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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Hey Damsel,

    Did you end up getting the RX300 back from the Lexus dealer with a new or rebuilt transmission?

    How did that all turn out?
  • Yes, I got my car back after they'd had it for about three and a half weeks (they provided me with a lovely 2007 RX350 loaner so I didn't care how long it took to fix my They replaced the transmission with a rebuilt one. It doesn't play any of the bad tricks (jerking between gears) it did previously and I'm just loving this vehicle. We're expecting our first snow this weekend and this will give me a chance to try out the AWD. I can't say I like snow (we're actually supposed to get snow, then ice, then rain) but hopefully this vehicle will handle well. Thanks for your interest...happy holidays!
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 372
    Let us know how it handles the snow and ice.
  • It`s nice to see other people share their experience about the car you drive as well. When it snows you will enjoy this car even better of course, that ( 4WD ) puts you in so much power, aside from the fact that it`s a great vihecle all around any way. As for the transmission, it took them 4-5 days to put a rebuilt one in mine, and now it drives like a charm. Cheers, and happy holidays. LEXUS RULES!!!!
  • This is my first attempt at chat rooms? Blogs?, so please be patient. I want to reach other people who have had the transmission of their RX 300's die way too soon. In my case, 67,000 miles. Is the problem so wide spread a class action suit is viable? In Las Vegas, a rebuilt transmission costs $4,745, with a $1,000 discount if they keep the core. Labor will be $4,000, +-. . Is that in line with other parts of the country?
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    My guess is that a lawsuit won't help, but I don't know. You might have a better outcome (like many others have) by looking for an out of warrantee accommodation, which Lexus has been helpful with, situation by situation. I really don't know the criteria, but I had a good experience when I reported trouble before the warrantee expired and then again just before 70,000 miles. Lots of folks have had a dealer give them a break on the cost of labor on out-of-warrantee transmission repairs or get Lexus to pay for the whole thing either to encourage your patronage or if you've established a relationship with them, especially if you've been having them service it or can show you've reported a history of transmission problems before the comparatively long warrantee ended. They've known the durability of the original units has been an issue all along.

    However, the dealer may give you the full retail quote and say "tough break" to try to get the whole retail price, maybe. The price you quoted seems confusing, ($4000 labor?) even at a Lexus dealer. I would try another dealer for a more competitive or straightforward price. I think others have said a competitive price was about or under $4000 complete. Regarding the transmission, I'd be wary of an aftermarket rebuilt unit (one not rebuilt by Lexus, as in going to a tranny shop for a slightly lower price), even though I sometimes buy certain aftermarket parts. There have been many updates, and I'd want to be sure to get the most modern (durable) version if I had to pay for a rebuilt transmission, because the earlier models were trouble prone, rather than have the same old issues again. More likely the slight difference in price compared to a repair shop, Lexus will be more willing to help in lots of little ways. They are looking to build a working relationship with you, and the RX300's transmission has been a sore spot for many owners and a poor reflection of their product.

    You may want to search this and the main RX 300 threads for lots and lots of info, or just scroll through some of the more recent posts from others with problems.

    P.S. Heat, especially from extended idling or heavy traffic with the A/C on in the summer is the enemy of automatic transmissions, and especially with transverse mounted engines (with the exhaust run under the transmission). More so in hot climates and perhaps with the RX, because folks expect a Lexus to behave a certain way (auto a/c delivering lots of cool air in the cabin), and the engine temp guage never wavers. Once you have yours rebuilt, I suggest you might add an additional trans cooler, which can be sourced at a trans shop or if you are a DIY it's pretty easy to add another cooler behind the factory trans cooler in the fender, to further protect the investment in a new transmission (cheap insurance). You can check my CarSpace page, I posted some photos, etc.
  • Thanks for the info. Given the summer temperatures here in Vegas are always triple digit, and the trafffic continues to increase, I guess an RX 300 is a poor choice for me. If this vehicle has a 6 year, 70,000 mile warranty, shouldn't it be good until the end of this year? Or does it not transfer? (I bought the car used.)
    My own mechanic, who I have used for many years, and trust absolutely, says it will cost $8,000 +- for a another transmission, and is the same quote I'm getting from Lexus, and that is for a rebuilt, not new transmission. Talk about sticker shock! Especially after reading so many messages from people who were quoted half that.
    I am meeting with the Lexus people tomorrow. They say they will take my car as a trade-in on a new one. I owe $12,000 on it, so if they give me that much as a trade in, I may have a new car for Christmas!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    My '01 has the towing package which includes an external ATF cooler. The hitch was removed the week I purchased it, new, from the dealer and it has had NO heavy duty use.

    Yet at only 40,000 miles the ATF was looking and smelling burned as if being somehow overheated. So I believe it in fact was overheated but in some way that the external cooler couldn't "compensate". IMMHO that would mean some sort of "localized" overheating of the ATF such that a small portion of the fluid is overheated and burned but then when remixed with the bulk of fluid the average heating level is not excessive.

    It seems to me that points directly to the gear type ATF oil pump, the only possible "localized" "hot spot" within a transaxle.

    It is my opinion that the early, 99-00, RX transaxle failures were due to an undersized ATF pump, so much undersized that the clutches could not be quickly and firmly seated, and that resulted in premature transaxle failure due to the accelerated rate wear of the clutch frictional surfaces.

    The correction was to increase the pumping capacity of the ATF pump for '01-'03 RXes, and add an external cooler (was the towing package REALLY an option??)

    In '04 DBW was adopted so the original low capacity ATF pump could be used. DBW could "protect the drive train" by preventing the engine torque from rising until the clutches were firmly and fully seated.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Well, if the transmission unfortunately needs to be rebuilt and you are able to get the modernized version, most likely your fluid overheating will be cured.

    Of course Las Vegas traffic and summer weather are definitely "severe duty", but once it's fixed with the more modern design and the fluid is changed annually (I would for any car in that environment) your problems will likely be cured, but an additional cooler, although not required, would not hurt and could only aid in the durability of your severe conditions.

    I really don't think $8000 is a competitive or reasonable quote, even from a trusted mechanic. If the Lexus dealer quoted me that, I would suspect they are encouraging me to trade in so they can benefit from my troubles, and I would to go to another dealer, even if I had to drive across town! :mad: Keep in mind, they are just going to replace the transmission with a rebuilt unit themselves, at a tiny fraction of the cost they quoted you, and that car will be up for sale in a couple weeks at full retail price.

    My 2X4 used to burn fluid before the new transmission, too. And that's without the 4X4's fluid clutch, etc. Once I got the new transmission (new not rebuilt-I was lucky, covered under warrantee with a rental car) it no longer burns fluid, it stays (the type IV) pinkish red. It also performs flawlessly (I normally drive stick/motorcycle so I'm picky), with none of the shifting abnormalities other owners report. A year after the new transmission, I added the additional cooler "just in case" because I wanted this car to last a long time, and I (rarely) do tow a light motorcycle trailer, and we also have traffic and heat here in the San Fernando Valley (and trips to the desert). Installing the cooler was easy. The hardest part was unscrewing the plastic fender and underskirt, and I performed a 5 quart fluid change at the same time, and cleaning up the fluid so it didn't get grimy.

    If you like your car (and don't want to give your equity away to this dealer) your best bet may be to seek warrantee replacement (I thought it was transferable but I could be mistaken), if not look for a dealer that will work with you on the price. $8000 sounds like the mechanic is really trying "refer" you to the someone who really wants the job, and the dealer just wants your trade-in business to me. :confuse:
  • Well, I can't even begin to tell you how horrified I was driving on the thin sheet of ice that covered the several inches of snow that fell a few weekends ago. I couldn't get ANY traction on the ice and had no other choices of roads to drive on. I turned off onto another side road and took a very long way to get home. The roads were rutted with frozen chunks of ice, ice, slush and just a mish mosh of hazardous driving conditions. My fiance was in a 7000# 4WD Ford F250 equipped with 700# of salt in the salter, a plow and extra salt in bags and he made it through. I was ahead of him and then decided to try to drive behind him instead. About a mile from home, I was sliding all over the place and just prayed that I'd make it home coming down a pretty steep hill. I was scared out of my mind being out in the sticks, in the pitch dark and just fearing driving off the road. After making it home and talking to lots of people in the following days, I heard over and over again that regardless of the vehicle I was driving, the tires I had on my vehicle, etc. NO car or truck would have handled any better than mine (except for a heavy vehicle such as the one my fiance was driving) given the conditions. Long story short, next time I'm staying parked!!!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    That's exactly why I run on quiet and comfortable summer only tires all year around and keep tire chains on board for the rare (for me) circumstances you describe.

    I know its wet and dirty work but some of the new tire chain sets are really super easy to install.
  • Hello and Happy New Year !!!
    I have a pp rx 300 that, when cold, shifts at about 3200 rpm from 2nd to 3rd and into overdrive. After that it's fine. I have changed the fluid twice in 1500 miles and wanted to get a opinion if this will solve the cold shift problem ? seems to be helping a-little so far. It has 105000 miles on it.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    99 RX300's 1-2 cold shift is delayed until about 3000 RPM; it's not a "problem". Mine has does that even with the updated "modern" transmission upgrade in new condition. I usually drive really gently until the needle just barely moves up to the "C" and that's when the shifts go back to the normal program.

    I would be concerned if there are inconsistent "abnormal" symptoms, however the cold delayed shift you are describing sounds like a very consistent condition that is part of the cold-start warm-up on the first-year models (we just wish it didn't rev so high when cold).
  • mickihmickih Posts: 1
    My 2000 RX300 is jurking into gear and has slipped into neutral on one occasion while driving. I took it to the dealership and after 4 days they told me that they will not open a transmission to fix the problem. They will only send it back to Lexus for a new one and it will cost $4000. The receipt says that is needs the transaxle replaced. This is all greek to me and I wondered if anyone has any advice on whether I should get it replaced (I also have about $800 more things wrong) or just trade it in. I appreciate any suggestions.
  • sallyksallyk Posts: 9
    If you read through these posts, you'll see there are known transmission problems with this vehicle. I purchased a "new to me" 2000 RX300 back in September and the first time I drove it not warmed up (the dealership had it warmed up for my test drives), I noticed the lunging. Long story short, they attempted to "service" it which made no difference. They ended up splitting the tab with Lexus and I got my transmission replaced at no cost.
  • I have a 2001 lexus RX 300 with $89,000 mi. A few months ago it started idling a little rough so I had the idle control motor replaced. This did not fix the problem and 1 day later the the battery (only 1 year old) died so I put in a new battery and a new alternator at a local lexus specialty shop. It was still idling rough so I took it in to the dealer. They checked it out and said they did not receive any error codes. I picked it from the dealer the next morning and that same afternoon I got stuck in a parking lot because it would not go in reverse. I kept shifting from park to drive to reverse and finally got it to move. I drove it to the dealership and they kept it for 3 days but said they could not find anything wrong with it. I picked it up from the dealer 3 days ago and other than the rough idle have not had any trouble with it. Has anyone else experienced this? Also, Does anyone no of a reputable warranty company?
  • prazpraz Posts: 163
    I have a 07 ES350 and there is no hesitation at all...
  • I have a 2005 ES330 and a 2008 RX350 and do not have transmisson lag in either vehicle.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Within the technical publications is an NCF, New Car Feature, for at least one of the '08 models indicating they have taken a firmware approach. Apparently the new idea is for the ECU to "watch" the rate at which you release pressure on the accelerator pedal immediately after, subsequent too, a period of acceleration.

    The way it reads, a fast or quick release will result in the transaxle remaining in the gear, "lower" gear, you were just previously using for acceleration. Whereas a slow, "smooth", release of the accelerator pedal will result in an upshift, if appropreate, into the most appropreate higher gear for simply cruising along at the current speed.

    I rather doubt if it will solve the downshift delay/hesitation in all instances but it does look promising.
  • I'm considering purchasing a 2002 RX 300 from someone I know, one owner. Has 22,000 miles. My question is whether the 2002 model has similar transmission issues to the earlier models.
    It seems as though most of the posts relating to transmission issue specify model years 1999 to 2001. Any help would be appreciated.
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