Lexus RX 330 Maintenance and Repair

ccheckercchecker Member Posts: 3
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!


  • johngreisjohngreis Member Posts: 70
    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.
  • tuomala1tuomala1 Member Posts: 2
    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 Member 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 Member 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?
  • chitungchitung Member Posts: 18
    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.
  • lovemylexus1lovemylexus1 Member Posts: 101
    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 Member 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.
  • milkchugmilkchug Member Posts: 1
    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.

  • lovemylexus1lovemylexus1 Member Posts: 101
    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.
  • chitungchitung Member Posts: 18
    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.
  • scodianascodiana Member Posts: 7
    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.

  • ukulele2ukulele2 Member Posts: 21
    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 Member 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!
  • scodianascodiana Member Posts: 7
    We have FasTrak here in the Bay Area, which I use. But I need change for parking meters (Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco)!
  • chitungchitung Member Posts: 18
    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 Member Posts: 368
    It is surprising Lexus would not have a compartment for coins as they did in previous vehicles. Very surprising!
  • ukulele2ukulele2 Member Posts: 21
         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.
  • JBaumgartJBaumgart Member Posts: 890
    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.
  • chitungchitung Member Posts: 18
    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.
  • chitungchitung Member Posts: 18
    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 Guest Posts: 52,454
    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
  • ukulele2ukulele2 Member Posts: 21
         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.
  • JBaumgartJBaumgart Member Posts: 890
    We do live in the 'burbs - still do not find the RX330 to be noisy!
  • smat74smat74 Member Posts: 9

    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 Member 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.
  • tsmith67tsmith67 Member Posts: 19
    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 Guest Posts: 52,454
    Not entirely commercial free apparently?

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

    Steve, Host
  • bobster44bobster44 Member Posts: 1
    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?
  • smat74smat74 Member Posts: 9
    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?
  • lovemylexus1lovemylexus1 Member Posts: 101
    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.
  • tolexustolexus Member Posts: 2
    My wife's RX330 (built in Japan) has 4,000 miles and suffers from rough down shifting and loud engine noise at idle.
    The dealer in Toronto says Toyota is aware of both problems.
    They "updated" the ECU last week. The transmission shifts faster but it still clunks and searches for the right gear at 20 MPH.
    They also said the engine noise is related to the manifold design - and nothing can be done to reduce the noise.
    Our '03 MDX is a much smoother/quieter vehicle.
  • gardencargardencar Member Posts: 293
    I have just purchased a Neptune Blue/Ivory AWD RX 330 and have experienced none of the noises and shifting problems mentioned here. My wife and I are very happy with it, comfort, utility, and performance wise. It shifts smoothly and the engine feels powerful, yet quiet compared to our V8 Explorer. This may seem like comparing apples and oranges but we also have an LS400, compared to which the RX seems slower and noisier. My point is, that it is all relative.
    However, for our purposes, the RX fits the bill perfectly. My questions are, "Should I expect my RX to start acting up around two or three thousand miles, or is this happenning to just some vehicles? Does my car also need the ECM update at the 1K service? What are ECM and ECU acronyms for? Thanks for your inputs.
  • kcr2kcr2 Member Posts: 10
    I had the same shifting problems. The ECM update was completed at 1000 mile service. It made a HUGE difference. Shifting is smooth from 1st to 2nd. The only thing now is a slight hesitation around 20 mph when I reaccelerate - but it's not as noticeable as it was before the update.
  • gardencargardencar Member Posts: 293
    krc2, now that you mention it, I did have two instances of hesitation at around the 20 mph range when reaccelarating over a 500 mile period. I was puzzled because I pressed the accelarator without response. It happenned so quickly that I don't remember if I had to ease off the pedal and then step on it again, or if the power came on while I still had my foot on it. I hope the EMC update will take care of this.
  • kcr2kcr2 Member Posts: 10
    I've been told that the hesitation is due to the transmission searching for the correct gear. It's a shorter delay since I had the update completed. Plus I've learned over the last 3000 miles to reaccelerate a little easier after coasting at around 20 mph. When I accelerate too quickly, it hesitates and jerks into gear. It's only really noticeable in rush hour traffic or when I slow down to take a turn and reaccelerate. No problem otherwise.
  • gardencargardencar Member Posts: 293
    Kcr2, thanks again for answering yet another of my questions. Far as I'm concerned these are my only two concerns, the HID's and the absent-minded transmission. Guess these are just the pitfalls of buying first year production cars. Anyways, love the rest of the car.
  • chitungchitung Member Posts: 18
    Those who are not experienced with the engine noise are either deaf, over 60, or don't care. I switch back and forth between my new RX330 and Solara quite often, and notice that my Solara's engine noise is way way way smoother. Changing gear is almost unnoticable and engine noise is very minimal. To compare apple to apple, I compare the engine at 2200 RPM. Exactly on the same road with a little slope and driving at 2200 RPM, I noticed that my RX330 is roaring like crazy. Here are the reason why the engine noise is so loud:

    Smart Toyota cut cost my using fiber/plastic intake manifold in 3.3L engine instead of using cast aluminum or so in 3.0L engine. In addition, Sound insulation is not sufficient enough to insulate the engine compartment from driver cabin. In my Solara, it covers from the windshield down to the bottom. This reduce the engine noise dramatically.

    Anyhow, I don't feel like I am driving a Lexus. I feel like I am driving a Scion :(

    Regarding rough shifting, it's another Toyota ingenious stoo-pidity. They use exactly the same transmission and engine design of a sub-3500lb car for this bulky 4000+lb SUV. Just like plug and play to rush for release schedule. This will cause rough shifting due to heavier load that torque converter needs to work harder to get to the right gear. Even if you used the shifter to shift manually from 2nd to 3rd, you'd still be able to experience the same jerkiness. Also, when you release gas pedal, you'll feel the car pull back a little bit.
    If the noise issue were solved, I'd love this car more and more. I am currently trying to fix this problem by myself by adding more insulation between the engine compartment and the cabin. Hopefully, I can do it during this holiday season. Toyota, stop doing those stupid things.
  • tw2213tw2213 Member Posts: 1
    I did notice my 04 Lexus 330 having shifting issues after it reached 2000 miles; especially the clunking noise during down shift. Thanks to lovemylexus1, I mentioned the TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) number TC005-03 to Lexus and inquired about the ECM (Electronic Control Module) update. According to Lexus, ECM covers a lot of areas, not only the shifting. However, they did know about the TC005-03 and it is related to shifting issue.

    Well, I got my 330 back. I didn't feel much improvement on the up shifting and the clunking noise is still there during down shifting. Maybe the TC005-03 is only good for up shifting issue, not down shifting clunking noise.
  • gardencargardencar Member Posts: 293
    Well, drove my RX330 around town all day long today and did not experience any hesitation, rough shifting, or undue engine noise today. On acceleration, the engine is a bit noisier than the V-8 on my LS400, but that's to be expected.
         Fought the post holiday traffic downtown today, and my RX 330 did plenty of shifts, all as smooth as butter. The cabin did a great job of shutting out the street noise and the beautiful leather and wood were visual and tactile delights. I knew I was in a Lexus and thanked my lucky stars that it was one of the good ones from Kyushu. Love my RX because my RX is quiet and poised. And, I am neither deaf, geriatric, or indifferent. Thank you very much!
  • indiana97indiana97 Member Posts: 58
    I too am neither deaf, geriatric or indifferent. But there are those who can become obsessive/compulsive under certain conditions. I also have had a RX300 and GS300 in the past prior to buying my RX330. Other then a bit more road noise based on the 18" wheels and tires, (by the way look much better then the 16" on the RX300 so I'll live with the noise)I have no complaints. Relax and enjoy or sell it and move on to another car company.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    At highway cruise, say 70MPH, the RX330 engine turns a LOT slower than the RX300 does (~2200 vs ~3000{??}). New transmission, final drive ratio, etc. Could it be that at the lower RPM the engine is producing just enough HP to attain that speed?

    Thereby any need to accelerate requires a downshift?

    To attain best MPG all manufacturers get the transmissions into OD asap. Maybe the OD in the RX330 is just marginal enough that any additional load requirement, at any speed in OD, dictates a downshift, OR EVEN "TWO"!
  • cotmccotmc Member Posts: 1,081
    I thought the main intention of that TSB was to improve downshifting responsiveness at lower speeds? I haven't had the TSB performed yet, and I definitely notice some hesitation with the tranny shifting down one gear when giving it a little extra gas at lower speeds. Seems I need to keep pushing down harder on the gas pedal until the tranny finally decides to shift TWO gears down, causing a bit of a knee-jerk acceleration. Note this does not seem to be an issue when driving at cruising speeds (in 4th or 5th gear).
  • cotmccotmc Member Posts: 1,081
    I haven't researched this to an appropriate level, but I seem to recall that the our RX330 will provide some mild acceleration, or take a gradual incline, without downshifting to 4th (or below) when travelling at 70-75 mph.
  • cotmccotmc Member Posts: 1,081
    I, too, am not deaf, geriatric, or indifferent. Totally agree with indiana97. These 18" rims with lower profile tires will cause some additional road noise versus the RX300, but not enough to make a difference to us! These new rims/tires look so much better, and they provide better grip on the pavement. The engine may also be a bit louder at higher rpms, but not enough to even begin to sour our driving experience!
  • gardencargardencar Member Posts: 293
    It's great to see that there are those out there who don't mind the noise. I actually enjoy the way the engine revs back to me when I step on the gas and the 7.8 seconds to 60mph is really cool. I remember that one of the few criticisms of the older RX was that it was too quiet, slow, and sedate. Well, here's the remedy. The new RX is one of the fastest SUV's out there now, so it has to SOUND the part. If Lexus figured out a way to make the engine sound racier, and save a little money by using different exhaust manifolds, without compromising reliability, kudos to them! And, I agree with indiana97 and cotmc, those 18 inchers look waaaay better!
  • austinbaustinb Member Posts: 1
    My RX is not as quiet as my GS, but never expected it to be. It's a SUV and I kinda like the growl the 330 attained. Bottom line, bought mine in March, now have over 12K miles and my black-on-black has been solid as a rock. No issue with shifting either. And I agree, the 18 inchers with graphite wheels on my 330 makes a great profile.

    Just returned from the Wash DC auto show. There are some great SUV (luxury or otherwise) offerings out there and the end result is the consumer is the winner. But for my money give me Lexus style, ambiance, reliability, and service every time.
  • mtxmtx Member Posts: 2
    The transmission in my Japan-built 04 AWD is reluctant to down-shift when slowing and up-shift when accelerating between first and 3rd gears. When I lightly touch the gas paddle and let go for brakes, I can feel and hear the gears banging, not to mention the "normal" clunking noice from the rear axle. At my 1000-mile service on 12/18/03, the dealer acknowledged the Tech Service Bulletin for the ECM, but said the software wouldn't be available for two weeks. I do mostly city driving and this vehicle is quickly becoming the most annoying vehicle I've ever driven.

    I'm very busy and don't have the time to call Lexus directly. Does anyone have the official email address for either Lexus Zone Office (Washington D.C. area) or its Headquarters? Thanks.
  • rx330ownerrx330owner Member Posts: 16
    Has any one tried to upgrade their sound system? I was told it wound make a big difference if I had a subwoofer installed.
  • lovemylexus1lovemylexus1 Member Posts: 101
    I would call your dealer back and ask them again about the ECM TSB. It was issued months ago...and I had it performed on my RX in September. Sounds to me as if your dealer just didn't want to work in the week before X-mas.
  • rx330ownerrx330owner Member Posts: 16
    What is the ESM TSB ?
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