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02-06 Transmission hesitation problems


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I have to eat my words here. I bought an 04 ES330 in August. Initially, I didn't see any problems with the transmission.

As time has gone on, the problems have become more pronounced. Lags in downshifting, 'thinking' about what gear to go into, hard shifts, and so on. I took it back to the dealer and they said it was acting normally, but they reset the computer. It's no better.

I'm now at 9200 miles and I'm going to ask the dealer to have another look when it's in for the 10K service.

On other fronts, I haven't been real thrilled about the build quality. Two broken seat backs, defective trunk release button, two different rattles, and one wind noise. The dealer is great - they've taken care of everything (except the transmission - so far), but I'd expect better from a $33 K car.

Still, of all the cars I've owned, this is the first one I've really loved.

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I'll find out amf, I wasn't aware of this either.

iagosta:

I know this is not the main topic, but could use some help. I just had the drivers seat back go out on me for the second time. What did Lexus do for you? Did they simply put it back together, or did they change the chair on the second break?

:censored:

Thanks,

Jeff (jeffnpigs)

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iagosta:

I know this is not the main topic, but could use some help. I just had the drivers seat back go out on me for the second time. What did Lexus do for you? Did they simply put it back together, or did they change the chair on the second break?

:censored:

Thanks,

Jeff (jeffnpigs)

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iagosta:

I know this is not the main topic, but could use some help. I just had the drivers seat back go out on me for the second time. What did Lexus do for you? Did they simply put it back together, or did they change the chair on the second break?

:censored:

Thanks,

Jeff (jeffnpigs)

They completely replaced the seat back both times.

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As time has gone on, the problems have become more pronounced. Lags in downshifting, 'thinking' about what gear to go into, hard shifts, and so on.

Are you using regular gas (87 octane) or the recommended premium (91 octane or higher) ?

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Hello All,

I am new to this forum. I understand the problem of the hesitation in the ES 300 `03 but I would like to know if anybody is experiencing another problem that is when you first start the car in the morning that the car shakes for 15 sec. and then smooths out. Also the car will shake at a stop light. I have an Arbitration case scheduled and would like to get some feed back so I may present some more information.

If you have any info please email me with info.

priobe@bellsouth.net

Thank you

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As time has gone on, the problems have become more pronounced. Lags in downshifting, 'thinking' about what gear to go into, hard shifts, and so on.

Are you using regular gas (87 octane) or the recommended premium (91 octane or higher) ?

It doesn't seem to matter. We can't get 91 octane here, so I sometimes run 87 and sometimes 93. Even when I run 93 for a couple tanks in a row, there's no change.

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As time has gone on, the problems have become more pronounced. Lags in downshifting, 'thinking' about what gear to go into, hard shifts, and so on.

Are you using regular gas (87 octane) or the recommended premium (91 octane or higher) ?

It doesn't seem to matter. We can't get 91 octane here, so I sometimes run 87 and sometimes 93. Even when I run 93 for a couple tanks in a row, there's no change.

Yes, I have tried different grades of gas. The problem is still there. But I did not pay 30k + for a car to shake on start up. This is why I am seek lemon.

I am ,looking to just get my money back or get into a car with out a problem.

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Hello All,

I am new to this forum. I understand the problem of the hesitation in the ES 300 `03 but I would like to know if anybody is experiencing another problem that is when you first start the car in the morning that the car shakes for 15 sec. and then smooths out. Also the car will shake at a stop light. I have an Arbitration case scheduled and would like to get some feed back so I may present some more information.

If you have any info please email me with info.

priobe@bellsouth.net

Thank you

I've never heard of that shaking problem. It's not the same as the transmission problem that's being discussed here.

I can't imagine why they're having a hard time diagnosing it. Does it happen every morning? If so, tell the dealer that you want to leave it overnight (since Lexus dealers give you a loaner, this shouldn't be much of a problem for you).

The behavior you describe is definitely not normal. If they can't fix it, I'd be asking for another one, too.

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Yes we have done all of that . Lexus is indicating that this is a normal characteristic of the ULEV. They also said if they give us a new car that we will experience the same problem. We are now waiting for Arbortrators to decided.

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  • 2 weeks later...

:) Hi all, Just joined. Having lots of shifting problems on my new ES330 also. I have the delayed downshift that others decribed, but my major complaint is staying in each gear far too long on mild acceleration. If I accelerate very hard, the shift points are right, but it doesn't adapt to more gradual "usual" driving acceleration! I had it in the day after I bought it, they couldn't find anything and said "Drive it, it'll learn". In the first 5K miles, it hasn't changed one bit! I also have poor throttle response. It's almost impossible to start off smoothly. It wants to leap off resting. Neither of the other two I have driven do either!

I'm taking it in on Mon(5/17). I'll let you know what happens.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I took my '04 ES330 in for its 10,000 mile service today. I complained about the transmission. The dealer said that there's a NEW electronic fix (not the old one that has been widely discussed here, apparently) and that they would apply it to my car.

I'll let everyone know if it does anything.

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Bummer. I just talked with the dealer. He admitted that he's had many complaints about this problem (even stated that most people driving this car have this problem) but that there's no fix. He said my car already has the lastest transmission programming, but thinks it's really a drive-by-wire problem.

I pointed out that if all his customers have a problem where the car sits and thinks for a minute before deciding to move that it's a design problem, but he said it's not-it's a driver problem. I think he's frustrated and wants to help, but he said that he doesn't have anything he can do. I said that I'd take an RX instead, but he said the RX has the same problem (which is not what I've heard).

Looks like my dealer knows that it's a common problem and even admits it, but doesn't have a fix, so he's going to label it a driver problem.

Of course, if Lexus comes out with a fix tomorrow, he'll install it and tell me how great Lexus is for fixing the problem.

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I share your dealer's thought in that it is more related to the electronic throttle that to the tranny itself. I have heard of RX owners complaining of similar hestiations.

steviej

I wouldn't disagree since a bad throttle design could cause that problem.

But it's an incredibly stupid design problem. He says that it takes time for the computer to figure out what to do.

So put in a faster computer. For a few bucks, they could put in a current chip that would easily double performance (based on the assumption that the design they're using is more than a year old).

Actually, it sounds like bad programming - which is even less expensive to fix. How many calculations does it take to tell the car to go when I step on the gas? Let's be generous and say it's a million calculations. Even a $10 embedded chip can do that in well under 1/10 of a second.

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KB7IQ, Hi folks! Well the throttle and tranny problem is still there. The tech couldn't find anything and has no power to change any settings. It either works, or he replaces it! I asked him to replace the module and he agreed, but after equesting it from Lexus, they asked him to try resetting the module back to starting condition, and running it again. I've had it for about a week. It was better at first, but now is developing the same problems. I'm going to take it in again and insist he replace the module! I'll let you know!

Q: Does anyone know if Lexus folks look at this forum?

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I personally think you're knocking yourself out. When I brought my car into my Lexus dealer to have the upgrade I met another guy that had them change the module. He told me that it made absolutely NO difference in the shifting performance!

I'm living with this transmissions idiosyncrasies, whether it comes from the electronic throttle or wherever, but it sure doesn't make me happy. :(

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I just did some checking on NHTSA's web site. There have already been 9 complaints about 2004 ES330 models, 28 complaints about the 2003 model and 50 complaints about the 2002 model that appear to be related to this problem.

Unfortunately, those numbers are not firm because different people coded the problem differently and I didn't read the whole complaint to be sure.

I'd suggest that everyone who has the problem should contact the NHTSA to file a complaint. It's quite easy and will only take a few minutes at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.

To ensure that the complaint gets full attention, I'd suggest that everyone enter the same thing under 'equipment'. That way, the problem won't be neglected because it appears to be so many unrelated problems. I would suggest that you enter the following two items for equipment:

Power Train:Automatic Transmission

Vehicle Speed Control:Accelerator Pedal

Since no one knows for sure what the problem is, but the drive by wire seems to be one culprit, those choices seemed reasonable.

Please take the few minutes to file your complaint if your car is affected.

Thanks. :cries:

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It's amazing that this thread continues as long as it has with more and more people reporting the same problem with their new ES330's also. I very often wish there was some way to start a smear campaign against the ES3xx models to force Lexus to do something effective about it. This is only 1 of the 2 chronic problems I have with my 03 ES300. I keep coming back here hoping Lexus has come up with an effective fix but it aint happening.

:censored::censored:

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This is a post I made a couple of days ago in the Edmunds Town Hall messageboard:

Subject: Why Bother Fixing this problem?

I've been complaining about the crappy shifting on my '03 ES from the time I purchased this car till the present, but when I read about Lexus' sales figures from "Auto Spy" I ask this question: Why would Lexus even bother?

Quote from Auto Spy:

"Lexus passenger cars also posted strong sales of 12,762, an increase of 13.9 percent. The ES 330 luxury sedan recorded best-ever May sales of 7,099 units, up 23.9 percent. The

LS 430 flagship luxury sedan posted sales of 2,763 units, up 55.3 percent."

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This is a post I made a couple of days ago in the Edmunds Town Hall messageboard:

Subject: Why Bother Fixing this problem?

I've been complaining about the crappy shifting on my '03 ES from the time I purchased this car till the present, but when I read about Lexus' sales figures from "Auto Spy" I ask this question: Why would Lexus even bother?

Quote from Auto Spy:

"Lexus passenger cars also posted strong sales of 12,762, an increase of 13.9 percent. The ES 330 luxury sedan recorded best-ever May sales of 7,099 units, up 23.9 percent. The

LS 430 flagship luxury sedan posted sales of 2,763 units, up 55.3 percent."

12,000 vehicles may not sound like much, but that's nearly half a billion dollars in revenues. You don't walk away from that kind of money unless you absolutely have to.

It's hard to imagine that fixing the problem would cost even a tiny fraction of that amount.

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It's amazing that this thread continues as long as it has with more and more people reporting the same problem with their new ES330's also. I very often wish there was some way to start a smear campaign against the ES3xx models to force Lexus to do something effective about it. This is only 1 of the 2 chronic problems I have with my 03 ES300. I keep coming back here hoping Lexus has come up with an effective fix but it aint happening.

:censored::censored:

As I suggested above, file a complaint with NHTSA. If enough people do that, Lexus will be forced to fix the problem.

There's always the 'sue them' route, but I don't like getting lawyers involved unless absolutely necessary. You may feel differently.

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I too, am amazed Lexus doesn't jump into this stuff! You'd think they'd need to for their "quality" image!

I've now had it for two weeks since they reset the electronic control system. It seems the problem is definately in the the control system because it was almost problem-free when they reset it. Then it gradually "learned" to be bad again! This is clearly a programming problem! I also don't think that it uses vacuum as one of the inputs to determine shift points, like older trannys do! It seems to control the tranny based on throttle setting alone! I'm goint to keep after them on this! KB7IQ

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I just got a call from Lexus "Customer Service". The guy said that he had investigated and found that my car meets their design criteria (never explained how he determined that when he never drove it). While the dealer told me that lots of people are having the problem, Lexus is taking the position that it's all normal.

I get tired of doublespeak from companies, so I asked the guy if it was normal for a $33 K car to shift very hard from second to third and hesitate badly enough to be dangerous when pulling onto a freeway. He danced around quite a bit but insists that the behavior is normal. I pointed out the nearly 100 complaints on NHTSA and he said that he was aware of 'a few customer concerns', but that there was no significant number of 'problems'. Their official position is that they're not aware of any defect. 100 complaints on NHTSA don't count - since Lexus says that it's not a defect.

I then asked if Lexus would have any response other than covering their ears and saying 'I can't hear you' and he said that they will file my complaint and if there is any change I will be notified.

Who was it who was working with an attorney on class action? Sign me up...

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