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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • I will add my recent experience which happened an 8 hour drive from home. I had 109,000 miles on the car and previously had BG flushes done at 30K, 60K and 90K at a nearby Toyota dealership. A Lexus dealership was a 1 hour drive away from home, so I conveniently used Toyota. The car slowed down and exhibited a burning smell and then travelled no further. I had the car towed to a nearby Toyota dealership since there were no Lexus dealers nearby. A reman transaxle was installed for a cost of $5233.16 with the part being $3552.23 of the total cost. I submitted a claim to BG Flush protection plan via my local Toyota dealership and received a reimbursement of $1000. I submitted a claim to Lexus and was granted a $750 Lexus service chit but I complained that a Lexus dealer was so far away, they stated they would mail me a check. I really expected more from Lexus since the reman cost so much and they obviously have a design problem with the RX300's. I wonder if the $750 even covers the profit of the reman. The paint and interior have held up well and we like the size and space for our needs but instead of driving it into the ground, we will sell it and probably not go Lexus again.
  • These RX 300 Transmissions are junk and poorly engineered. I have been driving
    over forty years and this is the first transmission that went out. We drove our
    RX 300 like a baby. The transmission went out at 107,000 miles.

    I bought the very first LS 400 in 1990 and it was a GREAT car. I drove it
    for over 300,000 miles and it was greatest care I ever owned. Lexus
    has gone down hill and their slogan "THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION" is a lie and toal fraud on the buying public.
  • 1smartdoc1smartdoc Posts: 4
    edited February 2011
    I have just read all 53 pages on this blog and am plenty concerned:
    I JUST bought an '02 RX 300 (AS-IS) from a luxury car dealer, and am wondering/worrying about the transmission on my 4wd car w/95K miles and towing pkg. Service history is not available; the car was transported by truck from the east coast to Denver, where I live.
    Symptoms include 3 episodes so far (in 2 weeks of ownership) of what I would call a "hard miss" in the engine(?)-which I thought might be a clogged injector-leading to the immediate flashing of the check engine light (actually pulsated on/off every 1-2 seconds, and after about 2 minutes stayed on)-along with the VSC light in the upper left corner of the instrument panel. Fuel injector cleaner seemed to help initially, but this has recurred twice since then. The condition led immediately to weak/hesitant acceleration (I didn't push it, and was very easy on the gas) for a couple of minutes after the occurrence of this. Feels like an engine miss more than anything else, but I've never had an automatic transmission problem before (I usually drive a stick).
    There is also a sense of mild hesitation when proceeding forward in drive (D) from a standstill, but nothing in reverse. I have not yet checked the transmission fluid, nor had the tranny inspected/serviced by a pro. I would also add that I have the extended warranty purchased from the dealer, which should pay for major repairs if needed (minus deductible, of course).
    Vehicle still has the original-size 225/70 R16 tires, but there is a good bit of tread wear for the front tires, and they will need replacement soon.
    A few questions I need some help with:
    Has anyone experienced these symptoms prior to tranny failure?
    The significance of the VSC light, and if illuminated, does that prevent the car from entering OD?
    Does parking on an incline withOUT the parking brake fully engaged have any bearing on tranny failure in this-or any other-vehicle?
    Is there any merit to the statement I've heard from 2 tire dealers, to the effect that a mere 3/32nd" difference in tire height (front to rear) due either to different tire manufacturer's specs, or tread wear differential)-frequently leads to tranny failure in this-or any other 4WD-vehicle? Could this be the reason so many of these trannies have failed?
    One person has apparently had some success with Lucas tranny additive-anyone else tried this, with what kinds of results?
    This has been a very informative site, I've learned a lot, (and will follow the various recommendations of the contributors)-and hope to avoid the travails of those who've been stuck with these repairs (of course, I wish I hadn't bought the car in the first place, after reading all this).....thanks!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited February 2011
    "...tire height (front to rear)...."

    As of the '01 model year the VC fluid was reformulated to always remain "flaccid", no significant level of drive coupling to the rear wheels. Instead of the VC these later models us TC braking and engine dethrottling to prevent loss of directional control due to loss of traction at the primary driving, front, wheels.

    So, no worry about drive line component failure due to disparate F/R tire circumference.

    Be that as it may I would rotate the rear wheels to the front and buy new tires to put on the rear. The better tires should ALWAYS be at the rear.

    TC/VSC is always disabled with a CE, Check Engine.

    "..Service history is not available.."

    Most Lexus dealers will publish the service history given the VIN.

    "...(AS-IS)....purchased an extended warranty..."

    An oxymoron...?

    "....w/95K....(AS-IS)...purschased an extended warranty..."

    seems odd, VERY.

    Don't ever tell the extended warranty company that you purchased the vehicle AS-IS.
  • thanks for your response. The extended warranty provides considerable peace of mind. The dealer sells it, but offers no warranty himself.
    I've checked the tranny fluid; it is a brownish pink and thus, from what I've read here, needs replacement. As to its level, I have yet to determine that, since the car was cold when I checked its condition.
    Any knowledge as to the additive question, or parking on an incline without the parking brake being engaged? I automatically do this every time; my wife can't seem to remember to do so at all....
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Using the "Park" position of the transmission only locks the drive shaft, the diff'l might still allow the wheels to turn. I would advise ALWAYS using the e-brake on an incline, most especially in winter.

    I never use an additive.

    Selling a vehicle as-is and/but with a warranty puts the dealers ethical nature into question IMMHO.
  • Use of the word "ethics" and either "used car salesman" or "politician" in the same sentence is suspect on its face...
    anyway, another question- is it OK to mix brands of struts on the same RX 300 vehicle? I am purchasing a set of Gabriels for the rear, but don't know if I can find the same brand for the front-opinions out there on this?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Side to side would give me pause, but not F/R.
  • just wondering what happened to your lexus? I just had mine replaced from a repair shop that specializes in transmissions; only to find out it is now running "rough" and not driveable ... what else needs to be done after a replacement? does it have to be resynced with the computer upon the change of transimissions? I'm new to the game of trans with lexus; thinking i will just trade it in and let it go! Too many headaches!
  • The computer codes have to be reset. Your transmission shop should have known this. The transmission shop I brought my Lexus to, had to bring my auto to a Toyota dealer after he repaired the transmission to set the code.
  • I had the same problem as yours. After replacement, it took less than a year to break again. No worth to repair. So I just did what you think; I traded in and bought Volvo XC60. No Lexus anymore.
  • Hi,
    I had the transmission rebuilt at another, local shop. They took it out for a test drive and it broke again. They rebuilt it again and took it out for another drive. And, it broke again. The 3rd time, they then had it trucked to the Lexus dealer so they could reset the computer before it was driven. Runs just fine now. I have over 12,000 miles on the rebuilt transmission and it's still running like a dream. I would trust a local, good, shop over Lexus. And, they gave me a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty with free annual checkups and fluid changes.
  • What happened to my car (only 2 weeks after buying it) is that my wife was broadsided 3 days ago while sitting at a light. The car was destroyed, but she will be fine. The B-pillar took the brunt of it, and the side airbag deployed.
    With this in mind, and having seen the condition of the car after the accident, the tranny issue pales in importance-we will get another one.
  • Yes, frustrating experience and now it'll cost me $5000 to get a transmission overhaul. I have a 2001 RX300 with 95,000 miles. Driven normally, only highways and surface streets. Tansmission started sticking about a year ago. Took it to a local shop and they couldn't duplicate the problem. It ran well for about a year and then finally wouldn't reverse when I tried to back out the other day. Had it towed to the local AAMCO and when they took it apart, found bits of metal in the pan. The guy showed me the gears with all the chips and nicks. I guess Toyota got too big and completely ignored what got them to being first in the business. Too complacent and not to be trusted as a company. My shopping list will not include Toyotas or Lexuses in the future.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Glad to hear that your wife will be OK and the car did what it was supposed to do in that set of circumstances.
  • Let me guess, you had AWD.

    The RX 300 transmission was not designed for AWD.

    Sue Lexus for their fraud motto, "Relentless Pursuit of Excellence."
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited February 2011
    >"Sue Lexus for their fraud motto, "Relentless Pursuit of Excellence.""

    I think the key word is "Pursuit". They are apparently still pursuing perfection, like the Borg. ;)

    Anyway, I thought it was "Relentless Pursuit of Perfection". When my '99 RX was newly introduced in 1998, it was "Something Wicked This Way Comes", also referring to the re-designed GS.

    The earliest to have problems acknowledged by Lexus were 2WD models. Mine was one of them. So there goes the theory of AWD being the problem. The AWD transmission was similar, but different.

    2WD's had problems right out of the gate. Valve body defects, debris in the fluid, burning fluid, and really bad shift problems when cold (it had to be colder than usual in So Cal for the 1-2 shift to slam back and forth).

    They did finally fix it, but not on until the fourth time I brought it in to a different dealer. They ultimately fixed it with a brand new transmission ordered from Kyushu under warrantee, which has been fine ever since. Nothing unusual in the fluid now, but change it very often like any car. The dealer will not include transmission service in maintanence packages, and will not advise you until it needs to be rebuilt.
  • I went to test drive a used 2002 Lexus RX 300 that has only 93,000 and only 2 previous owners. While I was driving it, it seemed really sluggish and also seemed to gradually shift, but not with precision. Also, when in drive and at a stop sign, the car seemed to have quite a vibration coming from either the engine or underneath, but it made the steering wheel also vibrate roughly. It does have a salvage title and the second owner bought it that way from a salvage yard and paid for the repairs herself. It was front damage only needing the radiator fixed. I'm paying $8900 (if I decide to buy it) which is a couple thousand below blue book (due to the salvage title) but I just read reviews on this vehicle from year 99 to 02 and they had lots of transmission issues. Could the symptoms I described be the transmission going bad...and does it seem that I would be paying way too much for this year with the salvage title (despite the low mileage) Please help! Thanks so much!
  • RUN!!! My 2001 RX300 had 108K miles when the tranny failed. Because it had been acting funny, I was taking it to the dealer. On the way there, I was stopped at a light & got a lot of vibration. When the light changed, I had trouble getting going - almost got rear ended. Run, run, as fast as you can.
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