Jump to content

Just Bought A '99 Rx300


crimzon
 Share

Recommended Posts

Greetings,

As the title states I just bought a '99 RX300 with 100k miles on it. I thought I did all the research I could possibly do beforehand but obviously I didn't do enough. All of the reviews I read were positive, and I never stumbled across anything mentioning transmission failures or engine sludge.

Needless to say, after poking around in this forum for a couple days I feel sick to my stomach.

I feel like I overpaid just a bit at the Lexus dealership ($15,500), but I figured "Hey, it's a Lexus. They are great cars, consisitently at the top of the charts for reliability. All of the reviews are positive, so it'll probably run until the wheels fall off for another 200k miles. Plus, if something DID go wrong, there's probably a better chance that the dealership would help me out, as opposed to an individual owner." Ha...well. That was my thought process anyway.

So for now it seems to be driving fine. But I can't stop worrying. What kind of preventative maintenance should I be doing? I figured when I change the oil I'll use a high quality synthetic. Should I be changing the tranny fluid every 15k miles? What else can I do besides pray for the best?

Any advice is welcome!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, don't beat yourself up about it. What's done is done. Look on the bright side - now that you've found this forum, you know what to look out for and the RX owners here will assist you when you ask for help.

I agree with you - you did significantly overpay for your vehicle. But that's typical when buying a used vehicle from a Lexus dealership. Those folks aren't charities!

If your vehicle is not all-wheel-drive, you're already ahead of the game. As you've probably already deduced, the transmission horror stories primarily come from 1999 and 2000 AWD models. Check your transmission fluid level and condition frequently and do simple drain-and-fills using Toyota Type T-IV transmission fluid at least every 30,000 miles. Some say that 15,000-mile intervals are better. Just change your fluid regularly and pick the interval you are most comfortable with.

Don't tow anything. Towing increases the strain on your transmission and therefore increases your risk factor. That's true to some degree for ANY vehicle, but some vehicles are designed and engineered to tow. The RX is not. So don't tow with it.

Change your oil and filter regularly just like you would with any other vehicle. Most owners go with a 5,000 mile interval and I believe that offers plenty of protection unless you are constantly driving on dusty dirt roads or in windy desert conditions. Always change the filter when you change your oil. Some folks change their filters only at every other oil change. Not a good idea in an engine that the manufacturer recognizes could be sludge-prone if not cared for properly.

This forum and others like it will offer you much assistance and information. Use it as a resource, learn what signs to watch out for, and ask for help when you need it. There are many RX-knowledgeable members here and they will assist you in attempting to keep your vehicle out of trouble. Good luck to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try to keep it in perspective, the people who do have trouble are vocal about it. There are literally hundreds of thousand of owners who don't complain on internet boards. The car has earned it's reputation and with care you'll most likely have a good experience.

In many areas there are garages who specialize in Lexus and Toyota and can give excellent service at far less than dealer prices. Do some research *before* you need anything and ask around for your local guru. :)

Like you, I read the horror stories about 5000 dollar transmissions jobs and maybe people pay those prices but it is just a Toyota tranny, millions of them out there, how much could it cost?

I checked with a local guy who has done transmission work for me in the past and he said he could do a complete overhaul for 1250, 400 labor, 600 parts kit, 250 for a TC. The point is, plan ahead, make contacts before you need them, don't be at the mercy of the dealer.

Have the dealer run the service records for you, see what has been done to the car. If it's made it 100K its probably a pretty good car and seeing maintenance records can let you know what may be coming up. The RX is pretty predictable as far as what consumable fails when.

As far as the price, take heart that a dealer sold it. Lexus dealers have a choice to make on their used cars, questionable cars are wholesaled, the good ones go on the lot, if they thought you were going to be haunting them with that car, it would have been shined on down the road before you ever saw it.

There's a lot of negativity on the boards from people who have had bad experiences but try to balance that with the thousands who haven't found it necessary to come here and complain. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Greetings,

All of the reviews I read were positive, and I never stumbled across anything mentioning transmission failures or engine sludge.

I was in a similar situation yesterday. we look at the comsumer's reports and there is really no mention of trans problems or sludging. So, we went to Pohanka Lexus dealer in Chantilly Va. and bought a certified 2003 RX300 with 58K miles on the clock, 3 years/100K miles warantee, for $22,250. I suffered from buyers' remorse as well, but I got over that when I start to drive the car. From my limited experience about engine sludge, it seems it can be prevented by regularly changing the oil and use synthetic oil for it, as the previous posters said, which I always do in my cars anyway. You can pull the valve cover and look inside the cam housing for thick, heavy, black craps. For the trans problem, that's why I got a certified RX300 for and I do intent to change the trans fluid every 15000 miles. Congrats on the purchase and don't forget to enjoy the car. You'll get more of your money's worth out of it that way. Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why worry about the very small percentage of cars that have these problems? Glass half empty kind of guy? If you are truly worried, then:

1. do a complete transmission flush and stay ahead of the change cycle.

2. lower your engine oil change intervals to something like 3000 miles and only use a high quality name and stick wit 5W-30.

I agree that the most vocal guys and gals are those with troubles. The rest of us do our oil changes as advertised and keep on enjoying our cars.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did the same. I bought a used 2001 in good condition and felt that "hey it is a Toyota product so enough said". I have had it now 1.5 years with no problems and then came across this forum along with a couple others and started to read about them and immediately felt like crap. I am still sorting through all this new info coming my way.

Here is my thoughts and .02 worth on this. I have checked with a couple transmission shops that do high volume and also with an independant Toyota/Lexus repair shop. All three said that they see nothing unusual on these. One of the largest tranny shops advised that they do maybe one RX300 transmission rebuild every couple months. The common thread from all is to change your fluid regularly with the Toyota type IV fluid. Most times when these take early retirement is when the fluid was never changed. That is what they told me anyway. I am sure some folks have had issues even doing the fluid changes and that can happen with any car. You sometimes get one that does you wrong. I have had Acura's that I put 175k miles on both without ever having a problem with the tranny but I changed the fluid actually once/year because I live in a very hot climate. I have heard others with Acura's who did not change the fluid and they were toast at 100K. Just change the fluids. It is not a guarantee but I think it is a guarantee that you will have early failure if you do not. That goes for the oil as well on your sludge concerns.

Since you just bought this I would recommend either pulling or having someone pull a valve cover and take a look, and do it very soon. If it looks good then change the oil regualrly and I doubt you will have a problem with sludge. If there are signs of trouble then take it back immediately to the Lexus dealer and ask for a new engine. Since you just bought it I would bet that they will rectify this for you. I think they extended the warranty for this anyway till 100K so they should cover this under goodwill however I would act on this now. If it is ok then you can sleep again at night. On the tranny, all you can do is change the fluid and hope for the best. Maybe have someone pull the pan to make sure the filter is clean and see if there are signs of any unusual metal in the pan. If so then take issue with this now too with the dealer before more time passes.

I suspect on the tranny's that when used in a Camry they are fine but when used in a heavy vehicle like the RX it stresses it. If you have a an AWD then that adds to the stress and heat. As mentioned above I would not tow or work the vehicle as a truck, rather treat it more as a car and your odds of having major problems goes down.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Greetings,

As the title states I just bought a '99 RX300 with 100k miles on it. I thought I did all the research I could possibly do beforehand but obviously I didn't do enough. All of the reviews I read were positive, and I never stumbled across anything mentioning transmission failures or engine sludge.

Needless to say, after poking around in this forum for a couple days I feel sick to my stomach.

I feel like I overpaid just a bit at the Lexus dealership ($15,500), but I figured "Hey, it's a Lexus. They are great cars, consisitently at the top of the charts for reliability. All of the reviews are positive, so it'll probably run until the wheels fall off for another 200k miles. Plus, if something DID go wrong, there's probably a better chance that the dealership would help me out, as opposed to an individual owner." Ha...well. That was my thought process anyway.

So for now it seems to be driving fine. But I can't stop worrying. What kind of preventative maintenance should I be doing? I figured when I change the oil I'll use a high quality synthetic. Should I be changing the tranny fluid every 15k miles? What else can I do besides pray for the best?

Any advice is welcome!

First, I think I can say with fair certainty that the transaxle problems with the '99 and maybe the '00 differ from those of the 2001-2003 models, and differ yet again for the 2004 and after Rxes.

And absent knowing the population of 99/00 AWD vs FWD it would be hard to be certain that the fact that there are, seemingly, more complaints of premature transaxles for the AWD models is statistically important. Even relying on the ratio of internet posts, AWD vs FWD, premature transaxle failures might be misleading given the relatively small overall "sample".

Regarding the sludge issue...

According to the letter I got from Lexus the sludging that is addressed via the warranty extension does not relate in any way to the sludging that might result from a lack of scheduled oil/filter changes. Additionally Toyota has admitted to a casting flaw in the engines subject to oil sludging which was corrected during the '01 production run.

Back to the transaxle issue..

I'm pretty sure, 95% certain, that the cause of the premature transaxle failures for the '99 models, and the '00 if those are failing, is extraordinary wear of the clutches frictional surfaces. If you haven't noticed already you will soon notice a few shifting oddities of these transaxles.

Upon a full lift-throttle event these transaxles will ALWAYS upshift. My thought is that this is done to prevent, alleviate, the hazardeous of engine compression braking on the driven wheels of a FWD vehicle should the roadbed, by absolute happenstance, be somewhat slippery. I would agree that there undoubtedly is a FE advantage from this also.

The problem occurs if you happen to wish to quickly accelerate just immediately after the full lift-throttle event. The transaxle will have just begun the upshift sequence, the engine is at now idle and therefore the gear type ATF oil pump is operating at minimum capacity. Now when the transaxle needs to downshift as a result of the new throttle position there is not enough ATF pump pressure/flow to quickly complete the downshift. The engine RPM rises as soon as you re-apply pressure to the gas pedal all the while the transaxle is still not completed the required down shift. Lots of slippage of the not yet full seated downshift clutches.

Do this fairly often, HARD acceleration immdiately after a full lift-throttle event, and those clutches cannot possibly last for 100,000 miles. Obviously the increased weight and frictional losses of AWD, towing, cargo, people, would accelerate the failure.

It is my firm belief that as of the MY2001 an attempt was made to resolve these failures by using a higher volume/capacity FIXED displacement ATF oil pump. While that change did result in being able to seat the downshift clutches quick enough to at least reduce the rate of failure it resulted in yet another "failure" mode.

A fixed displacement pump, of whatever capacity, will always provide the same flow volume per revolution. Total volume only dependent on the rotational rate of the input shaft, the faster the engine turns the more pump volume. Little, or no "work" for that pressure to do at 5000 RPM, bypass it back in to the sump.

HEAT...!!

The MY2001 ('02, '03?) RXes are subject to ATF overheating and needing to be changed out in as little as 40,000 miles. This for a vehicle in which the owners manual does not indicate ATF service for the life of the vehicle.

The transaxle "problem" was finally completely solved in the MY2004 Rxes by using a DBW (e-throttle, e-gas) throttle to delay the onset of engine torque long enough for the clutches to fully and firmly seat.

If you like the thill of randomly putting your life at risk then an '04 and later RX will be your ticket.

And speaking of later...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem occurs if you happen to wish to quickly accelerate just immediately after the full lift-throttle event.

Not sure I understand what a "lift-throttle event" is. Is there anything I can do in the way I drive to help prevent this problem?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you learn anything from all of this it should be to NEVER buy a first (or even second) model year vehicle No matter how well made, there are bound to be things that only actual use will uncover. That said, the RX is a fine vehicle and as many of the Sages of this forum have already said ( and frankly, you're lucky they respnded to your very first post) Change the tranny fluid and change the oil regularly . I say use synth oil as well , but thats just me.

As an aside I'm really glad to see all the new blood on this forum recently, keep it up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! Thanks for all of the great replies :cheers:

It really helps reading some level-headed and rational thoughts here. Buyer's remorse aside, I do really like the car.

On another note, I've been worrying about a sound coming from (I think) the transmission. In first gear, it makes a "whirring" or "whining" sound that gets louder and higher pitched as the rpm's rise. It does this to a much lesser extent in second gear as well. Could this be a sign of trouble, or is it normal? Any thoughts?

Thanks again for everyone's insight!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That sound you are hearing is normal. I own a 1999 and 2000 RX300 with almost 110,000 miles and haven't had any problem with the engine or transmission. They both run like new. I do have the transmissions flushed every 15k and use synthetic motor oil. The only problem I've had is with the air/fuel sensors going bad. If your check engine light comes on, just take the car to the dealer and let them fix the problem. It can be very frustrating and costly trying to troubleshoot the problem on your own. Enjoy your new tour ride!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

That sound you are hearing is normal. I own a 1999 and 2000 RX300 with almost 110,000 miles and haven't had any problem with the engine or transmission. They both run like new. I do have the transmissions flushed every 15k and use synthetic motor oil. The only problem I've had is with the air/fuel sensors going bad. If your check engine light comes on, just take the car to the dealer and let them fix the problem. It can be very frustrating and costly trying to troubleshoot the problem on your own. Enjoy your new tour ride!!!

I wouldn't let my Lexus dealer near my car for air/fuel sensor problems. Most of these are caused by the intake air sensor (MAF) fouling. That can be cured in 5 minutes with a screw driver and some carburator cleaner. You might also need someone to turn off the "check engine" light by clearing your error codes. My Lexus dealer (a 20 minute drive each way) wants $120 to diagnose the problem, and requires replacing, rather than cleaning, the dirty sensor at a cost of another $200. My 2000 RX300 now has almost 90,000 miles. I've had the engine light go off twice due to air/fuel prolems, and fixed it both times for 50 cents worth the cleaner, and 1/100 th the hassle of taking it to the dealer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That sound you are hearing is normal. I own a 1999 and 2000 RX300 with almost 110,000 miles and haven't had any problem with the engine or transmission. They both run like new. I do have the transmissions flushed every 15k and use synthetic motor oil. The only problem I've had is with the air/fuel sensors going bad. If your check engine light comes on, just take the car to the dealer and let them fix the problem. It can be very frustrating and costly trying to troubleshoot the problem on your own. Enjoy your new tour ride!!!

Are you flushing the tranns or just doing drain/fill? Either way mind saying how much it costs, I am doing d/f at 10-15k in the future?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...

Forums


News


Membership