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Question About Transmission Flare


ADoll
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I want to preface this by saying that I posted before my problem that the transmission was "jumping" between what seemed to be first to second and a member informed me that it was a transmission flare.

So I took it into my Lexus dealer and told them that this was happening and that it was a transmission flare and they acknowldeged there was a problem, however they test drove two other cars and they were doing it too and that they told me that they couldn't do anything for me. So I accepted the anwser since the problem was not a huge deal.

However it started to get worse between 2500 miles and 5000 miles. So when I brought it in for 5,000 I told them again and they tested it again and still wouldn't budge.

How do I approach them so they will fix my problem?

Thank you in advance.

Aaron Dollinger

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If you can't get any satisfaction from your dealer, then the next step is to call Lexus Corporation's Customer Satisfaction at 800-255-3987, and put in a formal complaint.

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Thank you.

I contacted Lexus Corporate and explained to them my problem and my dealings with the dealer and they said they would hand it off to a specialist and they would contact me within a couple of days after they spoke to the dealer.

Has anyone had any similar expierences with this type of problem or with Lexus Customer Satisfaction?

I will keep you up to date with how they handle it and the final result.

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As long as Lexus Corporate does their due diligence and note that there is an existing handful of ES350 customer complaints on the transmission flair issue (there apparently is, even on the new Camry), you should get exactly what you asked for.

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Along the lines of transmission problems. At 5 days old and 130 miles my ES 350 suffered a Transmission Control Module (TCM) failure. Lights came on, the vehicle exhibited erratic behavior and big RPM swings but, the vehicle was able to be driven to the local (not selling) dealer who repaired the problem. While in the shop, I called the Selling Dealer, and explained my plight and asked when my replacement ES 350 would be ready for pickup. The next day I returned with the repaired unit, to the selling dealer who exchanged it for a brand new, exact copy replacement ES 350. This may be a unique situation but, then there are dealeas and there are DEALERS. THere's a reason I've purchased three (3) Lexi from Lexus of Orlando...........

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  • 2 weeks later...

Assuming it only exhibits this "flare" prior to the ATF warming up to operational temperature your problem is probably due to there not being enough ATF volume in the sump until the ATF warms and thereby increases in volume enough to fully fill the sump.

Regretably the only way to overcome this is to allow the ATF to come up to operational temperature, at least partially, before driving off. You cannot add more ATF because a "too high" COLD volume will expand into the area of the gearsets once heated and begin to foam due to the resulting "stirring".

Fitting an engine, torque converter, transaxle and diff'l sideways, East to West, in the smallish engine compartment of a Camry is no simple problem. Add the ES350 V6 and 6-speed and you no longer have room for an ATF sump with ANY surplus space. Unless you expose the bottom of the sump pan to damage by road debris by dropping it TOO low.

Like I said, no SMALL problem, PUN fully intended.

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probably no fix either. ever. Many people are getting failed replacements.

What's f**ked up is that the transmission flare usually doesn't appear until well into your ownership of the car.

What's the difference between the transmission in a new car vs 1000-mile car, I don't know.

Leakage.

A new car will have an almost perfect seal around the o-rings, etc. After a bit of wear-in there is just enough leakage that the ATF oil pump does not have enough capacity during a 3-4 upshift at moderate throttle openings (~low engine RPM) to pressurize two (three?) gear engagement drum clutches and the lockup clutch AND makeup for the leakage volume all at the same time.

Most especially with the ATF still cold and therefore of fairly low VOLUME, not enough to fully fill the sump.

And of course the leakage around those seals will also be worse with the transaxle COLD.

Sum of tolerances.

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Leakage.

A new car will have an almost perfect seal around the o-rings, etc. After a bit of wear-in there is just enough leakage that the ATF oil pump does not have enough capacity during a 3-4 upshift at moderate throttle openings (~low engine RPM) to pressurize two (three?) gear engagement drum clutches and the lockup clutch AND makeup for the leakage volume all at the same time.

Most especially with the ATF still cold and therefore of fairly low VOLUME, not enough to fully fill the sump.

And of course the leakage around those seals will also be worse with the transaxle COLD.

Sum of tolerances.

what is the ideal solution then? some super wear resistant seal? is there even such a thing?

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Leakage.

A new car will have an almost perfect seal around the o-rings, etc. After a bit of wear-in there is just enough leakage that the ATF oil pump does not have enough capacity during a 3-4 upshift at moderate throttle openings (~low engine RPM) to pressurize two (three?) gear engagement drum clutches and the lockup clutch AND makeup for the leakage volume all at the same time.

Most especially with the ATF still cold and therefore of fairly low VOLUME, not enough to fully fill the sump.

And of course the leakage around those seals will also be worse with the transaxle COLD.

Sum of tolerances.

I could understand this, but not on a car that has a few thousand miles. Seals/o-rings are made out of materials that last a long, long time! :)

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Leakage.

A new car will have an almost perfect seal around the o-rings, etc. After a bit of wear-in there is just enough leakage that the ATF oil pump does not have enough capacity during a 3-4 upshift at moderate throttle openings (~low engine RPM) to pressurize two (three?) gear engagement drum clutches and the lockup clutch AND makeup for the leakage volume all at the same time.

Most especially with the ATF still cold and therefore of fairly low VOLUME, not enough to fully fill the sump.

And of course the leakage around those seals will also be worse with the transaxle COLD.

Sum of tolerances.

I could understand this, but not on a car that has a few thousand miles. Seals/o-rings are made out of materials that last a long, long time! :)

Okay, many of the seals in your transaxle are of the metal ring type about the same as the piston rings.

Back in 92 Lexus somehow found themselves with some really soft copper with which to fabricate the slip ring commutation connections for the alternators. At ~100,000 miles they were worn down to the alternator shaft while the slip ring brushes themselves had lots of wear left.

So, Toyota has found themselves some metal hydraulic fluid sealing rings with the metal dis-simuliar enough from the drum clutch metal that the expansion rate differs significantly.

When new, not worn in the least, everything is find. But with a little wear and the fact that the expansion rate with heat isn't as great as the component being sealed there is too much leakage duirng the warm up period.

For every question there is an answer, or at least an educated guess.

Yes, yes, I know, piston rings seat better after the initial break in period. But that still wouldn't account for differing metal's expansion rate.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So, let me ask all of you this: Is the transmission problem intractable?

Should I even bother getting a new ES 350 if I know there's a fairly good chance that I will have transmission problems with it? When I buy a car, I like to keep it a long time (5+ years). Is the ES 350 a lame duck?

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So, let me ask all of you this: Is the transmission problem intractable?

Should I even bother getting a new ES 350 if I know there's a fairly good chance that I will have transmission problems with it? When I buy a car, I like to keep it a long time (5+ years). Is the ES 350 a lame duck?

The ES350 is definitely not a "lame duck"! The largest percentage of people that bought the ES350 have had NO transmission problems. I bought mine the last week in April, 2007 and have had absolutely NO problems in all respects. I love this car......it's the best ES of the 3 previously owned models that I've owned. :)

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I can remember you and I having exactly the opposite argument about the transmission lag on the 03 LOL.

I wouldn't be concerned, Alan is right the percentage of people with this issue is small and the 350s I've driven don't have it. Just drive the one you're going to buy as extensively as you can beforehand, and don't worry.

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amf1932,

You say that ES350 this is better than past ES models. Mine is first Lexus, therefore, I can't compare, but I liked my car. I am puzzled why some say that pervious models were better. Of couse, I find interior lighting inadequate, a cheap looking dash, etc. but overall car seems to be quite nice.

I have glued small transparent matching sized plastic strips on garage door buttons. They don't change the appearance, but make it easier to find in dark (think braille).

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Its all a matter of personal preference and Alan is obviously extremely pleased with his 350. He was however extremely displeased with the throttle lag that is apparent on earlier Lexus cars with the drive by wire system (they've gotten better at this) on his 03, which is what I suspect makes him so much more pleased with his 350.

Even Alan said he did not disagree with me about the 350's interior after he first bought it though ;)

I love everything about the 350 except what I consider to be a terrible interior compared to the previous cars. Thats its only flaw, for me its important enough that I would never buy one.

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Its all a matter of personal preference and Alan is obviously extremely pleased with his 350. He was however extremely displeased with the throttle lag that is apparent on earlier Lexus cars with the drive by wire system (they've gotten better at this) on his 03, which is what I suspect makes him so much more pleased with his 350.

Even Alan said he did not disagree with me about the 350's interior after he first bought it though ;)

I love everything about the 350 except what I consider to be a terrible interior compared to the previous cars. Thats its only flaw, for me its important enough that I would never buy one.

I wouldn't go so far as to call the interior "terrible". You'll grow to like it. In fact, everybody that sits in my car loves the interior, including the dashboard. All these minor things are unimportant, as far as I'm concerned, since once I press the start button, and shift into gear and zoom off, I love this car even more. :)

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No, I don't think so. I really think it would bother me every time I drove it, on top of the fact that three adults can't sit as comfortably abreast in the back seat as in mine, the interior is just a deal breaker for me. I'm just gonna keep mine or pony up for an LS next time. Or maybe try something new like a BMW or a Infiniti M45.

Not to say its not a great car though, in every other respect its the best ES they've ever made. Hell, its sold the best too so those of us who are bothered by it are obviously in the minority, but for me it would always bug me.

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I'm just gonna keep mine or pony up for an LS next time.

Quite a large pony. :) You realize that you could buy 2 ES's for what 1 LS would cost, but I'm basing this on a cash purchase, which is what I always do when buying cars. As they say, "Cash on the Barrelhead". LOL ;)

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Oh absolutely, which was why I went with the ES back in 03, but I don't feel like you get as much of the LS aura in the 350 as you did back then, making it more worthwhile to me.

Plus, the LS takes mileage better than the ES. As I get closer to 100k in the ES, while by the standards of any other car its still as solid as when it was new, it does have SOME looseness and quivers sometimes that aren't there in the LS. Plus, resale is better. I'll lease anyways, and its about $350 a month more for the LS, totally worth it.

We'll see where I'm at when that lease is up, might have kids etc (scary thought). Maybe I'll then buy it out of the lease and keep it a long time. I'd rather be in a 7 year old LS than a 7 year old ES.

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  • 8 months later...

I'm thinking of buying a 2008 ES 350 and have read the transmission flare discussions on different websites. I wouldn't want to venture a guess as to what the chance is of getting a ES 350 with a flare problem: 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 50%? If the ES 350 has a flare problem, what is the chance of it being a severe problem vs. a minor nuisance: 0.01%, 1%, 10%, 90%? I've read about other problems afflicting the ES 350 such as engine knocks, interior rattling noises, and wind noise. I'm sure the ES 350 has some minor problems too but those are the major ones I can recall. The easy answer for the potential buyer is to cross off Lexus from the list. Why take the chance?

The ES 350 was easily my #1 choice in terms of features and value. I was attracted to the Lexus brand because my impression was that Toyota and Honda generally make the highest-quality under-$40K cars in the world. What would make more sense than buying from Toyota's "luxury" division? Car magazine journalists regularly write about "legendary Lexus quality." Which leads to a contradiction: Why does Toyota have such a stellar quality reputation even though it has had ongoing FWD transaxle problems since 1999? Why can't Toyota figure this out? Shouldn't Toyota thoroughly test pre-production models instead of making its customers responsible for quality assurance? Replaced transmissions, buybacks, amazing.

It's hard to figure out the precise truth and a manufacturer is probably going to avoid transparency in this kind of situation, so I think I should move on to other makes and models. Any suggestions for FWD alternatives to the 2008 ES 350?

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I'm thinking of buying a 2008 ES 350 and have read the transmission flare discussions on different websites. I wouldn't want to venture a guess as to what the chance is of getting a ES 350 with a flare problem: 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 50%? If the ES 350 has a flare problem, what is the chance of it being a severe problem vs. a minor nuisance: 0.01%, 1%, 10%, 90%? I've read about other problems afflicting the ES 350 such as engine knocks, interior rattling noises, and wind noise. I'm sure the ES 350 has some minor problems too but those are the major ones I can recall. The easy answer for the potential buyer is to cross off Lexus from the list. Why take the chance?

The ES 350 was easily my #1 choice in terms of features and value. I was attracted to the Lexus brand because my impression was that Toyota and Honda generally make the highest-quality under-$40K cars in the world. What would make more sense than buying from Toyota's "luxury" division? Car magazine journalists regularly write about "legendary Lexus quality." Which leads to a contradiction: Why does Toyota have such a stellar quality reputation even though it has had ongoing FWD transaxle problems since 1999? Why can't Toyota figure this out? Shouldn't Toyota thoroughly test pre-production models instead of making its customers responsible for quality assurance? Replaced transmissions, buybacks, amazing.

It's hard to figure out the precise truth and a manufacturer is probably going to avoid transparency in this kind of situation, so I think I should move on to other makes and models. Any suggestions for FWD alternatives to the 2008 ES 350?

Have you thought about the Lexus IS series, test drove one? IS even has R/AWD version.

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