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The Ridiculous Escapades Of A 96 Es300 Transmission.


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So it seems that I have some sort of magical transmission in the es300. Now what what puzzles me is the events that have transpired over the past year.


Just about a lil more than a year ago the car had work done to replace a seal that was leaking fluid. Got fixed but sometime afterwards the transmission would completely disengage and wouldn't turn the wheels at all unless you turned the car off and back on in neutral while driving. Obviously the highway was out of the question, so the car sat for sometime while waiting till the weather got warmer to swap the tranny. Except for the occasional wifi excursion that I would take to get a signal from my neighbors (gotta love un-secured). So the weather gets warm weathers warm start the car up to go off to the garage problem has vanished completely with no reasonable explanation.

Problem #1 solved by who knows what.


Now a few days ago it started to slip and not engage again but this time kinda like when a clutch plate is worn down and you high rev. I thought I was just losing traction since the roads were wet, reasonable conclusion since I do have baldish tires. Now Tuesday night I went out to see some friends it was dry the same problem was there so I concluded it wasn't the tires slipping. So I check my other gears, they all slip except for reverse it runs like perfect, so I also inspect my Dextron III ATF, yea burnt to the color of engine oil. So Wednesday I went and cycled about 7 quarts of fluid, it didn't fix the problem it I got *BLEEP*ed off, so I scrapped my oil change plans drove home, took a turn a lil hard and sharp. Accelerated through it and like wtf? all my forward gears are back to normal. Yay Highway!

Everything's awesome right? Wrong. The mystical solution to #2 caused #3!


Upon coming home I investigated the miraculous self repair of my tranny and ran it through all the gears. It would seem that to get consistent forward motion, my reverse has been disabled. So I have no reverse(it also trys to go forward and stops), and my neutral is like drive. But park works just dandy(but instead of lurching back in park it lurches forward and locks).

So frankly I'm stumped after searching the forums, I've found a few possible problem causing areas, Kick-Down cable, Solenoids, Shift Linkage, something in the internals. But I myself cant really conclude what it might be as it keeps fixing itself and the problems are never the same.

I already have a spare trans from when the problem #1 was occurring so thats been waiting for something to happen so it could be put to use. So the current plan is that the tranny is gonna be swapped on Sunday or Monday unless it doesn't have to be.

Any of you guru's have any idea? Also if It helps the check engine light would occasionally come on prior to #2 and #3 and then yesterday it was on for like 10min, I haven't been able to check the code myself as the plug is different for the ODB scanner my dad has. I personally would rather not have to swap the tranny.

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What type of fluid did you use?

Drive the car around (If possible without it slipping) until the fluid is warm, park, shift to all gears & read the dipstick while it idles. What is the current fluid level? (It must be checked warm & running.)

Does the throttle valve cable feel like it has slack in it?

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After pouring through the automatic transaxle pdfs from the 94camry repair manual and looking over the troubleshooting matrx of problem symptoms and that the current symptom is that the "Vehicle does not move in the R position" which concludes the following suspect areas:

Chap 2 On vehicle repair

1-2 Shift Valve, 2-3 Shift Valve

Chap 3 Off vehicle repair

O/D Direct Clutch (CO), Direct Clutch (C2), 2nd coast brake (B1), 1st and reverse brake (B3), Front planetary gear, Rear planetary gear

I'm going to go to the dealer and hopefully talk with a few people and maybe get a diagnostic tool reading since apparently my es300 isn't OBDII compliant, so I cant do the reading myself. Depending on what the reading says I'll drop the pan clean and flush some more.

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Well the diagnostic plug says otherwise.

As for the fluid I've been using its been DextronIII/mercon. Car has 150k on it original tranny, but the engine was rebuilt after it succumbed to sludge about 35k ago.

Right now i've got the pan down, and the filter off, the magnets looked pretty with all the crap magnetized to them. Also the replacement transmission that seems to have slight differences in it so I might not be able to use it if it comes down to it :\

After cleaning up the mesh filter found a nice piece of plastic that was probably deposited by the mechanics that changed the seal. Also cleaned the pan and magnets and that was just disgusting. Gonna try and put it all back now.

rawr :\

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On page 77 of the transaxle manual it says to try a test where you disconnect the solenoid wire.

And unfortunately it seems my transmission has failed this such test as it brought up my #2 and #3 problems at once.

Oh and i found the OBDII connection next to the fuses :\ I;m dumb

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I knew you would find the connector. The 1mz-fe is the worlds first OBD compliant engine in 94 before being mandated in 97.

you have a A541E transmission in the 96. The 92-93 ES300 tranny which is easy to find uses just a A541. The E stands for electronic shift control which the 92-93 does not have.

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I knew you would find the connector. The 1mz-fe is the worlds first OBD compliant engine in 94 before being mandated in 97.

you have a A541E transmission in the 96. The 92-93 ES300 tranny which is easy to find uses just a A541. The E stands for electronic shift control which the 92-93 does not have.

Wouldve been nice if you just told me where it was rather than having me find it after pouring through the manual over and over to find a way to fix the tranny rather than swap it. Would've been able to get that code :\

Tranny swap has begun however :[

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True but in the end it wouldn't have mattered as the tranny need to be swapped.

But nonetheless the tranny swap was successful, even with the unfortunate axle failure, which required that it be replace and extended my time to completion about an hour ago.

I have all my gears back yay, no slipping, gonna constantly check for the next week probably until I'm satisfied. As well as checking my tranny fluid level.

Can't say I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to never having to have to do it again.

Next few days ill take apart the old tranny and try to find the cause of all my troubles.

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