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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Love the comment that it must be a driver problem! :-)

    While I do not think "it" is any driver's fault, I think there are two issues that cause folks to have varying degrees of irritation:

    1) The degree to which the various drivers perceive the seriousness of the symptoms. For example, when I have repeated the symptom for others, many say, "I feel it but it is no big deal."


    2) Other aspects of the car that cause the symptoms to manifest themselves to different degrees. My car, for example, behaves much worse SINCE the TSB fix. Since virtually everyone says the TSB incorporation helps the car, I can't help but think that there is something else in the way they tuned up my car that is contributing to my perception that the TSB fix made my car worse.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    As I said in a previous post, although I believe all vehicles have the problem, not all vehicles exhibit the symptom in the same way.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    Sorry, there is no such thing as 100% perfection. Life isn't perfect; and any mechanical component certainly isn't. Having said that I think this general discussion about transmission problem doesn't belong in this board. Maybe there should be a new forum that exclusively deals with what a transmission is or isn't suppose to do.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Toyota and Lexus 5-speed transaxles should operate reliably and safely for 99.9999999999999999999999% of the public not just 99.99999999999999999999999%
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Usually Wwest's opinions are quite worthy of consideration if not technically astute, (perhaps 80 point reliability?) but I reckon this one might be a product of overindulgence during yesterday afternoon's Happy Hour.
    However, if Wwest could find documented evidence showing that ANY automaker meets an expectation THAT unreasonable,
    I would be inclined to support it.
    Otherwise we'll just have to regard it as an unintentional indiscretion. Wwest, it's just not you.
    All tongue in cheek aside, NOBODY builds 'em that good!!
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,756
    "This new transmission also uses a quick-response, low-friction clutch pack for enhanced fuel economy; an ultra-flat, low-inertia torque converter for high transmission efficiency; a set of high-response, low-slip clutch packs and new electronic and hydraulic control systems that incorporate an intelligent shift control that learns driver's driving style and selects gears based on that style.

    As a result of this development, transmission kickdown response was cut to 0.5 seconds, more than twice as fast as the response of the transmission this new one replaces."

    One could interpret that as tacit acknowledgement of an issue. FWIW, my '05 Camry SE-V6 is much better than my wife's '04 HL V6 on the hesitation issue but neither is a safety hazard in my opinion.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Well, "perfect" may not exist but virtually perfect, or world class, does and quite frankly, if it were not for this annoying drive train issue, I'd consider the car virtually perfect, particularly for the price.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    if it were not for this annoying drive train issue, I'd consider the car virtually perfect
    One can only wish what you suggest were true. Can you point to any automaker in the world today (or in the past) who makes "virtually perfect" products? For that matter, can you point to ANY man made entity that qualifies as "virtually perfect?" What does "virtually perfect" mean anyway? Are you talking "almost perfect" or "approximately perfect", or something that's "close to perfect?"
    Frankly, I would guess there isn't such a thing as "virtually perfect" unless you're dealing in the "virtual world." The term "world class" means little, except in the world of marketing.
    Expectations of perfection raised to such a "virtually perfect" level is just a recipe for guaranteed disappointment. No wonder you are annoyed.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    Perfect in the sense of ideal/ not realistically achievable, or meets the customer's expectations.

    I don't think anyone expects perfection, just a very responsive, customer-centric support system to get issues resolved. This is one issue many cannot get resolved.

    I imagine if you've got a problem with your vehicle like this, and you're constantly being told "they all do it", "this is normal" and you know this isn't true - and the characteristic or behavior is anywhere from bothersome to what you consider impacting your safety, maybe the behavior is initially better after a re-flash and gets worse, or it doesn't change post-reflash, or it is worse right away post-flash - you're going to be mightily dissapointed in the manufacturer you believe is number one with the best products.

    I agree, in the context that you're using perfect, this isn't an appropriate expectation.

    However, it is completely appropriate to expect the support structure to fix the vehicle, or replace it.

    Apparently they can't do the former (issue a fix) for all owners (probably because there are different problems exhibiting similar symptoms, but the reflash only addresses a sub-set of them), and w.r.t. the latter, for one reason or another they have judged it doesn't make sense to replace the population of vehicles that the TSB doesn't solve.

    My expectation, if I were a Toyota loyalist and had complained a number of times about the ride and had the TSB work performed but it wasn't fixed, would expect the manufacturer or dealership network (via special incentives from manufacturer) to place my family in an updated model without the behavior... under the most favorable, customer-centric economic terms possible.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Much of what you speak of makes "perfect sense"---albeit "in a perfect world"--too bad we all don't live in one.
    That said, your expectations (re what should be done for you and your family in a similar situation) are not very likely to be met. Better be prepared for some serious annoyance in your life too.
  • Trust me, I know the difference between a TSB and a recall. I have 17,000 miles on my ES and have had 4 different TSB's applied to my car. The last time I have my car in for service they applied a TSB and told me that the problem that I had complained about had been fixed. The only problem is, I had NOT complained. I suspect a recall in disguise.
    I am very aware of the history of the transmission problems with my car. I have simply resigned myself to a sub-par design. The fact that Lexus/Toyota has to build a hesitation into the design of the transmission to protect the engine raises many questions in my mind. What is wrong with the engine/transmission combination to require this protection?
  • billranbillran Posts: 113
    Whatever hesitation is "built in" to protect the drivetrain is not an issue for me or the thousands of other very satisfied owners whose cars drive just fine. It is undetectable.

    The hesitation that is the source frustration for you and a small percentage of other owners is obviously something else.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Would that mean that previous transaxles took more than a second to downshift as needed? So inadvertently requiring an immediate second downshift would require more than 2 seconds?

    And with 4 downshift speeds to select three inadvertent downshifts wouldn't be out of the question......
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    What is wrong with the engine/transmission combination to require this protection?
    The assumption that "something is wrong" makes very little sense. Does "something have to be wrong" when protection is present in any scenario? We put oil in an engine to protect it. We drive carefully (one hopes!) to protect ourselves and others. We use sunscreen to protect against getting skin cancer.
    "Sub par design?" I don't believe that's a supportable conclusion, unless one can show how!!
    "Hesitation built into the design?" Evidently there are lots of drivers who don't see this as a bad thing, so it may not be correct to dismiss it as a universal curse.
    Is it possible that perhaps expectations might be just a little bit unreasonable, and that's got a lot to do with annoyances we're seeing expressed in these forums?
  • As I have said before, I am tired of being told that I am the problem. All cars have oil. Do all cars have a built in hesitation to "protect" the engine? I understand that you may not notice the problem, or may view the hesitation as not BEING a problem. However, I view it as a problem.
    If expecting my 2004 Lexus ES 330 to drive and perform at least as well as my 1994 Ford Taurus did, than I guess my expectations are too high.
  • bruneau1bruneau1 Posts: 468
    One of my friends has this vehicle and finds its transmission performance substandard and very annoying. Some GM transmissions are more responsive.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    First, please read post #923.

    Second, this "protect the drivetrain" statement is likely VERY real.

    When driving a stick shift how often do you think you could rev the engine up before releasing the clutch pedal and not have a "premature" clutch failure?

    What Toyota and Lexus have done with the DBW system is nothing more or less than what stick shift drivers have done for ages to preserve clutch life.

    I think what we need to be focussing on here is the high priority the engine/transaxle ECU firmware gives to upshifting into a gear ratio wherein converter lockup is/can be used to extend fuel economy to the nth degree.

    If the transaxle could somehow be prevented from upshifting so quickly then the subsequent downshifts would no longer be an issue.

    And my apologies in advance to those of you experiencing this hesitation symptom but I have now come to believe it does have something to do with the uniqueness of your personal driving style or habits.

    I'm not by any means trying to let Toyota nor Lexus off the hook, they should be working to find out just what flaw, "trapdoor" exists in their firmware that allows these instances to occur.

    But be that as it may here is my thought.

    The DBW accelerator pedal has two positional sensors for redundancy. The two sensor outputs are always at a different voltage by at least 0.4 volts for the same pedal position to protect/detect shorts between the two.

    Since the sensor output for a given pedal position is unique to each set of sensors shipped and also unique between the two sensors themselves the engine/transaxle ECU must "LEARN", after the vehicle is shipped, over time and distance, exactly what the differential voltage between the two actually turns out to be. It then uses that voltage diff'l to continuously check the validity of the primary gas pedal position sensor output.

    The above paragraph is founded on the statements taken directly from the 2004 RX330 Lexus shop manual.


    If the ECU must learn what the diff'l voltage between the two gas pedal position sensor actually turns out to be then that implies, heavily, that it must "learn" the sensors' voltage output for a "neutral" and "WOT".

    But, just how does it go about learning these parameters "on-the-fly...??

    My guess would be that it starts out by assuming that if the transaxle shift lever is in park or neutral or the brake pedal is applied then the gas pedal is at the neutral position....

    How else?

    What would happen if the ECU "settled" on a gas pedal "neutral" position using the shifter position initially, or even the brake pedal, and then a left foot braking driver stepped into the vehicle for a Sunday afternoon drive?

    Would it eventually recalibrate the gas pedal neutral position to agree with the "constant" slight foot pressure of the left foot braker?

    Just how confused would the ECU now get if the driver then inadvertently FULLY released the gas pedal?

    If that were to happen, and I for one am now certain that it might, for the next few miles the ECU wouldn't have a good idea just where the gas pedal neutral position was/is!

    Do I remember correctly that some posters who are experiencing the symptom had it go away for a few days after disconnecting the battery to reset the system parameters?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    It has too often happened to me that the floor mat creeps up/forward to the point that the front of the mat is actually laying on, and slightly depressing, the gas pedal.

    I've even had a couple of unintended acceleration instances that were caused by this, floor mat laying over the gas pedal but behind the brake pedal, wherein heavy brake application inadvertently applied a significant level of pressure to the gas pedal.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    I guess my expectations are too high
    I believe you. All I'm saying is perhaps that's the reason you view it as a problem.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Second, this "protect the drivetrain" statement is likely VERY real.
    Wwest, I agree with you that it may very well be REAL.
    That said, is this an indication there's something wrong with the engine or transmission? (as shocaser has implied) Personally I think not.
    Please shocaser, this isn't saying hesitation is your fault either, so you needn't be "Tired of hearing that it is." I don't think anyone has ever implied that.
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