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Lexus RX 330 Maintenance and Repair

I have a noise in my RX 330. When I go over a bumpy section of road, I get a transient vibrating sound that appears to be coming from the interior cabin somewhere behind the front seats. It sounds similar to a venition blind rattling in a breeze. Anyone heard this and found the cause and solution? Thanks!


  • I don't know if this is your problem but when I was putting some leather preservative on the front seats I noticed that when I hit the backrest (on the front side) it made a noise like something was rattling inside the seat back.

    However it does not make noise when I hit a bump.
  • My RX330 makes a slight clunking noise when it downshifts from 4th gear to third gear. It will also make the same noise if you lightly accelerate or decelerate whenever it is in 4th gear. It is most noticeable at speeds between 30 to 45 mph. Dealer says it's normal noise from lockup torque converter. The RX330 loaner I used didn't do it and mine didn't until I put about 4000 miles on the car. Anybody else experienced this problem?
  • jabbajabba Posts: 1
    My RX330's transmission slips between 1st and 2nd gear. Sometimes it stays between gears a full 2 seconds. I also get the clunking noise during downshifts. The dealer says this is normal for this design. I say very poor design especially for this price range. The slipping started when new. The clunking started a little later. I now have 7,000 miles on the vehicle.
  • tvkwtvkw Posts: 9
    Will Lexus fix this problem? I am considering to purchase one, but if there is a flaw on the design, I may think twice. When is your build date?
  • My RX330 is closed to 5K service and I am having problem with the transmission and noise.

    - Slow shifting between gears
    - Two seconds delay shifting between 2nd and 3rd
    - Two clunking noise when approaching stop.
    - When driving between 5-10mph, tapping the gas pedal a little bit will make the clunking noise.

    Toyota is trying to cut cost on parts and labors:
    - Use plastic intake manifold instead of cast aluminum (RX300) -> Noise from combustion chamber will be heard easier. That's why so many owners complain about louder engine noise.
    - Less insulator material between engine compartment and the cabin.

    Cost cutting: Use only one hydrolic lift for the hood instead of two (RX330). This helps Toyota cut cost and time to install.

    I am not happy about this car because the noise level is quite high and transmission is not smooth. The car is not quite as others said.
  • Have any of you had the ECM update performed on your transmission? I had similar complaints with slow shifting and what felt like slipping gears. I had the ECM update done at the 1000 mile service and now the transmission acts like I expect it to: smooth.

    The Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) number is: TC005-03
  • myk_amyk_a Posts: 70
    I'm not sure but it may be that this issue affects only specific models from Japan. I got mine on Nov. 1st from North America (Canada) and I haven't had any such issues. Then again, I've only got 2500 miles on it.
  • I have one major issue with this car. Is it just me or is there no coin holder in this vehicle? I have been pulling my hair trying to find anywhere to put coins. The center console is not a good place because I can't find anywhere stable to put it.

  • I hope Lexus remembers the coin holder in the next model!

    I carry my sunglasses in my purse so I have no use for the overhead sunglasses case in the RX . So, I bought a small coin purse that will fit into the overhead sunglasses holder. Not perfect but it works.
  • Toyota might thought that Lexus buyers are rich and having only bill/check/credit card. Coins are thrown into charity box. Coin holder should be only exist in economy car. Just kidding.
    The only place I can think of is the door handle slot where you your fingers place while closing the door.

    My car was built in Japan Aug 03 and I just had ECU program updated today. The shifting is improving quite significantly from 2nd to 3rd. Overall, it's quite satisfying.

    The only annoying thing left for me to solve is the engine noise. I am going to buy some sound deadening material to suppress sound coming into cabin. The reason the engine noise is excessive is the INTAKE MANIFOLD IS MADE OF PLASTIC/FIBER for this model. It is used to be made of cast aluminum which reduced the combustion noise significantly.
  • I saw something online that's a coin holder that's shaped to fit into the cup holder.

    I wish I could remember where I saw it.

    My breakwater blue RX was finally delivered today (a three week wait for it to be moved from Washington State to the Bay Area). I put my coins on end into that slim holder in the center console - between the two smaller containers and the large one.

  • Do everyone agree that the RX330 engine is noisier than the one in RX300? I'd be dissapointed to find that out.
  • myk_amyk_a Posts: 70
    Maybe they thought that most, if not all Lexus RX330 owners would have EZ-Pass (or some variation thereof)? Since I have one, I don't need the coin holder. Sure beats falling in line when going through tolls!
  • We have FasTrak here in the Bay Area, which I use. But I need change for parking meters (Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco)!
  • ukulele2,
    The engine noise more way more than RX300. In RX300, when you park at red light, you'll won't or barly hear the engine noise. In RX330, you'll hear it all. Like I said before in some message, the intake manifold of RX330 is made of plastic/fiberglass instead of cast aluminum in the case of RX330. However, once you have ECU update, engine does not rev as much as before and the noise level while driving/shifting is lower to a barely tolerable level. Once you live with it for 5000+ miles, you'll get use to it.
  • rparisrparis Posts: 368
    It is surprising Lexus would not have a compartment for coins as they did in previous vehicles. Very surprising!
  • Chitung,
         Thank you for the information. It's odd to find out that the new RX is noisier. But do you find that the performance is better even though there's only like a 10 horsepower increase? Also, what makes you go for the 2004 model if it's inferior than the old one? Thanks for your info.
  • Maybe the engine in our RX330 is quieter than normal, or maybe it's just that my hearing has gotten worse, but I do not perceive the RX330 as being "noisy" at all. Granted, we've always had fairly sporty cars, but the engine in ours doesn't make much noise at all, and is almost too sedate-sounding for my tastes.
  • Ukulele2,
    The performance is definitely better compare to RX330. Merging onto highway is nothing, but you can hear the engine works rather hard.
    Reasons that I bought my RX330 over RX300:
    - 3.3L vs. 3.0L
    - Not having a wimpy look like to old one
    - Back-up camera
    - Rain-sensing windshield wiper - really cool
    - Updated Nav. system
    - Nicer interior
    - All up/down automatic windows
    - Power lift gate
    - Self-levelizing HID headlight
    - 18" wheel - make it look good
    - My wife likes it - this is the most important :)

    If you can wait for model 2005, it'll be great because Toyota might resolve all noise, clunking, and Technical Service Bulletin issue at the time. Remember, Toyota tries to plug every single hold in their product quality.

    If you lived in suburban area, you'd hear the engine noise more clearly every night you drove home. If you live in New York, the engine noise will be almost unaudible due to other noise.
  • My apology that in the previous message: "The performance is definitely better compare to RX330" should be
    "The performance is definitely better compare to RX300"
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    You have 30 minutes to make any changes or fixes after you post a message. Just click on the Edit button that follows your message after you post it.

    Steve, Host
  • Chitung,
         Thank you for your comparison. I don't think I can wait until 2005 though. Just look at the tight demand right now I'm sure once 2005 model comes out there will be a long wait too. I'll most likely order an RX in late January and take delivery sometime in April. Here in the Northeast if we want ML we have to special order it. It's a pain but that's just the way it is. I'll try to negotiate my price no more than $1000 over invoice.
  • We do live in the 'burbs - still do not find the RX330 to be noisy!
  • Hello,

    I just picked up my Flint Mica RX330 FWD w/Performance Package a couple weeks ago. It has the adjustable HID's.

    The very first night I drove it, I got at least 7 oncoming drivers high-beaming me, most probably I assume because they thought my high-beams were ON (they weren't).

    Anyone else getting oncoming drivers' high-beams? Even though the lamps self-adjust everytime I startup and are probably "legal," just wondering if the Lexus' "setting" is at the outer envelope of range...
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The Rx uses a height sensor on the rear axle which may have been somehow damaged and now your lights are "leveling" too high.
  • I too am interested in installing satelite radio. However, I am going with sirius. They just signed a deal with the NFL and they are comercial free where as xm is not. Has anyone installed one yet. Where did you mount the unit and antenna. How does it look? How does it sound. Any info would be apreciated as I am looking to install real soon.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Not entirely commercial free apparently?

    bottgers "XM & Sirius Satellite Radio" Dec 16, 2003 10:33am

    Steve, Host
  • My 04 RX 330 revs very long between the shift from first to second. It is not a crisp shift, rather it feels like it the rev limiter is not right.
    It also hunts for a gear when I coast around 20mph and then gas it. The Lexus shop did a compter chip update and it got better but it still shifts worse than my 100,000K Blazer! He said "all toyotas shift that way" Any thoughts?
  • What you described is exactly what I am experiencing (mine is the sequential shifter so it affects both transmissions apparently).

    I didn't know if the ECM update fixes this.

    I know the ECM update has been discussed many times here, but I have not seen a definitive answer other than "I think it shifts better now..." or "no difference..."

    Does anyone with concrete knowledge of the ECM update (i.e., a Toyota/Lexus mechanic) know FOR SURE what the ECM update accomplishes?
  • I have mentioned in other posts on the various RX 330 discussion boards my experience with the ECM update.

    I too had "funny" shifting issues. I had the ECM performed at my 1000 mile service. It has made such a difference that I don't even think I'm driving the same car. The transmission is smooth and my gas mileage is better.

    I'm not a mechanic so I can't explain what the ECM does but I do recommend it highly if you have complaints about your transmission shifting.
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