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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?

tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
There has been some discussion regarding transmission problems (hesitation) with the 2002 ES 300. Does this problem also exist in the 2003 ES 300? What is Lexus doing about it?


  • richm4richm4 Posts: 169
    I haven't heard of anyone saying the trans problem has ever been fixed. For one last time, I'm going to try test driving an ES300 this weekend to see if the trans problem still exists. If I don't notice a problem I may finally relent and buy the ES300. If the problem is still there, I'll probably give up and go buy the Accord instead.
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    Let me know your impressions after you drive the ES300.
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    Hard to beleive that a company like Lexus would
    not take positive action on the trans...
  • wrdwrd Posts: 40
    My 02 has what has been described as a "lean mixture stumble". Most noticable around 40mph, less noticable but still noticable at most other speeds. Lexus Customer Hotline says it is a lean mixture, originally to improve emissions, and a fix is due around July. My 3rd Lexus(and probably last) and I am upset that they would release a model and take so long to fix it. The stumble is very annoying.
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    I do not blame you for being annoyed. I am surprised they have not responded more quickly to resolve the problem. I called the service department of several different Lexus dealers to ask about the problem and they told me there is no problem in most cars. I was told that it's just a few cars and they are putting in chips to fix the problem.

    Does the 03 model have the same trans problem?

    How do you access the Lexus Customer Hotline?
  • I own a 2002 ES300. I have brought the car back three times regarding the shuddering, surging and jerking transmission problems. They finally admitted that there was a problem the third time (one year after i owned the car). But, they have not promised to fix it or do anything about it. I will never buy a Lexus again.
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    I've been looking at an ES 300 and i can tell you that Lexus continues to deny that there are concerns with any of their transmissions.

    Thanks for relating your bad experieice.

    I will profit from it....
  • daytona01daytona01 Posts: 46
    The problem as I understand:
        Several ES300 owners have complained about the problem that when trying to accelerate... (highway merging or passing)... at about 50 mph...
    the transmission “confuses” on whether to stay at or go up gear (to save gas) OR down gear (for quick acceleration)

        You want to accelerate so you keep pumping on gas... but it doesn’t know what to do so no respond...(in a noticeable period) And then suddenly the car speed off…

    Question for who are having problem:
        How does your transmission problem happen ?...
        Does it happen all the time or just occasionally ?
        It's stall for how long ?... few seconds ?

        If you take it little bit easier on gas… when passing or merging
        Or if you step on gas and no respond… can you just take it easy on gas pedal… then try again... Does it still happen?

         I think the reason it suddenly speed of.... b/c it changes to low gear and your rpm is high

    My test drive:
        I planning to buy an ES 300 and did a test drive last weekend...
        While cruising at about 40-50 mph... I tried (suddenly) pump on gas... the transmission responded little slow (not as fast as my 2 doors Daytona or the Acura TL)... but I think it is OK for a 4 doors sedan...

       The car I drove is 2003 with Premium package, VSC + brake assist + traction control, HID, wood trim
  • The problem that you have described is not the worst of it. Picture this, you are coasting along at 45 mph (e.g., no acceleration at all) and the car suddenly shudders. It does not happen all the time. You will only realize it after you own it. By then its too late. Do a search in google on ES300 transmissions problems and you will see that there are quite a few of us out there. Also, read Edmunds own "full road test" review of the ES300:

    "Owners of the redesigned ES 300 have complained long and loud about the transmission. During our testing, we found when driving normally the five-speed automatic shifted imperceptibly. But when exercising the car or driving aggressively, the slushbox responded with harsh upshifts and soggy, delayed downshifts, behaving as though it were utterly confused about what the driver wanted it to do."

    This problem bothers me as well, but I could live with this one. Its the shuddering while coasting problem that I can't deal with. And again, it does not occur frequently enough during a test drive. I only noticed it after the first week after I had purchased it. What makes me really angry is that they denied the problem for so long. And after they admit there is an issue, they won't fix it. Utterly frustrating.

  • daytona01daytona01 Posts: 46

    Did you try to contact with high level of Lexus ?

    If they know problem and don't fix.. I think you can take some legal action with them.... (for violation of warranty agreement)

    I searched the web... some people also have the transmission problem of 2002 model... they file a complain at => category Automotive.

    I went there and want to read more information... but somehow the complain link is no longer available... (I don't know the case was dropped b/c their cars was fixed or there is some solution, settlement...etc... you may want to contact them)
  • tedescm1tedescm1 Posts: 309
    To: es300trans

    Do you have a 2002 or 2003?

    Lexus claims the problem is fixed on the 2003.

  • If you know of anyone else with a similar complaint, please encourage them to register it at I did.
  • daytona01daytona01 Posts: 46
    es300trans: you just file the complain ???
    or long time ago... any respond ?

    I went to and search for the complain: tml

    => "This case is no longer accepting plaintiffs"
  • daytona01:
    I just submitted my complaint based on your post #12, thanks. I was not aware of that site. The fact that there was a prior case that is no longer there at least assures me that the problem may be bigger than we all know. You found a very interesting piece of information.
  • wrdwrd Posts: 40
    FYI. I brought my 2002 ES300 in to the dealer to fix a few rattles. They gave me a 2003 as a loaner. It also has a "lean engine stumble". Brand new car(4000 miles).I don't know if this is the trans problem you have all been discussing.The trans seems to shift fine. The car just seems to occassionally "shudder" around 40mph. Also at other speeds, but most noticable around 40.
  • Yes, this appears to be the same problem that my 2002 Lexus is having. So the shuddering is not the transmission? The lexus dealer made it sound like it was. Does your 2002 ES300 have the "lean engine stumble"? What is the "lean engine stumble"? Have you discused whether or not the "lean engine stumble" can be fixed with the dealer? Thanks wrd for your info.
  • wrdwrd Posts: 40
    It seems that others may have a trans problem. I assume that their cars are being diagnosed correctly. I originally thought my car had a trans problem, but the tech at the dealership went for a ride with me and diagnosed it as a stumble. A problem they are aware of and can do nothing about at this time. The computer controls the mixture. I called the 800 number in the back of the owners manual to verify. The person there was aware of the problem and said they were working on a fix and it should be available by July.
  • wrdwrd Posts: 40
    I couldn't open the first link, but,the second seemed to deal with cold start-up/run. My 300 has the stumble even after being driven for several hours. It is especially noticable at approx. 40mph,but is noticable at higher speeds more as a vibration. It feels almost like wheel balance at 70/80 mph, but the wheel balance has been checked and rechecked.It is annoying enough that I would not be able to drive this car daily.(wifes car). I drive a LS400(my second one) and if Lexus cannot or will not fix the 300 I would be hesitant to buy another Lexus. Again, the 2003 loaner did the same thing.
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