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Transmission problems with Lexus ES?



  • wrd: I agree. I told the Lexus dealer that if they didn't fix the problem, this will be the first and last Lexus I will ever buy. How can I trust them?

    With regard to the shuddering/lean engine stumble, when I am coasting at about 40-45 mph. the car will shudder without any acceleration. Is this the same for you (your wifes' car)?
  • wrdwrd Posts: 40
    I have not noticed the shudder when off the gas. It seems to be during normal acceleration through the 40/45 mph range that it is the most noticable. Again, while I do drive the car on occasion, I drive it as seldom as possible. Perhaps if I drove it every day, I would notice more. I am waiting for some carpet clips now. When it goes in for that, I intend to pressure them for more explanation.
  • pkorman1pkorman1 Posts: 1
    The transmission bucks between 1800 and 2000 rpm's. It is terrible at shifting in traffic. Example, slowing down for a red light, the light turns green and you hit the gas and it bucks. It does not shift smoothly. Lexus promised a fix with the 2003 model. It does the same thing. They keep clearing the computer. It is good for maybe a day or so. SEE THE LEMON LAW!
  • wrd: sounds like two problems. i notice that when i accelerate at times, the car will stumble a bit. this must be the lean engine stumble issue. the car also shudders around 40-45 mph when not acclerating; this must be the transmission issue that i was talking to the dealer about. now i understand.
    pkorman1: i notice the bucking as well. very annoying. but, one of many annoying issues with the ES300.
  • daytona01daytona01 Posts: 46
    Lexus has a slow sale for last 2 months...
    for ES: 8548 vs 10,368 .... about 20% decline compare to last year

    This month, Lexus has some kind of dealer rebate (info from to kick up sale and help clean up their over stock... and that's why we have seen a lot of ES commercial recently...

    I waited for the end of month (another tip from several people at Emunds board)... This Thursday.. I brought home an ES... for just 32K... with premium pkg ( leather & 6 CDs ) + heated seat + HID + wood trim + VSC.... (sticker 36522)...

    I'm very aware of the tranmission problem ... but so far all I have counted is about 50 owners (surely there are more) have that problem... and most are 2002 model....
    so compare that number to more than 50,000 ES sold last year.... that is about 0.1%

    I cross my finger and enjoy my beautiful Alabaster Metallic with black leather.

    I hope Lexus will soon solve the problem of their program with the tranmission...
    that will be a happy day for everybody...

    Without that problem... ES is a beatifull car, isn't it ???

    I wish you all the best

    Drive safe..
  • joker2108joker2108 Posts: 30

    is the Es330 coming out this year? If so I might wait for it.

    Anyone know what features it will have?
  • canuck13canuck13 Posts: 73
    I understand that the 04 Sienna uses the same transmission. Here is what I just posted on the Sienna site. Does this sound the same as the ES300 problems:

    I wish I had checked this site before buying my 04 Sienna. I only have about 100 miles on mine and I absolutely hate the transmission. I have it into Toyota to look at today but after reading these posts, I'm sure they are going to say it is working as designed. I've noticed 3 separate problems. First, when you go around a corner at low speed it seems like you are in neutral when you try to accerate. Second, when you are coming to a stop, occasionally, you feel like someone has bumped you from behind. Third, (like some of the posts here) when you hit the gas hard (like when trying to pass) the engine revs up to the red line but there is no power. I think this is a transmission problem, not an engine problem.
  • canuck13: Sorry to hear about your problems so early on. Seems very similar (the clunkiness and jerking). It would seem that they would fix these problems with the transmission on their new cars. I am glad I heard this from you. My wife and I were thinking about buying a AWD Sienna but two cars with the same problem is just too much for me.
  • ramza39ramza39 Posts: 23
    I have read through almost all the postings and it seems the ES300 really has transmission problem. I am going to test drive this car soon and can someone please tell me what should I do in order to "get" this problem during the test drive. Also, should I consider this car? Have they fixed the problem in 2003 cars?
  • daytona01daytona01 Posts: 46
    1. The transmission problem:
    A lot people (my count about 50) have complained:
     - Transmission responds slow (noticeable) when trying to pass (at speed 40-50 mph)
     - some people (2) also complained when cruising at 40-50 mph the car suddenly shudders...

    Current logic for the transmission probably is: try to shifting to high gear.. to save gas, and gain quiet... The car will try to study your driving pattern... and making decision
    But sometimes... the transmission confuse whether to shift to low gear for quick accelerate or high gear....

    2. My research: I’ve research for 6 months almost daily.... (I’m a computer software engineer… known a little bit about basic mechanic... I work with the internet and I read Edmunds everyday)….
     I’ve counted there are about 50 people complained about the transmission...
    - Most of them are 2002 model….
    - Few people said 2003 model have it too... but no one clearly said they owned 03 and have problem…
    - And some people said Lexus claimed their 2003 model is fixed.

    3. The risk:
        So, compare that number 50 ( there're probably more.. because people may didn't known or didn't complained on internet) to more than 50 thousands ES sold last year .... it is about 0.1%
       Thus, yes, there is clearly a chance of having transmission problem with 2002 model.
       For 2003 model… it is un-confirmed… if have, the chance I believe will be small.

       If you are afraid of the problem... you can wait until Sept for the new ES330.... with the bigger engine... and probably a new program for transmission (the price for the new ES330 will be at sticker though)

    4. Our drive test:
       The car I drove test is 2003 model and doesn't have problem... (I tried a lot of suddent acceleration... and cruising for 10 minutes at 40-50mph)

    5. We bought:
        Last week, my brother-in-law and I... we bought 2 cars for the little less than 32K each... (list price 36552)... more than 4.5K discount...

    6. Why we bought ES:
    We've started to look for new cars since August last year... Our list are: Altima, Mazda 6, Accord, Acura TL, and Lexus ES300
       - Altima: nice body but interior is so cheap
       - TL: last year model.. Once the new Accord came out... we remove TL out of our list
       - 6: just has zoom-zoom noise...
       - Accord EX-V6: our top choice... 240Horse good value.. lot of feature for the price...
       - ES: not sporty as Accord or TL, rich interior, pricey options..

    Accord was top of our list.. But, Honda dealer didn't give us good deal (add $$ for silver color, window etch, 1K for extended warrant, hefty dealer fee)… total at 25K...
    But, on March... (I've monitored the price almost everyday) and suddenly see ES300 has rebate.. (Still more expensive than Accord of course).. but in our reachable range... So, we went to Lexus dealer... to take a drive test to see how different Accord vs ES...

    Our truly intention... is to give ES a shot... if not remove ES out of out list... and nail down our deal with Accord

    We have a good deal for ES... not only just the car and the price... but also... with Lexus dealer... totally different with Honda, Acura dealers.. that we have visited...

    The price, good service and pleasant treatment outweighs the unknown small risk of transmission problem…

    So, we decided go for it... (And cross finger.. wish that 2003 model is fixed)

    7. Worst case scenario:
    If 2003 hasn’t fixed… the chance of having problem is small… I think the problem is just the decision logic in the algorithm of shifting gears program for the transmission...
    Those talent, well-paid engineers at Lexus probably will be able to find out solution for it.... if they can't... they can hire me... :-)

    If not... since I bought it with a big discount... it probably will be less hurt to trade in to get a different car...

    8. My ES:
       Brought it home last Thursday… I've put 170 miles on it.... I had a 140 miles up-state round trip in the weekend with a lot of cruising (of course), hill mountain climbing and passing…
    So far, the car is wonderful... the transmission responds fine....The leather seat (probably b/c new) is a little bit hard though... I'm very happy with the car…

    I'm following the instruction from the manual ... use premium gas, no hard braking, no hard accelerating and no racing for the first 1000 miles…

    Hope it may help... and good luck with your research
  • I would like to say that the ES300 would be awesome if it weren't for the transmission issues. I transport little kids around town and I can tell you, the car feels very safe and build quality is very good. The car has 15k miles now and has not broke down or had any other problems. So while annoying, it does not appear to be a reliability issue.
  • daytona01daytona01 Posts: 46
    Dealer rebate is expired... (for my NJ zip code) shows price at 33,360 (1K higher compare to March) for a car listed at 36,552

    Yes.. I totally agree with es300trans... ES300 is an awesome car...

    I hope they will find solution for your car transmission...
    Also, I heard from Edmunds.. some people (2)complained with Lexus and got a $2000 voucher... from Lexus toward purchasing any Toyota or Lexus... Why don't you give it a shot...
  • rtorrecartorreca Posts: 74
    I was exactly in the same boat as you more than 13 months ago. Before I bought my 02 ES300, I've heard some rumblings about the transmission problems but made exactly the same assumption you have - that I might be lucky enough NOT to be in the .1% that's having the problem. I guess I was not that lucky. Now, I absolutely loathe this car. If I can do it all over, I would have stuck with my 99 EX-V6 Accord. Man I miss that car!

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy your new lexus. I know there's plenty of people here who absolutely enjoy theirs. Good luck and keep crossing those fingers!
  • I think that the number is higher than .1%. Just because only 50 or so people have posted issues regarding the es300 transmission does not imply that the % is .1. I would argue that only a certain personality type with decent computer skills would post on the internet. For example, I am a type A and am 37 years old with decent computer skills. If someone could figure out what % of Lexus es300 owners have this personality type, then we would be closer to the true number. Since the average age of lexus owners in mid 50s, I would conjecture that only a small group of this age group would understand the computer well enough to post on the internet. The % type A? Your guess is as good as mine. But lets conservatively assume that 10% of ES300 owners have good enough computer skills and 10% of the population of ES300 owners have a type A personality. Time to post is also another factor. But lets keep it simple. This would imply that approx. 10% of 2002 Lexus ES300 owners have the problem. Who knows what the true number is. But its a lot larger than .1%.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    in two years of researching lemon law cases, I have never seen an ES300 transmission or engine management problem. I look at cases all over the Northeast and there are plenty of ES300s in our area.
  • rtorrecartorreca Posts: 74
    I agree with you that it's much higher than .1% but I used that number just for the sake of argument. It's pointless to try and figure out the real number since there really is no way of finding out - unless you have access to lexus service records.
  • It's early in the process. You need to wait approx. 18 months before you can file Lemon Law in my state. You may see some cases with the 2002 shortly. As you can see below from, you need to attempt to have the car repaired a number of times before you can use the law to the fullest extent:

    What is a "lemon"? A "lemon" is a vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value or safety. In general, if the vehicle has undergone a "reasonable" number of repair attempts for the same warranted defect within the warranty period, and the defect has not been repaired, the vehicle qualifies as a "lemon" under the "lemon laws" of most states. The number of "repair attempts" needed before the lemon law applies varies by state and may also depend on the defect: typically, safety-related defects require fewer repair attempts. However, keep in mind that if the defect is not covered by a warranty, it is not likely to be covered by your state’s lemon law
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    You need to have "repetitive or unrepaired problems" that "substantially impair the use, safety or value" of a vehicle - (Magnusson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act.

    You don't have to wait 18 months - the problems have to have had occured within the FIRST 18 months of ownership.

    Additionally, a vehicle doesn't have to meet the requirement of your state's lemon law for you to seek damages under Mag-Moss.
  • but it takes time to build a case. Plus, Lexus may fix the problem in which case, there is no need to push the issue. I am in a wait and see position myself, as I am sure, many other 2002 ES300 owners are.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I certainly know what a "lemon" is - I've seen about 4,000 of them in the last 2 years! That word is overused to describe vehicles that don't meet the guidelines.
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