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Lexus RX Transmission Problems



  • la4meadla4mead Posts: 347
    Are you otherwise happy with your car? If not and you might be looking at an opportunity to make a change.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    If ou shop around I'd bet you can get a remanufactured installed for ~$2,000. Then trade it in QUICK.
  • Does the RX300 transmission problem affect th 2003 model year? The postings I saw refer to older RX300s.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    It wasn't until the RX330 was introduced using DBW, E-throttle, to "protect" the drive train" that premature transaxle failures were alleviated. Interim measures were taken, for instance no late model, after '01, RX300's were shipped without the towing package.

    By the time the '01 went into production Toyota was well aware of the causative factor of the all-to-numerous '99 & '00 premature transaxle failures and made a few corrective actions. In my opinion one of those was to "beef-up" the ATF pump capacity which led to the ATF itself being overheated prematurely.

    By '01 there was also a pretty RADICAL change made in the RX300's F/awd system. The mechanical rear LSD was dropped entirely and a newly designed (more FLACCID IMMHO) VC, Viscous Clutch/Coupling was used. VSC/TC also became standard and TC was then used to provide rear and center diff'l LSD virtuality, making the VC virtually useless so it was dropped entirely for all future HL's and the RX330 (and perhaps also the RX350) product run.
  • The Lexus RX 300 4 WD transmission is a Camry. It was not built to handle the torque of four wheel drive.
  • The RX 300 has a Camry transmission and was not built to handle
    four wheel drive. tremendous failure rate.

    LEXUS defrauded people by selling them not a LEXUS, but rather a camry transmission.

    Demand that Lexus corporate pay for parts + labor, etc.
  • RX 300 with four wheel drive has a Camry transmission that cannot handle the torque of four wheeldive.

    Demand Lexus replace transmission + labor + alignment. This
    problem they know about.
  • I read some facts conceerning the transmission problems with the RX 300. - We have a "2000" RX300, and recently it started having similar problems. - However, although a local mechanic told us that it was the trasmission that needed to be replaced, it seems to me from my knowledge of other vehicles that it is some strange noise coming from the left front wheel/axle. Although the reactions seem similar to what I have recently read in these posts about an 01 Lexus, it seeems to me to be different. Does anyone out there know if this type of Lexus has axle/transaxle problems indicative to the model ? - I have had transmission problems with other vehicles in the past, and this does not seem to have anything to sdo with the transmission. It is worse when turning left, and the same backing up problems mention in the other post. However, when driving straight down the street, you can hear something scraping, clearly from the front, and seemingly from the left side. - I'm thinkng wheel bearing or axle issue, but do have experience with all-wheel drive. - I would be interested in opinions on this, and wonder if this vehicle is "known" for axle issues.
  • I own a '01 RX300 with FWD. Bought new, had transmission fluid changed every 30K miles and it now has 160K miles. Never had any issues with the transmission (so far?). Love the car and would would hope that it would reach the 200K level, without a major expense.

    I'm curious if the transmission failures are limited to AWD models or have some FWD models also failed ???
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    First, it appears that by the time the '01 went into production Lexus had a "handle" on the causative factor(s) for the premature transaxle failures on the earlier, '99 & '00, models.

    There is a different P/N for the VC assembly on the '01 and later RX300s vs the '99 & '00 models. As of '01 VSC and TC was adopted and TC would undoubtedly prevent the VC from ever becoming an active F/awd component for recovering loss of traction. It also appears to me that the towing package, additional ATF cooling included, became "standard" equipment by '01.

    And then of course the VC was completely eliminated, no "constant" F/awd "forced" rear drive ability, for the entire RX330 model run and possibily the RX350 models. While the marketing literature of the time indicated that the RX330 remained with a VC Lexus was forced to admit that it did not. For the RX350 the marketing literature again indicated the VC was being used but the shop manuals indicate otherwise.

    Besides which with TC functionality, other than partial driveline "stiffening"/coupling under "normal" driving conditions, there is no opportunity for VC use. And it was highly likely IMMHO that it was that "constant" VC rear coupling coefficient in the early models that put too much stress on the driveline.

    At 80,000 miles I am becoming hopeful that being watchful of ATF condition will result in no need for transaxle work. But should that come to pass my '01 F/awd RX300 will get converted to R/awd (diff'l spider gears welded into place) and retrofitted with "99 VC assembly for driving the front wheels if the need should arise.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Actually that's quite wrong.

    IMMHO it was the need to build the Camry transaxle into a more robust unit for the RX300 series that lead to all the early RX300 transaxle failures. When you mount a V6 engine sideways in the engine compartment there is not a lot of room left for the transaxle. In order to allocate more space for a more robust transaxle some traditional parts/aspects of earlier automatic transaxles was eliminated.

    It was the elimination ("abolition" in Toyota lingo) of the ATF pressure sustaining/holding accumulator and maintaining of constant ATF line pressure in favor of "real-time" line pressure control that lead to the premature failure problem.

    Apparently before Toyota became fully aware of the problems this was causing the new design, with substantially improved FE, was chosen for adoption across the fleet.

    So now, CURRENTLY, ALL Toyota and Lexus FWD and F/awd vehicle have the 1-2 second re-acceleration downshift delay/hesitation problem.
  • I just checked at to see how many RX300 owners had filed complaints on the drive train problems, including the trans-axle failures and find only 86 complaints have been filed with ODI at Mine is shown below. If all of us complain maybe Toyota will be forced to act on some compensation for our expenses and spare other 2000 RX300 owners who will be experiencing this in the future the grief we have been put through. Cost me $4K.
    CONSUMER COMPLAINT: ODI Case Number: 10264449



    Occurrences: 1 Injuries: 0
    Fail Date: 03/03/2009 Deaths: 0
    Date added to datbase: 4/8/2009
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    Geez guys...on a government sponsored website you are telling me that there are 86 reported cases of trans failures?? Even if you say that this is for only the 2000 model year, this is unusually low IMHO...

    This fact lends to the idea highly that this is not a widespread problem, because as we all know, people will go out of thier way to p&m about something they feel they are getting a raw deal on and the fact that there are just 86 out of how many sold, well, I'm not so convinced this is such a problem. With all due respect this is not to minimize the BS many have had to go through, but it says alot.

  • JBL, you missed my point. I believe the number is much higher then 86 and if all of the people who have had this problem reported it on the USG web site maybe the USG would look into it.
  • Hi, I just joined this forum, and am the second owner of my 99 rx300. The 1st owner was meticulous on upkeep, she had recorded every maintence done, but i have been having all the transmission issues I keep reading from others, the upshift, idleing high, problems getting into correct gear, and now hard loud (exhaust?) rattling while idling. I just replaced a a blown dohicky for my 4th cylinder, but as car savvy as i thought i was i haven't a clue what to do, i am stuck with the car do to my divorce, and wonder if lexus will back anything after all these years, and not under warranty. help?
  • This is a widespread problem of defective transmissions. AAMCO
    is repairing hundreds of these a month according to their personnel.
    The problem is most severe on 4 WD models because this is a Camry transmission not built to handle 4WD.
  • The RX300 does exhibit a high incident rate of transmission failures. Our 2000 is now on its 3rd transmission. The first trouble we had was around April 2008 when the vehicle drivetrain was barely out of warranty. Reverse gear would not engage unless we accelerated the throttle, then suddenly, the vehicle would lurch into reverse gear. This was quite exciting. Over the course of a week, reverse gear continued to hang-up and eventually shifting between gears 1-2, started to shudder. Figuring the end was near, we managed to drive the RX 130 miles to Eugene, over a 4,900 ft mountain pass, to the Lexus dealer. The tech found plenty of metal fragments in the tranny pan. We paid for the labor and Lexus provided the hardware.

    Noticed upon leaving the dealership that the rebuilt transmission was hesitant in shifting. Called the dealer and started a case file of further complaints over the next 11 months. With the 1-year warranty nearly expired on this second transmission, we took the RX to the dealer for thorough documentation. Tech said shifting was typical, we said NOT.

    2 months out of warranty, the forward gears began failing completely in one day, and the excessive RPMs indicated the clutches were not engaging. Had to have the RX trucked by transport to the dealer. Lexus found that the tranny had completely devoured itself, leaving copious amounts of metal fragments in the pan.

    Dealer provided a free RX 350 loaner and absorbed all of the expenses, including the extra transport miles exceeding 100 miles. This third transmission shifts very smoothly. We pulled a tranny oil sample and sent it out to an aircraft motor oil analysis shop to get a baseline on metal contamination. We will repeat the sampling at 9 months to assess any tin, iron, nickel, etc. value increases by this spectroscopic analysis.

    You will find that Lexus Customer Satisfaction will listen and offer some help if you have documented your experiences with the failing transmission. To remove a tranny oil sample, go to the local farm supply store and purchase a long piece of vinyl tubing that will fit down the dip stick well. Use a 15 cc syringe from the same farm store to pull your sample. Be careful that the tube does not come loose from the syringe and drop into the tranny well.
  • Our second transmission in the RX was at 13 months of the 12 month warranty. We had complained to dealer at 11 months of the rough shifting. The failure at 13 months began with a whistling noise that was very evident on idling and the noise seemed to come from the front of the trans-axle.

    Over a week, the noise grew louder, until we began to notice random slippage of the clutches while in gear. Driving down the parkway at 50 mph and 2400 RPM, we would suddenly notice the RPMs launch to 4,000+, stay there a minute or so and then begin creeping back to 2400. RX finally lost its transmission at a stop light intersection while trying to make a left turn after stopping. Barely made our way through the intersection and then pulled into Lowe's parking lot to await the transport to the dealer 130 miles away, over the mountain pass.

    Lexus paid for everything on the second transmission, figuring we had sufficiently documented the problem from day #1. We pulled an oil sample and sent it off to a Phoenix aircraft oil analysis group for spectroscopic analysis and setting baseline metal values. So far, we are happy with the RX and # 3 transmission.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    No, the early RX300's are having premature transaxle problems BECAUSE these are NOT Camry transaxles. These are of an entire new design, granted, a new design based on the earlier Camey transaxle. Lexus inadvertently incorporated a deisgn flaw, unforeseen design flaw in these transaxle. The deisgn flaw was overcome, not fixed, by the adoption of DBW in the RX330 and later models.

    As a result everyone, EVERYONE, across the Toyoya and Lexus FWD and F/awd fleet, gets to suffer the problem of a 1-2 second reacceleration downshift delay/hesitation
  • jbl85jbl85 Posts: 49
    Gbryant, I did get your point but maybe I wasn't so clear on my explanation, which I wanted to say that if people have problems with their car, they are much more inclined to go on a govt website to complain about it. That said, I can't beleive there are only 86 complaints, and if my hunch is correct, that there may not be a wide spread problem with these cars...maybe that is wishful thinking.

    Merry Christmas to you and all on this board!
  • AAMCO pulled up their records for me and they are doing several hundred RX 300 transmissions per month. AAMCO is rebuilding the transmissions. AAMCO charges 60% less than a Lexus dealer. How
    many other private firms are also repairing these faulty transmissions?

    Lexus dealers will look you in the eye and say, this is not a big problem. If you make a big stink, Lexus will rebate 50% cost of the transmission, but it will still cost you $3,000 - $3,500 to repair.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Definitely "..wishful thinking.."...!!
  • bosox4bosox4 Posts: 1
    how many miles did you have on your RX ? thanks
  • I had 103,000 miles. The camry transmission they install in RX 300
    4WD mdels cannot handle the torque and wear out much quicker.
    Now they tell me you have to change the transmission fluid every
    20,000 miles!
  • I agree someone should get a class action lawsuit going as I have been driving 45 years without a transmissio nfailure. I bought the first LS 400 in 1990 and had 300.000 miles on it, (eighteen years old), and it ran like a top.

    The RX 300 from 1999 - 2003 transmissions are junk.
  • I was successful, ($10,000) in smalls claims court.
    The correct legal argument is you bought a Lexus not a cheap
    economy toyota camry. We were all defrauded! Nowhere is it
    disclosed that Lexus just used a camry transmission.

    Shame on Lexus for this scam.................................
  • The answer is you were defrauded. Did you know the RX 300 was
    built with a camry transmission that could not handle the torque?

    Nowhere is there a disclosure from Lexus that they used a camry
    transmission. You paid for a luxury car but got an economy car, think you were defrauded????
  • My 2001 RX300 AWD tranny failed at 317,000 miles. Replaced by dealer with rebuilt for $4,700 and so far running perfectly. I did flush/exchange the fluid every 50,000. Now at 347,000 and vehicle runs and drives almost like new. Recent O2 sensor replaced at 335,000 only engine work other than oil changes every 3,000 to 4,000. I have apparently been very lucky.

    Now why would someone write on Edmunds their success story????

    The only people writing are those who either identified a problem, or want clarification on a problem.

    I had a Lexus with over 300,000 that was a jewel, and I certainly did
    not write that previously on Edmunds!
  • avery1avery1 Posts: 373
    I think it is fine to write about success stories and I certainly don't think it makes the post less credible. I doubt Lexus employees are lurking around putting posts in about 10 year old cars. I lost my transmission at 160,000 so I am not a really happy camper but when people are deciding to buy a used car they look at these forums and even though we realize most people only write with questions or problems it is good to see the other side of the story reported. And some people like to feel good about their decision by publicly announcing their good fortune.
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