Replacing the Touch Screen Digitizer on a 2nd Gen Lexus IS250/IS350

Photo Credit: Scott Lam

The touch screen stopped responding on my wife’s Lexus IS250 last weekend, apparently a common issue with the 2nd generation IS250.  Looks like a $2500 repair if you go to the dealer…or a $25 part I picked up on Amazon (ugh, F you Jeff Bezos).  Took 2 hours for someone who is relatively comfy working on cars–if you have replaced a car stereo on a modern-ish card, you can do this.

Things to know:

  • I followed Scott Lam’s guide on how to do the replacement (thanks, kind internet stranger!), which is mostly correct, except the following:
    • Instead of Scott’s post on removing the head unit, I’d recommend following this video (or at least the first half of it)–this method makes accessing the lower 2 head unit mount screws easier.  Note that in the video, they put a blanket over the center console–I strongly recommend doing that.
    • Scott’s guide doesn’t mention that there are 4 screws (2 on each side, see image above) on the head unit which secure the fascia.  Also, you don’t have to remove the lower fascia around the stereo–just the upper one around the navigation system.
  • I’d hit the perimeter of the screen with a heat gun for 15-30 seconds before cutting through the laminating tape with an X-acto knife.  I got lucky, but I could see how you might cut the screen with the knife if you aren’t careful, so maybe only insert the blade 1/4″ to be safe.
  • Goo-Gone and a plastic scraper is the easiest/safest way to remove the original double-sided tape.
  • The replacement digitizer I bought from Amazon came with cut-to-size double-sided tape (and some extra) which made reinstallation a snap.
  • Take pix of the cables going into the head unit before you start unhooking things.  I didn’t see where the TPMS cable plugs in (it goes into the blue box on top of the head unit)…and my wife’s car doesn’t have the Mark Levinson DVD player, so there’s a blue jack on the head unit that doesn’t have anything plugged into it.
  • Apparently there was a recall on the dashboard, which turns into a melty putty by around now.  If you didn’t get the recall done, then be extra careful pulling out and reinstalling the nav unit lest you accidentally take a chunk of the dash out.  And if you do, here’s Scott Lam’s guide to fixing that with Sugru.

The major upside is that while researching this repair, I found out how to add Carplay to her 13 year old car–will post on that when I finish the upgrade.

UPDATE: when reassembling the frame on the screen, be sure to tuck the copper ground straps (see yellow arrows below) back INTO the frame.  I left one sticking out on accident, which then was intermittently shorting to another component, causing the display to go blank unexpectedly over the last several months.  Was a PITA to diagnose, but I finally found out where I screwed up.

Image from Hey Jeff’s Youtube video on how to do the replacement.