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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a manual swapped 2005 IS300 SportCross that needs some help. The W55 transmission and all the required swap components came from a donor IS300 manual sedan. After fixing a cylinder 6 misfire (bad coil), the engine is running great. However, I am not too happy with that transmission. First off, it's really noisy. I want to hear the engine and exhaust, not gear whine/noise when I am rowing the gears. The other issue is with the shifter. It's notchy and not smooth to shift. It appears to be an aftermarket short shifter (maybe a KDS QuickShift Ebay special).

All other manuals that I have owned/driven (2008 Volvo C30, 1990 Acura Legend, Mid 90's BMW 3 series, ...) shifted much more smoothly and easily and were a joy to drive. The W55 currently in my SportCross is not.

Looking for input from those with experience on manual tranny IS300's,

- When new, how was the shifting and tranny noise on a manual IS300 sedan? Was it smooth and quiet, with smooth shifting? Or not?

I suspect that part of shifting issue has to do with the aftermarket short shifter, and that reverting to a stock shifter assembly would help.

For the gear noise, maybe adding more sound insulation around the tunnel (Dynamat) would help. But maybe it's just a worn out transmission.

The 2JZ-GE in this SportCross is stock and I will keep it that way, so I don't need to handle higher power levels. So, strength wise, the W55 is fine.

My possible courses of action are:

  • Try to resolve issues with this W55 OR
  • Get a rebuilt W55 and swap that in (not too expensive, not that tough to do) OR
  • Go with a 2006 AR5 or a CD009 (will be expensive for conversion parts and lots of work)
Any help appreciated.

Thanks,

Bob

PS - I did post this same request on another Lexus site to get wider coverage. Comment in either place, and I will read/reply.
 

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I would say it is the particular tranny you are dealing with. Previous owner may have been a bit hard on it and then you do not know really the maintenance ether.

Rebuild or another source will depend on cost and what you are looking for really.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi 01_SolarYellow - Thanks for the quick reply. My assumption was that when new, the IS300 manual tranny sedan was relatively quiet and shifted smoothly. If anybody can validate that assumption, do let me know. I can't imagine Lexus selling the IS300 manual tranny sedan that was otherwise. Given that, my goal is to have a "like new" driving experience for my manual SportCross. I found rebuilt W55 transmissions with 12 months warranty for about $900 after core return. So, that wouldn't be too expensive, and the swapping process would be straightforward as compared to going with the AR5 or CD009.
 

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Some gear noise with the W55 is normal. If you’ve ever driven another IS300 manual, or even if you watch an M/T IS300 test drive on YouTube, you’ll hear the same noises. Personally I love sounds it makes. The autos sound nothing like it and in fact most old rear drive Toyota products (like the SC300 manual for example) made similar sounds. If you want to hear the engine more, there are plenty of aftermarket intake and exhaust systems to choose from that’ll help bring that out.

As for the shifter, stock throws are on the long side, but generally positive and precise. I’d take the short shifter off, drive it for a week and compare and contrast which you like better. If the stock throws are too long for your tastes, Cube Speed makes one that I hear is pretty good.

BTW...was this the SportCross that you bought?

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Mic24 - Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, I have never had the chance to drive another IS300 manual (or any other W55/2JZ like the SC300), so I don't have anything to directly compare it with. For the auto trans first gen IS300's that I have driven, the trans is pretty quiet, and you can really hear that sweet engine sound when getting the revs up. I agree that hearing some tranny noise is good and creates a more connected driving experience. I just want to dial it down. Maybe the tranny is fine, and I just need to put down some Dynamat.

For the shifter, I don't mind long throws as long as it shifts well. I checked out 5 different IS300's at the Pick-n-Pull's in the area that were described as manual trans. Every one was an automatic. I think that the Pick-n-Pull receivers just see that big silver ball shifter knob and assume that it is a manual trans. Anyway, still looking for a stock shifter to try out.

BTW...was this the SportCross that you bought?
Yep, that's the one. Bought it sight unseen and had shipped back to California. Mostly good, some remaining issues to sort.out. Par for the course when buying a car sight unseen. And it's definitely a looker.
 

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Depending on the sort shifter they can make or let a lot of noise through from the trans, depending on brand and construction. A lot use solid or super stiff bushes to try make the experience more direct but of course it does not soften out the noise. If you aren't sure of its origins i would change that out first and see how you go.
 

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Hi Pnut00 - I agree about the short shifter. I can actual feel vibration fairly strongly coming up through the shifter, so it's likely a strong contributor to the noise propagation. And the shifter bushings do feel really stiff, and may even be solid type.. Once I get a hold of a stock shifter, I'll swap it in and see how it goes. Anyone know where I can get a stock shifter assembly?
 

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Well congrats on the car! I first saw it after it "sold" on BaT. Then saw it pop-up on eBay soon after. And again on eBay. And and then on AutoTrader...

Thought about making him an offer, but for what he was asking, I'd rather have a super clean, factory-equipped M/T sedan at least at this juncture. Nonetheless, it seems to be a pretty nice car. You should post some pictures of it now that you've got it home!

As for finding a stock shifter, I'd keep an eye on the classified section here on my.is or check out the IS300 classified pages on Facebook. Then of course there's always Craigslist. I'm sure someone has one for sale somewhere.
 

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Thanks 01_SolarYellow, Mic24, Pnut00 for the input. Once I find a stock shifter assembly and swap it in, we'll see how it goes. If that solves the shifting issues, then I'll re-assess the gear noise (after adding some Dynamat under the carpet on tunnel). If it's still too noisy and looking like a worn out trans, I'll go ahead and order a rebuilt W55 and swap it in. Hopefully that'll get me the Unicorn that I've always wanted. I'll post pics after I get it cleaned up - it got pretty dirty from the open car carrier.
 

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I'd look at car-part.com for a shifter on a manual IS300.

Congrats on the purchase, my buddy did a manual swap on his moms Sportcross like 9yrs back in 2011. I don't think I could drive an automatic car anymore, especially new ones with all the CVT bs.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi Piggity - I just did a search on car-part.com and found a couple good choices for the shifter. Since I have been striking out at the local Pick-n-Pulls's for this part, I'll probably get the shifter on car-part.com.

While I'm definitely in the "Save the Manuals" camp, I thought that the A650E was a pretty good auto trans for the IS300, especially in the "pwr" setting and in e-shift mode. Downshifts were fine, but it did have issues when I would want to hold a gear. But yeah, the 2JZ-GE w/ manual trans is/will be a great combo for my SportCross.

However, I recently drove a few cars that softened my stance that sports cars should always have a manual trans. My wife and I went to some event where we could test drive various Lexus models. We lucked out and got to drive both a 2019 LC500 and a 2019 RC-F. They both have a 5.0L 470hp V8, which made some of the best engine and exhaust sounds that I have ever heard. But the big surprise was the auto trans in those cars. I was blown away by how good those auto trans shifted. In the sport modes, the shift logic would predict when do downshift very well based on braking, cornering, g-sensors, etc. And it would electronically blip the throttle for rev-matched downshifts. While those cars are way more expensive than I would pay for a car, they did change the way that I think about modern automatic transmissions.
 

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TBH I haven't driven an automatic IS300. My wife just traded in her 16' Civic CVT for a new 20' Impreza Sport Hatch CVT, both transmissions are frustrating. I do find a true automatic with a manual mode to be far easier to drive, that way I can shift it the way I want and in the powerband of the engine. I also have a 06' 4Runner that is more fun to drive than either of the cars previously mentioned.
 

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Yeah im the same, test drove a couple of CVT Mazdas recently back to back with their Auto counterpart, ill take the auto over the CVT any day of the week. I used to be in the all manual camp as well, but with getting older and sore ankles when driving and more traffic ive softened on the whole auto camp. It wont replace the fun factor of blipping through the gears when i want to, but for daily driving it'll do for now.
 

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I just completed the manual swap in my sportcross.
For excessive gear noise, I'd pull the center console off and check to see how they completed the trans tunnel. Sounds like they may have not sealed it up very well and also you may have some of the shift boots missing. Not sure of the names but you have 2 rubber pieces below the leather shift boot that will help with heat and noise.
For the heat, I've seen a lot of swaps where they do not install the trans tunnel heat shield that the manuals come with stock.
 
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