped it off yesterday. Lexus filled it for me at no charge. With high octane running right at $3.30 today that was no small gift. Free loaner car, excellent customer care, car detailing (free), and a free tank of gas? I'll be back.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.