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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • bobohiobobohio Posts: 1
    I just discovered yesterday that my ever-reliable Lexus RX300 needs a new transmission. Imagine my shock when I found so many reported problems that have gone unaddressed by Lexus. This will be my first and last Lexus ownership experience. After 4 Honda and Acura cars, I know what my my Lexus replacement will be.

    Toyota also had a Tacoma frame rust problem that did not result in a recall. If your "heard" about the problem Toyota would inspect and buy back your vehicle. Otherwise, you were at risk of the frame rusting through.

    Add me as support for a class action suit. Thanks for your post about the Lexus RX problem.
  • mrbostonmrboston Posts: 43
    The RX 300 AWD transmission is junk, it has nothing to do with the trnny fluid.
    Our family had two one transmission went out at 103,000 the other at 107,000.
    These cars were driven like cream puffs with no teenage drivers.

    Lexus lies when they say "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection".
  • jonjungjonjung Posts: 1
    Recently had to replace the transmission on my wife's 2009 RX-300 at 112,000 miles.and after talking with the independent transmission shop and looking on-line, its obvious there is a design/mfg problem that Toyota is not owning yet. Not surprising, given the company's history. Does anyone have a class action lawsuit yet? I appreciate any help in recovering part of this cost. Jon in Denver
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Yes, there are a lot of failures by that age/mileage, however the fluid definately does matter.
  • I have a 2001 lexus rx 3000 with 90,000 miles and find out that not only the 90,000 mile service is due, but i also need a new tranny. I've done ALL maintenence by the book at Lexus and Toyota dealerships. Lexus is going to pay for parts and i have to cough up the labor costs, just on the tranny. The 90,000 mile service i will pay for and then i think i will try to trade it in. Atleast i'll get more out of the vehicle this way.OR... does anyone know how many miles i can get out os a rebuilt tranny?
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    If Lexus rebuilds it themselves with all the updates, your chances for longer transmission life are pretty good.

    Then, regardless of what Lexus has in their maintenece by the book (pretty much replace trans rather than service), I wouldn't go more than 15,000 miles or every two years without transmission service specifically with type IV fluid. Some folks on ClubLexus, etc. suggest every year. Actually, that's pretty standard with people who like to keep their cars a long time, especially cars with transverse powertrains.

    Fluid condition can be used to guage wear. You can check the fluid condition a few times per year (very easy); pull the dipstick (the one on the right side of the engine is marked trans) looking for a change in it's appearance and/or smell on a white paper towel. It should remain pink with it's industrial type smell, rather than burned smell. If the rebuilt unit no longer burns the fluid (appearance & smell) or gets dark (indicating wear) during those intervals, it will likely last you a long time. Then, that transmission will probably take you a long way without problems.

    At that point you can decide: It depends on how well you like the car otherwise... You are likely to lose a lot at trade-in.

    Reports of failures on third-party rebuilds (an exchange of a transmission rebuilt elsewhere) seem to suggest some of those might be less reliable than if rebuilt by Lexus.

    After 10 years and 90,000 miles it actually sounds like you might be getting a pretty decent deal if your cost for rebuilding the transmission at the Lexus dealer is about $3500-4000 or less, you are probably fairing much better than a law suit, and your dealer keeps you as a (semi-happy) customer. Please share with us how it all goes. Best luck to you.
  • DUMP IT! Save yourself some money and headaches. I'll be getting our 2001 RX 300 out of the shop this week for a tranny failure that is costing us $ 2000.00 and then i will be trading it in, just to save myself some future problems. I had to spend 2000.00 in order to get a decient trade value otherwise the car would of been worth nothing. The tranny is as much as the car is worth.
  • lee7194lee7194 Posts: 4
    Some RX300s go a truly long way, essentially trouble free until normal wear sets in. My 2001 AWD has 370,000 miles and still runs very well. I drive it 5 times a week between Tampa and Orlando.

    I replaced tranny at 315,000 with dealer factory rebuilt for $4,200 that included replacing motor mounts. Flushed every 50,000 and no service issues until replacement. Shifts great except now no overdrive due to bad knock sensor

    Replaced one engine O2 sensor at about 200k and now needs bank 2 knock sensor at 370k. I will replace both and the old wire harness. Can anyone provide good, reliable online OEM source for the 2 K sensors and wire harness? THANKS
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I "only" have 130,000 miles, and apart from the too-benign handling, a couple crappy door lock solenoids, and the original transmission (replaced with a new, updated trans under warrantee at no charge by Lexus) this car has been pretty trouble-free (but not perfect like most people expect because it has an "L" on the grill). And Lexus went beyond their warrantee for many updates that another make would not have.

    My friend has a 2000 AWD with nearly 300,000 Southern California stop-&-go fast commute miles, his has been trouble-free on the original transmission.

    Go figure... How many thousands of these did Lexus sell? Yeah, the original transmissions were of sloppy design, but that doesn't mean they are all bad or junk. Check out the other cars this competed with when designed in 1998, and the durability of those transmissions on those. I've been happy with my RX except the bland. tippy handling (I think their benchmark was to be better than Jeep Grand Cherokee, a rather low bar to hurdle). This car has been comfortable, reliable, and provides excellent utility for it's size.

    If your RX is only worth $2000 to you, you'd be better off trading it in for a car that you would be happy with.
  • Thanks for mentioning NHTSA & including their link - I wouldn't have thought of that. I just posted my complaint:

    The transmission in my 2001 Lexus RX300 failed with a little over 108K miles. No warning lights came on. I had trouble getting it in reverse 2 days before - thought it was a fluke. Then I had trouble starting it for 2 days. On 8/16 it started fine, so I drove it to the dealer. Twice on the way there, it jerked & hesitated when accelerating from a stop - I almost got rear ended.

    I am the 2nd owner - I bought it in 2003 with 41,462 miles on it. It was Lexus Certified Pre-Owned. The Car Fax report noted the original owner registered it as private/personal use & no issues were noted. I have had all service done by the dealer, except the last oil change. I've only driven about 9K miles per year, drive it responsibly & have never towed with it. Very frightening that I had few symptoms, and no warning light to alert me there was a problem.

    Lexus dealer wants $4,300 to replace it with a Lexus remanufactured transmission. I have not decided what to do. I'm seeing lots of information online about how bad these transmissions are, and they often need replaced multiple times. Scares me to know I could replace it, have it fail & perhaps be in an accident. I am a Realtor & frightening that I could have been in an accident with clients in my vehicle. My expectations of Lexus quality & safety have not been met.
  • Our RX 300 was subjected to an inadvertant shift in to Park while driving along the highway...

    Now the transmission does not have a park setting.

    What is best course of action?
  • I had lexus pay more than 50% of my transmission replacement cost. See my experience at
  • Lexus has more than a 50% markup on parts. Thus, Lexus still made profit from selling you a replacement! The made lots of money when they sold you a car with a bad transmission.

  • Hearing that my 2001 RX300 tranny failed at 108K miles was horrible. I explored alternatives & when I called the dealer to say I'd decided to have it rebuilt (half the dealer's quote for a remanufactured tranny) they asked me to wait a few more days - they had submitted it to Lexus for 'goodwill'. Lexus did split the bill (although I didn't get a wholesale price) & I paid $2,250.. The dealer never pressured me to make a decision, and I had a free loaner for about 15 days.

    I was thrilled to get it back - but that faded quickly - the next day the Check Engine light came on, because of an O2 sensor - cost $492. This is the 2nd O2 sensor I've had to replace - I understand there are 4 O2 sensors - anybody else having to replace O2 sensors?

    Also - please let me know how trustworthy a Lexus reman tranny is? I have a 1 yr parts & labor warranty.
  • Got my rx from a private party 6 mo ago. Perfect condition at 131K and drove smoothly for all those months. Clean title, 3 owners.
    3 days ago it hesitated in reverse, and would jerk when shifting between gears, mostly at city speeds. Went to Lexus of Tacoma at Fife, WA, and told them my transmission is acting up, please check. Next day I pick it up, and the clerk says "Nothing wrong with the transmission, you need timing belt service and your water pump is leaking and you are almost out of ATF. We'll do a tran. flush as well" I told them that if indeed my transmission is problematic, it will die after a flush, do drain-refill, but the clerk insisted on a flush. So for all that I paid 1600 in one payment, and the next day the car is tripping again. In less than 48 hrs I was standing on the shoulder by my work :sick: waiting to be towed to Lexus dealership. That time they did take their time with the transmission and did tell me that I would need a new transmission! DUH! I came to the dealer asking them to check the transmission in the first place! Did I fall into a typical dealer trap? I called them back, and the manager is willing to refund me for the transmission flush, around 300 dollars and offers a 10% off on new transmission service. I'm not going to accept. Most likely will file a claim as soon as I decide the negotiations are not going anywhere tomorrow. I have the original papers where the clerk wrote up the issues I had , and the recommendations which had nothing to do with those issues. I also have a witness which was present with me at the time I explained myself to the clerk. Will see tomorrow, how to proceed with this.
    At the meantime, I hear a lot of noise about a class action lawsuit. This is REAL, people, if you don't have time - MAKE TIME!! I also have a full-time job, but I'm willing to contribute my time to this. Is there a centralized site? A primary contact? If we do proceed we need to be organized and RELENTLESS! It is possible that in case of win, there will be no recalls for 99-03 vehicles with defect tranny, but they will stop selling those vehicles on the market, and anyone who is owning one and experiences problems which pertain to transmission, will have a right to appear at any Lexus dealership and request free transmission repairs/replacement. If this is a known and acknowledged flaw, it calls for class action lawsuit. Count me in!
  • I'll bet you any money within the next 30 days your transmission will
    be gone.

    These transmissions on the 2000 and 2001 RX 300 were designed
    poorly and should have been recalled.

    We had two in the family and both transmissions went out at the
    same mileage 108,000. Never towed anything, no teenage
    drivers. Driven like a cupcake.
  • I am looking at two RX300's one is 04 and the other is 05 they both have about 70.000 miles. Has the problem with Trans been sorted buy this year of manufacture If not how do I test for problem.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Hi Irishjoe,

    You may want to check the RX330 forum
    '04 and '05 RX330's both saw significant changes and different (5 speed) transmission than earlier RX300's. I'd go with the '04 over the '05 because '04 was the first year for the redesign and '05 had lots of little improvements over the first model year.

    Good luck!
  • Lexus corrected the transmission problem after '02 so you should be fine.

    1999 - 2002 the transmissions on the AWD were junk!
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited September 2010
    The early FWD trannies weren't very stout either. Lexus replaced mine under warrantee, including a loaner. The original was problematic right from the start. The burned fluid was tell-all, and started right away when it was new.

    Still, my friend still has a 2000 RX300 AWD, a So. Cal. commuter with way over 200,000 miles (he drives it hard, too) and it's held up great, only he knows to ask for the tranny to be serviced. Many people only buy the packaged "suggested" service the dealer offers, and they don't do tranny service.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I suspect you meant to say RX330. With the RX330 Lexus adopted DBW, E-throttle, to "protect the drive train", prevent premature failures of the transaxle.

    In return you get a 1-2 second re-acceleration downshift delay/hesitation due to the engine being kept at idle what a second shift is required shortly after a previous one.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The RX300's FWD and F/awd transaxles were actually the same, it's just that the F/awd version has to endure more stress and HEATING, so more of those failed and/or failed earlier. In '01 the rear drive coupling factor of the VC was significantly reduced, enough to make the FWD vs F/awd transaxle failure rate basically equal.

    Due to the adoption of TC across the board, FWD and F/awd '01 and after models, the VC was pretty much non-functional, so much so that it was eliminated entirely for the entire RX330 model, and quite possibly even the RX350 prior to 2010.
  • I recently bought a 2007 Lexus ES 350 certified pre owned with 9,500 miles on it. I now have 26,000 miles and my transmission is being replaced by the dealer this weekend.

    The first time it was brought in for transmission problems, they said the transmission fluid was low (hmm--its a sealed system) and that the software needed to be reset. I picked it up the next day and drove it home. Took the car out to go to work and 12 miles into my trip the master warning light, along with several other warning lights and a VSC message. The transmission started up with the jerky acceleration and stumbling deceleration. This time they agreed it was faulty and would replace it.
    Will keep you posted on the new transmission.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    More likely than otherwise your dealer inadvertently FAILED the transaxle by over-filling it with ATF. The service manual is very STRICT with regards to the proper filling of these transaxles, they want it filled within 1/8 qt of factory specs.
  • the EXACT same thing happened to me!!! I was in the dealership thinking there is a transmission problem, but they didn't think there was a problem. And that was about a week or so after I spent $2000 for the service and some parts. So when I went on a roadtrip with the fam, my car ended up dead on the side of the road about 400 miles from my house!!! and now I am scrambling to find a transmission to go into my car without costing me an arm and a leg!!! If there's a class action, count me in!
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    I have heard many opinions on this and other boards - the transmission fluid in my RX330 is way above full when the car is cool, but at operating temperature, it is just barely above full. I have found it is very difficult to determine what the exact levels are because of this.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You're only supposed to check the ATF level with the engine running. Otherwise the ATF drains from all the components, clutch pistons, torque converter, etc, and you find a HIGH level in the sump.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I know that when I check mine, it takes more than one try to get an accurate reading, cool or hot. But it must be checked with the engine running and after driving at least a short distance after all components are pressurized.
  • RX 300 Transmission is junk. They all seem to fail at 105,000 miles. Our family has had two RX 300 and both transmissions failed. These cars were driven like kittens
    no towing or teenage drivers.

    Lexus quality has gone way down hill.

    I will never buy another Lexus and I have owned seven and bought the first LS 400
    in 1990.
  • :lemon: I echo your disappointment with Lexus. I just paid $5600 for a trans on 1999 Rx with 96,000 miles on it. I have an ES and now waiting for that to go out as well.. I e mailed Lexus US HQ's and received 0 response.Fortunately there are a lot of alternatives to turn to (Acura,Audi, Mercedes etc). Consumer Reports still recomends the RX as a great used car purchase....If anyone is interested, I will sell them mine pretty cheap.
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