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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • abe2abe2 Posts: 2
    Sorry, My arbitration is scheduled for the end of the month. Any advice on how to deal with them.
  • I don't know if this will do any good since I haven't gotten the results yet, but I would suggest:

    Lexus will claim that the car is operating within specifications. Simply ask them what the specification is for acceptable shift time. They will then say 'we don't have a specification, it depends on circumstances.' Point out that this statement is inconsistent with a flat statement that it is with specifications.

    Another approach is to ask Lexus to search their computer database to determine how many people have brought their ES in for transmission complaints. The Lexus person said that they had that information, but did not have immediate access to it. She did say 'it's not a significant percentage' which I find very hard to believe. Everyone I know has complained at least once. You might be able to press them for statistics - what percent of all ES owners brought the car in at least once with a complaint of transmission problems?' If you could get this answer, it might strengthen the argument immensely.

    The other approach I used was in response to the 'the car operates as designed'. I asked 'did you design the car with a multisecond delay in shifting?' The Lexus person will ALWAYS refuse to answer that - don't let them off the hook. If they say that the car was DESIGNED to have a 2 second delay, they look foolish - and you can then easily say that's a defective design. If, on the other hand, they say that the car should NOT have a 2 second delay, you can show that your car is NOT operating as designed. They lose either way.

    Depending on the arbitrator, you may be able to push harder. I asked 'since you don't have a specification, how did you know that my car was operating as designed?' The Lexus person said 'we compare your car to other cars with the same model and year.' I pointed out at that point that by this definition if 100% of the cars had a fatal flaw it would be OK since they're all the same way.

    Finally, I printed out about 50 pages of docs from the NHTSA site, this site and the Lexus Owner's club. I had identified several hundred complaints on the issue. That makes it harder for Lexus to say that it's not a problem.

    You might also bring in a couple of Lexus ads claiming that they offer 'pursuit of perfection'.

    However, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up. The arbitrators are supposed to be completely independent and I felt that they were. They asked one good question 'does anyone know of an accident caused by the delay?' Lexus said that there were none and I was not aware of any. That weakens the argument that the problem is so severe that Lexus should refund $35 K. I'm not aware of anyone who's won an arbitration hearing.

    Good luck.
  • Got my response today on arbitration. The arbitrators unanimously decided that I had not proved that the transmission problem significantly impaired the usefulness or safety of the car.

    Given that the Lexus person admitted that they didn't have any specifications and that their 'the car meets design criteria' REALLY meant that 'all of the ES cars do that', I don't think the hearing could have gone any better.

    I guess they were swayed by the fact that there have been no accidents reported.

    I don't have the time to get a lawyer, but if anyone is starting a class action, I'll join in.
  • I am considering buying a Lexus, but the nearest dealer is approximately 100 miles away. Will Toyota do warranty work on Lexus?
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    "Will Toyota do warrant work on Lexus?"

    No. I believe Toyota dealers will not honor the warranty.
  • Now you know why Lexus is not doing anything about the problem. There is absolutely no incentive for them doing so. Also, if you go to trial on this issue, the results from the arbitration can be submitted by the defense.

    I think it all depends on which arbitrator you get. I went through arbitration with a dealer because of a faulty transmission on a Toyota Tacoma. The arbitrator didn't even need to take a test drive. He made his decision only on the records I kept(under the Lemon Law) and that was good enough. The only difference is that the Service Manager agreed that there was a problem. The dealer refunded the entire cost of the vehicle on a pro-rata basis. (Six months of ownership was subtracted).

    I am not convinced that all of the arbitrators are impartial. We don't know what kind of kick-backs are being passed around.
  • Yep. That about sums it up. In spite of Lexus admitting that they lied about the car meeting specifications, and the fact that there are hundreds of complaints, and the fact that there was an obvious delay in excess of 1 second when stepping on the gas (I repeated it 4 times for the arbitrators), the arbitrator says that there's no safety issue.

    Lexus may have one this one, but they lost the war. We have about 20 US divisions and the Presidents are allowed to spend $35 K every 4 years for a new car. I will make sure that every one of them knows about this problem. There's a good chance that they'll lose quite a few sales from that alone.

    Not to mention that I will continue to tell everyone I know who's considering a Lexus - both here and in other forums.

    And sure as heck I'm never buying another one. Since I buy 2 cars every 3-4 years, they're losing out. If it weren't for the transmission and the way they dealt with it, the Lexus would have been my choice almost every time.

    I wonder why they're too stupid to realize how much their handling of this issue is costing them?
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    The downshift delay in the ES300/330 is one weak point of this otherwise great car. The shift logic in this transmission will try to keep the car in the highest possible gear for maximum fuel efficiency and lower emission. Remember, this car is classified as SULEV whereas the pre 2002 where classified as ULEV. Also the gas mileage of the post 2002 ES300/330 is 20/29. Whereas the older version only got about 19 city and 26 highway.
  • Frankly, I don't care what their excuse is. When you try to merge onto a freeway, the car sits there for a couple of seconds thinking before it starts to move. That's extremely dangerous. The extra couple of mpg aren't going to mean much when I get killed because I'm rear-ended when my car won't get out of its own way.

    If they couldn't make it SULEV and keep it safe, they should have passed on the SULEV thing.
  • I just wanted to take the time to thank you.....I have been lurking on this board for a while and experiencing the same issues as you concerning the transmission of my 2003 ES300. I have been back and forth with the service dept, and they have offered me trade on my vehicle and I said i'd listen to their offer. The dealership informed me that corporate would be willing to sell me a vehicle at invoice minus the holdback of 2%. I explained that I would like him to price as RX330, as it really is the only other vehicle in the lineup which I can afford and fits my size requirements. (The IS is too small) He also explained that they realized my car had an issue and they would give me a “really good deal” on a trade.

    The following day he called me back with a price for my ES300 of 22K. I was insulted- I’ve had the car merely 15 months and it has 21,000 miles. This is no where near the blue book value, nor is it any compensation for the fact that Lexus has sold me a faulty vehicle. In addition, the price he was willing to give me on the RX330 was not invoice minus 2% holdback.

    I was curious what if they ever gave you a price when they offered you a trade. I can go anywhere else and get a better deal than they were offering.
    Below is the response I got back from corporate as well as my reply:
    Thank you for contacting Lexus Customer Satisfaction regarding your 2003 ES 300. We appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts.

    Upon further review of your service history, Lexus has determined that there is nothing defective with your vehicle's transmission. It is operating as designed. We apologize you are dissatisfied with the driving response characteristic but there are no further technical updates to address your concern. We have documented your dissatisfaction here at our national headquarters for future product consideration.

    If you are still dissatisfied with our position, you may pursue your rights under your state's Lemon Law or through third party arbitration with the National Center for Dispute Settlement. They can be reached at 1-866-272-4872. Please refer to the Owner's Manual Supplement for more information. Again, we are sorry for any inconvenience this situation has caused you.

    If you would like to discuss your concerns further, you can also reach the Lexus Customer Satisfaction Department at 1-800-255-3987, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time.

    My Reply:

    If the vehicle is operating as designed, what is the specification for acceptable shift time? I do not care that you have documented my dissatifaction for future product consideration, I only care about what you can do to remedy my situation. In addition, I do not appreciate the "canned" response to my inquiry, as I know that the many others who have complained about this issue have gotten the EXACT same response.

    To conclude, I feel the pain that you and many others are going through, and I am ready to take this to the next level.
  • Based on my experience, I wouldn't be optimistic about arbitration doing any good. In my case, it was clear that Lexus was lying, but the arbitrators gave it to them anyway. It looks like the arbitrator won't rule against the dealer unless the car is literally falling apart. They asked if I knew of any accidents caused by this problem and when I couldn't answer, they lost interest.

    Lexus also offered me a similar deal. Big deal. They would let me trade my car on a new car. I wonder if that's supposed to impress me? If I wanted to trade my year old car on a new car it would NOT be a Lexus.

    If you decide to see an attorny and file a class action, let me know. I'll join.
  • I have had my Lexus ES 300 in for service on two separate occasions. The first time I test drove the car with a 25 year master mechanic who has worked on Toyota and Lexus for all of those years. He told me during the test drive that my ES 300 had serious transmission problems. He told me to bring it in for service the following week. I picked the car up the following week - only to be told that the dealer found nothing wrong with my transmission.

    I have been in constant communication with Lexus Customer Service in California, and they told me yesterday that my car is operating fine and if I was not happy with their answer to go call some arbitration number.

    My response, is that we need to hire an attorney and file a class action lawsuit against Toyota to get them to fix this problem.

    I will never own a Lexus again. I have reported my vehicle to the NHTSA.
  • I would also like to thank you for all your communications on this board. Also have been lurking and acting in the background. I filed a complaint with the NTSB on the tranny problem with my Wife's 2004 330 lexus. Been to the dealer several times and was ready for all their b.s. excuses, i.e. try premium fuel...give me some credit please.....I said to the dealer that they guarantee customer satisfaction,and the car was not only unsatisfactory but also a death trap waiting to happen. I was given an opportunity to get a test drive within the Lexus Regional manager out of Atlanta the next time She was in town. She said the car was up to spec and drove like all the others. Since I was not satisfied, Lexus would get back to me on the alternative solutions. To make it short I agreed to move up to the LS430 at absolute dealer cost,no hold back, no tax of any kind, no fees of any kind period. Real true cost. They purchased back my 330 at the price I paid less a mileage charge prorated based on the cost divided by 120,000miles. (NC lemon law formula)The mileage charge reverted back to mileage on the car at the time of the first complaint.($236.00) I understand I paid taxes, shipping, dealer fees on the first car, but my wife drove the car for 8 months for $236.00 essentially. I paid 52,000 for the 05 LS430 with an MSRP of 63,385.00 I know not everyone is in a position to do this but I could have purchased any Lexus with the same deal. I am satisfied with the way they handled the matter, except for admitting there is a problem.
    Again without your help and without the others that contribute on these boards that deal would never have happened. Thanks....
  • kreativkreativ Posts: 299
    If you search far back enough in this thread or the main ES300 thread, there was someone who was dissatisfied with the transmission and their dealer bought back the car for the purchase price. Lexus dealers vary widely in customer service, and this appears to be going beyond the call of duty of a dealership. But if you're extremely unsatisfied with your transmission and it hasn't been too long since your purchase, the experiences of that previous owner and mikey110890 above show some hope that the dealership will do something for you - as it's obvious corporate won't.

    As a side note, I feel Lexus customer service used to be better back when they weren't #1 yet. But I guess that's to be expected when they're fighting for #1 rather than simply holding the top spot.
  • ngrxngrx Posts: 2
    I too am a "lurker". Based on post #606, it sounds like there is hope for Lexus' reputation. My current 2004 RX 330 suffers from the dead accelerator/transmission hesitation and often requires quick driving compensation.(quite surprising). I have had the standard "it performs as it was designed" comments from my dealer, Lexus customer service, and a Lexus field tech (who has never even seen my car). If the statement is true, "the car is performing per design", the car has a serious design flaw which needs to be corrected for customer safety and satisfaction. Lexus can't continue to bury their heads and remain #1. There are too many capable auto makers who listen to customers. I am in the early stages of arbitration. If Lexus does not correct this condition, I will be eager to join a class action, and may even initiate one. Thank you to ALL the people who post on this site, and the other consumer supporting places.
  • texas83texas83 Posts: 107
    Don't try the arbitration. Those are a joke. Thursday I have my second Lemon Law hearing. It only costs $35 in Texas. The first one I kicked there but because the tranny screwed up twice for the judge. I got another ES as settlement because I believed in Lexus. Boy was I stupid. This one doesn't act up as bad as the first one, so I'm concerned about duplicating the problem. Risking $35 and a half day of work is worth while for the opportunity to get my money back.

    More frustrating than dealing with Lexus, is knowing that there are so many unhappy people out there willing to accept this product. If people would file with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, noting the dangers of this tranny, we might get some action. I've also contacted my congressman, senators and written news agencies and magazines. When you're only one person complaining it doesn't get much notice.

    I tried finding an attorney to sue Lexus. The three I talked with thought I had a good case, but utlimately they didn't want to take it forward.

    Good luck to you in your fight. Atlanta's Lexus Rep admitted to me they had thousands of unhappy customers with the ES, but the Japanese were happy with last years software upgrade and they weren't doing anything more. He recommended I take them to Lemon Law court. I'm so glad I paid extra for a Lexus.
  • texas83texas83 Posts: 107
    FYI. At my Lemon Law hearing last year the Lexus Rep acknowledged that 8% of '02 and '03 owners reported having tranny problems. There were probably around 200,000 ES's sold then so that would be 16,000 unhappy customers.
  • Hmmm. I specifically asked the Lexus rep if they knew what percentage of Lexus owners had complained and she said she didn't have that figure.

    I guess it's easy for them to lie in an arbitration hearing.
  • texas83texas83 Posts: 107
    They've lied to us for three years now. That was recorded testimony from the Lexus Rep. I plan to quote it this Thursday.
  • theflowtheflow Posts: 98

    I have a 2004 Solara V6 which I believe has the same engine as the ES330. I also experience the damn hesitation and have 2 questions for you regarding the arbitration.

    During the arbitration, will you get a chance to question the arbitrators' rational about whether any accidents caused by this delay in shifting? Also, which state are you in?

  • I'm in Oklahoma, but it probably doesn't vary too much - the organization which handles new car arbitrations is national.

    The actual procedure has some slack. Technically, I don't think you're supposed to be able to ask the manufacturer any questions, but they let me do it.

    The way it transpired is that they asked the dealer if they knew of any accidents and they said 'no'. They asked me and I said 'no'. They asked if any had been reported on NHTSA and again the answer was 'no'.

    Basically, I'm not very optimistic about the arbitration process. In my mind, there's a clear defect and the manufacturer admtted that they lied about the presence of the defect - yet I still lost.

    I'm still hoping someone will file a class action so I can join.
  • theflowtheflow Posts: 98
    Thanks jragosta1.

    I'm trying to gather as much ammo as I can right now. I already have a toyota technician put down that he noticed a delay in shifting in the work paper. He does indicated it's operating as designed though. So I don't know how much support I can get out of it when I go to arbitration. I am planning to bring it in again tomorrow to have another dealership checked it out. Just so that I can get it documented.

    The arbitration does seem sketchy. How can a decision being decided by whether there're accidents or not. Totally ridiculous. It sounds like if no one gets killed, a faulty brake is OK in cars.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Why require accidents? The answer is that damages must be proven in order to win a lawsuit. If no one is damaged, then how can any one expect to collect damages?

    If there are no accidents attributed to the problem, then the deficiency will, by definition be viewed as at most an annoyance. And damages cannot be attributed to annoyances.
  • Actually, damages CAN be attributed to annoyances. The standard for arbitration is something like 'reduces the safety, reliability, or value' of the car.

    Things like this transmission problem most certainly do reduce the value of the car - at least to me.

    There's nothing in the arbitration standard that requires damage, injury or DIRECT financial damages.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    If their are no accidents on file that are caused by the "Faulty" transmission, how can you really say it's a safety issue? Obviously if it is/was a safety issue, there would be accidents out there considering how many ES/Camrys/Solara/Sienna/RX330s Toyota has sold over the past few years.
  • Please read what I said.

    I said:
    "Actually, damages CAN be attributed to annoyances. The standard for arbitration is something like 'reduces the safety, reliability, or value' of the car.

    Things like this transmission problem most certainly do reduce the value of the car - at least to me"

    I spcifically did NOT claim that it was a safety issue. I said it was a value issue. You might find that your life would be easier if you learned to read what people wrote before responding.

    Furrhermore, I beleive it COULD BE a safety issue - even though no accidents have yet been reported to NHTSA. There is a delay of 1-3 seconds when you try to accelerate hard. When trying to enter a freeway on-ramp, 1-3 seconds could easily cause an accident. If anything happens to me or my little girl because of this transmission delay, Lexus is going to find themselves facing a lawsuit bigger than they can comprehend. They've had ample warning and chances to fix the problem and refuse to do so.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    Of course, you are technically correct. Damages can be attributed to annoyances, in theory anyway.

    But when you are talking lawsuits, you are talking about assigning a monetary value to the damages. And the monetary value has to be such that a lawyer finds it worth his while to help you and such that you yourself find it worth your while to go after the damages. Intuitively, it would be pretty hard to gather the evidence needed to award damages to owners due to the hesitation problem.

    Texas83, in effect, found it worth his while to go after his compensation. And Lexus finally figured out how to stop the squeaky wheel. I imagine it took lots of hours of his time to get his resolution, which, in effect, serves as his damages.

    But as far as a class action suit goes, unless there are accidents, it is unlikely that such a suit will be successful, in my opinion.

    In my case, I don't find myself damaged enough by the transmission issue to pursue it as texas83 did. Although I'd love for Lexus to fix the transmission, it would not be worth my while to pursue damages. It is not worth the cost to me in time and/or money and/or frustration.
  • dennydenny Posts: 17
    The recent posts reminded me to file a complaint with the NHTSA regarding two characteristics of the ES330 transmission that I believe to be safety-related hazards. One is the often noted hesitation problem and the other is a lurching forward that occurs when decelerating to a stop. Both of these problems will be magnified when the snow and icy road conditions come this winter. Those of you who are unhappy with the poor performance of this woefully inferior transmission should go to the NHTSA website and file a complaint. It's very easy and could eventually benefit future Lexus buyers if enough complaints cause Lexus to do something about fixing the problems they won't now admit they have. If nothing else,filing a complaint might also make you feel better.
  • Just out of curiousity, how many times did you contact Lexus customer service center in California? I have sent them two letters and they recently offered to give me a fair market trade-in on my ES300 - only if I agreed to buy a new 2005 ES300. I told them that I had lost confidence in Lexus and would never buy a new Lexus again.

    Did you have to get an Attorney to go through the Lemon Law process?

  • "1. Touchy Touchy aren't you? Calm down there!

    2. The post wasn't necessarily targeted at you. It was just a general statement based on the few posts preceding it.

    3. I read your post just fine. Maybe you should calm down!"

    If you weren't replying to me, why is my name in the title of your post?

    And if you read what I wrote, why does your response completely ignore it?
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