CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1998 Lexus ES 300 - Transmission

I have a 98 Lexus es300 that I purchased last June. recently it has started slipping out of 1st into neutral when i step on the gas from a full stop. If i let off the gas, the care re-engages to first gear again. It’s only been happening for a very short time, that I’m aware of, but a few months ago while doing 70-75 on the highway, I thought I felt it slip out of gear then, too, but when it re-engaged there was no sound or jarring motion… it almost felt like the engine was ‘free-floating’ for a second. What is happening? Is my transmission failing??

It does sound like your transmission is starting to slip. When did you change your fluid last? Is the level ok? What color/smell is it? Keep in mind, too, your car is 21 years old and things wear out and break over time

1 Like

Check your fluid level. The fluid level is critical on some of these transmission. If this transmission does not have a dip stick, you will have to take it to the dealers service department to get the level checked and brought up to the required level.

This automatic transmission does have a dipstick . . . so op will be able to check the fluid level and condition

here’s a thought . . . drive the car for several miles, then drain the fluid into a clean tub

Now you can inspect the fluid. Lots of metal and clutch material? Does it smell burnt?

I’m assuming this car has at least 150K miles, if not more . . . if the automatic transmission fluid and filter was infrequently service, an overhaul might be in your future.

Is the car otherwise in good shape?

Good enough to pass a safety and smog inspection

If the answer is no . . .