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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • bornmfgbornmfg Posts: 1
    Had trans problem of jerking when pulling out, dealer fixed that and then trans would not shift out of 3d gear, back again, NOW the worst going 65mph and you slow down to 30 to 35 and try to continue and you put foot on gas pedal to continue 35mph and nothing, you have to step down hard to get car moving, very dangerous when getting off a exit, and you try to continue at 35mph, you either die when being hit in rear or you die when hitting car in front of you because you stepped down all the way on gas pedal, LEXUS tells me this is the way the car is suppose to work, (BS), I have tried Customer service in Ca. but the lies continue like ENRON everybody knows nothing, GOOD LUCK
  • smirrorsmirror Posts: 3
    I can not believe that you would still want to buy the ES330 with so many complaints about its transmission. Even with the firmwave upgrade, the problem is not fixed. So why take the risk? There are so many other luxury brands out there. You don't want to live in such a pain everyday like I do with my 05 ES. Wake up!
  • jb7750jb7750 Posts: 1
  • bikegalbikegal Posts: 50
    Another view. I have 7,400 miles on my ES 330 2005. Aside from some surging going less than 5 miles per hour, and it's not consistent,I have no complaints. I haven't had the "fix" and I got the car in December.

    Good luck.
  • jragosta1jragosta1 Posts: 49
    There have been some complaints on the GS. You can go to for information.

    If you go with the IS, you could always get the manual transmission - which would eliminate the problem entirely.
  • beardiebeardie Posts: 44
    Last week my 05 330ES was in for it's 5000 mi. service. I spoke to the service manager re. the hesitation problem and the latest TSB. He talked me out of doing it now, due to it being not tested long enough, and once it's
    done, you must use premium gas for proper performance. Has anyone else been told this? With the price of gas going through the roof, I kind of like sticking with 87 octane!
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    You should check your owner's manual for octane requirements. I have an '04 ES 330. The manual states that for optimal performance, a minimum octane of 91 should be used. What I have done is run premium most of the time, with an occasional half tank of mid-grade.
  • whit66whit66 Posts: 7
    I just bought a pre-owned 2004 ES 330, and come to find out it seems to loose power between 5 to 15 mph. It is as if when you push on the gas pedal there is nothing there and then it takes off. Is there a known cause for this or a solution? Does anyone know since I have had this car for only five days is there anything I can do to make the dealer correct this?
  • whit66whit66 Posts: 7
    Have you had any problems with hesitation at very low speeds, 5-10 mph
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    I had the same problem with my ES-330. I live in Northern Virginia and deal with heavy bumper to bumper traffic on a daily basis. I had serious problems changing lanes when traveling between 5 and 15 mph. I would hit the gas pedal and the car would actually slow down for 1/2 to 1 & 1/2 seconds, then surge forward. This, of course, almost got me into a few accidents. I had resigned myself to not being able to merge or change lanes with this car under heavy traffic conditions. However, with the firmware upgrade now offered by Lexus, the car does respond much better. It is not a perfect fix. The transmission works fine most of the time, but sometimes it shifts very suddenly and very roughly. However, so far, the patch has repaired most of the problems.

    I have noticed that my gas mileage seems to be done from an average of 20/21 to and average of 18/19. But this could be a result of my driving the car differently right now. I am trying to duplicate problem conditions to see how the car reacts. This, or course, means that I hit the gas a lot more, which does drag down the mileage. So far, I have only driven the car about 500 miles with the upgrade. I will post again after a few thousand and let you know how it is going.

    Good luck with your car. I hope it works out for you.
  • whit66whit66 Posts: 7
    Can tell me what grade of fuel you use? I was wondering if there is a difference between 87 to 91
  • k1mrik1mri Posts: 1
    I have my heart set on the ES330 2005. With some of the stories I've read about the transmission problem, I'm having second thoughts. My sister BTW owns a 2004 RX330 with the same problem.

    Should I buy the 2005 ES330? Is the problem fixed? I just called a Lexus sales manager and he said, "...what transmission problem?" YIKES!!!! :mad:

    Please let me know what you think. Thanks!
  • bikegalbikegal Posts: 50
    I asked myself that same question. I went ahead and got it No regrets.

    Go ahead and drive some 2005s. Mine has an inconsistent surge/lurch when traveling at low speeds, like below 10. That I can live with.

    I must point out I am seldom in stop/go traffic.

    In all honesty, there was no other car like it. I considered the G35, pretty on the exterior, yucky insides, didn't like the acura.

    Good luck.
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    I run premium (93) most of the time. However, I do occasionally put in a half-tank of mid-grade (89). This averages me to an octane of 91. I haven't been using the mid-grade much recently, since there is such a small difference in price.
  • Can we put regular gas in the es 330? I was told by the dealer that i could.
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    I am not aware of a specific problem that regular (87 octane) gas would create when the engine requires 91 octane. But I am not a mechanic. I do know that the manual says to use 91 octane or higher for "optimal" performance, what ever that means. I do not remember it saying that the engine "requires" 91 octane.

    When I purchased my '94 SHO, the salesman told me that it only required 87 octane. When I read the owners manual, it said that premium gas was required. Obviously, I do not trust what any salesman tells me about a car. They are usually trying to make a sale and will say what ever needs to be said to make it.

    As I understand it, the octane rating on gas is a measure of how much the gas can be compressed before it sponaneously ingites. The higher the number, the higher the gas can be compressed. Spontaneous ingition of gas is commonly referred to as knocking. The higher the compression ratio for the engine, the higher the required octane. Higher compression ratios are commonly used in engines to boost horsepower. If a lower octane is used, the engine is more likely to knock which, over time, can lead to damage to the engine.

    Here is a link to a pretty easy to understand explanation of what octane is and how it works.
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    I just checked my owners manual. It calls for 87 octane, but suggests 91 octane for "improved performance". So I would say that regular gas is fine.
  • beardiebeardie Posts: 44
    I have had my ES330 for 4 months's a lease, so I'm not afraid to use the 87 octaine. I have not had any problems related to the octaine. The transmission hesitation exists, but that will not be solved with higher octaine. No knocks etc. with 87. If anyone saw 20/20 last night, they mentioned one of the biggest myths is that higher octaine is better for your car. Only approx. 10% of the cars on the road, those with very high compression engines, require higher octaine. The 330 does not fall into that category! With the price of gas today, I can't see going higher grade!
  • oldfart2oldfart2 Posts: 4
    I agree with you that some owners don't experience the problem.

    I bought a 03 es300 in Feb of 2005 with 17k miles on it. It was the Dealer's loaner.

    I asked for a copy of the service record and that showed 3 recalibrations had been
    done on the powertrain. I have 21k on the car now and have had no noticable problem
    with the transmission. My wife drives it to work daily and every other weekend we take
    a trip 150 miles north of here to a place we have on a lake. Lots of hills and winding roads. No problems.
    This makes me wonder what is going on. Perhaps my problem will show up later or
    maybe since it was a Dealer loaner, they got most of the bugs out of the car before
    they sold it to me.

    One of lifes mysteries.
  • toydrivertoydriver Posts: 227
    Most owners who experience the poor shifting describe the symptoms as being most noticeable during stop and go driving while in city rush hour commutes.
    That was my situation ('03 ES 300 now with 28,000 mi on the clock).
    I had the most recent TC004-03 firmware update done about 2700 miles ago.
    It has helped with the stop and go "jerkiness" and hesitation. The shift points are higher ( higher rpm ) since the update. Some owners have described this as the car engine racing.
    I agree with you that on pleasure trips at consistent highway speeds, the car operates flawlessly.
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    Well, I have now driven my ES 330 about 1,300 miles with the firmware upgrade. The hesitation problem is almost completely gone. The car has gotten smoother the more that I have driven it. While it is not a 100% fix (still some occasional rough shifting), if the car had been like this from day 1, I would have said that there are not problems with the transmission. I have noticed a drop in average gas mileage. I was averaging 20/21 in the city and now average 19/20. But I am pretty sure that the drop is because of my driving, not the upgrade. The car is much more driveable. I do get on the gas more, mainly because the car now responds.

    I do think that the upgrade confuses the computer. The average gas mileage figures that the computer showed before the upgrade were usually pretty accurate. Now, the computer seems to consistently show mileage 1/2 a mile or more per gallon less than actual.

    All in all, I have been very pleased with the results of the upgrade. Before, I was ready to get rid of the car. Now, I think that I will own it for many years.
  • whit66whit66 Posts: 7
    with all the trouble you with your car, has Lexus tried to make you happy? Since you are not happy and many others what are our options, have you contacted Lexus Corp office?
  • es4jbes4jb Posts: 17
    I read the posts about the transmission and bought the ES330 anyway a week ago. After about 500 miles I can say that I do understand what the issue is. The vehicle hesitates when moving between 1st to 2nd gear. It's kind of like a fluttering. It is noticeable and a bit annoying. It's the only reason that I can't say I love the car. It seems to me that on a $30K near-luxury vehicle this is not what I expected. Am I disappointed? Overall, no. The worse moments are coming around a corner when the vehicle has decelerated and then you want to accelerate coming out of the turn. There is a noticeable lag or hesitation or lurch. I have learned that firm steady pressure on the "gas pedal" helps. This is not a car for the lead-footed among us! But then again it's not a sports sedan so I suppose it was never designed for the leadfeet. The interior is still nicer than anything in its class. Still, it takes away from the overall sense of smooth ride that Lexus is famous for. I can't give this vehicle a "10" but "9.5". From what I have read there is not much to be done; this has something to do with the computer controlled throttle and transmission on most Toyota/Lexus vehicles.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    Did you purchase your car new? If so, it should have already have the software upgrade to correct the hesitation problem. Maybe you should take it in, just in case the upgrade wasn't done (and if it works, you will have a perfect 10!).
  • es4jbes4jb Posts: 17
    I did buy it new but I am not entirely convinced from reading posts on this site that it will help. I figure I am going to drive it until the 5K mile service and if I it still bothering me then I will inquire about the firmware upgrade. 500 miles is just not long enough to make a decision like that.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    You need to read some of the reports from folks who have gone to arbitration over this. Recently bkinblk reported his arbitration results in the Engine Hesitation forum. Based on his report, it sounds like it would be in your favor to get this documented with Lexus ASAP, even if you don't want them to try to fix it yet. Let them know you want to give it some more miles to see if it will go away, but that you want to make them aware of the problem. Hopefully, the problem will go away, and if not, the software upgrade will do the trick. But it sounds like you should be prepared for the worst while you are hoping for the better.
  • dennydenny Posts: 17
    Just another data point on the software upgrade. Had it done on my 2004 ES330 about a month ago and it hasn't helped one bit. The hesitation, sluggishness, and all the other things this transmission does poorly completely ruin the driving experience every day. Can't wait until I get rid of it.
  • hogan4hogan4 Posts: 6
    I'm with you. I have 52K on my '04 330, and have had the computer reset 7 times. Lexus even swapped an ECU computer from a demo, still a problem and embarrassment to drive when I have customers in the car. But Lexus still says there is no problem, that's why they have upgrades for the computer!! Go figure
  • and, while it doesn't match the BMW driving experience, I thought it was extremely smooth, quiet and enjoyable. I am considering buying one but all these reports of tranny problems and Lexus not fixing it has me concerned. Should I buy one if my test drive(s) indicate no problems? Those who bought/own one, did the problem exist from the beginning,i.e. would a trouble-free test drive help?
  • shocasershocaser Posts: 36
    If I had experienced the problem when I test drove the car, I would have never bought it. Have you ever looked at or test driven a car with problems and still bought the car? The difficulty with this problem is that it does not show itself in a test drive. It shows during normal, everyday driving. Did you test-drive the car in slow, bumper to bumper traffic? Did you drive the car at 10 -15 mph and try to accelerate? Did you try letting the car drift at 10 MPH and hit the gas? These seem to be the main times that my car had problems. I must admit that, when I test drove my car, I never thought that I would need to test it this way.
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