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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • glen2009glen2009 Posts: 3
    my tranmission sometimes would not lock into reverse. Also it seem to take awhile to shift from 3 to 4 gear. a few months later the tranny died. BTW, I also took it to the dealer when it was acting up and of course they found nothing wrong.
  • tanyaftanyaf Posts: 2
    Here is the link to file a complaint with the NHTSA:

    I think if they get enough complaints, maybe they will take some action.
  • gapettitgapettit Posts: 1
    I want to add my voice to the 'never again Lexus' crowd. I had my engine replaced at ~90K miles. I fought to get Lexus to pay for that. Only after the class action suit did I get full refund for the repair.

    The transmission just failed at 130K miles 200 miles from home (the car stoppped on the highway) and was towed to a Lexus dealership. After asking for help with the repair, the Service Manager offered 10% off of the $4600 bill(1 yr warranty). Called Lexus and they refused to assist.I hope someone starts a class action suit for the transmission problem. I'd be happy to join the suit. :lemon:

    So I say, never again a Lexus. I will move my business to Volvo out of respect for my '99 V70 with 165,000 miles and no issues.
  • sblexussblexus Posts: 1
    I was shocked when I found out my transmission was failing at 88K. "It's a LEXUS!" I exclaimed. But after doing a little web search, I was surprised to find this to be a common occurrence. I will also admit I was a little comforted to discover this as well since I had babied the heck out of my car - regular dealer service etc. Well after pondering what to do (can't sell a car with a bad tranny), I decided to shop around for repair. After getting some estimates, I headed straight to the dealer for an estimate and explanation. Lexus was REALLY nice about the whole ordeal. They offered to match my estimate as best as they could as well as give me the nicest "courtesy loaner" they had available. Well, I'm a sucker for that Lexus charm and took the deal. They are going to replace my transmission (refurb) for $3888. I know I could of gotten a local tranny place to rebuild for a bit less but they did match what it was going to cost to replace. Well, I'm driving a sweet 2009 RX350 with all the bells and whistles and loving it.

    I did fill out a complaint form in hopes that I will get some money back if enough people complain (it worked for my Maytag washer/dryer). I still love Lexus vehicles and their service. Therefore, I can't join the NEVER AGAIN crowd but I am all about the LET'S COMPLAIN TIL THEY FIX IT group.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Glad you got it worked out so well for you. Your '01 with a new, hopefully updated tranny parts will be sweet, too.

    I hope your rebuild from Lexus lasts longer (with updated factory parts). My original tranny used to punish and burn the fluid contaminating it with worn material, but my replacement clearly is in a different league.

    Watch dealer service, though... There's a strong likelihood it might help to specifically ask for regular transmission service including dropping the pan and replacing the filter (not flushing), otherwise it's likely they won't include it. Be comforted to know even though it's a sore point, in today's cars it's not unusual to find a $4000 repair on an 8 year old car.

    It sounds like you're getting a "sweet" deal. :shades:
  • wuchenwuchen Posts: 3
    I am surprised to find out this is a common problem, and to know I have to spend $4,000 to replace. Now I have to find a shop to fix. I haven't done any estimate yet. Do I have to send to the dealer or independent shop is good enough? From the forum, it seems $3200 is a reasonable price. Is it right?
  • rdaughtrdaught Posts: 1
    I put "going strong" in quotes because although I have never had a problem with it after 180000 miles, I have no idea what kind of condition it is in. I am the original owner. It is the AWD with the "tow package". I have never used it for towing. I have ALWAYS gone to the dealer for its scheduled service. I do not baby the car, got a couple tickets going over 100 :( Although the dealer maybe expensive, I think in the 9.5 years I've had it I only needed to go to the dealer twice for unscheduled maintenance (O2 sensor). Besides that, it has been a dream to own.
    I'd like to know from the people that complain about the tranny if they stuck to the routine schedule religiously? Did they get the tow package?
    P.S. I purchased my 2000 RX300 from Longo Lexus in SoCal in Dec. '99.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Routine dealer maintenance does not generally include transmission service specifically. A dealer may suggest it, but likely you would know about it on the bill. Dealers don't generally include transmission service in their service packages.

    I have a friend with a 2000 AWD who has at least as many L.A. commuter miles (definately not babied), and I've reminded him to ask the dealer (local Toyota dealer) specifically to service the transmission with new fluid, filter, and inspection from the pan at least every couple years, which I think is a good idea regardless of model. No problems so far.

    Enjoy the drive!
  • lee7194lee7194 Posts: 4
    my 2001 AWD with tow package has 316,500 and started slipping in 3rd gear yesterday. Never towed anything and flushed tranny every 50,000 miles. Never any major problems of any kind and still drives like new other than tranny croak.
    Please help me with what are updated parts? I am debating whether to put in a salvage or a rebuild. Based on discussion posts, it appears a used transmission is a bad gamble. Would a used 2002 or 2003 be any better than 2001 and earlier? thanks

    BTW, a bottle of Lucas Transmission fix after death decree at the dealer, enabled me to drive home from orlando to tampa and totally stopped all slipping and clunky shifts. Havent tried it yet this morning...just possible last resort FYI for others with clearly worn out tranny to help keep from getting stranded
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    At 316,500 miles your factory transaxle has earned a "rest", put it out to pasture.

    But given the history of these RX transaxles (I don't expect my '01 to last to 100k) I suspect a "shill" for Lucas is more likely the case.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Doesn't sound like a shill to me. Probably gave the transaxle enough grip to last a few more miles. A cheap, if somewhat Mickey Mouse fix perhaps.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Brand new member, ONE post.

    316,000 miles...???
  • lee7194lee7194 Posts: 4
    316,548 and now in Orlando Toyota geting a remanufactured transmission installed. The rest of vehicle is in excellent condition and runs/drive very close to when I bought it with 45,000 miles.

    The transmission additive benefits were very short lived. I barely made it back to the dealer the next morning after adding it when the transmission started slipping.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    Two posts, no shill, pay up. :D
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
  • steverstever Posts: 52,571
    That coffee I was going to buy when you get to Boise? The tab's on you now. :shades:

    (Don't mind us, Lee, we go back a long way on the forums here. Good luck with the transaxle and feel free to set up your CarSpace page and post a pic of your odometer too).
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I got as close as McCall about 2 weeks ago.
  • 4advice4advice Posts: 1
    Hi. I also have a 2001 RX300 that I bought brand new from the Lexus dealer in Van Nuys, California. Here's the deal. In 2007, the transmission died. They charged me $3,900 and replaced it with a brand new one. A couple of days ago, the transmission died again! I called Bill twice, the service guy at Lexus (after a local mechanic inspected and confirmed that it was, AGAIN, the transmission!) that had dealt with my car in 2007,and he never returned the phone call. I called him again yesterday, talked to him and explained the situation. He said he would talk to the manager and call me back. He never did. I called the manager directly nearly 4 hours later and, to my chagrin, he said that: 1. I would (on my own account) have to take the car there for inspection. 2. That the warranty for transmission on that model was for a year only, with unlimited mileage (this makes no sense! - nice job, Lexus, covering only your company's interests!). 3. That he would contact the manufacturer and get back to me, but that he really didn't know was else they could do on their end. The least they could do is replaced the lemon transmission they sold me.
    My car, at this point, has 163,000 miles, so I think 3 transmissions in 9 years is a little ridiculous, especially when all the maintainance and check up were done regularly.
    I am done with Lexus, and so is the rest of our family forever. This company sucks!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Your transaxle isn't really a lemon, ALL RX series transaxles have had a design flaw from the get-go, even the new ones rolling off the production line as I type this. The RX330 and after use DBW to "protect the drive train" (cover up the design flaw).
  • ka1cvyka1cvy Posts: 4
    What the dealer sold you was most likely a rebuilt transmission. A rebuilt typically comes with a 1 year warranty. What you paid was a little more than I did. The dealer farmed out the repair to a transmisison shop and surely charged you a commission for their trouble.

    The transmission shop I dealt with was of the opinion that the RX transmission is the same as they (Toyota) puts in the Camry and it's driving a much heavier vehicle.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    When the RX was being designed the Camry transaxle was chosen as the base for what was to become a more robust unit for driving not just a heavier vehicle but also a F/awd SPORTS UTILITY vehicle.

    When you mount a 3.0L V6 sideways in the engine compartment there's not much room left for the transaxle, now the engineers had to come up with a stronger, more robust one.

    In order to do so some elements, long standing operational aspects, of the Camry's old transaxle were discarded. Along with providing more room the new design did provide for increased operational efficiency.

    Google for:

    wwest abolition hesitation dfg

    For more detail.
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 373
    I've been holding my breath. I have a '99 RX with 157,000 and just got word that it needs a new transmission at a cost of $5767. I have been having my service done at Toyota for years so I can't expect much in the way of loyalty discount. I am going to shop around other dealers. At my last major service abt 1,000 miles ago I finally had a transmission flush done thinking it would help extend the life of the vehicle. Now I have to decide if I want to invest that much in the car.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    157,000 is pretty good... "New" transmission? Exchange rebuilt transmission? Rebuild your transmission?

    Just as a "flush" is not quite the same as transmission "service" (changing the filter and checking the debris in the pan) there is a difference. I was lucky. The dealer replaced mine with a genuinely new (from the Kyushu plant) transmission after trying two rebuilt (exchange) transmissions off the local shelf, all under warrantee at 70,000 miles.

    I would shop around. There are transmission shops (maybe even another dealer) who would love to have your business. Look for a reputable one that will rebuild yours with the modernized Lexus spec parts, rather than one off-the-shelf, if it's not a genuinely new transmission.

    The new transmission (four years ago) in mine doesn't exhibit any of the mis-designed or under-designed traits that (presumably) led to durability issues like the original had. The original was clearly flawed. With the new one, there is no hesitation upshifting or down, no rough shifts, and no burning of the fluid like the original from 5/98 (early '99 model).

    Good luck. I hope you let us know what transpires.
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 373
    The first Lexus dealer quoted the $5700 and he said it was a new OEM transmission. I called another Lexus dealer who quoted me $4337 for a factory remanufactured and said that there were no "new" transmissions only remanufactured. Was yours really new? What is the name of your dealer and where are they? At least I could call them. They are only quoting me 1 year unlimited miles on the warranty for the remanufactured unit.

    I did have a complete transmission service done including the flush.
  • ka1cvyka1cvy Posts: 4
    don't waste your money on a new transmission. you can get a rebuilt with a 1 year warranty for around $3,500. The transmisison guy that rebuilt mine recommended changing the transmission fluid every 30K miles or so which is standard for any transmisison. I had changed mine at 47K which is not bad, but the nature of these light duty trannies makes them go early more times than not. You did very good getting over 150K out of yours, especially since you didn't do any service to it until very recently.
    Ron Ka1cvy
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 373
    I've gotten a quote from a different Lexus dealer for $4300 for the same part. (I checked back with the original dealer and he confirmed he was using a remanufactured part.) I did get a quote from the local Toyota dealer for $4050 but I would still have to pay $300 for the diagnosis and get the car towed to Toyota so I agreed to $4500 at the first Lexus dealer including the diagnosis. I also have their 2010 RX 350 until the work is done so all in all I feel I did as good as possible under the circumstances. Amazing that a few phone calls saved me $1267 at the same dealer.
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 373
    Thanks for the link. I've already committed to Lexus doing the work. Too bad. Do you know what the labor is to remove and install one of these?
  • Wow....I am getting cold feet my wife and I were on our way tomorrow to look at a couple of used 2001 rx300's with the intent of buying one of them. They both have aprox 85,000 miles and are one owner cars. I foung this thread and now am very nervous about buying one.
    I did not have time to read the entire thread. Was the 01' less prone to failure than the 99 and 00? Was the 330 better than the 300's.
    Thanks for the input.
    I do not want to purchase one of these and worry and wait for the tranny to go out.
  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    see also the RX300 forum, and search for more like this one: link title

    Although more common with first year models (1999, including those built in 1998), the transmissions have not always been unusually troublesome. Many people report mileage approaching 200,000 miles without trouble. But there is enough concern that you should be cautious of any SUV style vehicle's transmission.

    Some report hesitation, burned fluid (indicating wear) and failures much earlier. But these concerns don't lead to a hard and fast rule, across the board. My friend's AWD 2000 model is doing great at 200,000 miles. Mine was replaced under warrantee.

    The first model year for the RX330 was 2004. Use a keen eye on those like you would any first-year model since the drivetrain was changed.

    The moral is: I'd be suspicious of any used car I'm considering. But that doesn't mean you won't find what you're looking for (a great car with lots of life left). Knowing what to look for is helpful. Look for signs of city mileage, which tends to be hard on a car. Roadtest the transmission thoroughly under widely varying conditions. Pull the dipstick and wipe it on a paper towel. Check for a burned smell, indicating wear. New fluid is a cherry-pink color, with the smell of a petroleum based product, absent of burned odor and brownish tint.

    Check RX's like you would any used car. There are good ones. An early model that had the transmission replaced under warrantee might also be worth considering. Private party or dealer, one with complete service records including tranny service (which is not incl in regular maint "packages") is your best bet.

    Please report back what you find. Good luck!
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