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Lexus RX 330 Maintenance and Repair



  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    When we bought our 2004 RX330 in Nov 2008, it had condensation in RH headlight. The RX was outside the warranty, but Lexus replaced the headlight and I paid $500 toward the cost. It seemed fair to me and I was satisfied with their help.

    I thought we were done with defective $1600 headlight. The same side headlight started having the same issue. I am very ticked off that I keep having defective headlights.

    If the headlight cost $200-300, I would have replaced it myself and won't be complaining. I know the bumper facia needs to come off and it is involved, but at $1600, you think they figured how to fix the crappy seal after the first batch of these showed up defective.

    Has anyone had any luck to force Lexus to replace the second defective headlight?

    Thank you.
  • rvm1rvm1 Posts: 15
    Had the same issue when I bought mine in 05. Went thru two sets of lights and they refused to acknowledge that they had a systemic problem and did nothing further. Solved the problem by placing a bead of clear silicone sealer along the top edge f the intersection of the light and the light housing. No leak over the past three years now.
    try it bunt wait until condensation has dried out you may also want to use a hie blower over the top of the light lenses/housing intersection to accelerate the drying process. Then apply the bead. Goioid luck.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    Thank you for your suggestion. I will remove the high beam bulb and let the car sit in the drive way on a sunny warm day and try your fix.
  • rvm1rvm1 Posts: 15
    No No -- you misunderstood.
    You do not have to remove the bulb. What I meant was that you should lay a bead along the top of the light housing and the frame of the fender were the housing attaches to the frame. The leak is there at the intersection of the light housing and the frame and it seeps into the inside of the housing thus causing the condensation. You do not have to unscrew or unbolt anything.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    Thanks for your quick reply to help out. I understood your suggested fix.

    The reason I mentioned taking the high beam bulb out, was to speed up the drying process of interioir of headlight assembly. Unless, I drive to high heat Arizona, it will take forever for it to dry in Indiana. When I tried the air dryer on the last headlight, it yellowed the interior.

  • I bought a 2005 330 and whenever I get to highway speed there is a rattle that seems to come from above or behind the drivers head. It is bad at 65 and really annoying at 75. It sound like it is in the door or roof, perhaps from the rack. Does anyone have this experience, or perhaps can you tell me what tool is used to remove the roof rack crossbars so I can experiment?
  • daryll44daryll44 Posts: 307
    I had something similar when we bot our 2006 in 2009. Turned out to be a minor thing with the rear view mirror.
  • josave50josave50 Posts: 5
    edited April 2012
    A few weeks ago I stopped somewhere and my car wouldn't start. It seemed like the battery. I asked someone in the parking lot if they had booster cables and they tried boosting my car. It was an older gentleman and after several tries he said...oops, I've put the cables on wrong...Anyway, after that my car wouldn't accelerate...and apparently the throttle body actuator had to be replaced. Does anyone think that putting the booster cables on wrong could have caused this? It cost me around $1,000 to replace the throttle body.
  • josave50josave50 Posts: 5
    edited April 2012
    In 2010 our mechanic put a Delco 24R6YR battery in our 2004 Lexus RX330. Anyway, within the year the battery went dead. Our mechanic put another battery in however about a year after, April 15, 2012...the replacement battery went dead. I've done some research on Delco batteries and although there are some problems...there's not much information about this particular battery. I'm starting to wonder if it something else but after the first Delco battery failed...they put the car on the scope and nothing else came up. Anyone have any suggestions.
  • just_n79just_n79 Posts: 1
    I just bought a used 2004 RX 330. After getting it home and giving it a cleaning, I noticed the exact same thing with the melted rubber under the passenger floor mat! After looking around at forms and other websites, I was not able to find a solution or reason for this problem. I see I am posting to a thread started in 2005, but does anyone know what is causing this?? Starting to be concerned for my purchase

  • casino2casino2 Posts: 24
    It seems that the vehicle does a lot of local driving. In order to avoid this situation, the vehicle must be driven on freeway streets as much as possible. I have a problem like this once where on the previous day, the car battery was fine and the next day, the battery went completely dead. In this case your battery needs to be checked every six months.
  • josave50josave50 Posts: 5
    Our garage checked the car again and they said the radio is drawing too many amps even when it is not in use and that is possibly why the battery is going dead. Has anyone heard of this problem?
  • yes, yes!! drove me crazy. regular mechanic said flashlight in glove compartment rattling. No way! took to Lexus and right away they said it is likely the gas tank under body protector that catches the wind at highway speeds. they did some modification no charge. Have not been on highway yet, but I am hopeful since he knew what I was saying right away.. will let you know.
    I guess over time it comes loose a bit. I have 74,000 and have heard it for about a year now.
  • jtmyob21jtmyob21 Posts: 14
    I have a 2005 Lexus RX330 with only 48,800 miles on it. I took it in to the dealer today to get the door lock repaired, and the service tech told me that the timing belt "had to be changed at 60k miles or 6 years" and that it would cost me $1570. I said no, because the car is not driven all that much (5k miles/year), and I wanted to confirm it really needed to be changed. He told me they would do a visual inspection and let me know. Sure enough, an hour after I left the car at the dealer, they called and told me that belt shows wear and needs to be replaced? According to them, the visual inspection showed "lines like stretch marks running through the belt" Am I getting conned? Is there a way to know for sure if I need to change the timing belt? I'm not mechanically inclined and I don't have a mechanic I trust that I can go to. :confuse:
  • I have same car as you do, I replaced my timing belt @100,000 miles, It was cost me $900.00 plus major tune-up not done by Lexus dealership (I live in San Francisco, CA), you should take your car to another dealership to get a second option. Good Luck!
  • mmm1mmm1 Posts: 54
    Why do you let the dealer BS you with this type of information? Look in the 2005 Lexus Owner's Manual Supplement which came with the car. On page 99 it clearly states that the timing belt should be changed at 90,000 miles or 108 months--that's 8.5 years and you are not there yet and you're way short on milage. If your Lexus dealer is telling you what you say he is then I would find another Lexus dealer. We like to think that because it is a Lexus dealership they will be more honest and not play games like the rest of the brand dealerships--not so. They are still auto dealerships. I am on my 5th Lexus and I follow the book as far as the mileage that various maintenance actions must be performed but disregard the time, in this case 108 months. After the car is out of warranty I have always gone to the local Toyota dealer for oil changes and any needed maintenance work. The cost is just about half of what the Lexus dealership charges and I have always been pleased with their service. The reason I have taken my Lexus cars to the Toyota dealership is because the Toyota Highlander is so similar to the RX 330 and so I am comfortable with them doing things such as timing belt changes and water pump changes. LOOK AT YOUR MAINTENANCE MANUAL and see how little there is to be done on your RX with the exception of oil change and filter. With the exception of the timing belt and the water pump most all of the other stuff does not require the expertise of the Lexus shop.
  • jtmyob21jtmyob21 Posts: 14
    I obviously didn't let them BS me if I came here and asked the question, and told the dealer not to do the repair until I gave them the go ahead, which in no uncertain terms was going to happen until I could verify and get another opinion. I also went from the dealer to the office, so I don't have the manual with me - it's in my car, that is currently getting a broken lock fixed at the dealer. I was planning on pulling out the manual when I picked up my car this afternoon. So thank you for looking it up for me and for the information you provided. I just wish you would have been a little nicer about it, and not so condescending. ;)
  • rvm1rvm1 Posts: 15
    Everyone's advice is spot on even though some may come across differently. In any event, I had my timing belt changed at 88000 miles. I was advised to change the water pump at the same time and that made good sense since the labor to get to the timing belt also gets you to the pump and at that level of mileage I felt that it was prudent to replace the pump rather then have it break down while i am on the road. While the car was there I also had them replace the spark plugs wih new platinum ones and the wiring harness. The owners manual says to do that at 100k miles but I choose to do this at the same time as the other work. I also had them do air and cabin filter changes and an oil change and to check the rest of the drive train. All of this was done by a private auto repair guy for $1400.00.
    I just turned 110k miles and it runs as smooths a kitten.
    I normally do my own basic maintenance and leave the heavy lifting for my repair guy and the car is in top shape and I see no reason why I should not be able to turn 2oo k in a few more years.
  • jtmyob21jtmyob21 Posts: 14
    Thanks, that's good to know. when I picked up my car from the dealer, the service advisor was gone for the day, so I casually asked another service advisor when the timing belt should be replaced. He answered the same as the other guy: 60000 miles or 6 years as recommended by the factory. I smiled, and didn't answer him, but I did ask for the number of the service manager. I then had a nice long conversation with the service department's general manager, who was googling what I was saying to him as we spoke (he pretty much admitted it). I asked him if he knew what the service manual recommended, because his staff was misquoting it. I then pointed him to the pages in the book that said 90,000 miles and 108 months. I even gave him the page number! ;) Then I asked him how he felt I could trust his dealership when they lie right to my face and tell me that the timing belt on a car with 48,000 needs to be "urgently replaced" without them even having seen the car, and if it was that critical why hadn't they seen it or made the same recommendation when I brought my car in for scheduled maintenance exactly three weeks ago? I was there today for a broken door lock, not a con job. The general manager could only apologize repeatedly. Funny thing is, while I was in the phone with him, the service advisor was calling on the other line. His buddies at the dealer had called to tell him that I had asked for the manager's number. I didn't answer. Either way, they may have second thoughts before they try the con job on anyone else. But now I need a reputable mechanic to take my car to in Miami. Anyone know of anyone?
  • texan19texan19 Posts: 1
    LEXUS refuse to face that RX330 cd changer is JUNK for luxury car. I had 300 and now 330. I will NEVER buy another LUXUS. I hope everyone else recognize that LEXUS has degraded to JUNK status in my book.for luxury cars. Benz will take care of any problems right away and LEXUS just wants $ to fix their own JUNK product. No recall coming!!! There are hundreds of cd changer (search on the internet) will NOT eject cd and the LEXUS dealer wanst ~$800 to replace and there is NO guaranty it will last for the new JUNK installed. Stay away from LEXUS!!! :sick:
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I then pointed him to the pages in the book that said 90,000 miles and 108 months.

    Brilliant. :shades:

    Please visit our Dealer Ratings and Reviews page and write a review about your experience.

    For future reference when you're at your office, you can get the maintenance schedules here:

    Edmunds Car Maintenance Guide
  • Having just gone through the bulk of this blog, and looking at a 2005 RX 330 to buy I thought I'd add some two cents.

    I have a '98 GS 400, bought in 2001 with 24,000 miles, a lease turn-in. It now has over 165,000 miles and I expect it to run for quite some time. It gets regular dealer maintenance at the scheduled time. While I did my own maintenance when I was much younger, cars have gotten much more complex since then. Except for tires and the odd battery, very little "repair" maintenance has been required. I'd be surprised if it won't run 300,000 miles, though it will probably become classified as an antique before then. I'd expect the same out of any Lexus that has gotten regular periodic maintenance at the proper intervals and has had regular oil changes on schedule. Maintenance equals insurance; don't neglect it.

    The 2004 RX was a new model, and on the web there is a lot of discussion of problems in the earlier-built vehicles. New models are always new engineering that does not have millions of miles in service to back up its efficacy; that engineering is being tested on the early-adopters of the technology, as in any new technology. Personally, I'll avoid 2004 RXs just on principal, given a choice on a 2005 or a 2003 (without air shocks, please).

    Lexus maintenance isn't cheap; but then, no one's maintenance is cheap unless you do all your own work. it's generally preventive maintenance, and I've owned Honda's that needed timing belt and water pump replacement at 90,000 miles, and it isn't that much cheaper. You're buying insurance which factors in to the cost of ownership.

    When a writer says they have a bad CD player and "they're never going to buy another Lexus" I get a chuckle. For fun you should research any other manufacturer on this site and see what kinds of problems users are experiencing. I researched the Hyundai SUV and the complaints are amazing in their severity, and the term dealer service is an oxymoron. I've had good and bad service by Lexus dealers, and I go to the best service center, not the worst. I've never had anyone try to talk me into service that wasn't needed. If I ever have any doubts or questions I ask to talk directly to the mechanic who in every case has been very helpful, courteous, and willing to share all the particulars of the problem. Sometimes I even understand most of what they're saying, but I'm engaged and they're flattered to think someone is interested in what they do and in their opinion. Most helpful. Always be your first source of knowledge as the owner above who checked the service manual (RTFM) as their own source of information. Yes, as Frank Burns once noted, "You have to aggle-ha or they won't espect-ra oo-ya." But be respectful and knowledgeable and you get a lot further.

    I noted "cost of ownership" above. I Had two Mercedes SC-560's, sequentially over a ten year period before I bought my Lexus GS-400. Average cost of ownership, to include service and maintenance, tires and batteries averaged out at $500/mo, something I didn't realize at the time. When I did realize it I drove to the Lexus dealer next door and started looking.

    Some of my experiences: Tires - forget what the manual says for tire pressure. At best that applies only to the factory tires and even then it's probably too low (to give a more comfortable ride supposedly, at the cost of premature tire wear). I use the "85% of maximum inflation pressure" rule. The Michelin tires on my GS have a max pressure rating of 50 PSI; they're inflated to 42 PSI for regular drive, 44 PSI for road trips. The Bridgestone tires before the had a max pressure of 40, so I kept them at 34, and 36 respectively. If you can look across the tire tread from the side of the car and see any cupping in the middle of the tread you're going to have poor handling, and you might get 12,000 miles on the tires before the outsides of the tires are worn while the centers still have good tread. And under-inflated tires get terrible gas mileage while "properly-inflated" tires (using my 85% rule) get great mileage. And the ride is no rougher for it either, assuming your shocks are doing their job.

    Want the car facts on a Lexus you're looking to buy? Go to the Lexus site; Google Lexus and go to the site for Lexus owners. Put in the VIN, and look for the maintenance records and you'll see every visit to the dealer service department and what was done. If you're buying used this is a good first step; if the vehicle you're looking hasn't had any Lexus service you should factor that into your offer for the car. Your friendly used-car dealer will tell you the owner "probably got the maintenance done but Lexus forgot to post it," or "they probably had the maintenance done somewhere else." Poppycock, I say. They probably skipped it because they knew they were going to trade the vehicle in, didn't want to spend the money, and didn't give a darn. The more expensive the home, I've found, the less the owners do to maintain it, and I've largely found it to be true in cars as well.

    Prices vary area by area. In Tampa, a 2005 RX can for anything between $12,500 up to over $20,000; in Venice, 100 miles away, a 2005 might cost between $15,000 and over $22,000. Do mileages vary? Sure, but mostly it's the area where the vehicles are being sold, and yes, mileage is a huge factor, especially over 100,000. But that's to your advantage as a buyer.

    Honestly? Most dealers by their used cars at national online auctions, bidding online for what they want, cleaning them up and hoping for a profit when they sell. They're not likely to do much in the way of maintenance except change oil and shine up the tires, or replace them with cheap tires. Location, location, location.

    A non-working headlight may be innocuous, you may think, but expensive to fix, something you're likely to only find out after you buy the car; unless you read these blogs first, for example. Make the seller fix it first, or lower your offer to cover its repair. Then seal the leaking cover to prevent further, future damage according to instructions in this blog.

    Test drive on a freeway at speed-limit-plus-nine; any issues? Test drive over the roughest road surface you can find and listen for rattles, shaking, shimmying, etc. If you can't immediately locate the source, assume it will be expensive to fix (it is a Lexus afterall). Lower your offer or look elsewhere.

    RTFM after you buy the car and familiarize yourself with how to reset things after the battery has been disconnected; at least know them as symptoms of a battery disconnect and remember that the remedy is in the manual. Likewise for all other user-adjustable controls. Lest you think "it's broke and will be expensive to fix," when, in fact, it's a simple procedure described in the manual. RTFM. You'll save aggravation if not time and money. RTFM.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    edited August 2012
    Bought our in Nov 2008 with 38K miles. The original Goodyear tires were worn out. Put Bridgsetone Dueler Alenza on it. They wear great and are quiet. The RX has 82K miles now. With the exception of a leaky radiator that I replaced myself and came to to find out Lexus had a extended warranty on, The car has been decent. oil/filter changes at 5K miles, coolant every other year, one battery and one set of brake pads. I just replaced the front rotors for the first time. It drives well. Both exterior and interior have worn well. It had/has the annoying headlight condensation that I fixed with someone's suggestion here.

    It has a few squeaks and occasional rattles. The car is 8 years old. I am happy with the way it has held up.

  • rvm1rvm1 Posts: 15
    Contact the Lexus folks directly and request reimbursement for the cost of the radiator. They won't cover the labor since you did it but they should cover the materials costs. Explain that when you bought the car the seller did not inform you of any outstanding service bulletins and that you found out after you had completed the repair.
    You have nothing to lose except mailing costs. Include a copy of the invoice for the radiator.
  • paul1307: I just wanted to thank you for your excellent detailed post! I am considering buying a 2006 RX330 right now & your post gave me some great info to check into for this particular vehicle. ~ appreciated the advice!
  • After having my dead battery replaced on my RX330, none of the windows worked from the master control panel. After doing what you suggested, opening all doors etc., all windows can once again be controlled from the driver's side panel. Thank you so much!
  • Thank you kyra9ts for the kind words. I did buy the 2005 RX-330 I was looking at, and I've had it now for over six months and still like driving it, as I expected I would. It had the towing package factory-installed (transmission cooler behind the left-front bumper, high-capacity alternator, etc), all but the trailer hitch itself, which I recently added. The Draw-Tite brand hitch is available all over the web, is a Class III hitch that matches the specs on the RX, 350 lb tongue weight, and 3,500 lb towing limit, and it was an easy install, bolting right in place. Prices vary, but the hitch itself is the same everywhere (Draw-Tite P/N 75153), so search for price, reputation, and delivery fees.

    I need to do the wiring yet, which is a pain, but necessary. If you have the towing package factory-installed, you don't need to add the wiring harnesses that include a "black box" and a wire that needs to be hooked up to the battery. "Etrailer" makes an inexpensive wiring kit that simply clamps onto the existing wiring (behind the panels and under the cargo floor; installation detailed elsewhere in these logs), and their part number is 118002. Normally, this part number does not come up on most web sites. Rather, the harness/black-box arrangement does, so search for the P/N if you already have the heavy-duty alternator installed as part of the factory-installed towing package: if you have an auxiliary radiator behind the hole in the left-front bumper, you probably have the factory towing package.

    Prior to buying the truck/vehicle, I didn't know about the rack steering box problems, and so didn't check under the truck/vehicle for leaks. Nor did I check the power steering fluid because it sits under the engine cover on the passenger side, and unless you remove that cover you can neither check the level nor top it off. My Lexus dealer's mechanic was very helpful. He told me it was expensive, but he could get an after-market, new rack for a lot less money than the Lexus replacement rack, and I gave him the go-ahead. I'll presume that the part he got was a Toyota or OEM part, but regardless, he saved me about $500 on the replacement.

    I also had a bad ballast on the drivers side. I bought a replacement OEM ballast, and replaced it myself, saving about $1,000 over the dealer replacement process (parts and labor). It was actually pretty simple following instructions also in these pages, and anyone who knows the difference between a half-inch socket and a half-inch drive can probably accomplish the whole process fairly easily.

    One point to make. My ballast was ruined not by a leaking bezel or headlight cover, but by water that splashed up from the road to the underside of the truck, judging by the sand and grit inside the ballast itself. It's not sealed, you see, and while plain, clear water normally won't hurt low-voltage electronics, in FL, near the beaches we occasionally get salt-water splashing up, which will corrode components. Anyway, corrosion was everywhere inside the ballast even though nothing else penetrated the headlight housing (or fogged the lenses).

    The ballast is enclosed on five sides (fours ides and the top) by the stamped/cast case, with an aluminum cover over the remaining side, which as I noted is not sealed, and, horror of horrors, is facing downwards with nothing between it and the road except for the air-space between them, making it a magnet for anything that splashes upwards. With the new ballast, I sealed the only un-sealed portion of the case with RTV/sealant, which was right around the edge of the cover where it met the case. It looked a little rough (okay, sloppy) when I finished, but effectively made the whole thing a sealed unit, which, barring any failing components, will probably last longer than the truck itself. Also seal the area where the wires exit the case with the same goop!

    You don't need to pot the entire ballast as some manufacturers claim to do, and the stamped/cast case is a sufficient heat-sink to keep it running cool forever, so sealing the case should not cause any undue heating problems.

    In the process of replacing my ballast I took a ton of pictures and did a nice write-up of the process, but couldn't figure out how to get the word doc posted, so didn't. If anyone is interested, either put up a simple "how-to" and I'll post the whole thing as a word doc. The major problem with this chat is that you can't post but a few pictures, so it's not possible to put the whole thing into the chat itself (unless you're a moderator or whatever) with narrative - picture - narrative - picture, etc. which is a drag when you've got a series of steps to describe. If anyone knows a good way to post this doc, email me and I'll send it to you and you can post it! If anyone just wants a copy of the doc, email me and I'll send it directly.

    Been fun sharing.
  • Hi, I had the same thing. My 04 Lexus RX330 had the same rattling noise. it seemed under the driver seat. I didn't know what it was in the beginning till I looked under the car and realized that there is a plastic flap that in hitting the underbody of the car when driving over 40MPH (it was gas tank under body protector/shield). I went to the dealership and they said they can modify it, what they did is just cut the tip of the flap to make it shorter, they tried to charge me $35 for cutting a piece of plastic that I could of done it myself. Just cut the tip off (modify it), or buy and new shorter gas tank under body protector for $400.
  • The link provided has a pic on the plastic flap that needs to be trimmed, FYI Lexus is aware of the problem. noise-above-left-ear-of-driver.html
  • jsam2jsam2 Posts: 1
    I would appreciate very much the pics and writeup of the RX330 ballast replacement in the word doc

    Thank you!
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