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Lexus RX Transmission Problems

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Comments

  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited July 2011
    I feel for the owners who have to spend thousands of dollars to rebuild their transmissions. This is an obvious area of concern.

    However, many do last much longer than 100,000 miles, but there are a couple issues that combine to cause problems, like has been stated and re-stated on this and many other forums over and over.

    Firstly, there was the original design which was not intended to be a stout truck-like transmission in a car that was designed two decades ago, and marketed to be anti-truck like. Anyone who intends from to keep this type of vehicle a long time knows transverse automatics in heavy vehicles have to deal with extra heat, etc. and needs to perform additional maintanence the manual or dealer networks don't specify or support. Merely stating "dealer service" means this extra diligence was not performed. I had more than one dealer tell me they have never serviced these units even when requested. That's when you know it's time to take it somewhere else or learn to DIY. But be warned - the neighborhood lube shop and transmission shops don't carry Toyota Type IV fluid which is a proprietery fluid. Unless requested otherwise, they use the stuff they get by the drum" Dex/Mercron and add an additive to simulate the Type IV fluid, which can be a cause of problems.

    Secondly, there were some early units that did have issues and Lexus TSB's covering them under the original 7-year/70,000 mile warranty. Lexus did take care of these customers (but sometimes it meant complaining more than once).

    Thirdly, because of the car's popularity (and many were leased), only dealer recommended service was performed, and many were traded in or otherwise sold used. 13 year old vehicle - of any make - that was only treated to dealer specified service means you - the second-hand owner- should be on the lookout for this kind of trouble, and I don't think that's something you can sue for.

    Additionally, because the transmission design had many updates during it's tenure, a third-party rebuilt unit that was sitting on a shelf may or may not have all the updates that were compatible, and could be a source of future problems. We are seeing reports like this come up more often they age.

    Lastly, there were a good majority of these cars that remained reliable for well over a hundred thousand miles, sometimes double that. But they don't last forever, and eventually need repair. At that age, I don't think a lawsuit would be the best way to settle it.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Deannalucas,

    Your situation is very unfortunate and extreme. Your neighborhood mechanic made a profit both times, but did not feel obligated to make it right after the second failure. I don't think you will get satisfaction from Lexus since you took your loyalty elsewhere. I could be wrong here, but I know Lexus was "helping" owners after their original warranty expired to earn their loyalty, not because they felt responsible to.

    If it were me, I would tactfully put pressure on this neighborhood mechanic to set it right and correct the situation. The mechanic needs to be sure to get the correctly rebuilt part (or do it himself with verified updated parts) with all appropriate updates, and you've already paid her/him full retail twice, even though he/she gave you a break on the cost of the second (he still made a profit at $3000) or refund your money (doubtful). If he doesn't I'd then take legal action, but not before I'd exhausted firm but polite requests.

    If you need to go somewhere else, be sure to let them know you've done your homework. You need: the correct parts updates that match your vehicle and make it reliable, correct Type IV fluid, and you are getting estimates because there seems to be a lot of "room" in the cost of these transmissions based on what you've read here and on Lexus Owners Club forums, and the price seems dependent on the vehicle's percieved value.

    Please be sure to share your findings. I hope it works out well for you. Good luck!
  • Transmission went yesterday, fortunately it was in my driveway. Car was bought new in June of 2001 and was babied, never towed anything, had 88,000 miles, serviced regularly, transmission serviced at 30,000 and 60,000 miles. I am having it towed to a local transmission shop. He said the worst case scenario would be $4400.

    I am hoping I don't have to replace the transmission. You can put it in reverse but it thinks its in neutral. You can push down the accelerator and it goes forward with a noise from the transmission.

    If you engage the ECT (snow) it will go forward and reverse without any noise. When the tow truck picked it up today it went into reverse and was able to back it up on to the truck with noise.

    Will report back on the diagnosis. Like many others, when you service a car regularly, do not tow anything, wife only drives, 9000 miles per year, and you buy a car for reliability you don't expect to spend $4400 on a transmission at 88,000 miles.

    Very disappointed in the Lexus name and quality. I thought with the extra money I was buying a vehicle that would be reliable. Add to that the Power windows work when they want, and the key no longer activates the door lock on the driver's side, and the fan in the dash sometimes sound like its rubbing something I feel like I have a Kia. On the outside it looks new as I have faithfully waxed it 4 times a year. Very disappointed.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...I feel like I have a Kia.."

    You should be so lucky.
  • flsjr55flsjr55 Posts: 16
    I suggest that you consult with Lexus Customer Service before having a non Lexus dealer make repairs. If it being repaired at a lexus dealer there is a good possibility the dealer and Lexus Corp will contribute toward the cost of repairs.
  • mrbostonmrboston Posts: 43
    YOUR MESSAGE READS AS A LEXUS ATTORNEY.

    Lexus is falsely advertising when it says, "The relentless pursuit of Excellence."

    I sued Lexus ins small claims court and won for their faulty transmission.
    Lexus service manager finally admitted it was a piece of junk. The failure rate on 2009 - 2001 Lexus RX 300 AWD is tremendous. How do I know
    I had two cars and they both went out at almost the exact same time.
    These cars were babied.

    After having bought the first LS 400 in 1990 and seven other Lexus,
    NO THANKS I'm done. Lexus and Toyota quality have gone way down hill.
    The worste part is Lexus refuses to takeresponsibility until they show up in court>>>>>>
  • Can you say what the cost of the attorney was and what the settlement was?

    Thanks!
  • accproaccpro Posts: 4
    I am so glad to hear that you took Lexus ins small claims court and won for their faulty transmission.

    My Lexus 2000 and my sister 2009 Lexus Rx3000 transmissions both had to be replaced after driving for about 90,000 KM.

    The failure of my Lexus 2000 had almost caused my life in the HWY. The transmission stopped functioning a few second after I was exiting the HWY to the ramp. The car suddenly and completely locked on me. The engine was running, but the car could not go nowhere. I had to get a special tow truck to lifted my car to the garage. Luckily this did not happen in the HWY. This would had caused a chain reaction car accidents and very serious injury.

    Every time when I am passing by the place where my Lexus transmission fail. I have a nightmare the next day. It is very unpleasant experience in my life that I had with Lexus. I tried to forget about it. But the terrible things always stayed in my mind.
  • lserlohnlserlohn Posts: 10
    edited July 2011
    Class Action, who lead this, I will pay 20% of my reimbursement to the leader, if we win, win chance over 90%
  • Well I got my update today on the 2001 Lexus Post # 605. I went to an independent transmission shop who is very well thought of in our city. His findings and cost to repair are below:

    First of all the transmission is bad in your vehicle. The fluid is full of metal particles and is burnt. The planetary gear train (which is #1 failure) is breaking up causing binding in reverse and forward ranges. There were no electrical problems/codes found when I scanned the systems.

    I have two options I can give you:

    1. OEM reman transmission w/12 month unlimited miles warranty like we spoke about for 2776.27 for the parts and 1249.50 for the labor to install it. 4025.77+tax of 223.91 I spoke to the dealer and they wouldn’t/ couldn’t give me details of any upgrades/updates that are done to the OEM transmission. I am sure there are some though
    )

    2. Jasper reman transmission w/36 month or 50,000 mile (whichever comes first) warranty. That transmission has a cost of 3335.00 and does not include fluid which would be 62.93. With labor this option would be 4647.43 +tax of 273.49 Now the Jasper reman has 7 upgrades to the transmission which they describe as critical items with the main ones being tig welded planetary gears and valve body upgrades.

    Also I recommend an external cooler w/either option as added insurance from overheating the transmission fluid for 47.95 for the part and 170.00 labor to install it.

    PS: a 10% labor discount is not included in above prices but will be discounted at invoice time.

    Interesting enough I emailed Lexus yesterday morning and just heard back from them I am posting their comment below:

    Thank you for contacting Lexus Customer Satisfaction. We are dedicated to providing superior service. In circumstances that require our attention, we will assist in the resolution process.

    I am very sorry to hear of the concern that you are having with the transmission on your 2001 RX 300. The best way for Lexus to address your concern would be to physically inspect the vehicle at a Lexus dealership. If you have not done so yet, we recommend contacting the Service Department at your Lexus dealership to schedule an appointment. For your convenience. Once the physical inspection has taken place, should you require further assistance, please contact us at the toll free phone number listed below. We cannot guarantee any financial assistance, but we can certainly discuss your concerns by phone. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

    If you require further assistance, please respond to this e-mail, or contact Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-255-3987, Monday through Friday, 5:00 am to 6:00 pm, or Saturday, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, Pacific Time.

    Sincerely,

    Name Deleted for Forum

    Lexus Customer Satisfactiob>

    The fact that they mentioned financial assistance tells me that they would have provided finanical assistance. However this is a 10 year old car and even though the transmission went out at 88,000 miles my guess is their financial assistance probably would have been a discount or $1000 at most. Since their cost to repair is over $5000, I would have been pretty much in the same place.

    Hopes this help people in making decisions. By the way I did talk to Ammco over the phone, they do not provide lifetime warranties for AWD vehicles only 36 month warranties at 15% of the invoice cost. I asked for a quote for full replacement of a transmission and they would not provide one over the phone.

    By the Way anybody have these problems with a 2001 Lexus RX 300AWD?

    1) A power window that goes up and down only sometimes. Usually a swift hit to the door may make it work

    2) The Key remote locks and unlocks all doors but the passenger door

    3) The fan in the dash at times makes noise like its rubbing against something and then goes away.
  • lserlohnlserlohn Posts: 10
    I didn't went to dealer, because I think they would charge me money on inspection, and because I rarely service my car at dealer, so they would probably refuse any help.

    I prefer to install a long warranty one, in the long run.
  • lserlohnlserlohn Posts: 10
    BTW, you actually have the external cooler, which is a standard equipment for 01 AWD. Check your front passenger side.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    In reality the external cooler is a component of the towing "package", not the AWD system itself.

    But purely by default you are RIGHT.

    Lexus had already come to realize, due to the HIGH failure rate in the '99 & '00 models, that the RX300 transaxle, modified Camry transaxle, was the weak link in the RX300 design. As an interim "fix" the "optional" towing package was not really an option in '01. The other aspects of the '01 and future RX300's "fix" was to eliminate the rear LSD option and make the VC non-functional via a viscous fluid reformulation.

    Less STRESS on the transaxle if the rear wheels were mostly just along for the ride.

    As of '01 TC was adopted to "enforce" torque re-apportionment to the rear in the event front drive traction was lost.

    It wasn't until DBW was adopted, along with elimination of the VC altogether, in the RX330 series to "protect the drive train" that the expected service life of the RX' transaxle exceeded 100,000 miles.

    The bad news is that the addition of the external cooler only served to extend the service life of the RX300 transaxles, I am now at 80K+ and do not expect to see 100K prior to failure.
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    So, purely by default, then, you are a glass is half empty kind of guy.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    No, my "glass" is most certainly closer to FULL than otherwise...!
  • seastburnseastburn Posts: 4
    My transmission went out after only 127,000 miles, about 800 miles after having the fluid changed at a local Tire World. The fluid used was a "sythetic blend where the owners manual specifies T-IV. My very trusted mechanic of over 15 years assures me that this fluid "difference had nothing to do with this failure. This fluid is only available at the dealer. Could this be "part" of the problem or is this transmission just a lemon? He will be having it rebuilt by Jasper Engines and Transmissions who will be doing 18 "upgrades" to it. Where did these upgrades come from? The dealer had no idea of any upgrades. I've only had this car for a month. We drove a1988 Jeep for 18 years-yes it's been very problematic-yet we have managed to put over 335,000 miles on it. We did this to get our house paid off, which we recently did, and then bought this car. Can't say just how dissappointed we are in Lexus. Looks like this problem is moire common than anyone has thought. CARFAX had nothing on it! It did show that all scheduled maintenance was done at the dealer.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "Could this be part of the problem..?"

    A most definite YES to that.

    Your trusted mechanic is blowing smoke...Toyota ATF is available, EXPENSIVE, but available, at ANY parts store. And given the KNOWN fragility of the '99-'00 RX300 transaxles I would NEVER place the bet your mechanic did.

    "..upgrades..."

    The main one is probably an external ATF cooler.

    I'm not sure I would buy into, allow, any other upgrades. The transaxle is controlled by the engine/transaxle ECU firmware, change even any minor thing and the firmware supplied by the factory back in '99 might go awry.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited July 2011
    Re the cooler:
    "...Lexus had already come to realize, due to the HIGH failure rate in the '99 & '00 models, that the RX300 transaxle, modified Camry transaxle, was the weak link in the RX300 design. As an interim "fix" the "optional" towing package was not really an option in '01..."

    Yes, however right from the beginning in early 1998 which was the introduction of the new 1999 RX300, the "tow package" (including the auxiliary cooler in the passenger front fender) was already included on all models, at least in CA, so it goes back earlier than '01 - these were already included.

    Beginning at the introduction, there weren't any on any lots that didn't have it, until a couple years later (2001 or '02, IIRC) the introduction of the models with "performance package" that had air suspension - and no tow rating - the tow package was not offered on that model, and there was no cooler available with the PP. So the vast majority of RX's sold right from the beginning in '98 had "tow package" with the aux. cooler in the fender, and it was on the window sticker as well.

    After driving, feel how hot the aux. cooler in the fender becomes. There is a lot of excess heat being vented from the cooler, but lots of it is exchanged first by the "standard" cooler in the bottom of the radiator. I share WWest's suggestion of a thermostatic fan for the cooler, I also have an additional cooler right behind it, as well as enlarged exit vents in that inner fender liner. There is a big difference in the temp of the cooler even on hot days.

    Good luck with yours.
  • lserlohnlserlohn Posts: 10
    Hello, thanks for the information. Is there a step-by-step instruction on how to install the additional fan or cooler on the existed cooler? Pictures are great, thanks.
  • By the Way anybody have these problems with a 2001 Lexus RX 300AWD?

    1) A power window that goes up and down only sometimes. Usually a swift hit to the door may make it work

    2) The Key remote locks and unlocks all doors but the passenger door

    3) The fan in the dash at times makes noise like its rubbing against something and then goes away.

    OMG... my 2001 RX 300 is doing the same thing. My passenger side window does not power up like it should... it's an up and down thing... then it will eventually go up. The dash noise is exactly like you describe.... I wish I knew what it was... it does eventually go away... but what the heck is that?? My transmission is having problems right now... it was towed yesterday to the mechanic... I don't know what the problem is yet. It has 165,000 miles on it and this is the only problem I've had with it. I guess I've been lucky. I enjoyed reading your post... thanks.
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