2004 Lexus ES 330

no when too

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Oct 17, 2009
Messages
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Points
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Make
Lexus
Model
ES-330
Year
2004
Miles
131758
Engine
3.3liter
My 2004 Lexus ES330 has a problem, which I believe is in the transmission. Last night after driving through some local neighborhoods checking out Christmas lights, when I got home and parking the car is the garage I noticed a smell of maybe oil overheated or burnt. I wasn’t sure what to think about it. Please note: the car ran fine the whole time we were out, for maybe two hours or so. This morning when I started the car, I immediately heard a whining noise, which was very noticeable. I turned the engine off right away, and checked the engine oil level which was good. I had just replaced the engine oil and filter about two weeks ago which was about 400 miles ago. I then checked the transmission fluid which definitely has a burnt smell to it. Since the car ran great while we were out the entire time, what do you think is going on?? THANKS I look forward to your responses.
 

billr

wrench
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Was the trans fluid level OK? Can you scan for codes? If you don't have a scanner, I would usually suggest taking it to FLAPS for scanning, but in this case I fear that may do more damage than good. I would take off the serpentine accessory drive belt and run it that way briefly, make sure the noise isn't from one of accessories, like alternator, power-steering, A/C, etc. If the engine is cold, you should be able to run it for a couple of minutes with no problem, even though the water pump may be inop with the belt off.
 

no when too

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Thanks guy for the input!! I did remove the serpentine belt and the noise did go away. I tried to determine if the noise was coming from the alternator/generator or the air conditioner compressor. It appears to be the A/C compressor the best I can figure. When I turned on the A/C the whining noise changed. So I guess this means to the shop it must go for a very costly repair. Unless you might have another idea??
 

billr

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Let's talk some more...

"Deadly" A/C noises usually occur when the compressor is running. This may only be a problem with the A/C clutch, and it may be serviceable without disturbing the compressor seal and refrigerant charge. Not so expensive. Even if the compressor does have to come off, if the system has been holding pressure, then R&R of the compressor and recharge may not be all that expensive. And, of course, there is always the option of using a different belt or an extra idler pulley to totally disconnect the compressor from the belt. Yeah, no A/C, but people drove for many years before A/C became common. It can be done.

As mentioned, a "burnt smell" is never good for trans fluid, but smells (like noises) are hard to be specific about. I suggest changing the fluid and filter, checking for debris in the pan and inspecting the fluid. There will always be some debris in the pan, so I suggest taking pictures of what you find and post here. For the fluid, put some in a clear jar and look through it at bright light. You don't want to see any glittering metal particles suspended in the fluid. Again, pictures if in doubt.

The trans may have many more miles/years left, but maybe you want to do the A/C "bypass" bit until hot weather comes back; give the trans a few more months before investing in any expensive A/C work.
 

no when too

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I was thinking about getting a smaller serpentine belt, just to verify that the noise is definitely coming from the A/C compressor. It is interesting you indicated it could be just the clutch, I may be able to replace that without disrupting the refrigerant. That would be great if that happens. I do have the thick service manual for this car but I did see any information about doing a clutch replacement on the vehicle. If you have a link with some information about that I would definitely give it try.

As for the trans fluid I may do an oil change but for now I need resolve this noise and get it back on the road!! Thanks again for your input.
 

billr

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I looked for R&R info on that clutch; little joy. I did find an "exploded view" that hints the clutch can come off without disturbing the compressor shaft seal; so there is hope. Let's see if somebody with better info can join in here...
 

no when too

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I got some good news. Problem has been resolved!!!!! It turned out to be the alternator after all. I was able to figure this out by installing a belt just from the engine pulley to the alternator and the noise was still there. It was very difficult to determine where the noise was being generated from. I had removed the alternator yesterday and the bearings felt good but the ultimate test showed the alternator was the problem. I did check with one local shop about the clutch on the A/C and was told they would have to replace the entire unit. The total cost was going to be just over $1000.00. The alternator sure was a cheaper fix $150.00 and I was able to do that repair myself. Thanks for all of your input!!!!
 

grcauto

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I got some good news. Problem has been resolved!!!!! It turned out to be the alternator after all. I was able to figure this out by installing a belt just from the engine pulley to the alternator and the noise was still there. It was very difficult to determine where the noise was being generated from. I had removed the alternator yesterday and the bearings felt good but the ultimate test showed the alternator was the problem. I did check with one local shop about the clutch on the A/C and was told they would have to replace the entire unit. The total cost was going to be just over $1000.00. The alternator sure was a cheaper fix $150.00 and I was able to do that repair myself. Thanks for all of your input!!!!
Glad you got that fixed but the burnt tranny is needing attention soon.
 
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