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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I posted some pics a few years ago (are the searchable messages archived on this forum?). I'll look around or take some new ones. It was pretty straightforward, however I did have to improvise a little.

    I'll get something together and post it.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited August 2011
    I don't see the pics and if you are thinking about your CarSpace photo album, well, all that stuff is gone.

    There's this post but the link to the instructions is "temporarily unavailable".

    You can use the "Advanced Search" on the right sidebar. Plus, a search like "la4mead external cooler" will work on Bing or Google.
  • I have a 2001 RX. 1) When I lower my front passenger window a little at train crossings, then try to close it, it will go down more before I can make it go up. Once it went down all the way & wouldn't go up for about 10 minutes - of course it was pouring rain. Haven't tried to use it since
    2) My key will sometimes unlock/lock the driver's door (dealer quoted an exhorbitant amount to fix - I think $300 part + labor). Right rear door does not unlock/lock with the key.
    3) No noise in my dash fan.

    Ever since dealer replaced the lights at the top of the tailgate window, if it rains just right, water comes inside on the driver's side - often on my left foot - sometimes a very wet floormat. They fixed it once, but still happens.
    Not what I expected of a Lexus.
  • My passenger window is doing the same when you want it to go back up, it will go down first... and I just keep pushing the button to go back up and it eventually will... and when it's raining...well you know....

    I've had my 01 for 5 yrs and have been really happy with it... a few things I thought were off for a lexus were the cheap cup holders... flimsy and broke within a year after getting the car. The cheap plated plastic on the inside door handles... they are starting to show wear. Just little things like that. I have 165,000 on my 01 and all I've ever done to it is scheduled oil/filter etc changes every 3,000 miles. Up until last weekend (transmission) I've never had any mechanical problems with it. I will definately buy another one. I read somewhere today that the RX 300 is practical luxury and for me I think that's true. It doesn't have all the frills... ie heated seats, navi, dual A/C control... those are extras that I really don't mind not having. I just want a car that I can rely on and with what I've experienced... it is.

    I just hope that the transmission is an easy fix and not a complete overhaul. Wish me luck! :sick:
  • Be Bozo! You bought a used car (not from the original owner) and you state that the transmission failure at 127K miles could be a result of the car being a lemon???

    Be Bozo!

    My Lincoln Aviator's engine was a lemon and went at 52K miles ..2K over the warranty. After fighting with Ford, they picked up 2/3rd the tab.. not 100% and I not only walked from Ford and bought a Lexus.. but I tell everyone I know about Ford dumping a long standing customer.

    But buying a used car at 127K miles and calling it a lemon! Come on! Buying a used car without a warranty means you self-insure!

    Caveat Emptor!!
  • drek7drek7 Posts: 2
    Please let me know what happens. I have the same issue, and cannot afford the repair... I've been without my SUV for nearly a year (about a week after getting married!). I've heard rumors of a class action, but I'm worrying they may just BE rumors.
  • flsjr55flsjr55 Posts: 16
    If you have not reported your transmisson problem to Lexus then do so ASAP. They may be able to help. No word on any class action.
  • drek7drek7 Posts: 2
    edited August 2011
    Let's see... I'm between a rock and a hard place. My vehicle is currently on a lift at a local (trusted!) mechanic who has been repairing tranny's 50+ yrs. Lexus Corp. told me they may or may not help with any "goodwill assistance." The first person I spoke with tried to get a "goodwill towing" approval, but that was denied.

    *By the way, my mechanic said the planetary gears exploded making it impossible to open the transmission. I will definately need either a used or rebuilt one.

    So now, I can go ahead and have my local mechanic put in a rebuilt transmission with a 3yr warranty for a Grand total of ~$5,000.
    *Lexus said IF there is a recall, they'll "most likely" reimburse my expense.


    I can pay my mechanic for what he's done already (basically removing and re-inserting my transmission), then tow it 20 miles away where I may or may not have to pay for the diagnostics and/or repair ALL depending on IF Lexus deems it is their responsibility due to a defect.

    BAsically, pay an extra ~$400 for a slim CHANCE at saving a few thousand.

  • I had the same situation. I called Lexus and asked them for the price for a rebuilt transmission. They really did not want to quote me until they looked at the car and did a diagnostic. Unfortunately I had already had it towed to a trusted transmission mechanic. Lexus PR told me to take it to the Lexus dealer and based on my experience they may help me out financially but made sure I understood that I should not count on it.

    So what did that mean ? Did they just want me to take it to the Lexus Dealer for the transmission service. Lexus finally told me it could cost between $4500-5300. I figured at best ,Lexus may comp 25% as it is a 10 year old car. If that was the case I assumed it would be $5300 and they may take it down to $4000. I had it done for $4300. If I had my car regularly serviced at the Lexus Dealership I think I would have gone to Lexus and as a regular customer my chances of a goodwill gesture would have increased. Instead I had it service at a Toyota dealership near where I work.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..(trusted!) mechanic.."

    "..impossible to open the transmission.."

    BS, blowing SMOKE...!!

    Rebuilts run $2500 to $3000 out the door.
  • ed95682ed95682 Posts: 7
    Well, I too am one of the 'lucky ones'. The transmission in our 2002 RX300 went out today, without any warning. We called our local Lexus dealer in the Sacramento area and they were sympathetic to our problem and even shared the fact that this has been an ongoing problem with 1999-2002 models. Apparently, Lexus has known of the problem and even corrected the transmission problem in the 2003 and later models. But, our dealer said that it would still cost us $4,700. in order to replace the transmission with a "re-structure...2003 version".
    I inquired as to whether Lexus, knowing they had a transmission problem with these years, if they would discount or assist? The answer was "No".
    Frustrating to buy a vehicle you think will last and knowing that the company knows is has a mechanical problem with a particular part, and they are not willing to cut some kind of deal. What a bummer!!! :mad:
  • flsjr55flsjr55 Posts: 16
    Call Lexus Customer Satisfaction and you may get some help. 800-255-3987.
    I spent $750 yesterday to repair the A/C. In the past six months I have spent more to repair than the car is worth.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    I agree, I'd call Lexus CS, but knowing that Lexus does not feel obliged to offer assistance. But they seem willing to work with an out of warrantee repair apparently if they think they're earning loyalty, not because they have to (possibly because it did last this long). But if they feel they have an opportunity to make a difficult situation easier earning your loyalty (and they do it right this time) they just might help cover part of the cost... Good luck and please let us know what you find out.

    FWIW, Lexus replaced my '99's transmission in 2004 (when the original warrantee was about to expire) with a new one with all "updates", and it doesn't beat or burn the fluid like the original did. It's been perfect (nothing on the magnets or in the fluid, unlike original) but now I don't go more than about 15,000 before I either have the transmission serviced with type IV fluid at the trans shop with inspection of the filter and magnets or DIY drain the pan and differential, refill, and drain the rest through the cooler return line myself. It's messy but cheap insurance for any bulky FWD based platform (and my car's 13 years old). The difference between the original and the replacement transmission has made huge difference to me.
  • Replaced mine with a JASPER remanufactured one with 18 updates, 100,000 mile/ 3 year warranty through JASPER. They call for a fluid and filter change after the first 5000 miles. I've sent a letter to the local Lexus dealer along with one to customer service center in Torrance CA. Depending on their reply will determine if I glue that nice glass and chrome lemon to the tailgate. :lemon:
  • I just want to buy Rx 300 2001 model please I need more advise on how to go about it or should I go for another model or probably go for toyota suv ? Becouse am affraid of this transmission failure problems every one is complianing about thanks :lemon:
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Keep in mind most people don't report "good" experiences. The number of posts are heavily skewed toward complaints only, and statistically only represent a tiny fraction of the total number of owners with or without problems. They don't represent a higher percentage of problems than other models, but they do seem to reflect the expectation of "perfection" because of the "L" on the grille.

    That being said, you do want to be aware of any potential weakness when looking at a used car of the age of first-gen RX's. Low-mileage models may be more prone to needing a transmission, perhaps because of the type of usage (short trips, etc.) or perhaps because impending failure was not noticed during the origninal warantee period. Check the transmission fluid condition yourself (you should do this on any car), check for transmission service history (tranny service is not a recommended service on dealer's overpriced packaged service), and if you find one in good shape, make sure there's enough room in the price for you to be happy with it even if you need a repair.
  • The majority of tranny failures were on the 2000 RX300 with AWD and are grouped in the 80,000 to 110000 mile range. Mine went at 92,000 and was replaced by the dealer for $4000, with a Jasper rebuilt. I have since sold my ES300 and am trying to sell the RX300. I've also purchased a 2011 MB, ML550 and I'll never own another Lexus or Toyota product.
  • Do not buy a 2001 Lexus RX. Most of these vehicles are lemons. It is not just the trans but many other problems. I have already spent more money in the last six months than the vehicle is worth.
  • Chicka, I own an RX 300 2001 model... I love it. I bought it used from original owner with 43,000 miles. It now has 168,000 and I have never had anything major go wrong with it. I did have a scare with the transmission a few months ago, but my mechanic serviced it (new oil) and it's fine now. I agree with one of the posts here... this forum is with people that have complaints... you probably won't see anyone writing about how great their car don't let the comments here scare you. I plan on buying another RX 300 when the time comes. Just a side note... up until I bought my RX 300, I would trade/buy a different car about every 3 yrs, I've had my RX 300 for about 5yrs now and don't have any plans on trading/selling it. My next purchase will probably be an 04 or 05 model. :shades:
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    My '01 F/awd RX300, purchased new, is now approaching 90,000 miles and I am mentaly prepared for a transmission failure within the next 20-30,000 miles. ATF has been double drain/fill, 5 qts each time, twice, once at 40,000 and more recently at 80,000.

    Since I am fully aware of the details of the design flaw it makes it easier to accept the failure when it comes.

    I would look first for an RX330 that has DBW to prevent these premature transaxle failures.
  • I'm having problem with my lexus rx 300. The movement is very poor, At first I had to change the coils. It was okay for a few days then the sluggish movement started again, My mechanic said I need the change my exhaust since catalyst is blocked he also said the the catalyst is melting. Just replaced the whole exhaust and there is no change with the movement...Any help.
  • My passenger side window is erratic; same as others are having this problem. I once found instructions for reprogramming, but did not make any difference. Can't complain though 139,000 miles, 10 years old. Just normal maintenance for 8 years that I have owned it (tires, battery, belts, etc.). Recent oxygen sensor replacement is all and I need to have the tranny fluid changed. Guess the highway miles may have helped since others have had serious tranny problems. A couple very minor other issues: key finally broke, rear gate latch is sticky. Also, be sure to clean your MAF sensor. My check engine and VSC lights came on and a 20 minute MAF cleaning solved the problem. Any vehicle can be a lemon if the previous owner or you did/do not take care of it -- or perhaps I just got lucky?
  • So after 26,000 miles our rebuilt tranny on RX300 #2 had a clutch fail. Independent said he will not charge for labor but parts are over $700.
    So for all those who think RXs trannys are good and only a small percentage fail. I have 2 RX300 and am working on Tranny #7. We don't tow anything with them or carrry heavy loads. Just typical family stuff.
    I would get rid of both cars if the economy was better but I think the economy has a Lexus transmission as well! :lemon:
  • Did anyone ever start a class action suit? My 2002 RX 300 is riding fine now after installing a new transmission from a local transmission shop. Payed 3200.00 to fix. Did not need a new module. Just reprogrammed. My transmission died at 88,000 miles. I have a 2 year warranty or 25,000 miles.
    I'm thinking of selling the car next year, before the warranty is up.
  • I just got off the phone with Lexus and they agreed to cover 50% of the parts which is $1750. So they realize they have a problem. Good luck!
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    edited September 2011
    Thought I would pass this along: I changed out the fluid about 2 years ago around 40k miles, and now am knocking on the door of 60k. The fluid, now with 20k miles on it roughly, is still cherry red, and smells as new as can be.

    By reading through these posts, I thought sure that my experience would have been different when checking the fluid.

    Maybe my tranny fails eventually, maybe it doesn't. It seems that everyone here has come to the conclusion that the all 99's (in my case specifically) are just simply destined to fail. I guess I'll believe that when it happens. In the meantime, I am enjoying this 12 year old car that still looks and rides like it's brand new.


  • Call Lexus Satisfaction Dept. 800-255-3987
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "01 F/awd RX300. After 2 sequential drain/refills at ~40,000 miles due to dark and burned smelling ATF my ATF remained clear/pinkish right up until ~75,000 miles wherein it got 2 more drain/refills. Now pushing 90,000 miles.

    I suspect that it was more the '99-'00 RX300 F/awd models that experienced the majority of the premature transaxle failure as those F/awd systems were substantially more robust, functional, vs '01 - '09 models.

    In '01 the VC's fluid formulation was revised to be mostly non-functional, the optional mechanical LSD was discontinued, and VSC/Trac was made standard as a "backup" for the loss of F/awd functionality. With the RX330 Lexus stopped the pretense and dropped the VC entirely.
  • I think the years that Lexus installed the flawed transmissions were 1999-2001. Mine was a 2001.
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