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Is Lexus Concealing A Potential Issue With The Es350?


nharish
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I bought my ES350 in Sep '07. I have about 12K miles on it and interestingly the car lost alignment within 500 miles on 3 occasions (between 10K and 11.5K). The dealer blamed it on me saying I hit a pothole. I asked him to explain to me how a car and me that did not have any problems for the first 10K suddenly started hitting potholes very consistently and that within 500 miles each time. After the second alignment, the car started exhibiting weird patterns. It would pull the left on certain days and right on other days on the same roads. The service manager gave me a "technical" explanation to this which the diagnostic expert did not agree with (wish they communicate between themselves first!). After the third alignment, the steering was crooked and even with mild acceleration, the car pulled to the right (which the field tech from Lexus explained as Torque steer which I did not experience when I first bought this car). The car consistently pulls to the left when on the left lane (have a RAV4 and have driven multiple cars on these same roads and have never experienced issues).

Please let me know if anyone else is experiencing similar issues (Torque steer that was apparently muffled when we bought the car and severe pulling issues).

If you are interested in what happened, read-on.

The field tech originally agreed with the problem regarding the pull and finally determined that the car had "no apparent drift" and everything was normal but adjusted the preload on the steering regardless and claimed that I asked them to! I spoke to Lexus HQ and told them about how I'd driven a 2008 ES350 which showed no torque steer no pulling to one side. They agreed to have another dealership to check the car (I was given a specific person's name to speak to Don O' Connor from Woodfield Lexus in IL). I called up and setup an appointment. On the D-day, I went and explained all the problems and told them I would like to take the car for a test drive. I was asked to wait until Don was in the office (turns out that he is the General Service Manager). I went in to speak to him in his room. He asked me why I was there when the field rep had "determined" that there was nothing wrong with my car. I told him the whole story about why I disagreed and the Lexus HQ had asked me to come to them for a second opinion. Don refuted the fact that I had called for an appointment (it was his associate that called me to setup the appointment and said Don was very busy when I asked to talk to him). Don even refuted the fact that Lexus HQ had told him about this (I was told my the HQ person that they would speak to Don about it before I went for my appointment because of my previous experience reg. the same issue there which I explain later). I spoke to the HQ again and they were "very sorry" about the whole issue and said that hey had left him a voicemail. He also said he speaks to Don on a daily-basis. This whole story does not corroborate at all. In my opinion, there is something wrong with the car that they refuse to admit. I have been asked by them to go to arbitration now after having wasted my time.

I had also previously gone to Woodfield Lexus to get a second opinion (this was before the field tech even inspected my car). I was told that I would have to pay for the diagnosis out of my pocket because Lexus would not pay them. The reason I was given was the fact that Lexus only permits 1 alignment during the first 12mos of 20,000 miles (He initially told me it was a wear-n-tear item and was not covered under warranty!). I told him that my warranty booklet did not have a numerical limit on it. To this the service manager told me that there are a number of items not listed but are not covered under warranty such as light bulbs. This is a VIOLATION per Magnuson-Moss act. The written warranty is required to be unambiguous. Service not performed under the written warranty is a violation as well.

I have since read enough literature on Torque Steer and vehicle pull and the issue seems to not be connected with alignment but rather with certain other internal issues that they are not willing to advertise. Every review of the ES350 clearly states that torque steer is muffled even at high-acceleration from slow speeds. I understand Torque steer is a issue with FWD cars but technology has also come a long way with fixing it. I test drove a Accord V6 and a Maxima (2009, not the earlier model) and i did not experience any Torque steer. Plus the Lexus also has a lot of electronic controls to fix all these issues.

Lets see how this issue goes. Please let me know if anyone else experiences the same problem as I do.

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Well first of all torque steer is a characteristic of FWD, especially higher powered FWD vehicles. They engineer as much out as they can (and Lexus does that well on the ES) but its a characteristic of physics, they can't do away with it completely. The tech is not explaining torque steer correctly, torque steer is the tendency for the wheels to want to turn when the car is accelerating. He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

As for the alignment, it sounds to me like your dealer is doing crappy alignments. Alignments ARE a wear item and are not covered under warranty, and you can't expect one independently owned dealer to swallow the cost of fixing another dealers crappy work.

I would take the car to a well regarded independent import focused shop and pay out of pocket for a really good alignment (about $150). I bet it solves your problem...

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Well first of all torque steer is a characteristic of FWD, especially higher powered FWD vehicles. They engineer as much out as they can (and Lexus does that well on the ES) but its a characteristic of physics, they can't do away with it completely. The tech is not explaining torque steer correctly, torque steer is the tendency for the wheels to want to turn when the car is accelerating. He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

As for the alignment, it sounds to me like your dealer is doing crappy alignments. Alignments ARE a wear item and are not covered under warranty, and you can't expect one independently owned dealer to swallow the cost of fixing another dealers crappy work.

I would take the car to a well regarded independent import focused shop and pay out of pocket for a really good alignment (about $150). I bet it solves your problem...

Steve, Thanks for responding. I understand torque steer is a characteristic of a FWD vehicle and am not alien to the concept (now!). Torque steer occurs typically when you accelerate aggressively from a slow speed. It is heavily muted at steady speeds when mildly accelerating. The reason for this is because at lower RPM, the torque tends to be low. I am an engineer myself and have a very strong physics background :). Torque steer is a phenomenon where one side of the axle gets more power initially than the other axle causing one wheel to move forward faster than the other. Yes, this will cause the car to turn effectively. However, a lot of literature is available for how to reduce its effect for a number of years now. My problem here is the fact that this car, as you rightly said, was handling it pretty effectively until recently.

Here is my problem with the second part about the dealership setting the alignment based on the road crown. The dealer states that the numbers they get out of the alignment machine is based on a flat road. The thrust angle, if set to 0.00, means the car will be perfectly straight on a flat road with no crown. If the alignment was set for a certain crown, then my steering wheel should be perfectly straight on lanes with the same crown profile. It is NOT. I have to hold the steering to my left all the time on a road with even a small crown to the right. On roads with a crown to the left, i have to hold the steering straight. Moreover, the preload has been adjusted which means I should be able to take my hand off after I straighten the car. As soon as I do that, the car will veer off to the left. The problem here is not with alignment but rather with the steering.

As for alignment, its not true that alignment is a wear-n-tear item. Its not a belt or bulb for it to wear over time. These are tightened using a bolt. If this is considered a wear-n-tear item, so is the engine! Its got moving parts too. If you look in the warranty booklet, alignment and wheel balancing is covered for 12mos/20,000 miles. It is covered under warranty and hence another dealership technically does not have to take the tab for one dealership's crappy work. Moreover, the problem arose because of disparity between the warranty booklet given to me versus the warranty guidelines the dealerships have (this book is printed by Lexus). The dealer's book clearly states "ONE alignment/wheel balancing" procedure during 12mos/20000 miles. My warranty booklet does not mention a numerical limit. Moreover, cars pulling to one side is a documented TSIB and if you look in there, it does not pose a numerical limit on the warranty. I see no reason to spend money out of my pocket for the dealers mistake and Lexus's printing error! Actually, if you read Magnuson-Moss law, its clearly stated that the warranty cannot be ambiguous. Moreover, the fact that the second dealer refused to diagnose my car on the pretext of the guidelines that he had, in my opinion, is a breach of warranty (by lexus, not the dealer).

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Alignment is absolutely a wear and tear item in that driving the vehicle and driving over everyday road irregularities will slowly throw the car out of alignment even if you don't hit any potholes. Alignment is an adjustment, and as a working machine over time and with use, it needs to be adjusted. Thats why people have alignments done when they replace tires.

No car manufacturer warranties alignments, its a wear and tear item.

I can appreciate that you're an engineer, but I think that you're over thinking the situation somewhat here. I can also understand the law, and what the warranty says, and what you think they should do. However you have to ask yourself this question:

"Do I want to be involved in a lawsuit and have this constantly take all of my time and energy, or do I want to be happy with my car?".

Not all dealers are created equal. I've had cars before that just seemed to never hold an alignment. Sure enough, it was always the shop doing lousy alignments and once I had them aligned by people who knew what they were doing the car was right and I was happy. $150 is small price to pay to have the car drive right and get this off of your shoulders. Put yourself in the dealer's shoes, they think you're a nut. They keep aligning the car (not knowing they're doing a crappy job) and you never seem satisfied. At some point they're going to just deny you service (which they can do). You're better off to move on to another dealer, even if it costs you a little money and get the work done right.

Now if your attitude is that making Lexus and the dealer cave to your demands is more important than having the vehicle operate properly, theres not anything I or anyone else can do to help you.

I've driven these cars for a long time, and I've driven a bunch of ES350s. There is no design issue with the steering or alignment on these vehicles. Yours is caused by a crappy alignment from what you've told us.

Other things to look at, what is the condition of the tires? What PSI are the tires aired to?

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I bought my ES350 in Sep '07. I have about 12K miles on it and interestingly the car lost alignment within 500 miles on 3 occasions (between 10K and 11.5K). The dealer blamed it on me saying I hit a pothole. I asked him to explain to me how a car and me that did not have any problems for the first 10K suddenly started hitting potholes very consistently and that within 500 miles each time. After the second alignment, the car started exhibiting weird patterns. It would pull the left on certain days and right on other days on the same roads. The service manager gave me a "technical" explanation to this which the diagnostic expert did not agree with (wish they communicate between themselves first!). After the third alignment, the steering was crooked and even with mild acceleration, the car pulled to the right (which the field tech from Lexus explained as Torque steer which I did not experience when I first bought this car). The car consistently pulls to the left when on the left lane (have a RAV4 and have driven multiple cars on these same roads and have never experienced issues).

Please let me know if anyone else is experiencing similar issues (Torque steer that was apparently muffled when we bought the car and severe pulling issues).

If you are interested in what happened, read-on.

The field tech originally agreed with the problem regarding the pull and finally determined that the car had "no apparent drift" and everything was normal but adjusted the preload on the steering regardless and claimed that I asked them to! I spoke to Lexus HQ and told them about how I'd driven a 2008 ES350 which showed no torque steer no pulling to one side. They agreed to have another dealership to check the car (I was given a specific person's name to speak to Don O' Connor from Woodfield Lexus in IL). I called up and setup an appointment. On the D-day, I went and explained all the problems and told them I would like to take the car for a test drive. I was asked to wait until Don was in the office (turns out that he is the General Service Manager). I went in to speak to him in his room. He asked me why I was there when the field rep had "determined" that there was nothing wrong with my car. I told him the whole story about why I disagreed and the Lexus HQ had asked me to come to them for a second opinion. Don refuted the fact that I had called for an appointment (it was his associate that called me to setup the appointment and said Don was very busy when I asked to talk to him). Don even refuted the fact that Lexus HQ had told him about this (I was told my the HQ person that they would speak to Don about it before I went for my appointment because of my previous experience reg. the same issue there which I explain later). I spoke to the HQ again and they were "very sorry" about the whole issue and said that hey had left him a voicemail. He also said he speaks to Don on a daily-basis. This whole story does not corroborate at all. In my opinion, there is something wrong with the car that they refuse to admit. I have been asked by them to go to arbitration now after having wasted my time.

I had also previously gone to Woodfield Lexus to get a second opinion (this was before the field tech even inspected my car). I was told that I would have to pay for the diagnosis out of my pocket because Lexus would not pay them. The reason I was given was the fact that Lexus only permits 1 alignment during the first 12mos of 20,000 miles (He initially told me it was a wear-n-tear item and was not covered under warranty!). I told him that my warranty booklet did not have a numerical limit on it. To this the service manager told me that there are a number of items not listed but are not covered under warranty such as light bulbs. This is a VIOLATION per Magnuson-Moss act. The written warranty is required to be unambiguous. Service not performed under the written warranty is a violation as well.

I have since read enough literature on Torque Steer and vehicle pull and the issue seems to not be connected with alignment but rather with certain other internal issues that they are not willing to advertise. Every review of the ES350 clearly states that torque steer is muffled even at high-acceleration from slow speeds. I understand Torque steer is a issue with FWD cars but technology has also come a long way with fixing it. I test drove a Accord V6 and a Maxima (2009, not the earlier model) and i did not experience any Torque steer. Plus the Lexus also has a lot of electronic controls to fix all these issues.

Lets see how this issue goes. Please let me know if anyone else experiences the same problem as I do.

First of all the 07 ES has virtually no torque steer I suppose if you were to floor it in a turn you may

see a little. Second it sounds like the dealer is missing something and it sad that Lexus cant or wont

do more to solve the problem.

I think it may be best to find a good independent shop and let them take care of the problem I had

mine done at a independent shop where I purchased my tires, The shop did a fine job however

they did say they had a hard time getting the specs from Lexus.

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... He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

Sorry... this is utter BS!! Please explain which "road" and which "crown" that the alignment shop sets the alignment for!!!!?? Or.. .show me ANY factory wheel alignment specifications that include "crown of the road" adjustments!! They may exist, but I've never seen one. :huh:

I agree. I spoke to a Lexus expert (former Master Technician) and he has already slammed the readings stating they do not look right. Moreover, its the thrust angle that eventually counts. If the thrust angle is 0.00, then the car will drive straight without pulling on a flat road. Everything else such as caster and camber (which also contribute to the thrust angle) only affect the driving experience and tire wear.

If the road slopes, all you have to do is adjust the steering to compensate (simple vector mathematics). As long as the steering will hold its position (the caster and the tightness of tie rods contribute to this) determine if the car can actually hold its line. This is precisely where I have a problem. Moreover without going into much details, my caster values have drifted all over the park (within range). I am surprised that the caster cannot be changed and takes a severe hit (in terms of numbers) only in the event of an accident varies by so much. To answer your question (this is for Steve)

1. sometimes the right solution is the longer solution.

2. alignment is NOT a wear-n-tear item per Lexus and they warrant it for 12mos/20,000 miles. Its in their warranty book. As I previously mentioned, written warranty cannot be ambiguous :)

3. Like I said, I took my car for an in-warranty service and do not see why after repeated failures, I should have to shell money out of my pocket to a problem that seemingly is more serious than a simple alignment issue.

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... He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

Sorry... this is utter BS!! Please explain which "road" and which "crown" that the alignment shop sets the alignment for!!!!?? Or.. .show me ANY factory wheel alignment specifications that include "crown of the road" adjustments!! They may exist, but I've never seen one. :huh:

Thats why I said it was "sort of" true. Some shops dial in a little bit of adjustment and chock it up to "the crown of the road".

The answer is no factory specs call for it...including Lexus. But that doesn't mean the dealer isn't dialing it in.

alignment is NOT a wear-n-tear item per Lexus and they warrant it for 12mos/20,000 miles. Its in their warranty book. As I previously mentioned, written warranty cannot be ambiguous

Alignment IS a wear and tear item, ask any mechanic.

What the Lexus book is saying is that they will cover one alignment for a customer having issues in the first 12 months or 20k miles. Its a courtesy, a customer service gesture. They'll also rebalance wheels, etc.

Alignment WILL come out over time and the car will need to be re-aligned, hence it being a wear and tear item.

You can say its not all you want, but it is. Ask any mechanic.

You can also quote warranty books and say they can't be ambiguous and thats fine, but we've told you what you should do to correct your situation, have an alignment done by someone who knows what they are doing, and its now up to you whether you want to do it or not.

It sounds to me like you're more interested in "winning" in this little power struggle with the dealer than actually taking care of your issue, which is the poor alignment of the car. Like I said, if thats the case nobody here or anywhere else can help you.

$150 fixes the problem.

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... He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

Sorry... this is utter BS!! Please explain which "road" and which "crown" that the alignment shop sets the alignment for!!!!?? Or.. .show me ANY factory wheel alignment specifications that include "crown of the road" adjustments!! They may exist, but I've never seen one. :huh:

Thats why I said it was "sort of" true. Some shops dial in a little bit of adjustment and chock it up to "the crown of the road".

The answer is no factory specs call for it...including Lexus. But that doesn't mean the dealer isn't dialing it in.

alignment is NOT a wear-n-tear item per Lexus and they warrant it for 12mos/20,000 miles. Its in their warranty book. As I previously mentioned, written warranty cannot be ambiguous

Alignment IS a wear and tear item, ask any mechanic.

What the Lexus book is saying is that they will cover one alignment for a customer having issues in the first 12 months or 20k miles. Its a courtesy, a customer service gesture. They'll also rebalance wheels, etc.

HERE IS QUOTING FROM THE LEXUS WARRANTY BOOK: COVERAGE IS FOR 48 MONTHS OR 50,000 MILES, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST WITH THE EXCEPTION OF WHEEL ALIGNMENT AND WHEEL BALANCING, WHICH ARE COVERED FOR 12 MONTHS OR 20,000 MILES, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIST. So would you agree then that the engine is also wear-n-tear item because its going moving parts in it? It requires a tune-up (200K+/-). So if Lexus says tomorrow that an engine failure would not be covered because its a wear-n-tear item, would you not be upset? ALIGNMENT is a set of nuts and bolts that hold the suspension, wheels and steering together and sure it will wear over time (potholes expedite it) but there is a difference between NORMAL wear and ABNORMAL wear. Would you agree if your bulb went out every 2 months and pay for it simply because its a wear-n-tear item when the rating for it is about 2years? Would you agree if you have to change your brake pads under normal use (not racing) every other month because it is considered a wear-n-tear item? Every item has a mean and variance associated that specifies the life of the product with a 99.999% probability. When a product fails well before these limits then there is a problem, probably even with some other part that's manifesting itself. In the case of the light bulb it might be an electrical malfunction. In the case of alignment it could well be some electonics/software not doing what they are supposed to do. Its the job of these service mechanics to find the root-cause to the problem, not fix the manifestation. Thats what a good service engineer would do. Going back to the original point, if its mentioned in the warranty book, its the bible that the manufacturer has to go by. If he prints a different spin of it for the dealer, then thats a problem that the manufacturer has to resolve.

Alignment WILL come out over time and the car will need to be re-aligned, hence it being a wear and tear item.

You can say its not all you want, but it is. Ask any mechanic.

You can also quote warranty books and say they can't be ambiguous and thats fine, but we've told you what you should do to correct your situation, have an alignment done by someone who knows what they are doing, and its now up to you whether you want to do it or not.

It sounds to me like you're more interested in "winning" in this little power struggle with the dealer than actually taking care of your issue, which is the poor alignment of the car. Like I said, if thats the case nobody here or anywhere else can help you. Steve, Its not about power struggle but rather about standing up for what is right. When Staples credited me with $200 more than what I was supposed to get when I returned a product, I promptly showed then the glitch and returned the money. So whats wrong with asking a manufacturer to stand up for his mistake? BTW, I do not think that its the alignment but rather something wrong with another part that I am being kept oblivious to in the name of "It works as designed". How many times have we heard it. The latest case being Honda where their accord's headlight behaving in a wierd way when the AC is turned on. Every customer is upset about it, especially the ones that took the climate control option. Honda says its by design. Do you buy it? Funnily enough they are enhancing their 2009 to not have that "feature". Why should consumers take such questionable behavior from manufacturers?

$150 fixes the problem. - Sure, but why should it pinch my pocket?

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... He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

Sorry... this is utter BS!! Please explain which "road" and which "crown" that the alignment shop sets the alignment for!!!!?? Or.. .show me ANY factory wheel alignment specifications that include "crown of the road" adjustments!! They may exist, but I've never seen one. :huh:

Thats why I said it was "sort of" true. Some shops dial in a little bit of adjustment and chock it up to "the crown of the road".

The answer is no factory specs call for it...including Lexus. But that doesn't mean the dealer isn't dialing it in.

alignment is NOT a wear-n-tear item per Lexus and they warrant it for 12mos/20,000 miles. Its in their warranty book. As I previously mentioned, written warranty cannot be ambiguous

Alignment IS a wear and tear item, ask any mechanic.

What the Lexus book is saying is that they will cover one alignment for a customer having issues in the first 12 months or 20k miles. Its a courtesy, a customer service gesture. They'll also rebalance wheels, etc.

Alignment WILL come out over time and the car will need to be re-aligned, hence it being a wear and tear item.

You can say its not all you want, but it is. Ask any mechanic.

You can also quote warranty books and say they can't be ambiguous and thats fine, but we've told you what you should do to correct your situation, have an alignment done by someone who knows what they are doing, and its now up to you whether you want to do it or not.

It sounds to me like you're more interested in "winning" in this little power struggle with the dealer than actually taking care of your issue, which is the poor alignment of the car. Like I said, if thats the case nobody here or anywhere else can help you.

$150 fixes the problem.

Steve

I dont know why you keep stressing that alignment is a wear and tear item, the op says his car

only has 12k miles so Lexus should see to it that his problem is taken care of if for no other

reason than cust relations.

When you think of all the money that Lexus makes on their cars haveing to ocassionly take care

of a problem that may or may not be entirely their fault is a small price to pay to keep the cust

happy, also lexus is responsible for how their dealer perform work while the car is under warranty.

Howver I do agree his best bet may be going to a independent shop although he should not have

to do so.

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... He's talking about alignments being set to the crown of the road which is sort of true...

Sorry... this is utter BS!! Please explain which "road" and which "crown" that the alignment shop sets the alignment for!!!!?? Or.. .show me ANY factory wheel alignment specifications that include "crown of the road" adjustments!! They may exist, but I've never seen one. :huh:

Thats why I said it was "sort of" true. Some shops dial in a little bit of adjustment and chock it up to "the crown of the road".

The answer is no factory specs call for it...including Lexus. But that doesn't mean the dealer isn't dialing it in.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this "crown of the road" crap has been perpetuated by some pin head alignment mechanics for probably decades..... when they mis-align your vehicle and you take it back because it's pulling left or right and not tracking straight, the first thing the pin head mechanic says is "Well, I adjusted it for the "crown of the road"!!

It's obviously SO illogical to presume that any wheel alignment shop has the ability to "dial in" anything to compensate or adjust or otherwise even to begin to understand what the steering will do when they don't have a clue what road or what crown they would be dialing in for!! I drive 1,000 to 1,500 miles a week on MANY roads and highways --- all with different road texture, all presumably with different "crowns". Some times I drive in the center lane riding the "crown", some times I drive in the left lane, some times I drive in the right lane - how much "dialing in" does the pin head alignment mechanic make for me?

As far as an alignment being a wear & tear issue - steering components do wear and vehicles ride heights do settle some causing alignment issues. But, in my 40+ years of driving, a wheel alignment has NOT been a period maintenance or requirement. Yes, I've had wheel alignments, but not with every set of new tires.

From the hundreds of posts on Lexus service issues, it appears one can make some assumptions -- 1) some Lexus dealers are not going to admit they screwed up, 2) they aren't going to fix anything they can get away with NOT fixing, and 3) just because they are Lexus, doesn't mean their mechanics are any better than a Chevy mechanic.

I would trust the mechanic at my local reputable specialty shop over ANY Lexus dealer mechanic.

As far as Lexus "concealing" a problem, you bet they will. Concealing a problem almost cost Audi their entire company back in the 70's. And, I'll bet Chevy did their best to conceal the fact that they had to recall 10,000,000 of their cars and truck in 2004 in North America. Oh, did Ford conceal their exploding gas tanks? How about Firestone's fameous tires? Or the drug companies - naaaahhh, they wouldn't conceal anything from the public would they???

I do agree that if you take your car into a very qualified and reputable alignment/chassis shop they will be able to tell you exactly what's wrong with it, and most likely make it track straight, and the $150 alignment performed by a qualified alignment shop will most likely fix his problem.

That's just my worthless opinion :D

Randy,

I agree with you. I am going to take my car to an alignment shop in our area for a second opinion. This guy has been around for 30+ yrs and am sure he knows what he's talking about. At the same time, whatever he finds (and he is getting paid for a second opinion) will possibly be something that I will agree to bcos he has nothing at stake here to to lie to me. One of my other goals was to throw some light on wear-n-tear items because it seems to be the most misunderstood word in the automobile industry. EVERY item that we buy is a wear-n-tear item. Even a flash drive with no moving parts is rated for "x" reads and "y" writes but is warranted for a lifetime. Can a manufacturer get away without replacing a bad flash drive after 6 yrs simply because its a wear-n-tear item (the fact that we might not have receipt for it is a different story and the one they are banking on!)? NOPE! My advise to everyone here is when the dealer say "Oh its not covered... its a wear and tear item..." ask them what the rated lifetime is. It should be documented. I have had my VW dealer replace the brake-pad free of charge when they wore out a little too prematurely. Believe me, manufacturers are NOT making a loss by obliging! They know all these numbers and when they issue a warranty for a product, its based on the the lower end of the statistic that I was talking about in my previous post!

Harish

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My past, and present, experiences with torque steer have normally been either tire related (condition and/or alignment issues), or a damaged part in the suspension setup, usually ball joint or outer steering rod connector. Now, given how well the ball joints and outer steering rods are engineered on Toyota cars in general, and at your mileage, I'd probably not think they would be done by now. And, if they were "if damaged by pot hole", then I'd have to think it would be obvious beyond conversational reasons.

Tires: In my personal experience with my former 01' Maxima "notorious torque steer", as the OEM Bridgestone tires wore, the torque steer seemed to get better...until they wore to a point where they would just spin. I replaced them with a set of cheapo Khumos, which were more grippy, and the torque steer was danagerous. But, only under heavy acceleration from a stop. My current 07' Mazda 3 GT, also exhibits torque steer, but not nearly as bad "skinner tires". Granted, it's not nearly as powerful as the maxima, it does beg for more aggresive driving, which I happily give in to. But, I don't think your problem is tire-brand related.

The other issue is the alignment, as already mentioned here numerous times. I won't fuel the debate, but rather offer a possible avenue to a solution. All Lexus dealerships have the Hunter balancing and alignment system. As do Toyota dealerships, and several others. It's considered to be the best in the business, and I'd personally agree. However, I'm not sure all have the "StraightTrack LFM" equipment too. I can vouch that it is a wonderful trick, and works GREAT to eliminate pull due to road surface angle and so forth. Website to find one in your area is below...

www.gsp9700.com

I have found, in all honesty, that an indi tire shop that has this equipment, does a better job than the dealerships. I guess it's because they focus on tires (and a few other repairs) instead of the entire car. When I had my LS400, I had both Lexus dealerships in my area balance and align it numerous times, with about a 40% sucess rate. After spending the premium for the dealership to do it, I decided to try an indi. I found one close to my office "Chapel Hill Tire" that has the entire system. They nailed the alignment and balancing the first time, and the car never drove straighter and smoother, and it HELD for MONTHS! Only when I screwed it up "curb rub, massive pot hole, etc", did it have to go back. Furthermore, I could take my hands off the wheel on any road and the car would track perfectly straight, or at worst, would track within the grooves of the road "like the dips in old roads by heavy vehicles". Additionally, I now have a 05' 4runner that steers like a drunk elephant on roller blades. It has big ole' baloon tires, sloppy steering, lots of suspension travel, etc... you get the point. It ain't no sports car. Took it to a Toyota dealership a few months ago to have an alignment and balancing "among other minor things". I got it back, and it pulled horribly. I felt like I was always correcting the track by a few degrees with the steering wheel. I took it back, got a bunch of flack, and ended my relationship with the dealership. I went to my trusty Chapel Hill tire, with the same Hunter system and StraightTrak, and again they NAILED it perfectly straight. Only on the most severely sloped roads do I need to correct the track with the wheel. My 07' Mazda 3 GT, with it's low profile sticky 17 inch tires, and needle-like steering response, will let me know right away when it's out of alignment and/or balance. Again...StraightTrak nails it everytime. I have to have it realigned and balanced about every other tire-rotation, as that soft rubber wears differently depending on what wheel it's been on.

So, I highly suggest finding an indi shop with the Hunter system and StraighTrak and give them a shot. Tell them you want the StraighTrak done "if they don't anyway". Don't mess with the dealership anymore. I've found that they usually put the village idiot at that station anyway. Toyota's, especially Lexus, are so damn difficult to properly align and balance. It's because they're soooo damn smooth by design, that the slightest little thing out of spec comes through to the driver. It's the catch-22.

Additionally, if this is your first Toyota product, welcome to what most car magazines complain about with Toyota in general....a disconnected and somewhat sloppy steering feel. It's just part of the brand. Especially if you're coming from a German car, like a BMW.

www.gsp9700.com hit "find a hunter", type in your zip code...and select one that you like in the list.

Hope this helps!

PS: I've met several "experts" of alignments and so forth that say the Hunter system isn't worth all the hype, that it's in the skill of the techician. I've had these experts swear to me that they could align my LS perfectly every time with just their dial indicator. I wasted a lot of money with that stuff, and nothing ever aligned that LS400 better then the Hunter with StraightTrak, not even close. It costs me $85 to have it aligned and balanced at my indi shop.

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I understand all of that, and what you're saying is that it is more important to you that you force the dealer and Lexus to do what you think is right vs fixing the problem, which is the opinion I knew you had all along. With that outlook you're never going to get them to do what you want them to do.

The reason I keep saying that alignment is a wear and tear item is because he keeps saying it isn't. It is ask any mechanic.

The root of the issue started when the dealer did an alignment at 12,000 miles, why did you request that alignment be done?

When you think of all the money that Lexus makes on their cars haveing to ocassionly take care

of a problem that may or may not be entirely their fault is a small price to pay to keep the cust

happy, also lexus is responsible for how their dealer perform work while the car is under warranty.

I agree, and Lexus has done plenty of stuff for me for free over the years that wasn't their fault, including alignments. They do however know when they have a customer who cannot be satisfied, and at some point they will stop trying.

To the dealer they've re-aligned the car and its within specs so to them its no problem, they don't realize they do crappy alignments! Me, when I deal with the dealer I am always calm, always very reasonable, and I never have any problems at all.

I have a sneaking suspicion this guy comes across as someone who cannot be satisfied with his quoting warranty law and insisting alignments aren't wear and tear items, demanding that other dealers repair work from other dealers...they think he's a yahoo and they're not going to go out of their way to help him.

Again, $150 and its fixed or you can continue to waste your time, energy, and frustration to make them do "whats right". Life's too short for that IMHO.

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I understand all of that, and what you're saying is that it is more important to you that you force the dealer and Lexus to do what you think is right vs fixing the problem, which is the opinion I knew you had all along. With that outlook you're never going to get them to do what you want them to do.

The reason I keep saying that alignment is a wear and tear item is because he keeps saying it isn't. It is ask any mechanic.

The root of the issue started when the dealer did an alignment at 12,000 miles, why did you request that alignment be done?

When you think of all the money that Lexus makes on their cars haveing to ocassionly take care

of a problem that may or may not be entirely their fault is a small price to pay to keep the cust

happy, also lexus is responsible for how their dealer perform work while the car is under warranty.

I agree, and Lexus has done plenty of stuff for me for free over the years that wasn't their fault, including alignments. They do however know when they have a customer who cannot be satisfied, and at some point they will stop trying.

To the dealer they've re-aligned the car and its within specs so to them its no problem, they don't realize they do crappy alignments! Me, when I deal with the dealer I am always calm, always very reasonable, and I never have any problems at all.

I have a sneaking suspicion this guy comes across as someone who cannot be satisfied with his quoting warranty law and insisting alignments aren't wear and tear items, demanding that other dealers repair work from other dealers...they think he's a yahoo and they're not going to go out of their way to help him.

Again, $150 and its fixed or you can continue to waste your time, energy, and frustration to make them do "whats right". Life's too short for that IMHO.

Steve,

I concede. Its impossible to make you understand! I do not care what the dealers thinks about me and do not need a character certificate from them either! I am an extremely principled person that just expects to have things done the right way. If after writing down verbatim what the warranty book says and you think that the dealer is doing me a great service, then I concede! I have looked at all your other posts and it looks like you do not like any kind of bashing of either Lexus or their dealerships! I wonder why!!!

Anyways, for the rest of you that understand the problem, here is what happened. I took the car to Thalmann's Alignment in the chicago area based on the website (www.gsp9700.com) and other positive reviews I had read for them. Turned out to be a small store that specializes in alignments and he has been doing this for 30+ years! It was a Hunter DSP400 machine and not a 600. After setting the steering straight and doing the measurements, he told me that the Thrust angle was within range but the front toe was off and that was the reason for the crookedness of the steering. The caster values came out to be different from the readings that I have got from Lexus dealerships as well. He could, unfortunately, not check the other two problems I had. One with the steering not staying put in place when I drive on a lane that slopes to the left (he could not check it unless he did a invasive test) and the brakes application that was causing the car to veer off. For the first he thinks that the rack-n-pinion is too sensitive and for the other he thinks that it might well be the electronics not firing correctly. My suspicion turned out to be right here. While he believes he can fix the steering crookedness, he does not think the other issues such as Torque steer, steering "jump" and brakes can be fixed by alignment. Well I guess Steve is going to tell me now that Steering is a wear-n-tear item and is not covered under warranty either :). Or maybe this whole 48mos/50000 mile warranty is a dream that I just had :D and the dealers are nice about fixing issues that really should be paid for by the owner at another store such as Midas or NTB or wherever!

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Look, you came here asking for help. You have to take opinions that you don't want to hear together with the opinions that you do want to hear. I'm glad you took our advice and took the car to another shop to have an alignment done and I'm glad it shed some light on the situation for you.

I have a lot of experience getting dealerships to do what you want them to do, I consulted with car dealerships for a long time and I understand the way they work and how they deal with the manufacturer. You're right, I'm often sympathetic to the dealers in situations like this because people who come on here and rant oftentimes expect way too much from the manufacturer and the dealer. For instance yesterday a guy gets a rock in his windshield and is all bent out of shape because Lexus won't replace it. People complain about the cost of the dealers when they don't have to use them. When you've seen first hand service consultants get berated and cussed at because they've told someone they need brakes...you have a new appreciation for what these people do for a living.

On top of that you have the general sentiment that these people are the scum of the earth and looking to screw you any way they can when that really normally is not the case.

So yes, I'm sympathetic to dealers often.

If you want good service you have to work for it too. If you're calm, respectful, reasonable, and appreciative these guys will bend over backwards for you. I've had parts installed for free, I've had stuff covered out of warranty, they take really good care of me.

If I were in your situation, they would keep my car until they found the problem...they've done it in the past.

I may be wrong, but from the way you've denigrated me here for suggesting you do things that you don't want to do, I have a sneaking suspicion you've been just as rude and condescending to the dealerships and the Lexus regional reps. They want rid of you, not to help you.

Look at the title of your thread, its not "Does anyone else have this issue" or "Can someone help me diagnose this issue" its automatically "Is Lexus concealing an issue with the car". Your goal here doesn't appear to be a resolution of your issue, it appears to be to "win" like I suggested before.

Again, just advice you can choose whether to listen to it or not.

You need to work with the dealer, not demand things of them. If I were you I would take that alignment printout and what the tech said with you to the dealer's service manager and ask him how the two of you can work this issue out. Ask him to drive the car on the types of roadways you've driven on when you've experienced the issues while you ride along. Drive another ES350 on the same sections of roadway to compare.

It doesn't make sense that the steering dynamics of the car would suddenly change after 12k miles...somethings got to be going on. You still never answered my question about the tires, what PSI are they aired to?

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Look, you came here asking for help. You have to take opinions that you don't want to hear together with the opinions that you do want to hear. I'm glad you took our advice and took the car to another shop to have an alignment done and I'm glad it shed some light on the situation for you.

I have a lot of experience getting dealerships to do what you want them to do, I consulted with car dealerships for a long time and I understand the way they work and how they deal with the manufacturer. You're right, I'm often sympathetic to the dealers in situations like this because people who come on here and rant oftentimes expect way too much from the manufacturer and the dealer. For instance yesterday a guy gets a rock in his windshield and is all bent out of shape because Lexus won't replace it. People complain about the cost of the dealers when they don't have to use them. When you've seen first hand service consultants get berated and cussed at because they've told someone they need brakes...you have a new appreciation for what these people do for a living.

On top of that you have the general sentiment that these people are the scum of the earth and looking to screw you any way they can when that really normally is not the case.

So yes, I'm sympathetic to dealers often.

If you want good service you have to work for it too. If you're calm, respectful, reasonable, and appreciative these guys will bend over backwards for you. I've had parts installed for free, I've had stuff covered out of warranty, they take really good care of me.

If I were in your situation, they would keep my car until they found the problem...they've done it in the past.

I may be wrong, but from the way you've denigrated me here for suggesting you do things that you don't want to do, I have a sneaking suspicion you've been just as rude and condescending to the dealerships and the Lexus regional reps. They want rid of you, not to help you.

Look at the title of your thread, its not "Does anyone else have this issue" or "Can someone help me diagnose this issue" its automatically "Is Lexus concealing an issue with the car". Your goal here doesn't appear to be a resolution of your issue, it appears to be to "win" like I suggested before.

Again, just advice you can choose whether to listen to it or not.

You need to work with the dealer, not demand things of them. If I were you I would take that alignment printout and what the tech said with you to the dealer's service manager and ask him how the two of you can work this issue out. Ask him to drive the car on the types of roadways you've driven on when you've experienced the issues while you ride along. Drive another ES350 on the same sections of roadway to compare.

It doesn't make sense that the steering dynamics of the car would suddenly change after 12k miles...somethings got to be going on. You still never answered my question about the tires, what PSI are they aired to?

Steve,

My apologies first if you felt I made a condescending remark about you. My point was that everything technically is a wear-n-tear item but the question is generally about how soon and that Lexus (or the dealership) is not doing us a service. Its their job and its been paid for. My relationship with the service managers at the first dealership has been very cordial (have helped one guy even get a great deal on a laptop). My issue is with the general service manager who was contradicting himself left, right and center. My problem also is with the field tech that admitted that my car was drifting after we compared it to a 2008 ES350. He even said that my car (all Lexuses for that matter) was "stiff" when we first buy them and then "loosen" up. Then in the service record he wrote that I'd said that the car steering felt "loose"! All I told them was that the car did not feel the way it did when I first bought it when it was a pleasure to drive it. They added a preload to my steering and said I'd asked for it (which is not true).

My problem with the second dealership is that they REFUSED to diagnose my car despite the Lexus headquarters instructing them to do so. They said that they had not even received a call from them or me. This is the kind of cheap tactics and deceptive practice that I am against and do not believe that its wrong.

The problem here is that Lexus is in complete denial of a problem. As I mentioned, the Alignment is off, but thats not the reason the car is exhibiting torque steer. Thats not the reason why the car's steering is obviously turning after its straightened for the crown (which my other car does not and is a RAV4). Thats not the reason why there is a brake drag (something that is supposed to be compensated for). Problem is, they refuse to look at my car saying "everything is per design".

The problem with my steering was not a "one fine day" issue. It, in my opinion, has deteriorated after the 2nd and 3rd alignment. The fact that they added a preload has compounded the problem. I do not remember the tire pressure off the top of my head but did not stand out as one of the issues. I have Michelin MXV4 tires which I have been told is the best tire for this car.

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The second dealer may not have recieved the call or the person they spoke to may not have been able to link it up with you at the time. Dealers WANT to do warranty work...Lexus pays them. I'd give em another shot.

All cars loosen up, but I've had multiple lexus cars to well over 100k miles and they don't start wandering in lanes...

The MXV4s are great tires, check the pressure. If the pressure is high or low (the dealer always WAY over-inflates the tires) it can make the steering twitchy and the car wander. Check the door panel for the pressure, on mine its 29PSI, but mine has 16 inch wheels and yours has 17s I bet yours is slightly higher.

If the alignment is in spec as per an independent source, its got to be something else...

As for them hiding a problem, your issue is hardly a problem across the model line. I've never heard this complaint before. Sometimes individual cars have specific issues...

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The second dealer may not have recieved the call or the person they spoke to may not have been able to link it up with you at the time. Dealers WANT to do warranty work...Lexus pays them. I'd give em another shot.

All cars loosen up, but I've had multiple lexus cars to well over 100k miles and they don't start wandering in lanes...

The MXV4s are great tires, check the pressure. If the pressure is high or low (the dealer always WAY over-inflates the tires) it can make the steering twitchy and the car wander. Check the door panel for the pressure, on mine its 29PSI, but mine has 16 inch wheels and yours has 17s I bet yours is slightly higher.

If the alignment is in spec as per an independent source, its got to be something else...

As for them hiding a problem, your issue is hardly a problem across the model line. I've never heard this complaint before. Sometimes individual cars have specific issues...

Steve,

You made some valid points about tire pressure. I checked up they were around 31 on all the tires. The steering is crooked and as I said has to do with the toe not being adjusted correctly the third time. It probably is a one off issue but the way its being dealt with is what I have a problem with.

As regards to the second dealer, if you read my first post, you would be bemused! I called the Lexus HQ on a Friday and spoke to them. They called me back on Tuesday (which is normal) and agreed to get a second opinion and specifically asked me to call a person. I was also assured that they would communicate it to the specific person (who, it turns out is the General service manager of the dealership). I called the dealership, asked for this person and specifically and left him a message. Next day one of his associates calls me to setup an appointment. The appointment was on Friday. I went in on Friday, dropped off my car and asked to take a test drive with one of their service technicians. I was asked to wait until Don (the contact person) came to the office at 8AM. I was called in at 8:15 and told to take my car back despite me telling them that HQ had asked me to come there for a second opinion. The guy simply refuted the fact that HQ had called (he asked me if it was Aaron btw and then said no one had called). He also refuted the fact that I had called. When I called Lexus HQ and the same person spoke to me he said he'd left a voicemail and also speaks to this Manager on a daily-basis when queried as to how the manager knew his name. The whole issue smelt fishy after that. The only option I was given after that was to go to arbitration and they refused to diagnose my car because everything was "per design".

I definitely want to give everyone the benefit of doubt but for someone to say that I'd not called and forced myself into the dealership when I have the call log to show that I'd called and they had called me back is beyond suspicion. Moreover, the story at the dealership and the HQ do not corroborate very well.

Harish

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It sounds to me like somebody just screwed something up. Lexus doesn't own the dealer, the dealer is independently owned so the dealer and Lexus wouldn't be conspiring against you. The dealer wants to do service and make money, they had an opportunity to do service and make money here and they wouldn't have passed up on it. The service consultants work on commission!

Did the independent place do an alignment or did they just check the alignment? Why is the wheel still crooked?

The crooked wheel may not mean the alignment is off. The wheel is manually striaghtened after the alignment is completed, sloppy techs just skip this step or do it quickly and don't adjust the wheel properly.

What does the sticker on the door say about the reccomended PSI?

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It sounds to me like somebody just screwed something up. Lexus doesn't own the dealer, the dealer is independently owned so the dealer and Lexus wouldn't be conspiring against you. The dealer wants to do service and make money, they had an opportunity to do service and make money here and they wouldn't have passed up on it. The service consultants work on commission!

Did the independent place do an alignment or did they just check the alignment? Why is the wheel still crooked?

The crooked wheel may not mean the alignment is off. The wheel is manually striaghtened after the alignment is completed, sloppy techs just skip this step or do it quickly and don't adjust the wheel properly.

What does the sticker on the door say about the reccomended PSI?

Steve,

I can check the notes again regarding the PSI. I did not have the independent mechanic adjust the alignment, he just checked it. The whole problem with the dealer is that the field tech is above him and he chooses not do to something that would *BLEEP* the field tech off regardless of what the HQ says. This beats me but thats what he said (that if the field tech has said everything works as designed and they are not above him). Then my problem is that the field tech did not communicate that to me. They went and adjusted the preload on the steering in the name of me saying that the steering wheel was loose (all I said was that the car does not feel the way it did when I first bought it). So it beats me why they adjusted the preload if everything worked per design. They are all just giving me a run-around instead of fixing the car. This is the reason I believe that there is something wrong that they choose not to acknowledge because the car has been in the shop three times already. Every tech thats seen the alignment readings has said that either its wrong and was fixed improperly or that they did not tighted the nuts and bolts enough that has caused more problems.

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Again...I would have the independent shop do the alignment! Makes no sense why you would have them check it and not do it, 95% of the work is done for them to check the alignment once its up on the rack!

I know you want them to fix it, but you're obviously not getting anywhere with them. Pay the $150, let the other shop do it right and punish the dealer by not having your car maintained there anymore. You'll save the $150 at the first oil change!

If everyone is saying its screwed up you gotta let someone fix it.

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Again...I would have the independent shop do the alignment! Makes no sense why you would have them check it and not do it, 95% of the work is done for them to check the alignment once its up on the rack!

I know you want them to fix it, but you're obviously not getting anywhere with them. Pay the $150, let the other shop do it right and punish the dealer by not having your car maintained there anymore. You'll save the $150 at the first oil change!

If everyone is saying its screwed up you gotta let someone fix it.

Steve,

I am not sure you got the point. The problem is NOT with alignment alone (front toe and steer ahead is just one issue). There are several other issues: Given that that thrust angle with well within spec (reads 0.03), the car should drive straight went set straight (regardless of how crooked the steering is) on a straight road regardless of the crown (I am talking about nominal crown for water to seep to the gutter). The car does NOT do that. I can visually see the steering turn itself to the "crown" which tells me that the steering is "loose". The car exhibits tremendous pull (I personally do not think its torque steer) when accelerating, decelerating or braking. All these cannot be attributed to alignment. If I had to get these issues fixed, it would cost me thousands of dollars for a car that is under warranty for 4yrs/50,000 miles for these kinds of issues. Why shud I pay that out of my pocket.

The reason I had the shop only check the alignment was to get a second opinion to make a case for arbitration strong. If I had it fixed, it would weaken my case significantly.

Again, I repeat, its not a $150 issue (even if it was I refuse to pay that out of my pocket). Its not an alignment issue. Its about much more than that and if you have some other suggestion that me getting my alignment done at the shop, please let me know :)

Harish

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