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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • I have a 2000 Lexus RX 300 and already replaced the transmission once in 2004 and I just woke up to find out its out again. I've been extra careful since the first replacement in every way (such as making sure I come to a full stop after reversing from my parking spot before I put it into gear to go forward.) Im sure there are more than enough cases for a class action. Most of us either dont know how to go about that or wont initiate it even if we do because of how tedious it seems to be. I am just posting my double case for someone else to read in hopes that a class action gets started somehow... somewhere.
  • Please EVERYONE report your failures here:

    Just press "search selected type" button.

    the failure will be listed under "Powertrain: Automatic Transmission"

    It is the closest thing we can collectively do to get closer to a class action until someone picks up the ball.
  • More direct link :

    then press "continue with complaint"
  • The transmission in my 1999 Lexus RX 300 went out on 12/29/08 in rush hour traffic. I was in shock as I watched AAA load my so called dependable car on the back of the wrecker. I was later disturbed to learn that this is an existing issue and that the Toyota Motor Compay, USA (the parent company of Lexus) had not taken the ethical corporate responsibility and recalled the vehicle. The dealership offered to pay 15% of the $4600 and told me to contact the Lexus Customer Support for any further discounting. I contacted Lexus Customer Support and was told that they could "do another 10%" and that they were not obligated to pay for the repairs because the vehicle was not under warrantly. I am livid. I purchased a Lexus because of the reputation of dependability and am now in shock because it appears that the 1999 Lexus that I have is a lemon. I will never purchase another Lexus and will advise eveyone I come into contact with to never to as well. I used to have a freaking Geo Prism that I drove for over 12 years and had over 260K miles on it and NEVEr had a transmission problem. Are you telling me that a prism is more reliable than a Lexus. I plan to send an official complaint to Toyota and I am also going to complain with the NHTSA.
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 372
    Let us know if you can get more than 25% contributed.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    It appears to me that somewhere mid-stream of the 2000 MY a major transaxle changeover, revision, was made.

    The '99 and early '00 RX300 models appear to have a transaxle design flaw that results in premature transaxle failures in as little as 70-80,000 miles. Insofar as I have been able to learn Lexus has NEVER addressed the problem of the design flaw for these MY's. Only offering, sometimes, to partially compensate owners for repair costs.

    If the 2000 RX300 you have purchased has the towing package that will be something/somewhat of a good indication that it is one of the late 2000 model year RX300's.

    Once Lexus discovered, came to realize, the nature of the design flaw the corrective action/FIX appears to have been to change the transaxle's firmware so the line control hydraulic pressure is always kept up to a higher pressure level than the original design specifications called for. That resulted, of course, in more heating of the ATF than was expected with the original design pressure and so most, if not all, future vehicles were shipped with the optional (NOT..!!) tow package which included the auxiliary external ATF cooling.

    It appears that this technique, "patchwork" fix, continued up until DBW, E-throttle was adopted for the RX330 series. DBW could be, was used, to delay the onset of engine torque when a transaxle gear change was required and ATF line pressure was not sufficient. DBW was used to "enforce" a delay in the onset of raising engine torque long enough for the line pressure to be pumped up to an acceptable level for fully and firmly seating the clutches for the upcoming gear change.
  • mnfmnf Posts: 404
    Your correct no one car company is PERFECT including Toyota with Transmissions in Lexus and Engine sludge in early 2000 on many of Toyotas. Subarus had head gasket issues in the 1998-2001 and even Honda with major issues with Transmissions in the 1998-2002 Accords. Then America cars well not enough space to put all of them down

  • I have a 1999 RX 300 as well and found out this morning that the transmissionn is gone. My dealer has quoted me $5k-6k to fix it and I will see if I can convince them to give me any discounts. Just like all of you on this board, I am furious and very unhappy with the company that promises the "Pursuit of Excellence".

    In terms of the class action lawsuits, I will be very happy to participate/help with that, but I have the following questions:

    1) We would clearly want to work with a company with a stellar record on class action lawsuits. How do we know which is the right company?

    2) Can the people who initiate a lawsuit of this kind get into any kind of trouble for doing so?

    3) Are these suits filed directly with hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people to start, or do they have a handful of primary plaintiffs and then the rest just tag on to that?
  • What dealer did you go to - in what part of the country?

    I have tried talking to the dealers in the bay area, CA and none of them want to take off a dollar of the price that they quote. They say we should talk to Lexus if we want any discounts..
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706

    3500-4000 dollars is more typical.
  • i cannot not believe all the money and whining people are putting out over this trans in the rx300 and not reporting it to nhtsa..everyone needs to take 5 min and report this .if they get enough reports they will make lexus fix it and even compensate past expences of owners that have been out all this money,come on folks wake up.
    link below. -
  • My 2000 rx 300 trans failed with 120000 miles,Took car to dealership $4300 dollors to replace.Luxus ofterd 25% off.Talked with other mechanancs, everyone knows about this problem.Ended up taking it to a trans shop $2500 later works great.My car will never see a luxus dealership again.I have lost all faith in luxus and will tell all rx 300 owners about this problem and tell them to call customer service at 800 255 3987.
  • To follow up on my problem I had reported earlier (1999 RX transmission dead at 101,000 miles), I talked to all the Lexus dealerships around my area, and the cheapest one I could find wanted $4500. I called Lexus and they (in my opinion) were very good about it - my cost $2500. I am happy to have had it fixed by the Lexus dealership as it should not be worse (if not better) than the job by other transmission shops and also fixing it from Lexus will carry some weight when I try and sell this vehicle a few years from now.
  • First time user at Great info sight.
    I am looking at buying a 2000 RX300 with 93k.
    I notice a lot of the trany comments are coming from the California area.
    I'm in the Northwest.
    Is the outdoor temperature the biggest factor in the trany failure rate?
    Can one install an after market tow package oil cooler to extend the life of the trany?
    Any info or help would be appreciated.
    Thank you
  • My honest advice - don't buy it! I doubt that the weather plays a big factor. You have a choice of buying whatever vehicle you want - so why buy something that may break down within a year and cost you $5000! IMHO..
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Warm weather idling is one of many factors that contributed to a weak original transmission design. The best situation: if you get one with an updated Lexus-replaced transmission, a good warrantee, or enough $ room if it needs one.

    Many of the original transmissions were not reliable after about 60-70,000 miles. The ones that were trouble-prone tended to have a few issues with them, and have been generally low-mileage (higher mileage crappy trannys tended to have been replaced during the long original warrantee). The bad ones usually show symptoms and/or burned fluid indicating internal wear and tear. Others go far longer, hundreds of thousands.

    If you're looking at one with burned fluid consider passing on it, or expect a bargain needing a replacement tranny. So if that's the reason you want to add a cooler, it's not likely to help a lot. However, YES you can add more cooling. I added an additional cooler after Lexus replaced my transmission under warrantee. The added cooler was cheap insurance, and easy to install. Most likely the model you're looking at has the factory external cooler in the RF fender, behind the windshield washer bottle which was included in the tow package nearly all came with. It's ducted but there's no fan, so that factory cooler is only effective when the car's moving at a good clip, another drawback affecting those that idle a lot. The tranny replacement I got was a brand new updated tranny from Lexus, all expenses paid. This was a very common occurance for higher-mileage, especially early 1999's. This new one (2004) shifts flawlessly, reliably, and it does not burn fluid the way the original did. Compared to the original transmission, I expect the replacement to last a long time.

    Also I recommend a "search" in RX300. There are lots of posts with common questions. One I found is link title. But there are lots of good posts. It's a great question.

    Honestly, RX300's weren't perfect, but what nine year old car with the utility and convenience this little car has, is? I think if you're looking at a good one and you're a careful shopper, it is possible you'll find the car comfortable, safe, full of everyday convenience in a smart size, as well as reliable.

    Post up questions that come up with some details. There are bound to be some. Good luck.
  • I have a 2000 RX300. I am at 80,000 miles. I started having problems when putting my vehicle in reverse. Dealership is telling me that it might be the transmission. What am i expected to pay if so? I dont want to be cheated out of my hard earned money. I take good care of my vehicle and dont see it being the trans. Is it really going to be above 5k?
  • Just paid 4K on a Lexus reman. tranny on a 125K 2001 RX (at a Lexus dealer). Seems there are a whole lot of RX tranny problems. Just read this site.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    RX series design change, resulting failures, and fixes (non-fixes actually).

    When the ATF accumulator was dropped from the Camry transaxle design to make room for building a more robust transaxle for the soon to be released to production RX300 they obviously didn't foresee the problem associated with a need for a downshift for re-acceleration immediately following an upshift resulting from a throttle lift.

    So the '99 and '01 RXes, at least the earlier '01's, had premature failures, most likely clutch failures, due to the lack of sufficient ATF pressure when the firmware commanded a downshift for re-acceleration.

    My guess is that by about mid-production of the '01 model the mistake/oversight was discovered and the only quick and easy "fix" was to modify the firmware so that the "real-time" "bottom level" control of ATF line pressure was substantially increased.

    While this would result in more line pressure being available for that "unexpected" downshift it would also result in substantially more heating of the ATF then had been planned. As a result almost all, if not actually all, 01-03 RX300's were shipped with the towing package which just happened to include an external ATF cooler.

    But since the actual heating was restricted to a local area, the ATF pump and "real-time" pressure relief valve, the extra ATF cooling was not of great help. My '01 had ATF that was quite burned and odorous at only 40,000 miles.

    When the RX330 (Camry, HL, ES300, Sienna...) rolled off the production line with DBW the transaxle failure problem was finally SOLVED.

    Except the customers did not much care for sometimes having to wait 1-2 seconds after gas pedal depression for GO....

    The 2010 RX350 now has new firmware to help with the reluctance to GO...
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I have a hard time imagining that it's not the transmission if you're having problems with reverse. This same question has been coming up a lot lately, so check out the "search" function on this site for more details. There is lots of information. If your car is otherwise in good shape and worth fixing, you're at an advantage that you're getting some advance warning before something breaks internally or clogs and it fails on the spot.

    Since you didn't notice a problem with it until you're long passed the long mfr warrantee, likely you (the owner) are responsible for the cost. But Lexus has been providing other owners with partial loyalty (goodwill) discounts on out-of-warrantee transmission work done by them for established customers or to earn your business. I don't believe they are under any obligation if you had nine years/80,000 miles of use, but I could be wrong. But I also believe if you have an established relationship with the Lexus dealer and you ask, they will try to work with you on a Lexus transmission, especially if you show you asked them to perform preventive service on the transmission which likely was in addition to the manufacturers suggestion.

    You may want to share some of your experiences on this site. For instance, how the dealer tries to work with you, how brown/burned is your transmission fluid, how long ago it was last changed, etc. Good luck, and let us know the details.
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