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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676

    Dang -- taking a little longer than 7 months!
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    Obviously, the NHTSA doesn't think the transmission "problem" is a safety issue. It is hard to believe if the problem was as serious as some people claim it is, the NHTSA would be just sitting there doing nothing. They have already looked into it and concluded that the transmission "problem" is not a safety issue.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    They have already looked into it and concluded that the transmission "problem" is not a safety issue.

    actually, i don't think any representative from the agency has made the determination that it isn't a safety concern and issued a report to that effect.

    they are providing a mechanism for end users to make reports and to use that information to contact the manufacturer for specific maintenance records, VINs affected, other particulars, determine if the manufacturer is making good faith efforts to address the concerns, assess trends, etc.

    some people with the hesitation have stated they feel it is a safety concern.

    in part we got into trouble in the hesitation forum when we broached the issue of safety. maybe that should be shelved since it evokes tangential postings moving away from the topic which might be helpful for the people with the problem.

    just like my (non-expert, human-factors centered) opinion and those of others without the particular make of vehicles, someone may choose to take the reports of the people actually experiencing the hesitation with their cars (and reporting that there is some impact on their safety) and believe it, or not.

    safety is in part objective, and in part subjective. we can be confident by the range of reports that the behaviors probably range in severity, frequency, repeatibility, etc, but the extents to which this are true are unknown.

    this fact would tend to complicate anyone's binary classification and labeling: (safe vs. unsafe).

    if tomorrow the NHTSA were to issue a report that said, there is a safety issue with these systems, what would that mean, and would our current opinions change?

    if so why? if not why not?

    if tomorrow the NHTSA were to issue a report that said, there is no safety issue with these systems, what would that mean, and would our current opinions change?

    if so why? if not why not?

    factually, we don't know if the NHTSA is actually putting experts in these vehicles and driving them and instrumenting them and contemplating the scenarios. we don't know the expertise of the people performing investigations of particular reports, nor to the extent to which individual reports are followed up on.

    anyone making a report have a followup conversation or personal visit with an NHTSA rep or a manufacturer rep as a result of the report made to the site?

    maybe shifty, we need to open a new forum dedicated to the implications of increasing automotive automation, technology, complexity, etc. maybe we could turn to wwest for another good forum name and take the safety aspects of the discussion there. ;)
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    factually, we don't know if the NHTSA is actually putting experts in these vehicles and driving them and instrumenting them and contemplating the scenarios. we don't know the expertise of the people performing investigations of particular reports, nor to the extent to which individual reports are followed up on.

    I am more inclined to believe that NHTSA has already looked into the complaints and probably have done their own instrumentaion test by now. This so called problem has been around since late 2001; if the problem was as serious as some people are claiming it to be the car would have been recalled a long time ago. Face it, the chances of a recall is very remote at this point.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    The NHTSA likely has not made it a safety issue for one reason: there have not been enough safety events (accidents, injuries, fatalities) to warrant forcing Toyota to redesign the entire drive train.

    Even on this board, no one has reported a real accident due to the hesitation. Thus far, posters have only "felt" that the car is dangerous. And that is in light of the fact that there has been an almost steady barrage of complaints on this board for the past three years. This is one of the most active threads on the ES300 topic and has been for a long time. And no one has actually claimed that the hesitation caused an accident.
  • montiemontie Posts: 10
    Thanks all you lads for helping me out with NHTSA. It certainly isn't the easiest to find your way around there.
    The highest number of hesitation complaints I've heard is 30, and the lowest is 6 so I suspicion the actual is somewhere in between. Not a lot since 2003 if that's real.
    I went right trough this here forum to get a handle on how many actual complaints there was. Looks like around 25 or 30 at my count. About every time one comes up there is a donneybrook of talk about it which takes about 3 days to settle down!! I also found there's just as many reporting no problems as them that does. After all the looking I'm thinking this is not that big a thing now.
  • billranbillran Posts: 113
    And keep in mind that is 25 or 30 out of several hundred thousand cars produced over the last few years. The vast majority of owners dont report any problems at all and are perfectly happy.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    true, and for purposes of clarification, my quick search last evening, resulting in 30 hits was only for the year 2002, and only for the ES300 series.

    one would have to believe the vast majority of vehicle owners (regardless of make or model) don't post to Edmunds and don't even know the NHTSA site exists.

    all along a number of posters have indicated the population size of people with a problem is unknown.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    But common sense dictates that in today's day and age of mass communication, any widespread problem will be very difficult to keep under wrap. I am sure the NHTSA is run by people who can separate the facts from fiction. And btw, it is not at all clear how many of the posts at the NHTSA website are genuine owners. It isn't that difficult to copy someone else's VIN # or post fake VIN #.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    User777, one of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette articles about the hesitation problem that ran last year mentioned that NHTSA was looking into the problem but I have never heard anything about it since.
  • Being in the market for an Avalon or ES330, I found this forum interesting. My '05 Honda Pilot has a disconcerting pause-1/2 second?- when downshifting from 5'th to 4'th while merging or passing at 40/60 mph or so. No other car I have ever driven has had that hesitation (except back in the days of manuals with solenoid operated overdrives/downshifts). After reading some of the posts, I wonder if it is because it is the first car I've owned with a 5 speed automatic and it is the nature of the beast?? Or it has something to do with it learning my driving habits as some others have suggested? Not serious enough to make me regret the purchase--just irritating. Haven't approached the dealer about it yet. We drove an Avalon today and I saw no problems with the way it drove. But of course it didn't represent my normal driving patterns either-- No freeway on ramp merging--no tromping on it to pass on a 2 lane road--no stop and go congestion. And only a few miles over streets designated by the sales guy. Will pursue this further before deciding since we have time to make that decision.
    Regarding Octane requirements, my '86 Toyota Cressida required 87 Octane, but recommended 91 for "improved performance". Never bought into that and it still ran perfectly at 186,000 miles using only 87. My Pilot also says "87", but "91" when towing. Now I'm confused. My '94 Cad STS called for 91, and the Acura MDX, although very close to the Pilot, also requires 91. Are the new engines actually so sophisticated they can advance the timing under load to enhance power, and provide better fuel economy under "normal" conditions, and yet at the same time recognize potential pre-detonation because of lower Octane and correct for it by automatically retarding the spark?? At 20 cents per gallon difference it could be significant for many? I don't put that many miles on a car any more so the extra cost isn't that big a deal but I grew up believing higher Octane than your engine required (no pre-detonation) was a waste of money. Burning a hole in a piston because of "pinging" or "knocking" costs a whole bunch more!! Been there done that sadly a long time ago.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    One of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette articles about the hesitation problem that ran last year mentioned that NHTSA was looking into the problem but I have never heard anything about it since.

    Scoti, if you do a search of the NHTSA database you will see that the Pittsburg Post article completely misinterpreted the investigtion you posted about. Not surprising when you consider that Paper's reputation is only a few steps from a tabloid Yes, NHTSA did an investigation involving electronic throttle control on Toyota-Lexus, BUT, it pertained to Unintended Accelleration, not hesitation. NHTSA did an investigation in 2004 for that accelleration issue but closed it shortly afterwards. Because of a 2005 petition by a widely known consumer advocate (the same one as in 2004), another investigation was opened in August 05. It has not been closed yet, but there should be some word on that shortly. It will be closed also because no new information is forthcoming. There never really was an investigation about hesitation. You have promoted this article more than a dozen times so you might want to think about not doing so in future. It isn't true.
    More advice. Don't believe everything you find in the media.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    Because of a 2005 petition by a widely known consumer advocate (the same one as in 2004), another investigation was opened in August 05.

    It looks like NHTSA would reach the same conclusion as the first investigation. That the complaints do not warrant a recall due to safety issue.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Apparently there were two accident reports in 2004 of unintended accelleration which started NHTSA's investigation. NHTSA looked beyond safety issues, according to documentation accompanying their investigation in 2004. The entire electronic control system was analyzed and repeatedly tested. No improper operation or any defects were found. Apparently the unexpected accelleration was caused by driver action. The petitioner for the 2005 investigation is apparently the same person who requested it in 2004. I cannot fathom why this hesitation issue keeps getting blown out of proportion. It just isn't all that big an issue, yet we keep getting reminded about it with references like two old newspaper articles which aren't accurate. More like somebody's out to make Toyota look bad.
    I cannot find any mention of an investigation into "Toyota or Lexus engine-transmission hesitation" anywhere at the NHTSA site. I may be wrong, but I don't think there ever was such an investigation.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Here's a statement I found by Toyota and Lexus about the "Unintended Accelleration" condition which may help to clarify it further:

    Reports for Camry, Camry Solara And ES 300/330 Throttle Control System

    April 13, 2005 The auto industry has experienced a long history of isolated reports of alleged sudden acceleration, involving vehicles of virtually every make. Numerous investigations going back many decades have consistently suggested that these incidents were unrelated to vehicle malfunction.

    In its current preliminary evaluation of Camry, Solara and ES 300 vehicles, NHTSA has recently revised the number of complaints under consideration from 37 down to 12, concluding that correct application of the brakes would have controlled the vehicle. None of the complaints involve any injuries.

    Customer safety remains our highest priority. We are carefully studying the remaining complaints, in cooperation with NHTSA, to determine the facts in each instance. But this process requires time and care. Any speculation about possible causes would be premature and counterproductive.

    It is important to note that no specific defect has been identified by NHTSA, nor is there any recall of these vehicles. Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus Customer Satisfaction line at 1-800-25-LEXUS.

    Here's a 2004 quote from a Consumer Reports article on the same subject:

    NHTSA Closes Probe of Unintended Acceleration in Toyota, Lexus Models

    July 28, 2004
    Federal safety investigators have closed their probe into reports of unintended acceleration in 2002 and 2003 Toyota Camry, Camrty Solara and Lexus ES300 models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened the investigation after receiving reports of 30 accidents, including one in which a pedestrian was alledged to be injured.

    The probe centered around the cars' electronic throttle control. Many newer cars transmit acceleration signals electronically rather than using the traditional movable steel cable.

    NHTSA said it analyzed many of the cars involved in the mishaps and found nothing abnormal with the throttle controls. It said sudden surges are sometimes caused by drivers who are unfamiliar with their new vehicles.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    The unintended acceleration is a separate issue. The article about hesitation that references the NHTSA investigation came out in Feb. 2005, well before the issue you are referencing.

    Feb. 5--The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to look into a transmission hesitation problem in certain Lexus and Toyota models to determine whether to go forward with a full investigation .

    It is possible the NHTSA decided not to "go forward with a full investigation". Soon after this article is when Toyota announced the new software upgrade. That could have satisfied NHTSA.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Scoti, it should be pretty clear by now there was no investigation about Hesitation by NHTSA. I really didn't intend to split hairs with you on this, but I repeat: there is no record of NHTSA investigation about "Hesitation" for any model of Toyota or Lexus, anywhere. Also, I did qualify my posts as locating only "Unintended Acceleration", nothing about "Hesitation", and that the two were "separate issues".
    I cannot say whether or not you, the Pittsburg Post, or anyone else intentionally misinterpreted the announcement, but I believe many are getting tired of seeing it repeated endlessly as though it did happen when it did not.
  • billranbillran Posts: 113
    In the article Scoti referenced there is also the following info which seems to be often conveniently overlooked. I doubt it will make a difference though as there is obviously a bias against Toyota in some of the posts. hylyner, I agree with everything you and motownusa have written btw.

    A search of NHTSA records and interviews with Consumer Reports magazine also show owners of other car makes are suffering from the same hesitation problem, including BMW's 3 Series, Ford Explorers and Escapes, and Dodge Durango 4x4.

    David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in Connecticut, said the magazine's testers have encountered the same problems in the Audi A6 2.7T, the Audi Allroad, the Mazda6 equipped with the V-6 engine, and the Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Yes, you are quite correct verifying other maufacturers have had complaints of hesitation with their DBW systems. It's been raised any number of times in discussions, but for some reason is quickly dismissed and marginalized with comments like "But Toyota gets more than others."
    Having seen two or more months worth of mostly hyped up rhetoric about it, I think we now know why this gets said.
  • atoewsatoews Posts: 637
    After agonizing for several years on this issue, I think it is important to keep a focus on what is important, and that is whether Lexus will fix this problem in our vehicles.

    Clearly, the answer is NO. This vehicle has been "out" now for almost 5 years, and Toyota still has not even admitted that there is a problem. One can extrapolate that to conclude that Toyota will not even come close to getting to where they will pay for a recall or a very expensive drive train redesign to fix existing vehicles. It is simply NOT going to happen.

    As far as whether this problem is "widespread", I think that whether this problem exists in all vehicles is a topic that should be put to bed. I can repeat the problem is every vehicle that I drive (and I've driven many loaners), from 2002, 2003, 2004 2005 and 2006. The PROBLEM is in ALL of them. For those of you who claim not to have the problem, trust me, I could repeat it in YOUR car. (The symptom does vary slightly from one vehicle to the next however.)

    And don't bother waiting until the 2007 comes out - I'd bet a LOT of money that the problem will be there, too.
  • montiemontie Posts: 10
    It gets better every day Gents. I'll be leaving your fair city of Cincinnati Tuesday and gonna miss this discussion. It could easy get to be compelling. Internet back home is bloody rotten and it takes forever to download a site like this much less have your post sent. I have learned lots in a short time, especially as billran fears I too suspicion a definite bias says against Toyota is alive and well hereabouts. I wonder why this is? Says hyliner, more like somebody's trying to make Toyota look bad perhaps? Too bad, because they sell brilliant cars and trucks where I come from. Good bye all, and thanks for letting me butt in. You have a great country here.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    of the "heap", you're sure to get "rained" on.
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Good point!!!!
  • tmarttmart Spring, TXPosts: 1,191
    " The PROBLEM is in ALL of them. For those of you who claim not to have the problem, trust me, I could repeat it in YOUR car."

    If your statement is correct, that sounds like the driver is the problem and not the car!
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    Another good point!!!
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    that would be an erroneous conclusion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    well "science says" that a conclusion should be repeatable no matter who does it. Match + gunpowder equals explosion even if the experimenter (gunpowder skeptic) believes otherwise. Of course science presumes gunpowder is not under water.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    Well i don't know how well the "Match + Gunpowder" analogy applies in this situation. Person A claims he/she can reproduce the symptom in every test ( in this case that would be the car) while person B, C, and D claims the symptom isn't reproducible in 99.9% of the driving condition. I think all automatic transmission can be made to hesitate under certain extreme driving condition. Being the owner of an 03 Camry V6 with a 5 speed automatic I can claim that the car has never let me down. If i need to speed up right after slowing down to say 15 to 20 mph I give the pedal a firm push and off she goes. Have owned the car for almost 3 years and I didn't ever feel the transmission was unresponsive or anything like that. And yes Toyota does get more publicity than Honda, Audi, BMW, Volkswagon because of its size and success.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    the implication is that it is the driver's fault for not driving in a manner to avoid this behavior.

    if the person was instructed to modify their driving style to accomodate the design of the system (ala much like "stomp and steer" with ABS), then we might point to operator "misuse" of the system at root cause.

    clearly though a number of posters indicate NO hesitation, and a number of other posters indicate that with a number of vehicles and many years of driving experience with AT drivetrains, their vehicle just doesn't operate as expected (for some just an annoyance) or to an extreme, in a manner where they feel safe.

    if the driver should be aggressive with the throttle, or conversely gentle with the throttle and/or avoid manuvers like merging, accelerating quickly to pass during lane changes, or slow and re-apply throttle to cross from a median, then you'd think the manufacturer would prescribe how the vehicle is to be operated in those scenarios.

    but they don't, and never would because it (the hesitation) may not be an intentional artifact of the design or the actions of the driver, but a defect in software, hardware, or both. i wouldn't doubt driving style may contribute to the severity, but not be at root cause of the behavior.
  • billranbillran Posts: 113
    In the past, I have never down played the concerns of those few people who said they actually had a problem. I have said before they seemed to me to be sincere and credible and I have always believed that they were experiencing problems with their car that I do not have in mine.

    If the statement " The PROBLEM is in ALL of them. For those of you who claim not to have the problem, trust me, I could repeat it in YOUR car." is correct however, that would a different situation. I drive my car daily in all kinds of traffic. In addition, I have deliberately tried to duplicate the behavior mentioned here, with no success. My car drives great, with no noticeable hesitation under any conditions. And as I have said before, I have two coworkers whose cars also perform fine. I know that 3 cars is a statistically insignificant sample, but I think it is representative of the thousands of other owners who also consider their car's performance to be fine.

    So, if indeed our cars perform identically to those reporting the problem, then what is the answer? Driving style? Driver's perception? Or then there was one person's suggestion that the people who did not think their car had a problem were not smart enough to know it.

    If my car has the identical problem as those who are complaining, then I will tell you that I don't consider it a problem, and I am not surprised there has been no recall. It drives just fine, and I like to think that I am smart enough to recognize a problem if I had it.
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