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Lexus ES 300/ES 330



  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    In addition to what people are saying here, all the new 5-speed auto ES300s I have driven have had a reproducible drivetrain shudder just as the torque converter locks up at 39-40 mph under light throttle conditions. In the end, I was forced to trade in a 2003 ES300 with 500 miles on iy because I was told that this is a "characteristic" that will not go away.
  • mrrogersmrrogers Posts: 391
    I am interested in the 2002 and 2003 ES 300, but I have not driven one yet. When I read about the transmission problems, it appears that some of the issues are in the range of 35 to 45 mph. Has anyone tried driving with the shift lever in "3" in this range and for city driving, and then shifting to "4-0" for highway driving?
  • hoorayhooray Posts: 15
    I own a 2000 ES 300 and I have not experienced the severe transmission problems that some owners have. But the car is rather sluggish to downshift and accelerate at highway speeds. (My 1991 Acura Legend and 1996 Infiniti I30 were both faster.) My solution has been to manually downshift to 3rd if I need responsive acceleration to pass at highway speeds or to merge onto the interstate. That has worked fine for me.

    It is noticeably faster with my manual downshift to 3rd. I know that if the automatic worked the way one expects that I shouldn't have to do this, but it works. And the owners manual indicates that you can go up to 90 mph in 3rd gear, so there is a wide range for extra power. (I haven't gone over 70 in third before upshifting to fourth and fifth.)
  • kreativkreativ Posts: 299
    vcheng - I've experienced the transmission shudder you talk about in older model LS and GS. Seems it might not be a problem specific to this new 5-speed transmission.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    has been described on older Lexus cars but that was due to use of fluids other than type T-4, I think.

    The 5 speed on the ES300 is new for the new shape, and I think this is perhaps a different issue.

    Anyway, I am now happy with my LS430. It does have a few rattles (surprise!) abd I had to get a complete new set of tires because of problem with the OEM set, but I think I could live with this car for the next few years.
  • djsassdjsass Posts: 5
    I have had my '03 ES for 2 weeks or so. Here are my thoughts. The transmission - is virtually flawless. I can sense a couple of milliseconds of hesitation when I let off the gas and punch it down at 40 MPH, but it is only due to the fact that the trans ECU is trying to decide whether 3rd or 4th is appropriate. I am pretty picky about such things (having almost always owned manual shift vehicles) and have no problem living with this very minor issue. All I need to do is not decelerate and punch it at 40 MPH... The ML stereo does not sound as good as the one in the demo I drove. Being a self proclaimed audiophile, at first I was disappointed. However, upon reflection, I have come to realise that the speakers require a 'burn in' period, (as do quality home theater speakers). The sound quality is improving slowly and I have no doubt it will be awesome within the next two weeks or so. There are 2 items to be repaired when the 1 month service is done. #1 - The photochromic feature is not working on the passenger door rear view mirror. #2 - The driver door speaker rumbles when under a heavy bass load, either it needs replacement or tightening, (I seriuosly doubt if it is loose, as the car is so well put together). This is my first Lexus, but I am sure that my dealer will take care of these issues. Aside from the above, I love the Nav system, the HID lights, and the awesome low noise level in the cabin. As much as I love music, I just enjoy driving with the tunes off, to enjoy the bank vault like quiet of the car. My car came with Michelin MXV Energy V-Rated summer tires, and our Colorado winter since I got my car 16 days ago has been non-existant. I believe the car will handle fine, until (and if) the loose snow is over 6" or so. I went to the dealer with my mind set on a GS 300, but the ES has come so far so quickly that it became a very tough decision. The 2 major factors that made me swing to the ES was front drive (I did not want to change tires and wheels depending on the weather), and the $4600 difference (between the loaded ES and the Nav and HID GS)... My mileage has been slightly disappointing - so far, an average of about 21 MPG, on regular grade gas, and 90 surface street driving.
  • Since I am going to Lease my next car for 48 months and 12k a year. I need to stay in the $400's Very low $400's Like $403 lol

    I love my GS300 But I think I would be wrong in spending $479 (old price) or $500+ for a new lease. A $100 a month price difference would be $4800 + tax for 4 years.

    Might not sound like much ,but with a wedding and possible baby in the next 2 years. It would be wrong t o spend that money on a car.

    Of course I want a nice car and safe car. So my budget is $400 a month.

    Can you tell me what other cars would fit my budget and be close to my GS300?

    We got a loaner of a Es300 for a hour and we noticed the shutter everytime I punched down the gas.

    I guess it comes down to what bothers you more about a car? The noise in cabin or a shutter or no tilt stearing wheel in I35.

    I do love Lexus. I want to stay, but I can only afford $400 a month lease (48 month, 12k) So it comes down to what car gives me more. I am really leaning toward the I35

    Any other ideas?
  • nfjnrnfjnr Posts: 25
    I too have summer tires on my 2003, but they are Toyo. When I checked Michelins website, they show Michelin EnergyMXV, and MichelinEnergyMXVPlus. They say both these tires are all season. What makes you think your tires are summer tires?
    Best of luck with your new car.

  • richm4richm4 Posts: 169
    Check out the new Accord EX-V6. Transmission is smooth and the engine is 240-HP powerful (unlike the ES300). Interior quality is very nice, although not quite as nice as a Lexus, but very nice indeed. And the best part.... A loaded one can be had for the mid-20's.
  • My girlfriend has the accord 2001

    and the new accord though nice still has the same small cabin. Bottom line is I am not comfortable in the car
  • djsassdjsass Posts: 5
    I stand corrected. The window sticker states '215/60R16 V-Rated Summer Tires' - the tires are marked 'Michelin Energy MXV Plus 4 M+S'. However, it is definitely NOT at all an aggressive all season tread design. Also, I want to correct a typo in my post 3434. I typed the following, 'My mileage has been slightly disappointing - so far, an average of about 21 MPG, on regular grade gas, and 90 surface street driving.' - I forgot the % symbol after the 90...
  • hoorayhooray Posts: 15
    I spoke to Lexus Service this afternoon. They have had my car since Friday morning. They have found the source of the leak, but my car might not be ready until Wednesday. While the wet spot was under the left rear floor mat, the leak is coming from an improperly installed rear window. Go figure!

    I am disappointed to have this type of problem in a new Lexus (7 months). But since the dealer didn't have a loaner Lexus they put me in a Mitsubishi Diamante. That has made me miss and appreciate my Lexus. There is no comparison to the ride, handling, road, wind, and engine noise. I expected the Lexus to be better, but I was surprised at the gap! I just hope my leak is a fluke and the car lives up to its reputation for quality.
  • richm4richm4 Posts: 169
    are on the steering wheel on the new RX330. Hopefully, this means the ES300 gets them next year.
  • nfjnrnfjnr Posts: 25
    Does anyone know if its okay to upgrade the standard ES 215/16/60 tires to 225/60/16? Or if anyone has I would appreciate your comments. I would like to get the Toyo Proxes TPT performance tires but they do not come in the 215 size.

    Thanks Nick
  • hintzhintz FloridaPosts: 56
    I took my 2003 es300 for 30day service yesterday and complained about a vibration and the car pulling to the left. What turned out to be a 1hour service ended up being 4.5hrs. They replaced all 5 tires(toyo originals) with Bridgestone Turanza. They said the tires were no good. They gave me a loaner to use for the afternoon and returned to a clean car and new tires.
  • londinelondine Posts: 32
    Am looking to buy a new ES 300 and am wondering whether to get the Vehicle Skid Control.

    I test drove an '03 Avalon XLS with VSC, and made a quick lane change from the left to the center lane on a multi-lane highway. Nothing radical, but a fairly sharp, quick turn on the wheel at about 50mph and some brisk acceleration (but by no means flooring the gas pedal). It felt like the car was holding me back -- almost a molasses effect.

    The road was empty, but if it had been congested...

    I know the Avalon is not the same as the ES, but the engine is and maybe the VSC set up is, too.

    Also test drove an '03 #ES, but during rush hour, so didn't try the same move.

    I mentioned the Avalon episode to the Lexus salesman, who thought there must be something wrong with the Avalon, and that the Lexus VSC only engages on slippery surfaces, i.e., there's no way you should feel it on dry surfaces (unless, presumably, you're sliding sideways down the road! :-).

    So my question for ES owners:

    1. Does your VSC kick in when you try quick lane changes? Or create any dicey situations for you?

    2. Is there a way to turn it off?

    (Our local dealers say if you order the ML/Nav package, it automatically includes VSC.)

    Thanks for your thoughts,


    P.S. I thought the Avalon XLS had a very attractive interior. But the Lexus interior is spectacular.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Nick, It depends on the width of the wheels you have. If you have at least 7" width wheels, you can probably get by with 225s. But would check with a good tire shop and make sure to ask them if the larger tires will wear well on your existing wheels. If you do go to 225s, you might have to alter the tire aspect ratio measurement slightly (the 60 in 225/60-16). Whem I made the calculations for going from 205/60-16s to 225s on my car, I came up with 225/55-16s. You can check this out using the tire size calculator at:

    A nice place to go virtual shoping for tires and wheels is

  • dardson1dardson1 Posts: 696
    an 01 ES300. After 2 years I have to say I've never owned a car that felt so much like it did the first day I drove it home as this Lexus. After 2 years I'm typically "itching" for something new......not this time. I have not had a single problem so far.....not a rattle, buzz, or warranty repair. My only worry is when the lease is up next year. The new body with the high belt line and the "trendy" monochrome look makes it look like it needs to go on a diet.....and the exaggerated head-light treatment seems more like a fashion statement than a functional improvement.
  • jimxojimxo Posts: 423
    Lexus will announce they beat BMW by 3,000 units and MB by 20,000 units for 2002.

    Congratulations to the people who produce and drive these fine automobiles.
  • nfjnrnfjnr Posts: 25
    Thanks for your response and the link. I called Toyo tire and spoke to the tire specialist{not customer service}who said it would be fine to upgrade to the 225/60/16 from 215/60/16. Also one of the tire sites{may have been the tire rack}calls it a plus zero upgrade.

  • nfjnrnfjnr Posts: 25
    I am getting my 95 ES ready for sale and noticed today my moonroof doesnt open. I saw in the manual that there is a fuse in the fuse box under the dashboard that is for the moonroof. Does anyone know if changing that fuse will fix it , or does it need to go back to the Lexus dealer?

    Thanks Nick
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Only way to tell is to check the old fuse for failure. Although sometimes it is hard to see a hairline failure in the fuse element and simple swap-out is needed to be sure.
  • 4ali4ali Posts: 5
    In my 2002 ES300, during cold weather there are many rattles emanating from both rear doors. Some of which can be heard when I step on the gas (and not only when I go over a bump). Has anyone else experienced this cold weather problem?
  • While your rather new Lexus shouldn't have any rattles, I believe its more likely that rattles occur in cold weather. My car has more rattles in the winter. My guess is that the cold makes the materials contract and not fill their space as well, which allows room for them to move, buzz, and make noise.
  • londinelondine Posts: 32
    "The ML radio has just 0.50 less distortion than the standard radio. You'll only hear the difference with a CD."

    "Some of our customers swear performance is better on 89 or 91 octane, but most run on 87."

    So what's your take? Anyone here using 87 and liking it? If you switched to higher octane, does it boost performance? Does higher octane help with the shifting problems (hesitation) noted on the board?

    And on the radio, is there a clear difference between the ML and the stock radio?
  • tmarttmart Spring, TXPosts: 1,204
    My wife's '00 has always used 89 octane, so I don't know about using regular. The salesman said there'd no problem using the 89, but the "recommended" was premium. As far as the stereo goes, that's a very personal thing. Definitely the ML has better specs than the standard. The real questions are 1)can YOU hear the difference? and 2)if you can, is it worth the extra dollars to YOU? Hearing is very subjective. No real reason to pay extra for something you can hear. Take a CD with you and listen to both and decide for yourself. You shouldn't go by specs alone. The same goes for home stereo systems. If you can hear the difference between a $200 speaker and one for a grand, why pay the grand?
  • hoorayhooray Posts: 15
    Rattles: My 2002 ES 300 has also developed rattles in the right rear door. This did happen with the onset of cold weather and the rattles are not as bad once the cabin warms up. Lexus has a Technical Service Bulletin about the door rattles as it is a known and a common problem. Unfortunately, the Lexus solution does not fix the problem. My dealer kept my car for several days trying to eliminate the rattle and did not succeed. They are waiting for a new and improved Lexus TSB that will resolve the problem.

    I am surprised and disappointed to have a new Lexus with rattles that are louder than any other car that I have driven.

    Gas: I have followed the advice of my Owner's Manual and my dealership and only used Premium Gas in my car. I have not had the Transmission issue described by some on this board.

    Stereo: I have the standard sound system with the six disc CD Changer. It sounds as good or better than the Bose system that I had in my Infiniti and I cannot imagine paying extra for the ML upgrade.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    I believe that because of the superior insulation of the Lexus ES300 over other cars, rattles may seem louder because the road noise is not as apparent. It is perhaps the "so quiet, it is noisy" syndrome, which some think is nonsense. I seem to hear every little noise in my vehicle, but when in other vehicles, I realize the rattles are there, just not as apparent.
  • kreativkreativ Posts: 299
    Some people say it's nonsense, but I don't think so at all. It's common sense. If you're in an area where the baseline noise level is much higher, your ears aren't going to be picking up quieter squeaks and rattles as well as in a quiet environment.
  • I'd like to install a Sirius satellite FM Modulator in an '03 ES300. Can the electronics module be located unobtrusively? Has anyone thought of or done this?
This discussion has been closed.