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Update 01' Ls430: JDM transmission (a650e) still has issues but works. Rebuild time?

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Update 01' Ls430: JDM transmission (a650e) still has issues but works. Rebuild time?

Old 05-21-18, 03:53 PM
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kaizmauka
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Default Update 01' Ls430: JDM transmission (a650e) still has issues but works. Rebuild time?

Hey there guys, so you may remember me from last year when my original transmission failed on a road trip in California. The car is an 01' Lexus Ls430 with 220,000 miles...the original transmission failed when it overheated due to a major leak while driving on the highway.
Last summer I had a shop in Seattle drop in an A650E transmission which I purchased from Foreign Engines in Seattle for $300...they have since then reimbursed me because of the issues I have experienced since the installation.
The shop who installed it first noticed some slippage "flaring" from 2nd-3rd. Since then I have not had flaring issues all the time but now the reverse gear is having the tendency to not engage until the car has been running for a few minutes. It will just rev as though in neutral until eventually it will decide to engage with a clunk.
I have brought the car to over 5 transmission shops since the install and all shop have not been able to diagnose any issue except for that they have changed the fluid and adjusted levels. From what I understand this transmission is quite sensitive to incorrect fluid levels and so there may be a leak in the transmission but no one has been able to find the leak so far.

Questions I have....

1. Being that the A650E transmission was used in many different models of Lexus and Toyota...do they have technical differences from model to model? Is it safe to say that because this transmission didn't necessarily come out of another LS430, that this could be causing me issues?

2. Do you think I should try replacing the Solenoid assembly and putting on a new oil pan filter and gasket...is that worth a shot?

3. Should I try Lucas oil transmission fix?

4. If I rebuilt the transmission, has anyone used Power Dynamix in Texas? They rebuilt A650E transmissions to handle up to 700 HP...and only $2000....Any one use them?
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Old 05-21-18, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by kaizmauka View Post
Hey there guys, so you may remember me from last year when my original transmission failed on a road trip in California. The car is an 01' Lexus Ls430 with 220,000 miles...the original transmission failed when it overheated due to a major leak while driving on the highway.
Last summer I had a shop in Seattle drop in an A650E transmission which I purchased from Foreign Engines in Seattle for $300...they have since then reimbursed me because of the issues I have experienced since the installation.
The shop who installed it first noticed some slippage "flaring" from 2nd-3rd. Since then I have not had flaring issues all the time but now the reverse gear is having the tendency to not engage until the car has been running for a few minutes. It will just rev as though in neutral until eventually it will decide to engage with a clunk.
I have brought the car to over 5 transmission shops since the install and all shop have not been able to diagnose any issue except for that they have changed the fluid and adjusted levels. From what I understand this transmission is quite sensitive to incorrect fluid levels and so there may be a leak in the transmission but no one has been able to find the leak so far.

Questions I have....

1. Being that the A650E transmission was used in many different models of Lexus and Toyota...do they have technical differences from model to model? Is it safe to say that because this transmission didn't necessarily come out of another LS430, that this could be causing me issues?

2. Do you think I should try replacing the Solenoid assembly and putting on a new oil pan filter and gasket...is that worth a shot?

3. Should I try Lucas oil transmission fix?

4. If I rebuilt the transmission, has anyone used Power Dynamix in Texas? They rebuilt A650E transmissions to handle up to 700 HP...and only $2000....Any one use them?


Five shops have inspected the AT and could not find anything wrong with it - does this include Lexus dealer? Thsi is just a poke in the dark but given the age of the car if multiple shops cannot find a problem with the AT then there is a possibility that the ECM may have an issue in regard to controlling shift points on the AT.

It is not common but there have been cases where an AT was not shifting correctly because the ECM had electronic component failure due to age issues.

If it were my car I'd take it to Lexus and pay an hour of labor and ask the service manager to assign their best AT guy to diagnose the issue on the car. They will likely tell you it needs a new or rebuilt AT but I'd want to confirm with an expert before throwing more money at it. Depending on the condition of your car given it has high miles and 2001, the cost of a rebuilt AT and labor to install is going to approach total value of the car. Might be better to trade it in while its still running on a newer lower mile LS430.

Last edited by Jabberwock; 05-21-18 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 05-22-18, 06:50 PM
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Thank you for the input Jabberwock, I certainly am interested in trading in my 01' for an 06'...so if you know anyone selling an 06' please let me know! Anyhow, I have suggested to some mechanics that the ECM might be at fault...others have mentioned that it could be a grounding issue. Also I have read online that the taillights on these cars are wired in series in such as way that could effect that tranny....and it just so happens that I have a taillight warning popping up on my dash with the red triangle warning light!

Anyhow, how much would it cost to replace an ECM or diagnose an electrical issue related to the tranny? I personally don't think it is electronic because this transmission's Reverse gear has just been getting worse since I bought it...started with clunking before reversing and now it doesn't engage until I give it a few minutes of warming up....this leads me to believe that it is solenoid or fluid leak causing these issues...but hell if it is a confusing electronic issue then you are right I probably should give up on this car....because things are starting to add up and i'm getting fed up. The whole reason I bought this car was because of it's supposed reliability...but with 230,000 miles I guess you never know.

But then again...the car is built in 2001...so I assume even if i found another 2001' LS430 that only had say 100,000 miles on it...wouldn't I still end up having to replace a bunch of stuff just because of the age of the parts?




Originally Posted by Jabberwock View Post
Five shops have inspected the AT and could not find anything wrong with it - does this include Lexus dealer? Thsi is just a poke in the dark but given the age of the car if multiple shops cannot find a problem with the AT then there is a possibility that the ECM may have an issue in regard to controlling shift points on the AT.

It is not common but there have been cases where an AT was not shifting correctly because the ECM had electronic component failure due to age issues.

If it were my car I'd take it to Lexus and pay an hour of labor and ask the service manager to assign their best AT guy to diagnose the issue on the car. They will likely tell you it needs a new or rebuilt AT but I'd want to confirm with an expert before throwing more money at it. Depending on the condition of your car given it has high miles and 2001, the cost of a rebuilt AT and labor to install is going to approach total value of the car. Might be better to trade it in while its still running on a newer lower mile LS430.
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Old 05-22-18, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Jabberwock View Post
Five shops have inspected the AT and could not find anything wrong with it - does this include Lexus dealer? Thsi is just a poke in the dark but given the age of the car if multiple shops cannot find a problem with the AT then there is a possibility that the ECM may have an issue in regard to controlling shift points on the AT.

It is not common but there have been cases where an AT was not shifting correctly because the ECM had electronic component failure due to age issues.

If it were my car I'd take it to Lexus and pay an hour of labor and ask the service manager to assign their best AT guy to diagnose the issue on the car. They will likely tell you it needs a new or rebuilt AT but I'd want to confirm with an expert before throwing more money at it. Depending on the condition of your car given it has high miles and 2001, the cost of a rebuilt AT and labor to install is going to approach total value of the car. Might be better to trade it in while its still running on a newer lower mile LS430.

Also wanted to ask, if it turns out that I need to replace the ECM....would you trust buying a used OEM one on ebay, I see them for sale for around 100 to 200 bucks...while from lexuspartsdirect I am looking at over $1000. I imagine that they are no longer re-manufacturing these ECM's today so does that mean that all the ECM's out there are potentially defective?

Also, if I find the top Lexus tech and have him diagnose the transmission which tests will he be able to perform on the ECM that transmission shops couldn't already have done....ie. the shop that installed the transmission said they ran through the PCM and TCM and tried everything to get it to shift more smoothly...does the Lexus dealership have access to special computer diagnostics on these car's?

But the bigger question for me is whether or not I ****ed up by replacing this transmission with an unknown transmission. I mean although the 01'-03' Lexus has the A650E transmission that the IS300 and others also have...I see here that in 2001 they modified the A650E tranmission internally to handle more torque (see link:http://blog.lexus.co.uk/lexus-gearbox-transmissions/ )....so isn't it quite likely that I have an A650E transmission from a pre-2001' vehicle and therefore I am overloading this tranny?
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Old 05-22-18, 08:45 PM
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It is more likely that the AT is faulty, but it could be the ECM issue so I just wanted to make you aware of that possibility. Best way to fix ECM is to send it to repair service rather than buy another ECM so that you do not have to pay high labor cost to reprogram the used or new replacement ECM to match your car and keys.

Personally I'd make an appointment at Lexus requesting a senior "master" tech with significant LS430 experience perform a diagnostic on AT before I spent any more money on repairs or parts. Ask them how much it would be and let them know to call you if it needs more than 1-2 hrs labor to check out.
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Old 05-22-18, 08:56 PM
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Hi. Sorry to hear about all the trouble you've been having. Personally I'd get another car. In Sacramento (CA), you can buy a nice 01-03 w/ reasonable miles for $6k. There's also a nice '06 here in town. Silver, has 99k miles, totally maintained, driven only by an older woman. I did test drive. Much as I'd like to own another LS, it isn't going to happen. Well maybe if I find Briarwood/Saddle Asking price on the '06 is 9,900/best offer. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss
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