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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • I had the same problem as yours. After replacement, it took less than a year to break again. No worth to repair. So I just did what you think; I traded in and bought Volvo XC60. No Lexus anymore.
  • Hi,
    I had the transmission rebuilt at another, local shop. They took it out for a test drive and it broke again. They rebuilt it again and took it out for another drive. And, it broke again. The 3rd time, they then had it trucked to the Lexus dealer so they could reset the computer before it was driven. Runs just fine now. I have over 12,000 miles on the rebuilt transmission and it's still running like a dream. I would trust a local, good, shop over Lexus. And, they gave me a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty with free annual checkups and fluid changes.
  • What happened to my car (only 2 weeks after buying it) is that my wife was broadsided 3 days ago while sitting at a light. The car was destroyed, but she will be fine. The B-pillar took the brunt of it, and the side airbag deployed.
    With this in mind, and having seen the condition of the car after the accident, the tranny issue pales in importance-we will get another one.
  • Yes, frustrating experience and now it'll cost me $5000 to get a transmission overhaul. I have a 2001 RX300 with 95,000 miles. Driven normally, only highways and surface streets. Tansmission started sticking about a year ago. Took it to a local shop and they couldn't duplicate the problem. It ran well for about a year and then finally wouldn't reverse when I tried to back out the other day. Had it towed to the local AAMCO and when they took it apart, found bits of metal in the pan. The guy showed me the gears with all the chips and nicks. I guess Toyota got too big and completely ignored what got them to being first in the business. Too complacent and not to be trusted as a company. My shopping list will not include Toyotas or Lexuses in the future.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Glad to hear that your wife will be OK and the car did what it was supposed to do in that set of circumstances.
  • Let me guess, you had AWD.

    The RX 300 transmission was not designed for AWD.

    Sue Lexus for their fraud motto, "Relentless Pursuit of Excellence."
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited February 2011
    >"Sue Lexus for their fraud motto, "Relentless Pursuit of Excellence.""

    I think the key word is "Pursuit". They are apparently still pursuing perfection, like the Borg. ;)

    Anyway, I thought it was "Relentless Pursuit of Perfection". When my '99 RX was newly introduced in 1998, it was "Something Wicked This Way Comes", also referring to the re-designed GS.

    The earliest to have problems acknowledged by Lexus were 2WD models. Mine was one of them. So there goes the theory of AWD being the problem. The AWD transmission was similar, but different.

    2WD's had problems right out of the gate. Valve body defects, debris in the fluid, burning fluid, and really bad shift problems when cold (it had to be colder than usual in So Cal for the 1-2 shift to slam back and forth).

    They did finally fix it, but not on until the fourth time I brought it in to a different dealer. They ultimately fixed it with a brand new transmission ordered from Kyushu under warrantee, which has been fine ever since. Nothing unusual in the fluid now, but change it very often like any car. The dealer will not include transmission service in maintanence packages, and will not advise you until it needs to be rebuilt.
  • I went to test drive a used 2002 Lexus RX 300 that has only 93,000 and only 2 previous owners. While I was driving it, it seemed really sluggish and also seemed to gradually shift, but not with precision. Also, when in drive and at a stop sign, the car seemed to have quite a vibration coming from either the engine or underneath, but it made the steering wheel also vibrate roughly. It does have a salvage title and the second owner bought it that way from a salvage yard and paid for the repairs herself. It was front damage only needing the radiator fixed. I'm paying $8900 (if I decide to buy it) which is a couple thousand below blue book (due to the salvage title) but I just read reviews on this vehicle from year 99 to 02 and they had lots of transmission issues. Could the symptoms I described be the transmission going bad...and does it seem that I would be paying way too much for this year with the salvage title (despite the low mileage) Please help! Thanks so much!
  • RUN!!! My 2001 RX300 had 108K miles when the tranny failed. Because it had been acting funny, I was taking it to the dealer. On the way there, I was stopped at a light & got a lot of vibration. When the light changed, I had trouble getting going - almost got rear ended. Run, run, as fast as you can.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited February 2011
    "Only" 2 previous owners with a salvaged title... Your first clue for any used car. I wouldn't go near it unless it was almost free. 9 grand for a 10 year old car with 2 previous owners and salvaged title seems way too high to consider it. Had it been cared for carefully, that original owner would likely still have the car. That salvaged title is going to mark that car everywhere.

    I would look for something in better condition. Good luck.
  • Mine went out yesterday. No warning. Stopped at traffic signal and vehicle went in reverse instead of foward. The shifter was still in drive. This could have caused a serious accident. $3500 for a rebuilt trans. If anyone knows of a class action lawsuit please let me know. Also does anyone have any information on how to get Lexus to contribute to the cost of repairs?
  • The transnisson went out with no warning. Stopped at traffic signal with vehicle in drive and vehicle goes in reverse when I gave it gas to go foward. Almost caused a serious accident. Finally got vehicle to the Toyota dealer after traveling at a top speed of 25 MPH. The service manager advised that the transmission problem in the 2000-2002 Lexus is very common. These vehicles are dangerous and should be recalled Repairs are going to cost $3500 for a rebuilt trans. Does anyone know of a class action suite?
  • wme2wme2 Posts: 5
    Last Oct. I had trouble when I put the car in reverse and it wouldn't move until I floored it.
    It happened to me again the same day in drive also. I went and got my trans fluid changed
    hopeing that would solve the problem. In Feb. 11' I was driving on the GSP in NJ, and the engine was pulling and not moving right. I got home OK, next day the car would not engage in gear. I had it towed to our local trans shop and I got the bad news. The trans was shot.
    cost $3300 with 1 year guarantee. The car has 117000 mi.
    I had two front tires replaced in June. Does anyone know if this affected the car. Mine is a AWD
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    That sounds suspeciously like an electrical problem, wiring, solenoid, etc. Take it to the best known aftermarket shop for an analysis.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Replacing just the front tires might become a problem, but it probably depends on just how worn the rear tires were/are. At 117,000 you should feel lucky to have gotten that mileage out of an '01 F/awd RX.

    I'm now at 80,000 and don't expect to reach 100,000.
  • wme2wme2 Posts: 5
    My rear tires had close to 50K on them. After I had the trans fixed I changed all 4 tires to play it safe.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    edited February 2011
    "Last Oct. I had trouble when I put the car in reverse and it wouldn't move until I floored it.
    It happened to me again the same day in drive also. I went and got my trans fluid changed
    hopeing that would solve the problem. In Feb. 11' I was driving on the GSP in NJ, and the engine was pulling and not moving right. I got home OK, next day the car would not engage in gear. I had it towed to our local trans shop and I got the bad news. The trans was shot.
    cost $3300 with 1 year guarantee. The car has 117000 mi."

    Sounds like the fluid change was too little too late on one of these after those clues, but maybe bought you a few more miles. The Lexus dealer doesn't include tranny service as part of maint. packages. Tranny fluid in these light-duty units needs to be changed pretty often. Once it's contaminated with worn parts and heat beating up the fluid it's usually a sign.
    On the plus side, you did get 117,000 out of it. Hopefully the rebuild will give you updated parts that will last at least as long or more. You can have the rebuilt unit's fluid changed at least every year or at most two by your independent shop. Make sure they use only type IV fluid, not Dextron universal stuff and a separate additive to "simulate" type IV like they usually do.
    Let us know how it goes.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The ATF in my '01 F/awd RX300 was changed, appeared dirty and smelled burned, at 40,000 miles and again, recently, same reason, at 80,000. I still expect a failure at not more than 100,000 miles. Changing the fluid only prevents damage that might be caused by continued use of the old fluid, it does nothing to fix whatever is causing the fluid to appear dirty and smell burned.

    There was no recommended ATF service schedule for my '01 RX300 when it was shipped from the factory. Once Lexus discovered the design flaw that was revised to a need for an ATF drain/flush/refill every 15,000 miles. Then that schedule was later revised to "check the ATF condition at each oil change but do not exceed 30,000 miles with ATF service".

    IMMHO the '01 and up RX300 series pre-mature transaxle failures are the result of "fudging" the control firmware so that the real-time ATF line pressure is kept slightly elevated at all times. That has resulted in localized ATF heating, localized to/at the gear type ATF pump. Additional ATF heating that was not planned for with the abolition of the old ATF line pressure control system.

    That's also why you are not likely to find a F/awd '01 or after RX300 without a factory tow package that includes the external ATF cooler.

    With the RX330 DBW was used to delay the onset of engine torque until the "real-time" ATF line pressure control system could catch up with the fluid flow demand if a second, sequentual, gear shift/change was required almost immediately after the previous one.

    Which is why, even to this day, Toyota and Lexus drivers encounter a 1-2 second re-acceleration downshift delay/hesitation from time to time.
  • Mine went out about 80000. Dealer told me this is a very rare occasion. (he lied). Cost me 4500 at that time for replacement. No dealer participation etc. If you hear of a class action please let me know as I will certainly join. I am nearing 150000 at this time and I am starting to worry.
  • tommyt52tommyt52 Posts: 1
    transmission failed at 56825 miles, 1600 miles from home on a trip. lexus usa declined any assistance, vehicle has been garaged & pampered since new.never used to tow. lexus claims to be among the best in class for product quality and customer satisfaction, yet it ignores known product problems and claims no responsibility. I would agree with lexus, if the vehicle had 100k miles or more, but at 56k I cannot understand their stance on this known problem!! I would like to join a class action suit to address this issue!!
  • mrbostonmrboston Posts: 43
    Design Flaw: All RX 300 AWD that were built between 2000 - 2001 have the same design flaw. These transmissions are crap. We owned two and both crapped out at exactly 100.000. Both of these cars were never driven by a teenager, or used to tow.



    Toyota quality is a joke!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..between 2000-2001 have the same design flaw.."

    No, the design "flaw" was introduced with the very first RX300 and has now propagated throughout the industry, not just Toyota/lexus/Scion.

    DBW is now being used to "hide" the design flaw from the public's "eye".

    Design Flaw: Serious FE improvement via abolition of the old ATF line pressure control technique.

    Think hydraulic power stearing pump that doesn't "pump" except as a REACTION, after-the-fact reaction, to actual flow demand. Result: Power stearing boost has a noticeable delay.

    Often as much as 1-2 seconds in the case of the new ATF line pressure control system.
  • lserlohnlserlohn Posts: 10
    I wish I had read those posts before I purchase a pre-owned RX300. The transmission was gone after 1000 miles from the day I purchased. Jerk shift and then slipping on highway, whine noise coming from the transmission. All indicates that the transmission is wear out. Although this car is well-maintained all at Lexus Dealer, but because I am the second owner, so Lexus/Dealer refuse any help, is it a good reason?

    I am willing to join any group that proceeds a law action.
  • kwbuggykwbuggy Posts: 11
    I find it hilarious that people are talking about class action law suits for a repair to a ten or eleven year old car. Do you expect things to last forever? There are clearly too many lawyers with nothing to do in the USA!
  • I understand your point - however - notice the low mileage in many cases - not an acceptable problem.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Yes, for what reason is there an "overall" time/period limit on factory warranties...??
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Low mileage in most cases does not equate to low wear or maintenance specific to address transmission durability. Many low mileage RX's were city/suburban cars which ran errands and sat in traffic and may have seen circumstances that require more maintenance than prescribed, but usually did not get it even (and especially) if they were dealer maintained.
    I feel for persons who find they need to drop a few thousand bucks on what they thought was a vehicle with anvil-like durability but come to find it's not. Regardless of low mileage, these cars are 11-13 years old and the prescriptive maintenance did not recommend nor include any idea that they would not wear out.
    Cars with unusually low mileage may not have had the benefit of being covered under a warrantee claim even though the original warrantee was unusually long 7 years / 70,000 miles. Those who had higher mileage during that period and who had transmission problems (many did not have any problems) were covered under warrantee.
    I think the best you can do is learn to check your fluid yourself (a one-minute exercise, change your fluid (not power flush) as often as you might on any car you want to keep a long time right from the beginning, use the correct type 4 fluid (not Dex + additive) when you have it changed.
    If you notice fluid beginning to get contaminated long after your warrantee expired, shop around for a good, trustworthy trans shop and get an estimate long before waiting for it to start exhibiting problems, at which time it's days are numbered and you won't be in a good position to shop. The negative energy on a class-action suit at this point is likely only to help attorneys rather than pay to fix your car. Good luck.
  • bendorrx300bendorrx300 Posts: 11
    here is a link to the NHTSA Office of Defects Investigations, where you may file a formal complaint regarding the persistent transmission failure in the RX300:

    The left sidebar shows File a Complaint. We are on our third transmission in the 2000 RX300. The second transmission failed to last one year on the warranty, so Lexus paid for everything.

    On day #1 of the third transmission, we pulled a sample of transmission fluid from the dipstick well, using silicone tubing and a 10 cc syringe obtained from the local farm animal store. A sample taken four months later showed an increase in aluminum from the time = 0 value. The 12 month sample showed the increase approaching exponential. We took a fourth sample last week and expect the erosion of the transmission to be very evident.

    AOA in Arizona is the analytical lab that sends us the report on the metals suspended in the transmission fluid. Their main business is failure prediction of aircraft engines. Once we have the final sample plotted on the graph, 20 months of data should show that the observed 4 month sample was an early indication of the transmission again heading towards failure. The Lexus dealer was very surprised to learn we were working with the licensed analytical lab in assessing the transmission problem.

    AOA is also known as Phoenix Tribology Lab

    I ordered my fluid sampling kits from Chief Aircraft:

    Below is the non-HTML report format:

    Sample Summary Report from Auto-Email
    Date: Sep 28, 2010
    Time: 09:00:42 AM CST
    Last Auto-Email Date: Apr 02, 2010

    Sample Id
    (Fluid Category) Cond. Submitted by Unit ID Component
    Description Date
    Tested Recommendation
    Oil A MARK TUTTLE(20507916)
    BEND OR)
    09/24/10 Torque converter/pump wear indicated. All other wear rates normal. Abrasive and other contaminant levels are acceptable. Action: Resample next service interval to further monitor.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited May 2011
    To achieve what end result are you going to all this trouble..?

    "..Lexus dealer was very surprised..."

    Me too.

    Might your sample testing have the exact same outcome with a perfectly good, well designed, transaxle..??
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