Welcome to the JNBQC, Door Panel Edition. We'll see if our junked Lexus can maintain the Emperor's honor, after a dominating performance by Germany in the previous round
Germany jumped out to a big lead, with the Audi 80's door panel removal process getting a powerful 1.5 out of a possible 10 on the JNBQC Pain-In-The-Ass-O-Meter™. But hey, the engineers were still running the show at Toyota, back when this '91 ES250 was built, so we might find that the Lexus door panel comes off with even less trouble. Only one way to find out, eh? The Lexus marque was only on its third model year by the time this ES250 was built, but we didn't expect many early-production glitches here; we're looking at a luxed-up Camry. You never know, though, maybe Toyota relaxed its standards a bit, in its eagerness to pound the crap out of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi and flood the marketplace with Lexus cars. Let's find out!
At first glance, the little plastic screw covers so beloved by Toyota aren't hidden at all. That bodes well for a nightmare-free panel removal, but we're not making any promises yet.
These things just pry right off, revealing easily accessible screws.
The "button"-style screw covers are a bit chintzy-looking- you sure as hell won't see anything like this on a '10 Lexus- but we can't argue with the ease of screw access that they allow.
The screws themselves are the usual Toyota high-quality hex-head Phillips units, easy to remove and biting into steel, not plastic.
Repeat with door handle screws.
And again with the door latch plate.
We started to pry a bit on the latch handle assembly, but it seemed close to breaking. We'll get back to that later, once we've loosened enough additional fasteners to determine whether the door panel hangs up at the latch mounting area.
It's no sweat to pop the wood switch panel out of the armrest with a gentle pry from the screwdriver.
Underneath, we find the usual Japanese-style electrical connectors.
Just push down on the latch and pull. Easy… though not quite as easy as the Audi.
Four screws and two electrical connectors in, we're ready to start persuading the panel to come off.
Whoops! Missed a screw! Sometimes you can't find all the fasteners on a door panel until you start muscling it around to see where it hangs up.
Now the panel seems ready to come off… but it's still resisting around the latch handle area.
A bit of prying and wiggling, and we figure out how to free the latch assembly from the panel. After that, you just twist the assembly 90 degrees and feed it through the hole in the panel, leaving it in the door.
Now the panel seems ready to come off.
Wait, something still holds it in place- Shawn can only get the panel a few inches from the door. Feels like more wiring.
Yes, the wires to the little tweeter speaker up near the mirror must be disconnected. This turned out to be a fairly finicky little connector, mostly due to its small size, but some twiddling with a small flat-blade screwdriver did the trick.
One more connector to go: the wires that feed the light in the underside of the door panel. This connector was much easier to remove than the one on the speaker.
Toyota used these sensible and fairly sturdy plastic trees to hold the panel to the door. We didn't break any of them, nor did any fall off, but they might start to wear out after the third or fourth removal/installation cycle. Note the little strip of anti-rattle insulation running around the panel's perimeter- nice attention to detail, Toyota!
And that's it for the 1991 Lexus ES250 door panel removal job. Total time: 10 minutes. Pain In The Ass Quotient (PITAQ): 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, with most of the pain coming from somewhat difficult-to-separate electrical connectors. Number of broken parts: zero! So far, the Audi keeps its lead in the JNBQC Door Panel Edition, but perhaps the Buick will stomp them both! Next contestant: the 1993 Buick LeSabre Limited!