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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • I'm having problem with my lexus rx 300. The movement is very poor, At first I had to change the coils. It was okay for a few days then the sluggish movement started again, My mechanic said I need the change my exhaust since catalyst is blocked he also said the the catalyst is melting. Just replaced the whole exhaust and there is no change with the movement...Any help.
  • My passenger side window is erratic; same as others are having this problem. I once found instructions for reprogramming, but did not make any difference. Can't complain though 139,000 miles, 10 years old. Just normal maintenance for 8 years that I have owned it (tires, battery, belts, etc.). Recent oxygen sensor replacement is all and I need to have the tranny fluid changed. Guess the highway miles may have helped since others have had serious tranny problems. A couple very minor other issues: key finally broke, rear gate latch is sticky. Also, be sure to clean your MAF sensor. My check engine and VSC lights came on and a 20 minute MAF cleaning solved the problem. Any vehicle can be a lemon if the previous owner or you did/do not take care of it -- or perhaps I just got lucky?
  • So after 26,000 miles our rebuilt tranny on RX300 #2 had a clutch fail. Independent said he will not charge for labor but parts are over $700.
    So for all those who think RXs trannys are good and only a small percentage fail. I have 2 RX300 and am working on Tranny #7. We don't tow anything with them or carrry heavy loads. Just typical family stuff.
    I would get rid of both cars if the economy was better but I think the economy has a Lexus transmission as well! :lemon:
  • Did anyone ever start a class action suit? My 2002 RX 300 is riding fine now after installing a new transmission from a local transmission shop. Payed 3200.00 to fix. Did not need a new module. Just reprogrammed. My transmission died at 88,000 miles. I have a 2 year warranty or 25,000 miles.
    I'm thinking of selling the car next year, before the warranty is up.
  • I just got off the phone with Lexus and they agreed to cover 50% of the parts which is $1750. So they realize they have a problem. Good luck!
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    edited September 2011
    Thought I would pass this along: I changed out the fluid about 2 years ago around 40k miles, and now am knocking on the door of 60k. The fluid, now with 20k miles on it roughly, is still cherry red, and smells as new as can be.

    By reading through these posts, I thought sure that my experience would have been different when checking the fluid.

    Maybe my tranny fails eventually, maybe it doesn't. It seems that everyone here has come to the conclusion that the all 99's (in my case specifically) are just simply destined to fail. I guess I'll believe that when it happens. In the meantime, I am enjoying this 12 year old car that still looks and rides like it's brand new.


  • Call Lexus Satisfaction Dept. 800-255-3987
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "01 F/awd RX300. After 2 sequential drain/refills at ~40,000 miles due to dark and burned smelling ATF my ATF remained clear/pinkish right up until ~75,000 miles wherein it got 2 more drain/refills. Now pushing 90,000 miles.

    I suspect that it was more the '99-'00 RX300 F/awd models that experienced the majority of the premature transaxle failure as those F/awd systems were substantially more robust, functional, vs '01 - '09 models.

    In '01 the VC's fluid formulation was revised to be mostly non-functional, the optional mechanical LSD was discontinued, and VSC/Trac was made standard as a "backup" for the loss of F/awd functionality. With the RX330 Lexus stopped the pretense and dropped the VC entirely.
  • I think the years that Lexus installed the flawed transmissions were 1999-2001. Mine was a 2001.
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    There are 110 complaints about the 1999 RX300 transmission on the NHTSA website.

    According to Lexus, there were 90,338 1999's made that year. I have brought this to light before, and it was a couple of years ago, I think in late 2009, that there were 86 such complaints.

    Sure there are more than 110 cases of where the transmissions may have failed, but I still maintain that this is not as widespread as many would like to believe. People go out of their way to complain, but they don't go out of their way to report the good. If they did, and there was a real problem, I strongly believe there would be more than 110 complaints on a govt. sponsored website.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited September 2011
    I agree, I don't think there is a statistically significant amount of failures compared to other competitive vehicles. But that doesn't mean the trannys in the early RX's weren't on the weak side in their design. The original in my early '99 2WD was clearly flawed from the beginning, and got worse early in the life of the vehicle. It never failed, but after a history of warrantee visits about a cold shift anomaly (I don't live in a cold climate or it would have happened more often) and despite three TRANS filter and fluid service visits, it was on it's way out. At almost 70,000 miles (when the powertrain warrantee was about to expire) Lexus did replace it with a brand new and revised trans from Kyushu, so I didn't have a complaint, except they were out of Lexus loaners when I brought it in, so they rented me a Neon from Enterprise. So I lived with a yucky car without cruise that had crank windows for a week and a half, not a big complaint. My point is I doubt I would have had the same experience if the car was a Ford, GM, Toyota, or an expensive German make.
    Check out more at ClubLexus or Lexusownersclub about the same issue. Some models had trannys that were clearly bad right out of the box, but none were very stout, and needed service that was not recommended in the dealer's profit-padded recommended service "specials". Many car enthusiasts have been getting hundreds of thousands of miles before failure by changing fluid often.
    When they fail unexpectedly, it's easy to think "I'll never buy an 'X' again" but it's still not statistically relevant that they all are lemons. I feel really bad for folks who have had more than one failure. There's something going on there, perhaps rebuilding any trans takes a bit of care, and there's a lot to go wrong.
    I still think it's good advice: Keep your eye on the tranny dipstick for wear indicated in the fluid yourself. Don't rely on the dealer to have your best interests in mind, and change the fluid often regardless of the fact it's not recommended by the dealer or mfr. But when something internal fails, the whole tranny still fails.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Sorry, but that "flawed" transaxle is still with us, not only Toyota/Lexus, but most other marques also. The design of the transaxle for the new RX300 included an FE break-through, a new ATF line pressure pumping system. A "real time" line pressure control system wherein line pressure was not sustained between shifts, only supplied on an "as needed" basis.

    That resulted in not being able to accomplished a second shift quickly with the engine (ATF pump "drive") being at idle or closely thereby.

    The "fix", introduced with the RX330, was to use DBW to delay the arrival of rising engine torque for 1-2 seconds until enough pressure could be built up to accomplish a re-acceleration downshift.

    Quick re-acceleration sequence, on-throttle, off-throttle (upshift), ON throttle (downshift/delay).

    New firmware version as of about '08 "watched" the rate at which the "off-throttle, gas pedal lift, occurred and attempted to judge the driver's intent.

    "Slow" (relatively) lift of the gas pedal was deemed to mean the driver simply wished to enter cruise mode and the transaxle would upshift appropriately.

    "Fast" lift was deemed to mean, most likely, that the driver wished to remain in the lower gear for engine compression coastdown.

    3 of the instances wherein one might expect to encounter this 1-2 second downshift delay/hesitation are well defined in a TSB issued for the Camry in the spring of '03.

    Accelerating down an on-ramp, look over your shoulder for a merge opening. lift the throttle (upshift, engine goes to idle), spot an opening, accelerate to match/merge....WHAT, no engine....!!!??
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I'm thankful my RX300 doesn't have that delayed accel problem. Another reason to keep the ol' beast around, although I'm not in a position to buy a new car, and if I was, I'd still prefer a manual - if it was even available.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited September 2011
    FWD and manual transmissions are such a hazard for the average John Q Public that they are becoming less common each day. VW has developed a new engine up-rev technique(***) that somewhat alleviate the hazardous nature of the beast, but we'll have to wait and see if it is successful industry wide in turning things around.

    *** A form of ABS for engine compression braking.
  • apn3apn3 Posts: 1
    I own a '02 Lexus rx300. The transmission went at 120k. I was on the highway with my 18mth old daughter at the time. I was so upset - there was absolutely no warning. The lights came on as the car was dying. I called Lexus and the explained what had happened. They were very apologetic. She recommended to submit my invoice for the repairs and Lexus would review and try to reimburse me at least a portion of the cost. So, I had my car fixed, submitted my invoice and was assigned a case manager. The case manager was very condescending and downright rude! I lovED my car. I never had any problems until the transmission. I was planning on purchasing a newer model but after this incident and knowing that Lexus did not stand by their product I most likely will not purchase another Lexus. Sorry Lexus. You turned away a loyal customer.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I am quite sure that every one of the 2001 RX300's came from the factory with an owners manual that stated, or implied, that the transaxle ATF was expected to be good for the life of the vehicle.

    At ~40,000 miles, and again at 80,000 miles, the ATF in my '01 appeared quite dirty and had a definite burned odor. At the initial event I was to soon learn that the factory recommended life of the ATF was now 15,000 miles. That was later changed to inspect the ATF at each oil/filter change and address the issue accordingly.

    So, yes, I doubt that you will find very many reports of transaxle failures for the '01 RX series. But would'nt you agree that the entire lot was shipped from the factory with an apparently unforeseeable design flaw...?

    Knowing and understanding the design change made in favor of FE during the design of the '99-'00 RX300 I personally have no doubt that these, too, also come from the factory with a design flaw that the engineers had not foreseen, forecast.

    There were several changes made for the '01 series to help alleviate the failure issue. I suspect some "adjustments" were made between the '99 model and the '00 model as the number of complaints of the '99 vs the '00 seem to be substantually greater.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    As of the RX330 model year Lexus appears to have successfully addressed the premature transaxle failures. Plus which, the design aspect, FE improvement, that lead to those failures has now been introduced throughout the industry.

    The RX330 "fix" was to use DBW to delay the onset of raising engine torque for a "re-acceleration" event until the transaxle could complete the required downshift. In about '08 the transaxle shift pattern control firmware was revised such that it attempts to detect an upcoming re-acceleration event. You will still encounter the 1-2 downshift delay/hesitation just more rarely.

    Additionally the 2010 and after RX's have a more functional F/awd system should you have need of such utility.

    Not pushing RX's, just saying they should remain on your shopping list, possibly along with the to big/bulky Acura MDX is you do have need of F/awd.
  • ja8669ja8669 Posts: 2
    edited October 2011
    Our 2002 RX 300 2wd has 85k miles and have never had a problem with the transmission. We had to replace the o2 sensors, oil and tires but that's it. In 2006 my friend's 2000 RX 300 transmission went and the the dealer paid for parts. My nephew has a 2001 and another has a 2004 RX 330, all so far so good.

    I will be checking the ATF when I get home. Fingers and toes crossed. Wish I could afford a new one.
  • The new transmission is performing beautifully! Drove it from Colorado Springs to Elkhart IN and back and was totally impressed of this cars' performance, until I get back. Had a puddle of engine oil on the driveway!! Had the timing belt replaced with a kit that included pullies, tentioner and water pump prior to this trip. The oil was leaking passed the camshaft seals, right behind the pullies that were just replaced. Each job, timing belt and cam seals, call for 4.5 labor hours, but both could have been done while it was all apart saving at least 4 labor hours. Bottom line-when your timing belt is due replacement insist on a kit that includes all the oil seals too. I'm at 136,000 miles now. :sick:
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