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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • Still having problems. They had flown in someone from Lexus to validate my problem (which they did). They are now in the process of replacing the trans. (which I do not think will work because every ES350 loaner they had given me had this problem). If this does not work or I experience any problems related to the replacement, I am going to demand a repurchase. My car only had 7,000 miles on it.
  • We bought a 2007 ES330 in May 2006. It blew a tranny within the first week! Lexus replaced it (after a 2 week wait) and
    in good faith reimbursed the fee we paid for the extended warranty (around $2200) and paid our first month's car payment. Now, 4 months later its in the shop again with tranny problems (now with only 7,000 miles on it). They've had it for 11 more days so far. We're hoping they'll keep it another week so it falls under the California Lemon Law. We're gonna ask for a refund instead of another Lexus. Its our first Lexus and
    definitely our LAST.
  • My car missed the gear when shifting from 1st to 2nd and then from 4 th to 5th when it was cold. The dealer replaced the valve body assembly (thats what they told me) and the car shifted great for two months, until yesterday when it missed a gear between 3rd and 4th. It missed the gear when it was warm this time. Back to the shop again.
  • mojcmhmojcmh Posts: 2
    Follow-up on previous post. Lexus covered $1,000 for the remanufactured transmission. I was told Lexus did this based on the vehicle maintenance record. The vehicle was maintained by the dealership at regular suggested intervals ($$$). A Lexus rep admitted that the company is not happy to see a transmission go at 107,000 miles. Looking back, the car always had a hesitation and RPM flareup between 1st and 2nd on cold starts in cold weather. Still does. I am not sure if that was a cause of the early failure. I should have complained from the start and insisted that my concerns be part of the maintenance record. Given that the vehicle is 7 years old, with 107,000 miles, Lexus' agreement to pay $1,000 strikes me as reasonable. Other manufacturers would have offerred the emtpy set.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Sorry, but most other manufacturers are not building transaxles that have control firmware that operates them in a mode for which they were not mechanically designed.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Impossible to believe...

    Ford has the answer.....!

    From the new 2007 Ford Edge PR..

    "The electronically shift controlled transmission also features a variable displacement pump, which matches the amount of fluid that gets pushed through the transmission to driver demand, making it more efficient."

    At full lift-throttle all of the FWD Toyota/lexus vehicles begin an upshift just as the engine RPM drops to idle. With the engine at idle the upshift will exhaust/use most, or possibly all, of the pressurized ATF.

    Now if you happen to re-apply foot pressure to the accelerator pedal just as the upshift begins the engine/transaxle ECU will "know" to delay the onset of engine until the low engine "idle" RPM can build enough ATF pressure to complete the corresponding downshift.

    The most obvious answer would be to increase the volume of the fixed volume ATF pump so enough pressure/flow could be provided for two sequential QUICK shifts with the engine at idle. But then most of that added volume would be bypassed, disapated as heat, as the engine RPM rises above idle.

    Ford's answer, apparently, is to have a variable displacement ATF pump so it can be switched to high volume when quick/SOLID shifting is required with the engine at idle. Makes me wonder if that allowed them to eliminate the ATF pressure bypass relief spring/valve also.

    That would REALLY increase transaxle efficiency.

    A second option would havre been to have an ATF pressure storage accumulator (like the ABS pumpmotor asembly). But putting one of those in an already "crowded" six-speed transaxle is probably out of the question.

    Anyone know if any of the newer Toyota/Lexus transaxles have either? Absent one or the other the delay/hesitation issue will undoubtedly continue.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,570
    I heard that Automotive News has a new article about Toyota transmission hesitation. Anyone subscribe?

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

  • I took it back to Lexus dealer service. They had Lexus tech. person look at it and he recommended replacing the transmission. They said the problem was not inherent to the design but from during the manufacturing process and replacing with new transmission will solve the problem. I only have 3400 miles on it. It still is a new car. I am feel reluctant but I don't know what other option there is. I will let you know the outcome.
  • rileyjrileyj Posts: 13
    What is the manufacturing date code for the ones reporting the transmission problem?
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    My ES 350 with 10,000 miles is at the dealer having the transmission replaced. We'll see if that fixes the problem.
  • They put in new transmission but did not fix the problem. Frustrating... Dealer said Lexus will give me an extended warantee but don't have any details from Lexus yet. I don't know what my next option can be. RPM flares only first few minutes just after starting then goes away and car drives great until next cold start. I am not sure if Lemon Law can be applied for this situation. I don't think it's any safety issue? Maybe transmission durability issue? Any suggestions?
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    Lexus recently replaced my transmission, also. So far, I have not experienced any RPM flare between 3rd and 4th gears, which I was previously experiencing after the car had been sitting all night or all day. Check your state's lemon law. In Texas, the lemon law applies if the market value of the car is materially diminished as a result of the defect.
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    I'm considering the purchase of a 2003 ES 300 with 15,000 miles. Did the 2003 have transmission problems?

  • Lexus is offering me 7/100000 extended warrantee. Dealer service manager says they have done all they could by replacing with new transmission per Lexus Tech. Specialist's direction and advise me to talk to Lexus directly for any further concern. I will talk to Lexus to see if I can get reimbursed for any diminished value. I wonder what kind of lost value can I demand? Pursuing with the Lemon Law is in my mind as last resort getting an extended warrantee enough...I am not sure. Wish me luck.
  • hub23hub23 Posts: 2
    I want to purchase a Lexus ES350, but now I am a little leary :( because they are having transmission problems. This is a major downer. Ive checked on other vehicles, but I want this one. Q & A :What state are you in? How often do you drive the car? & When did you experience the transmission problem(cold,hot,hills,flat)?
  • I looked at a loaded '05 ES330 today with 31k on it which I think I can get for $27500. The tranny discussion has me spooked. I am wondering when this first became an issue. I might just save myself money on the front-end and back-end and buy a '99 or '00 LS400 but finding them with 40k miles or less is difficult which is the max mileage I am comfortable with. I also really like all the goodies like nav, Levinson sound, and heat/cool seats in the '05 model I looked at.

    Also does anyone know if a TSB has been issued for the problem?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..I am wondering when this first became an issue...."

    I suspect the seeds were planted in about 98, with the introduction of the 1999 RX300. The earliest documented evidence was produced by Toyota themselves in a TSB issued in the spring of 2003 concerning the throttle lag, 1-2 second engine/transaxle downshift delay, new Camry owners were reporting.

    To this date Toyota has not presented any evidence, publically, that the issue has been resolved, complaints continue to be posted even concerning the 2007 models.
  • On my 2005 ES330, the hesitation happens sometimes if I accelerate slowly. If I need to merge onto the freeway or otherwise accelerate for sure, I stab the pedal and it takes off just fine.

    See #1221 earlier in this forum
    curt2005, "Transmission problems with Lexus ES?" #1222, 28 Aug 2006 8:50 pm

    There are two interesting replies in the thread.

    I think that this is a side effect of an algorithm in the engine computer designed to get better mileage and/or emissions ratings in the standard tests. It has been an issue with several Toyota models for several years.

    For me, the 330 has turned out to be a great car.
  • carteachcarteach Posts: 179
    I too am seriously considering purchasing a "certified" '05 or '06 330. I took each for a short test drive today on I95... just between exits. I'm not clear when and how this hesitation/lag shows up. Should I ask to be driving it a lot further? How can I see if the car I'm about to purchase has this problem?

    Also does a certified used car come under the Lemon Law or does the car have to be brand new?

    Thanks for any info you can give me.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Apparently the throttle lag, 1-2 second transaxle downshift delay most commonly occurs when you re-apply pressure to the gas pedal shortly after fully releasing same.

    What apparently is happening is that in an effort to improve the overall safety of FWD or front torque biased AWD vehicles vs their RWD brotheren the transaxle shift pattern has been revised to prevent engine compression braking altogether, just as Ford has done in the FWD/AWD Escape and Mariner hybrids.

    The primary difference being, seemingly, that Ford only uses this technique if the OAT is hovering around or below freezing whereas Toyota and Lexus appear to use it all year around.

    So my guess would be that to most easily duplicate the delay/hesitation one would need to first accelerate at a high enough rate to force a downshift, then fully release the throttle, then re-apply throttle pressure, all in a relatively short sequence, time period.

    Thereby forcing a downshift(for quick acceleration), quickly followed by an upshift (so as to alleviate or reduce the level of engine compression braking) resulting from a FULL lift-throttle situation, and lastly, another downshift as a result of re-application of gas pedal pressure.

    With the engine RPM having dropped to idle on that initial FULL lift-throttle event there will not be enough ATF pressure/flow to sustain two sequential transaxle shift sequences, and so the DBW system will now NOT allow the engine to develop any significant level of torque until that second shift, downshift, has completed.

    Seemingly both Ford and VW have this same throttle lag, 1-2 second downshift delay in their FWD automatic transaxle vehicles. Ford has just announced that the new Ford Edge transaxle will be equipped with a variable displacement ATF pump to improve transaxle efficiency.

    While it will undoubtedly, NO DOUBT, improve efficiency I suspect the base reason is to have a HIGH flow rate available with LOW engine RPM without otherwise incurring HUGE losses at normal cruise engine RPM.

    A HIGH ATF pump flow rate at engine idle would eliminate the need for the DBW to intervene and delay engine torque buildup.
  • After doing a lot of research, I found that an Acura TL was comparable and seemingly more performance oriented than the ES of the same year. I ended up buying an '03, 50k miles, TL 3.2 (not the Type-S) and after tax, license, extended warranty (4 yrs/100k mi/$0 ded./bumper-to-bumper) and LOJACK, got out the door at just over $20k. That's the same as I paid in '98 for my then-new Saturn SL2.

    I have since driven the TL from Sacramento to SF and back and given a workout on some back roads. I have driven in light rain, day and night, and could not be happier with it. Okay, I could be happier if I paid less or got more features like ventilated seats, but it has lots of goodies, drives like a dream and even if it does develop problems, which is unlikely, I have them covered. :)
  • carteachcarteach Posts: 179
    I was all set to buy the Lexus. Smooth ride, incredible interior. But there's no Lemon Law even for a certified car; and too many people crazed because of tranny problems which affect safety of car. So like you I bought an Acura. I pick it up tomorrow.

    Good luck with yours.
  • carteachcarteach Posts: 179
    I received the following email from one of the certified Lexus salesmen in Westport, CT. Very personable guy, who has stayed on top of his job.I find Toyota's behavior not only unconscionable, but suicidal from a business point of view.

    Hi Nancy,

    I have an '06 ES330 that will be ready tomorrow late in the day. It is Mystic Pearl(medium green metallic) with beige interior. Is this something you would like to take a look at?

    Call me or reply to this email and let me know. I will be here from 9am to 8pm tomorrow.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    The following is my reply to him. (for all the good it will do.)Hi______

    The Lexus sounds beautiful. Just what I would have wanted. But I decided to purchase an Acura which I'm picking up tomorrow.

    Frankly, and you can pass this on to the powers that be, all the discussion of the Lexus tranny issues on every board made me nervous. A number of people had been given replacement cars. (These were new car buyers.) A number of people with new cars were invoking the Lemon Law. And many others were just saying that they'd always bought Lexus; but this was going to be their last one and that they couldn't wait to trade it in.

    I was very sad to give up the idea of buying a Lexus. I think they are beautifully appointed with a smooth, smooth ride. But transmissions that hesitate when you're trying to merge far outweighs the beauty of the car. As a matter of fact, I've heard there are unhappy customers with the 350.

    Maybe salespeople aren't supposed to talk about the transmission problems, even when asked. But it would make more sense if you all would be able to admit there's been an issue and then offer some kid of reassurance that the car you're selling had not been turned in for that reason... etc. etc.

    Sorry for the length of this. In no way am I flaming you. Just a word to pass on to Toyota who seems to have this problem in many of their Camrys, Avalons, etc.and has from what I've heard still not found a fix for this problem.

    I wish you well, (Wish Toyota/Lexus had made the improvements so I would have been able to purchase one of your beautiful cars.)

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Nicely written making good points.
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    Yes...good message that should apply to all manufactures who tend to dismiss problems by telling you "it’s normal”.

    I’m thinking of my poor Acura experience which eventually ended up in a law suit.
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    Probably a good move to buy the Acura. Wish I had. Lexus replaced the transmission in my 2007 ES 350 a couple of months ago because of an "RPM flare" between 3rd and 4th gear when the car was driven in the morning after sitting overnight. Things were OK for awhile, but now the problem seems to be coming back. Sewell Lexus in Fort Worth, Tx has been great, but Lexus has a problem with which they need to deal.
  • I think wwest may be on the right track in linking the hesitation to reducing the level of engine compression braking to improve safety.

    Would you please explain the "ATF" and "DBW" acronyms?

  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    ATF = Automatic Transmission Fluid; that would be the hydraulic medium in the transmission that transmits motive forces to linkages and surfaces as various passages are permitted to flow, the valves commanded by solenoids under the direction of the TCM (Transmission Control Module) / PCM (PowerTrain Control Module) and ECU (Engine Control Unit).

    DBW = Drive By Wire. Traditional systems implemented a cable linkage between the accelerator pedal and throttle body valve. Newer systems do this "by wire" or electronically. By doing this, the request from the pedal and also the command to the throttle body valve can be monitored, augmented, and commanded through the ECU (Engine Control Unit) to achieve higher fuel efficiencies and other system objectives like those, not limited to safety and operability.

    For what it's worth (FWIW), a fairly active discussion of Hesitation in the 2007 Camry is ongoing in the 2007 Toyota Camry Woes forum.

    For instance here:
    toyotacarfan, "2007 Toyota Camry Woes" #2544, 30 Nov 2006 9:18 pm
  • Our 2007 ES 350 started slipping after 750 miles. Around 38-40 mph this would happen intermittently. Now at 1500 mi it happens regularly at 38 mph but also at 25 mph on an incline. Not feeling very good about this purchase. David
  • ecnirpecnirp Posts: 20
    I posted this in another forum but maybe this is a more appropriate place.

    Recently talked to a dealer who is selling a 07 ES350 where Lexus bought it back as part of a voluntary recall. The transmission has been fixed or rebuilt and the car only has 3k miles on it.
    1. Was this an actual recall/buyback offer when the cars were first being sold?
    2. Would this be a good car to purchase since it's still under warranty?
    3. Has anyone else seen these cars available for sale - and at what price?

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