Last post on Sep 22, 2012 at 9:23 AM
You are in the Lexus ES
What is this discussion about?
Lexus ES 300, Lexus ES 330, Transmission, Sedan
#210 of 1407 2003 ES trans problems
Nov 05, 2003 (12:55 am)
I have an 03 ES 300. I can honestly say I have experienced many of the problems that have been posted BEFORE I read this forum. I am not a lead-footed hot-rodder. This is a fabulous car that has even greater potential. However, when I depress the pedal to pass, I hold my breath while the transmission "decides" what it is going to do - characterized as a slipping, mushy, hesitating, feeling - not crisp and responsive. The same feeling occurs after having slowed down to make a turn. I want to get up to speed, but again, I must wait for the car to respond to my request to accelerate. I have also experienced a propensity of the car to drift, rather the remain straight, while driving on the highway, and, occasionally, a sudden "lurch" forward while waiting at a traffic light. These are genuine, valid safety issues, not dreamed up minor complaints. The car's performance reminds me of the adage - a dull knife is far more dangerous than a sharp one. I test drove the 330, and was told it would be a totally different driving experience. Not true at all, just like the 300, a wonderful automobile - but I don't feel confident in critical situations. Since reading this forum I have not complained to the dealer because I am afraid of jepordizing my relationship for future servicing and repairs, and it seems the "fix" is a 50/50 experience. For those of you who admonish - stop whining or get another make of vehicle, I say that's not fair, as this vehicle is superior in satisfaction and quality in so many other areas. However, as owners of a Lexus automobile, we have a right and we should expect, to be able to feel proud, confident and secure as a result of that ownership. That is the message, the mantra if you will, that Lexus uses in their advertising. They exude that feeling in their own words "the Lexus experience".
#211 of 1407 The Lexus Transmission and Drive By Wire
Nov 05, 2003 (2:16 am)
It seems to me that the Lexus 5 speed is a bogus idea. Certainly, acceleration and mileage were not that much improved over the 4 speed. The differences in the 4th & 5th gears in the 300/330 are not that substantial. I think Lexus just wanted to receive a higher EPA clean air certification and perhaps a tad better mileage. Most late model V6 Camry's are 4 speed automatics with the addition of a button that actually down shifts to a constant lower gear - I think it's called ECT or ETC. When engaged (generally for city driving), the tach jumps up about 300 to 400 revs - about the same difference as between 4th & 5th on the 300. When not engaged it is able to drive on the highway in an "overdrive" capacity. The point is - those transmissions were excellent and the mileage was OK. The 300 trans seems to be constantly hunting, pecking, and clunking during city driving while ignoring "more juice now" commands on the highway. The fuzzy logic programming suggests that the unit would "learn" the drivers habits. It would know that the driver is not a lead foot in the city, but when on the highway and the signal to "MOVE IT NOW! - WE NEED TO PASS OR MERGE" is given, it would respond instantly. I have decided to move the shift lever to 4 and leave it there while driving in the city. If the traffic is real heavy and slowly moving, I leave it in 3. That's the equivalent of eliminating the ability of the transmission to "think" for itself. It is not a quick thinking/reacting unit, as is required in most major urban cities.
The other issue is "drive by wire". I am not at all impressed with this electronic method. Yes, jets use this technology, but they do not "shift" gears. They simply increase air and fuel intake. I am not an engineer, but it seems to me that the car is maxed out in terms of weight to horsepower/torque. The small increase in HP and torque for the 330 was not at all substantial. This car should definitely be in the 250 - 275 range. That would not make it a BMW, nor do I want a BMW. It would simply mean there is ample power on tap to respond to today's driving demands in a safe and efficient manner.
#212 of 1407 I feel sorry for you guys
Nov 05, 2003 (5:37 am)
But you need to accept the fact that you are a small minority who have this problem. Most ES300/330 owners are very satisfied with their purchase as indicated by both JD Power and Consumer Reports.
#213 of 1407 motownusa
Nov 05, 2003 (9:09 am)
I don't know where you got the idea that only "a small minority" are complaining, but you are wrong. My dealer saw fit to "upgrade" ALL the cars in their loaner fleet and those being driven by their salesmen. The techs tell me that a large percentage of customers have expressed disatisfaction with the cars performance and they routinely do the upgrade. Lexus admits to customer complaints averaging 12% of sales of 300s. And that is just from people bright enough to recognize a problem. I have talked to techs at three other area Lexus dealers and they tell me that the "upgrade" is being requested by approximatly one half of all owners. SMALL MINORITY? BS At 61 years old I have driving legally for 45 years plus a few illegal years. I have owned dozens of automatic transmission cars, the oldest being a 1950 Oldsmobile. All of them shifted better and more dependably, even the ones on the way to a junkyard. That said, the 300 is second only to my 400 as a near perfect automobile. The transmission being a major drawback. I doubt that I would buy another. Lexus's refusal to deal with the problem also casts icewater on my plans to buy a new 430. What if the 430 has a problem?
#214 of 1407 ES and LS
Nov 05, 2003 (9:55 am)
WRD: While this is not the main thrust of conversation here, I too was sick of the ES transmission, and decided to move up to an LS430. It does NOT have any drivetrain issues. Good Luck with what you decide.
#215 of 1407 From Consumer Report and JD Powers
Nov 05, 2003 (11:31 am)
I get the idea from Consumer Report JD Powers and other websites and from my own experience. My father owns a 02 Lexus ES300 and I own a 03 Camry V6 which has the same engine and transmission. A handful of people ranting and raving on internet forums can greatly exaggerate the true number of people having problems.
#216 of 1407 More likely people only post it
Nov 05, 2003 (11:53 am)
when they have experienced problems. So it can 'sound' worse than it really is, overall. I've 'test-hard-pressed' my pedal under several merging or out of parking into mainroad scenes and never sensed any hesitation on my 03 ES. It shifted up smoothly and effortlessly. Maybe my standard is lower but I'd think it's something, if there, very easy to tell.
Also what I don't get is that this'd be something easy to catch for those that do when test driving the car, b4 buying it. Why did they still buy it?
#217 of 1407 Why DID I buy it?
Nov 07, 2003 (5:35 pm)
Having owned Lexus LS400s since 1997, I would never have believed that Lexus would market a defective automobile and not stand behind it. I did not notice the "shudder" during a test drive.When I purchased the ES300 it became noticable with daily driving.. It didn't always do it and when it did do it, it was not that bad at first. If I had noticed it before purchase I probably would not have bought it.After the "upgrade", a whole new problem appeared. The "shudder" is gone. Slow, inconsistant shifts have taken it's place. Also, at highway speed, when you try to accelerate even slightly, it always downshifts and this takes a timed 3-4 seconds before it gets moving. I hope I never have to get out of the way of something.
#218 of 1407 Ls430
Nov 07, 2003 (5:43 pm)
Vcheng. I looked at a black ultralux today. As nice as it is, and with no chronic problems reported yet, I would be very nervous spending that much on a Lexus now. It would appear that Lexus' answer to a problem with a product line is to deny that the problem exists.
#219 of 1407 lexusrock - The problem is repeatable
Nov 07, 2003 (6:47 pm)
But you have to do the right thing. Specifically, the problem does not appear when accelerating at a time that gas is flowing from the accelerator. The shudder happens when you pull back off the gas and then accelerate.
To repeat the problem, get going to about 40 mph, then pull back on the gas so the gas flow drops off. Then reapply the gas. The reapplication of gas after dropping off is when the shuddering tends to occur on an unmodified transmission.
The problem is not as evident during highway driving as it is in stop and go traffic.
A person test driving the vehicle may not know what to do to repeat the problem and therefore might not feel it during a test drive.