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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • curt2005curt2005 Posts: 70
    I just got an ES330 which uses the previous generation of transmission and computer. It sometimes hesitates on acceleration but I have never felt in danger because of it.

    After careful tests I have determined that on my car there is hesitation only if I gently press the gas pedal. This is fine because it saves gas.

    When I stab the pedal, the car takes off briskly.

    The hesitation problem for the newest transmission and software combination may also be related to how quickly and how far you press the pedal. The computer can easily determine how fast you are moving the pedal, which makes this different from what we are used to with a non-computerized transmission.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I think, actually, the hesitation has more to do with how you release the gas pedal. If you release the pedal quickly, sharply and definitively then the ECU should NOT upshift as a result of "thinking" you wish to enter cruise mode.

    On the other hand if you are somewhat hesitent, release the pedal s..l...o...w.....l.......y, the ECU has every reason to believe that you wish to cruise along at the current speed.

    I suspect, sincerely, that the delay/hesitation problem "begins" with an upshift or the beginning of an upshift sequence, at which point the driver re-applies pressure, sinificant pressure, to the accelerator pedal. Now it will be clear to the ECU that the transaxle needs to be in a lower gear than the upshift just commanded.

    The problem is that the ECU must now wait for the previously commanded upshift to complete before it can "command" a new shift sequence, down to the more appropriate gear ratio for YOUR newly commanded acceleration requirement.

    ~1 second to complete the upshift and ~1 second to complete the downshift, 1-2 seconds during which time the DBW system keeps the throttle CLOSED to prevent inordinate wear to the transaxle clutches.

    When you foresee that an acceleration may be the next activity then release the gas pedal quickly, fully, and definitively. It may even help if you were to use your left foot to apply the brake lightly during this sequence. Braking, along with a quick lift of the pedal should, without any doubt, indicate to the engine/transaxle ECU firmware that your wish is to COAST DOWN to a lower speed.

    I'm not by any means saying that this is something we must adapt our driving styles to, but when it comes to driving the vehicles with this "feature" safely, better to be alive and complaining than......
  • curt2005curt2005 Posts: 70
    Very good point that the computer would also take into account how fast you let up on the accelerator.
  • I inherited a 1996 ES 300 with less than 40,000 two years ago. Since then the car has needed a starter, an axle, and a replacement sun roof. The driver's seat leather seam burst open and the cushion stuffing is coming out. The passenger seatbelt had to be replaced. Then, last week the transmission broke on the interstate. Contacted Lexus corporate customer service and it sounded like Lexus might entertain a repair after taking a look at the car. Any similiar experiences with Lexus or this model/year? Thankx.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    I am surprised that Lexus would do anything for you on a 10 year old vehicle! I wouldn't have even thought to contact them. You are very lucky. Granted, the mileage is/was low, but some things just wear with time, regardless of mileage. Congrats.
  • There are now about a dozen complaints on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration web site regarding the transmission. There are also about 17-18 complaints on the Center for Auto Safety web site. When you file a complaint on that site, they ask you if you would be interested in a class action suit. I suspect if enough people complain, a suit may be a possibility. Given the thousands of complaints on all of the internet forums and discussion groups, this may be the only way to get action from Lexus. I don't believe that they'll do anything voluntarily.
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    The transmission on my 2007 ES-350 hangs and slips at slow speeds. The problem is particularly noticeable in the morning, after the car has been sitting overnight, at about 30-35 mph when it seems like it is shifting from 3rd to 4th gear. Two days ago I wrote a “lemon law” letter to Lexis and told them that on two occasions the dealer had determined that the transmission was not defective and had failed to undertake any repairs. Just received a call from the dealer advising me that a new part (think he said it is some kind of pump) was coming in and that it should take care of my problem. I would be interested in hearing from anyone else with similar transmission problems with their ES-350.
  • Thanks for the posting this. I'm encountering the same problems with my 2005 ES330. I have not been able to quickly find the complaints reported as being posted on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website, nor the Center for Auto Safety website. Can somebody direct me to the specific pages on those websites were they are found, please? Thanks.
  • The web sites are:
  • After about a year of filing complaints to various government and private organizations (including the MA attorney general) the Lexus area representative contacted me and stated that Lexus would like to buy back the car. She said that she would send me a formal letter with the offer in the next several weeks. I don't have high expectations for the amount of the offer.

    I bought the car in August 2005. It had a MSRP of $35,259, plus transportation. The car now has only about 3000 miles. It's in virtually NEW condition. I've researched values ranging from $26,500 (trade-in) to $29,500 (dealer sale). What do you think that Lexus will offer me for the vehicle? When I receive the offer, I'll post it.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I would be very surprised, extremely so, if the terms of the buyback doesn't require you to remain "silent".
  • I have an '05 ES 330 that I've had this transmission issue with and I've gone 15 rounds with Lexus. They are trying to talk me into upgrading to an '07 ES 350 and have assured me that the problem that I've experienced with mine is no longer present since they've redesigned the the transmission for the '07. Your experience seems to indicate otherwise. I'd like to understand if the pump cured the patient.
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    I'll post the results of installation of the pump after it is installed.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    If my theory is correct then a higher volume, larger displacement, internal hydraulic pump would likely help to alleviate the downshift delay.
  • There is definitely a problem with these transmissions. It is on the Lexus website and they have a kit for the dealers to repair this which consists of a valve assembly, a gasket and an o-ring. There is also a note to the dealers to not tell customers avbout this unless they complain and the complaint is verified. My car is at the dealer right now for a repair for the second time because this fix DOES NOT WORK. Even the rental car I have which is a 2007 ES350 has this same problem. Lexus calls this a Transmission Flare up on shifting from 3rd to 4th gear when the car is cold. Sound faniliar????? This is my last Lexus !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    Thanks for the info. I'm waiting on the dealer to receive the kit to install in my car. The car also has a steering problem, which the dealer has confirmed. Waiting on a part for that too. What a hastle for a brand new car!
  • Yes, I bought my ES350 in June. My new Lexus was in the shop for over a week. The transmission had to be worked on. They offered me a new car or a 100,000 mile warranty. I asked them if I could use the loner car until my new car came in. They told me no and that a new car would not arrive for three months. This was at Lexus of Austin Texas. I still love my car and will just have to pretend this repair never happened??
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    try my suggested "fix". If you don't chose to use it long term, fine, but if it works then "we" have important information to publish, and possibly good feedback to Toyota and Lexus.

    It is now my firm belief that if one can avoid the upshift sequence that seemingly almost always occurs during any "coastdown" situation, then the 1-2 second downshift delay can also be avoided.

    To prevent the transaxle from "upshifting" during coastdown:

    Release the gas pedal quickly, fully and definitively. The quicker you can apply pressure to the brake pedal as/when you release the accelerator pedal the better. I would even suggest that those of you comfortable doing so practice using left foot braking so as to get the brakes "on" as quickly as possible AFTER the gas pedal is fully release.

    Note that I do not believe it to be necessary to actually apply any braking force, just enough pressure to trip the microswitch that turns on the brake lights and thereby "tells" the ECU that the brakes have been applied.
  • I had been reviewing the transmission issues on the 2005+ Avalon board and noticed the volume dropping off. Wow, I thought, I guess people have just grown accustomed to a hesitant transmission on a $35k automobile. Not so, I see that the new Lexus ES350 owners are also screwed. Now I read the wwest posts on this site and see the same prescription for novel driving techniques that involve feats of manual dexterity melded with quantum physics. For those of you who may not realize it, Lexus is Toyota and vice versa. What's garbage in one brand is garbage for the other; you just pay more for it with a Lexus.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Could it be that Toyota and Lexus are simply the first to recognize/acknowledge the hazards of FWD and front biased AWD and have decided to do something about it?

    I have no doubt that the use of the ASL, Aggressive Shifting Logic, is done out of the need (necessaty??) to improve FE. On the other hand why upshift, quickly, during coastdowns below ~10 MPH unless it is to prevent loss of control due to engine compression braking?

    Even if ASL was adopted only to improve FE why have, seemingly, no other FWD manufacturers adopted the technique?

    Or the others taking a wait and see attitude?
  • I have same problem with my ES350 which I purchased on July/2006. RPM flares at around 40 mph during 3rd-4th gear shift. I also notice that gear slips when slowing down at around 1000 RPM which I can feel very slight quick accel forward while slowing down to stop. Anyway, dealer could not replicate the RPM flare problem. While my vehicle was in service for some other issue, they gave me another ES350 for a loaner. That vehicle had exact same problems. When I mentioned to service manager, he told me they now have a service bulletin out for the RPM flare issue. They replaced some parts but still, occationally, I notice there is RPM flare, not as severe as before. I requested an extended transmission warrantee but Lexus would not give.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...very slight quick accel forward while slowing down to stop.."

    When I first noticed that effect in my then new 2001 AWD RX300 shortly after purchasing it I referred to it as a feeling of being bumped slightly from behind.

    I suspect the purpose is to moderate the hazardous effects of engine compression braking on the front wheels should the roadbed be fairly slippery.
  • I previously had a 2000 RX300, and started noticing that issue after a time myself (and the awful hesitation problem) --- honestly, I had 2 transmission failures in the RX, thankfully fixed under warranty, and eventually got them to buy me out of that car, and after my complaining (or shouting at the dealership manager! lol) they gave me a great deal on a 2005 ES330.

    Mostly, the ES has been great, no noticable hesitation - but I notice the same bump or slip issues myself at times (not every time I drive), and my girlfriends 2006 RAV4 does the same now it has a couple thousand miles on it.

    I love the Lexus/Toyota brands, but if I get major issues with my ES, that will be me done. Seems to me this "issue"/feature has been going on for years, I can live with it mostly, and I can see how it might be to moderate compression braking, but I've never experienced this with other vehicles, and now it bothers me how much wear/stress this must put on the transmissions. Maybe I'm paranoid now because of my RX experiences, never had a transmission fail in a vehicle ever before - do I have anything to worry about in that department with the ES 330?
  • I don't know about anyone else but I am going after them on the Lemon Law. My car has been in the shop more for this problem than out. Even all of the loaner cars have this problem. Lexus offered to replace the transmission but why? All of the transmissions have this problem so what would I be accomplishing.
  • Well, I just happen to take a look out here 'cause I haven't checked the forum in a while. I could never get used to that transmission problem and after losing the mediation case, I got rid of my 2005 Avalon. I have never had a car for such a short time ! Took me a while to get used to a normal transmission. I keep anticipating that it's going to hesitate and it doesn't ! I am so happy to be rid of that car. All I can do, at this point, is spread the word so that none of my friends or family members get screwed. :-))
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    What did you replace the Avalon with? Curious.
  • I also purchased my ES 350 in June. It has been in the shop for transmission problems more than I have had a chance to drive it. They did the valve kit modification suggested repair and it was useless and drove worse than when I initially brought it in. They tried so many fixes that did not work that they are now talking about replacing my transmission (whcih I do not think will do any good because I have had 2 loaner cars that had the same problem). My next step is going after them under the lemon law act.
  • mojcmhmojcmh Posts: 2
    Transmission had to be replaced on my 1999 Lexis ES 300 at 107,000 miles. This seems like very low mileage for a transmission replacement on a Lexus. Any similar experience with the same model?
  • garmogarmo Posts: 20
    My dealer attempted the valve kit fix on my ES 350 (purchased 5/06) last week and it didn't work. The tranmission slips (or flares) between 3rd and 4th gear more than before. If Lexus has fixed the problem with newly manufactured tranmissions, I'm willing for them to try one more time by replacing the transmission with a new one; otherwise, I'm going to damand that they repurchase the car from me. Had a '98 ES 300 that I really liked, but this has really soured me on Lexus. If anyone has anymore info on this subject, please share it.
  • Lexus finally gave me the formal offer for the repurchase of my ES 330. I complained for the last year, and finally my Lemon Law complaint got some results. They're insisting that this is a voluntary repurchase, but they're basically following the Lemon law formula in computing the price. They're refunding the purchase price and all associated expenses. After the process started, Lexus was very cooperative and accomodating. The Lesson learned is to use your state lemon law if you have one.
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