Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Lexus ES 300/ES 330



  • mrrogersmrrogers Posts: 391
    Dear Sir:
    I visited your website:, and I see that you make transmission chips for several Lexus vehicles. has a Townhall section titled, "Lexus ES300." If you visit the site, you will see that some 2002 ES300 owners appear to have a transmission chip problem. Would you consider making a chip to help them?

    I sent the above email today. I will post a response if I receive one.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Nothing like the tranny to inspire the board. I guess we are into dead horses. :-)
    The info I received concurs with what you said about the transmission "learning". A service tech told me that the learning occurs in a very few miles. Also, I have driven several vehicles on test drives and they all felt the same to me. I could repeat the symptom on my car.

    I also believe that you stated a similar experience. That is, when you test drive other vehicles, they feel the same as your car.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    I test drove my car to see if I could repeat previous transmission symptom. It still seems as though the transmission does not respond well to situations where no or little gas is flowing through after which the driver expects instantaneous response to heavy gas application. You are just never going to "peel out" in this car.

    I will wait with interest to see if the symptom completely disappears at 15K. It will probably take awhile though, since I don't expect to have 15K miles on my car any time soon. (I estimate that I put will 8000 miles per year on my car max under normal conditions).
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    than the average.

    If I understand you correctly, you report a problem in the opposite situation that I call out. Specifically, you feel the symptoms when slowing down, or with a lessening of gas through the system.

    I only feel the symptom when I expect the car to respond instantaneously to heavy gas application, NOT in situations where I just back off the gas as would happen when slowing for a turn..

    If I back off the gas, I don't get a hesitation unless I try and floor it afterwards.
  • Actually I feel the symptom not when slowing down but when I start accelerating out of the turn. I guess it's pretty much the same symptom you are experiencing.
  • I believe this is related to the 5-speed transmission that the Lexus employs. Both the 4th and the 5th gears are overdrive gears. The 5th is especially highly over-driven. The car is basically programmed to hold onto the 5th gear (for fuel efficiency purposes). The overdriven nature of the 5th gear is the bane of acceleration and unfortunately, the programming of the transmission code, inordinately delays a kickdown into the 3rd gear (that is the nearest available nonoverdrive gear, which is needed for acceleration). Lexus needs to fix this programming of their firmware.

    Most 5-speed automatics have their 4th gear as non-overdrive (for a quick kickdown for acceleration) and the 5th would be over-drive (for fuel efficiency). The Acura 3.2TL/TL-s Automatics also have the 4th and 5th gears as over-drive gears, but it is programmed to swiftly kick down into the 3rd gear, when you mash the gas pedal. Lexus needs to re-program the shift characteristic of their 5-speed.


    Over-drive gears = Good for fuel efficiency, bad for acceleration.

    Non-overdrive gears = Good for acceleration, bad for fuel efficiency.

  • Do you think a firmware fix will also fix the shuddering/jerking of the transmission? I would imagine the firmware would only change the shift points of the gears. Even when driving on 4, the downshift to 3 is still quite jolting when accelerating out of a 90 degree turn.

    The shuddering is probably mechanical and no amount of chip programming could fix it. That is probably why Lexus has not fixed the issue because it will be very expensive to replace trannies of several thousand 02 ES's. I hope I'm wrong.
  • I think there are 2 conflicting things here, trying to happen simultaneously. The transmission hardware is trying to react to the mashing of the gas pedal by trying to kickdown (to the 4th gear and below for acceleration) based on how that part of the firmware is programmed, while the other programming (relating to fuel efficiency) is trying to hold onto the 5th gear, which due to some reason is not linked to the input from the gas pedal. Is this causing the shuddering ?? By the time the priority is decided (hold onto 5th gear or kickdown to 3rd), there is a delay, that is noticeably felt by the driver. Then are in 3rd and off you go.

    This is almost like 2 related things that should operate hand-in-hand, trying to operate independently of the other, thus causing a reaction conflict and a lag before the priority is decided. Maybe I am wrong...but it is just a thought.

    The gearing of the IS300/GS300 5-speeds etc are completely different, and maybe Lexus thinks that those cars are going to be driven in a more sporty manner (as opposed to sedately), due to which the priority is accorded to the kickdown as opposed to holding onto 5th ?

  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    For those with the navigation system, I have a question.

    When the screen is showing the six preset radio stations, the "buttons" show the preset station frequency (i.e. 92.7).

    Just the other day I noticed one of the six buttons now has the call letters (i.e. WNEZ) along with the frequency. The letters only show up with one preset, not the other five.

    Does anyone know why this happens? Or do you have a similar experience?
  • tmarttmart Spring, TXPosts: 1,006
    Sounds like your radio has RDS. My C70 has one. The call letters come from the station, if they broadcast them on a subcarrier frequency which the RDS radio picks up. Not all stations send them. That's why you're not seeing them on all stations. Also, it's not just on the presets. Try using your scan function and see if others show up too.
  • kennyg5kennyg5 Posts: 360
    I had considered buying a new ES300 but refrained due to the widespread complaint about its transmission. So, I end up buying an 03 Max GLE (my third Maxima). Unlike my other 2 Max which never give me any transmission worries, the new Max tends to linger a bit long in shifting from 1st to 2nd gear when I accelerate from a full stop or after making a turn. I thought it might be due to the traction control, but there is no appreciable difference when I turned it off. Although the problem does not sound as serious as the ES, it nonetheless is a bit troubling knowing that the car cannot provide me with instantaneous acceleration when I need to. This problem is also reported on the Acura/Honda board. I do not understand why the good old reliable Japanese cars are now beginning to slip while the US cars appear to be improving. If this transmission shifting pattern is considered "normal" for the new breed of Japanese cars, I don't know what the designers/engineers are thinking about!!
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Interestingly enough there seems to be a CD capability that is analogous to that described by tmart regarding the radio. Specifically, the system displays detailed information on some CDs but not others, depending, I presume, on how the CD is manufactured.

    For example, on one CD I had, the display showed the name of the CD, the artist, and the title of the track currently playing.

    I say it is analogous to the radio issue because the display seems to depend on the data provided by the specific CD. So far, I have only played one CD where the detailed information was displayed.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    After perusing the other boards, it seems as though transmission complaints/upgrades are common at least throughout the Toyota line.

    On the Lexus LS, GS, and Camry boards, transmission problems are reported and it is also reported that Lexus/Toyota has issued ECU/firmware upgrades on some versions of all of these vehicles.

    I have no idea how LONG after the release of the transmissions that a fix is issued, but I am still hoping.........
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    Yes, I noticed the CD function you're referring to. Interestingly enough, I have also only seen the CD data appear once. All my other CDs show nothing.
  • today, I had my first paid oil change done by dealer at 10000 miles.
    It cost $81. Is this a little too high?
    How much did you pay?
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    $81 for just an oil change is a complete rip-off. Of the three Lexus dealers near me, one charges $28, one $35 and one $40.

    Perhaps your dealer checked the fluid levels and/or other stuff and charged you for that.
  • richm4richm4 Posts: 169
    I'm a new Lexus shopper looking at the ES300. I went to a suburban Chicago dealer today and was not all that impressed with my experience.

    First of all, the saleslady blew off any talk of the well known transmissions troubles I've been reading about in this forum. She said that people were not accustomed to the way the new 5-speed trans performed in 2002. From what she said, no fix is coming in 2003 because there was really no problem to begin with.

    Secondly, she pretty much stated that there is really no negotiation since most people pay sticker because "the Lexus name sells itself". Although I wasn't prepared to buy anything today, she was not going to discuss price.

    For test drives, they only had one ES300 car, so you needed to wait for another customer to finish before being able to test drive. During the test drive, the engine response did not seem that good to me, although it has 15 more horses than my current 98 Pontiac GP. Also, I think I could notice the trans problem people have been referring to.

    Although the car has an absolutely gorgeous interior and a good reputation, I think I am better buying paying just a few grand more and getting a loaded 2002 Deville DTS (list $52K) that I can get heavily discounted since I'm a GM employee. The Northstar engine, trans and handling puts the ES300 to shame.

    I'm wondering if my experience is similar to most people's. Thanks.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Yours did not sound like the best. I am certain you can get $2500 or more off MSRP, at least in So, Cal.

    As for the transmission, I would not conclude that the salesperson is lying. Most assessments/reviews do not cite the transmission as being a particular irritant. Even on this board, I think you are hearing a lot from a few very squeaky wheels.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    are great as long as you keep your wallet open.

    richm4, I got the same line when I was trying to buy my 2000 ES two years ago. Checking around, I found that the dealer on the other side of town had negotiated with Costco for a fleet price that was a couple hundred over invoice. I then started negotiating with area dealers using that price as my starting point. When I was done, the dealer that wouldn't budge had come down several thousands of dollars in order to make the sale.

    Oil Change - The dealer I bought my car from now charges $160 for a 5K "service interval". Of course you get a wash and a Lexus loaner, and a laundry list of things that they "inspected". .... but .... get real.

    Other examples of their approach to pricing were the $300 for a front brake job after my rotors warped. ...$125 at the independent, and the $500+ 30k mile service, $270 at the independent.

    I finally gave up on these guys and now use an independent for all my maintanence, unless it is a fully paid for waranty item.
  • bartalk2bartalk2 Posts: 326
    A few months ago I checked with Woodfield Lexus in Hoffman Estates. I dealt with a fellow named Brian. Over the phone, no less, he offered me a price on an ES300 that was way below sticker and said I could order the car any way I want. I drove the car but was underwhelmed by the transmission. If you're still interested in an ES300, however, check with him. On the other hand, if you work for GM and can get a Cadillac at a good price, maybe that's the way to go. Beware the depreciation, however. As the US auto industry sinks, owners of American cars are sharing the pain. Cadillacs are way underrated simply because they're Cadillacs, and the division has squandered its once priceless reputation.
Sign In or Register to comment.