Jump to content


Transmission Upgrade?


faylow
 Share

Recommended Posts

So I'm a newbie and bought our 99 AWD Rx300 in Tx. Now live in Phx and just recently read all the crazy horror stories of the failing transmission. I've got ~120K and took it to the dealer here to have the tranny fluid change. I asked them to do a flush but they recommended against it as it could cause problems...especially since i haven't been having any troubles. I did find out from their record pull that the previous owner did a transmission solenoid change?? but no failed transmission yet. I just did the drop off so i have no idea what they found in the fluid change or anything.

Anyhow, I was wondering...it sounds like everyone that has had the transmission failure, that they've pretty much pony'd up $4500-5k for the replacement at the dealer...(that's refurbished)...or bought a new one at ~7k at the dealer (which is the same flawed design)...or gone to outside transmission shop to rebuild the same unit...

Luckily I haven't had it happen yet, but I'm curious if there's an upgrade, swap, or custom transmission that can be used instead of just having it rebuilt for an essentially rebuilt-flawed transmission.

If it's inevitable (and it sounds like it is) can't we group buy or get a better one put in that we know won't have the failure or the over zealous 15K fluid changes? I'm just assuming Lexus won't do anything and really if it does fail on me and i have to spend the money, I refuse to buy the same piece of junk to replace if there's just better alternatives. I mean...if there's a race worthy one or solid aftermarket one, why not find one that actually works with longevity?

Can some other transmission be swapped in from another Lexus or Toyota model?

I ask this cause I work on Hondas/Acuras and it's just so common to interchange, swap, or just have readily accessible upgrades for performance items that when something breaks on it...i just buy a non-factory but better item. (i.e. clutch goes out, put in a performance one from HKS, EXEDY, or anything but OEM...)

I've got all my vehicles running pretty long and strong.

My oldest girl is a 91 integra ... 332133 miles baby. same engine, tranny...heck even the suspension's factory....*but whatever broke, i upgraded to better components.

Anyways, I've been looking around locally and on the web.

Has anyone tried www.levelten.com for their "bullet proof" transmissions?

I emailed them and they said they've done this transmission "all the time" and can make them tow worthy. (although i have no clue if it's just a sales pitch)

Locally, there's another one www.prtrans.com that says they have a custom made "stump puller" heavy duty transmission. Anyone tried them before?

I'm a firm believer in the old saying..." if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but like to add, "...and if it breaks, fix it so it won't break again."

Anyhow, so this is a new one for me to start doing all these additional 15K tranny flushes....I mean, I bought her for my wife thinking it was going to be *less* maintainence than all my other cars....sheesh.

Ahhh, i'm starting to go off topic...:whistles:

Alrighty, any thoughts and aid is greatly appreciated!

Thanks everyone!

:cheers:

-k

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hey wow is my question really way out or does no one have a good answer? maybe there is one and i missed it in another thread? hmm...

This topic (failed trannys)has got to be the most talked about, replied to, flamed, etc topic in the history of this board. I like your idea of an upgraded, aftermarket tranny though, I'd never heard of or thought about that and I'm glad you posted it. As for the swapping, I doubt it would work out since just about every model has its little idyocincracies so while similar I doubt they'd function perfectly. Personally I've got a 2000 Rx AWD with about 106k mi and I've only changed the fluid twice, last time was a flush and I've had no ill effects. I think the 15k mi. is too often and I see no reason to do it that frequently, but thats just me. I'd love to solve this issue but I'm afrad were no closer now than when I joined this board several years ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hey wow is my question really way out or does no one have a good answer? maybe there is one and i missed it in another thread? hmm...

I'm fairly new on this board, but I read through a lot of the tranny posts. I bought a 2000 RX300 AWD w/83k a couple months ago. I've had no problems and I don't have the "grinding to a halt" symptom. But, like you, I'm concerned about where to go from here. Clearly those who change the fluid every 5k or flush it every 15k have no problems, and it seems that those with problems have been changing their own (w/o flushing) every 30k or less, and usually towing. But that's only partial help for me, and your post raises a new question.

My tow hitch receiver is clean as a whistle, meaning probably nothing has ever been inserted in there and certainly nothing has ever been towed. Because I have no problems, the previous owner probably had it serviced well. The big question for me is how much do I need to do to keep it serviced well? I don't mind the expense of paying Lexus to flush it every 30k because we'll be putting less than 10k a year on it. But should I do more?

Now someone's telling you that flushing can actually cause problems if you haven't had any? Anyone know whether there's any truth to that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have an eight year old Lexus with 120000 miles and you are wondering when your trans is going to fail? LOL. I would say that most of the folks who have premature failure have had them early in the life of their car. Imo, you got a good life from your transmission and even if the trans fails next week (unlikely) there are those who would probably agree that you shouldn't have any complaints. Proper care and maintenance should give you plenty of more miles.

Fwiw, the reason you hear of folks with bad transmissions, falls under the category of the squeeky wheel gets the grease. I would suggest that most RX owners DO NOT have transmission troubles.

Just my opinion.

Gary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clearly those who change the fluid every 5k or flush it every 15k have no problems, and it seems that those with problems have been changing their own (w/o flushing) every 30k or less, and usually towing. But that's only partial help for me, and your post raises a new question.

Its not that simple. I've tried on several occasions to discern a pattern form the failures and to conclude if the people who changed fluid every so-and-so miles had fewer failures or the people who did x , y or z had fewer falures and the bottom line is there doesnt seem to be a pattern linked to what the owners do that causes failure. I'm sure some will disagree but I know there are people here who changed their ATF regularly yet still had failures and then there are people like me who do it occasionally every (30k or so mi.) and hevent had a failure (knock wood). And there are even people who never service it and havent had a failure, so the only pattern that I can see is that it seems to be predominantly in the 99 models with a smaller but still still signifcant number happening in the 00's. From 01-03 there are a very few number of failures. Since the failures seem to happen between about 40k mi and about 110k mi there should be more than enough 01-03 models that have reached this mileage by this point to say that those years are virtually not affected by the tranmission malady.

These are just my opinions but they've been gleaned from a lot of time reading and studying the reports on this board. We do know that Lexus changed the workings of RX AT's in 01 so thats one good indicator that this theory (such as it is) is correct. Of course for those of us with 99 and 00 models it does us not too much good to know this but it may help someone make the decision on what year to buy if tey're in the market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing to remember, the IMPORTANT thing to remember, is that these cars came from the factory with NO recommendation for transaxle maintainance, no recommended schedule for ATF drain/refill, for the life of the vehicle. So the factory engineers had no reason to suspect that not renewing the ATF would result in premature transaxle failures.

So the ATF itself is not likely to be the real problem with the design of the transaxle. On the other hand there can be no question that allowing the ATF to degrade due to whatever design problem does exist would precipetate an earlier failure that will eventually happen anyway.

In the case of my '01 AWD RX300 the ATF was quite heavily burned at only ~40,000 miles on the odo.

Burned = HEAT

What could cause the ATF to be overheated other than slipping clutches or continuously, needlessly, pumping the ATF up to control pressure and the simply dumping it right back into the sump?

Can any one tell me if the '99/'00 RX300's exhibit the "bumped lightly from behind" effect as you slow from 10-0 MPH to a stop? Or the "slingshot effect" with a closed throttle coastdown at 40-30 MPH. I had an '00 for almost a year but I cannot remember if I first noticed these effects on it or my '01.

I suspect that these effects are the result of lowering the pumping capacity/volume of the gear type ATF pump to reduce the ATF heating and thereby loss of efficiency. A lower pumping volume would have required the elimination of certain transaxle shift patterns/schedules. Noteably those with the engine at idle (closed throttle coastdown periods) but with a fair level of engine compression braking torque to be conveyed if the "normally" expected downshift were to be carried out.

If the ATF is degrading due to OVERPUMPING then a scheduled drain/refill procedure will prevent any longer term failures.

So that may be the solution for my '01.

But what about the '99 and '00 failures..??

While the clutches in those transaxles worked just fine long term in the Camry and ES300, and maybe even the Avalon, they are not quite up to "snuff" for the larger and heavier RX series, especially the AWD model.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Hey thanks for the responses so far!

I don't want this thread to turn into another flame one on "how or why" the tranny's are the way they are though.

Quite frankly I don't care...if it's Lexus's fault or my nephew pooring hershey's syrup in it b/c he thinks its funny. Whatever the reason it maybe, when the tranny fails...I'm more concerned on the "what" to replace it with when it goes or the best rebuild method even.

Hopefully this thread will turn into the "What to do" when it does fail.

Anyhow, I'm waiting to hear back on full quotes for the replacement from levelten on the "bullet proof"

I'll post what I get back from them, but maybe if anyone else has done the DIY tranny rebuild or recommended aftermarket setups. Hopefully we'll get some positive posts on people that have rebuilt or just got a better beefier setup after the failure that we can all follow?

Cool have a great day!

:pirate:

-k

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh yeah...and I am grateful to all the posts and responses.

Also the fact that it seems I am one of the lucky ones to have had the tranny last this long (keep fingers crossed).

I'll keep the good maintainence at Lexus but just want to be prepared for when (if) it goes so yeah...that's all. I'm a worry-wart i know... lol. -k

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So here's what I've heard back so far from two places:

They both said there are no over the counter items to buy and upgrade for a DIY kind of rebuild and that they only offer in-house builds that require sending in your unit.

The main upgrade during rebuild is for upgraded torque converter, and valve body. However, they can upgrade the transmission so it is "tow worthy" and a better setup than original from factory. (although i couldn't get them to tell me what exactly they do to make it better)

The 1999 transmission is a 4speed with lockup, U140F AWD transaxle.

www.levelten.com :

full rebuild = ~ $1000 to $1500 less than the cost of replacing at Lexus dealer.

www.prtrans.com:

upgrade just torque converter = ~$1350

full rebuild = ~ $3500

I saw another thread where they were changing awd to 2wd and modifying the tranny: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...showtopic=40981

What happen with that? wwest? oh wait, that was just about disconnecting the rear driveline. hmm...uh, anyone replaced there tranny and have pictures of what it looked like inside? Any explaination from the rebuilder on what was replaced and upgraded?

I also read from the other post: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...28020&st=30

Ericok said that the transaxles are the same for: The U140F AWD transaxle was used in the 98-03 RX300, the 01-03 Highlander and the 00-03 RAV4. The U140E (the two wheel drive unit) was used in the 98-03 RX300, 01-03 Highlander, 99-01 ES300 and the 2002 Camry.

If these are equivalent, do you think we could just swap out the U140F from the Highlander and RAV4 into the Lexus instead? I also read the LS had a heavier 340 series tranny? think there is a way to mate that with an adapter plater or something?

Maybe we could upgrade the ATF cooler? I saw some of these universal ones online.

I'll post more if i get some more responses from other places i inquired on...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So here's what I've heard back so far from two places:

They both said there are no over the counter items to buy and upgrade for a DIY kind of rebuild and that they only offer in-house builds that require sending in your unit.

The main upgrade during rebuild is for upgraded torque converter, and valve body. However, they can upgrade the transmission so it is "tow worthy" and a better setup than original from factory. (although i couldn't get them to tell me what exactly they do to make it better)

The 1999 transmission is a 4speed with lockup, U140F AWD transaxle.

www.levelten.com :

full rebuild = ~ $1000 to $1500 less than the cost of replacing at Lexus dealer.

www.prtrans.com:

upgrade just torque converter = ~$1350

full rebuild = ~ $3500

I saw another thread where they were changing awd to 2wd and modifying the tranny: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...showtopic=40981

What happen with that? wwest? oh wait, that was just about disconnecting the rear driveline. hmm...uh, anyone replaced there tranny and have pictures of what it looked like inside? Any explaination from the rebuilder on what was replaced and upgraded?

I also read from the other post: http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index...28020&st=30

Ericok said that the transaxles are the same for: The U140F AWD transaxle was used in the 98-03 RX300, the 01-03 Highlander and the 00-03 RAV4. The U140E (the two wheel drive unit) was used in the 98-03 RX300, 01-03 Highlander, 99-01 ES300 and the 2002 Camry.

If these are equivalent, do you think we could just swap out the U140F from the Highlander and RAV4 into the Lexus instead? I also read the LS had a heavier 340 series tranny? think there is a way to mate that with an adapter plater or something?

Something to remember, keep in mind. Running production changes in mechanical and more especially firmware designs are often made so swapping things out with even the same model and MY can be fraught with problems.

Maybe we could upgrade the ATF cooler? I saw some of these universal ones online.

My '01 AWD RX300 has an ATF temperature monitoring system with a warning indicator on the dash. To my knowledge the indicator has NEVER illuminated yet my ATF was clearly BURNED due to (localized..??) overheating at ~40,000. My RX has the towing package, external ATF cooler, has NEVER towed anything (the tow hitch was removed the first week of ownership). So there is no easy understanding of why the BURNED ATF.

I'll post more if i get some more responses from other places i inquired on...

We tend to keep our vehicles long term, 200,000+ not unusual, so I expect my '01 AWD RX300 will eventually fail during my ownership.

When that happens I fully expect I will DIY the overhaul, find out (***) just WHAT is failing/overheating internally, and at the same time convert it to R/AWD by removing the center diff'l spider gears and welding the rear drive side gear in place, to the carrier.

*** Or maybe not. At this point in time I'm fairly sure, convinced, that the overheated ATF is due to the OVERPUMPING by the gear type ATF pump. The ATF pump was oversized for the later RX300 series in order to pump enough fluid to quickly seat the downshifting clutches with the engine at or near idling. With the advent of the RX330 the '99 RX's undersized ATF pump was again adopted but with DBW to "protect the drive train".

So, faylow, sorry, but there appears to be NO easy answer. But if you do eventually overhaul I would certainly ask to have (if such actually exists) the '01's larger ATF pump installed. Aalong with the external ATF cooler, of course.

Does anyone have an AWD RX300, '01 or later, that does NOT have the TOW PACKAGE...??

Or even a non-AWD without....???

Just curious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

faylow,

While I truly appreciate your efforts to come up with a more robust solution if and when your transmission fails, each passing year on these 1999 and 2000 RX transmissions causes accelerated depreciation in the overall value of the vehicle (especially when your mileage is admittedly now at 120,000 and growing). If Lexus will not cover a transmission rebuild (and they certainly won't in your case) as they did for me when my wife's 2000 RX300 AWD transmission failed at 48,000 miles in November 2003, then the most prudent course of action for a 1999 or 2000 owner is to sell the vehicle and move on to a better platform. In our case my wife found a pristine 2004 RX330 AWD and although I was firmly against another RX ever rolling into our garage again, it was her money and her vehicle so I sucked it up and continued on with changing the Type T-IV transmission fluid every 30,000 miles just in case. She'll hit 60,000 miles this week and the transmission is performing as normally as these quirky, hesitant RX transmissions possibly can. I believe that the 2004-and-later RXs are better vehicles than the 1999 and 2000 versions were. They are nowhere near the top of my list for a small all-wheel-drive SUV since there are a number of far better choices for significantly less money, but they certainly seem to suffer from fewer inherent defects and design flaws than the 1999 and 2000 RX300 AWD versions. So if you truly want peace of mind once and for all, just unload your 1999 RX and move on to a better-engineered, less trouble-prone vehicle....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

faylow,

While I truly appreciate your efforts to come up with a more robust solution if and when your transmission fails, each passing year on these 1999 and 2000 RX transmissions causes accelerated depreciation in the overall value of the vehicle (especially when your mileage is admittedly now at 120,000 and growing). If Lexus will not cover a transmission rebuild (and they certainly won't in your case) as they did for me when my wife's 2000 RX300 AWD transmission failed at 48,000 miles in November 2003, then the most prudent course of action for a 1999 or 2000 owner is to sell the vehicle and move on to a better platform. In our case my wife found a pristine 2004 RX330 AWD and although I was firmly against another RX ever rolling into our garage again, it was her money and her vehicle so I sucked it up and continued on with changing the Type T-IV transmission fluid every 30,000 miles just in case. She'll hit 60,000 miles this week and the transmission is performing as normally as these quirky, hesitant RX transmissions possibly can. I believe that the 2004-and-later RXs are better vehicles than the 1999 and 2000 versions were. They are nowhere near the top of my list for a small all-wheel-drive SUV since there are a number of far better choices for significantly less money, but they certainly seem to suffer from fewer inherent defects and design flaws than the 1999 and 2000 RX300 AWD versions. So if you truly want peace of mind once and for all, just unload your 1999 RX and move on to a better-engineered, less trouble-prone vehicle....

While I don't disagree with your basic proposal I would suggest a JUMP to the Acura RDX instead. Or even the BMW X3 if a fully functional and SAFE R/AWD is desired.

In the alternative the newer RX350 at least has some symbolence of F/AWD, the VC, Viscous Clutch, is not used in the RX330 but was again adopted for the RX350 series.

But personally, with 120,000 miles accured, I might begin to be more trustfull of a '99 RX300....especially considering the cost of the "trade-up".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I don't disagree with your basic proposal I would suggest a JUMP to the Acura RDX instead. Or even the BMW X3 if a fully functional and SAFE R/AWD is desired.

RDX and X3 owners may be in the same boat or worse as the early RX owners who knows. Neither of these vehicles has a proven record of reliability or, for that matter, any record at all. Don't forget that no-one noticed any problems with 99 RX's until about 2001, and who would have thought of any reliability issues witha Toyota product? IMHO it'd be crazy to buy either one of those (RDX X3) at this point in time, give 'em another year of production or maybe one product upgrade cycle, then consider them. Why be their guineapig?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The RX has been pretty nice overall so I just want to figure out the best upgrade/replacement for me and anyone else deciding to keep theirs. Besides, I'd rather keep this one running right for my wife while I go get a nice convertible M3- ha! woo, she'd kill me if she saw this...i'm a ninja :ph34r:

ANYhow, so here's the latest I've found and the website and person I spoke with (John) seemed very friendly and helpful.

http://www.ipttrans.com/toyotaauto.shtml

"

~$200 to ship to them.

~10 business days to rebuild the transmission and send back.

$3375 for full rebuild with all possible IPT upgraded internals (valve body, clutches, solenoid, etc...) regardless of 2WD or AWD.

$489 for IPT upgraded rebuild of converter for high stall.

Recommended:

-addition of Long thru-cool LPD transmission (for better cooling along side factory ATF cooler), but size depends on where placed.

Racing applicatoins recommended:

-IPT 9 1/2 billet converter and electro-matic manual controller."

From talking with John, I'm leaning more towards the IPT Trans folks although the PRTrans guys are local.

So...in the grand scheme of things...I think in the event of a transmission failure and given the choice of taking it to the dealer and getting an oem rebuilt one at ~$4500k, or taking the DIY route...I'm going to have it towed back home, drop the trans and either send it out to IPT or goto PRTrans directly here in Phx for the roughly the same price or less...at ~$4K.

Maybe if someone reads this and has the unfortunate failure before me, they can try out one of these guys and let everyone know how it goes. I'll post again if/when it happens to me but again...maybe somebody else already has done this?

Experience with IPT Trans or PRTrans?

I just saw clublexus so i'll post there too. Oki doki, hope this helps somebody! :lol:

-k

Link to comment
Share on other sites


The RX has been pretty nice overall so I just want to figure out the best upgrade/replacement for me and anyone else deciding to keep theirs. Besides, I'd rather keep this one running right for my wife while I go get a nice convertible M3- ha! woo, she'd kill me if she saw this...i'm a ninja :ph34r:

ANYhow, so here's the latest I've found and the website and person I spoke with (John) seemed very friendly and helpful.

http://www.ipttrans.com/toyotaauto.shtml

"

~$200 to ship to them.

~10 business days to rebuild the transmission and send back.

$3375 for full rebuild with all possible IPT upgraded internals (valve body, clutches, solenoid, etc...) regardless of 2WD or AWD.

$489 for IPT upgraded rebuild of converter for high stall.

Recommended:

-addition of Long thru-cool LPD transmission (for better cooling along side factory ATF cooler), but size depends on where placed.

Racing applicatoins recommended:

-IPT 9 1/2 billet converter and electro-matic manual controller."

From talking with John, I'm leaning more towards the IPT Trans folks although the PRTrans guys are local.

So...in the grand scheme of things...I think in the event of a transmission failure and given the choice of taking it to the dealer and getting an oem rebuilt one at ~$4500k, or taking the DIY route...I'm going to have it towed back home, drop the trans and either send it out to IPT or goto PRTrans directly here in Phx for the roughly the same price or less...at ~$4K.

Maybe if someone reads this and has the unfortunate failure before me, they can try out one of these guys and let everyone know how it goes. I'll post again if/when it happens to me but again...maybe somebody else already has done this?

Experience with IPT Trans or PRTrans?

I just saw clublexus so i'll post there too. Oki doki, hope this helps somebody! :lol:

-k

Via the process of tracking the various symptoms, attempted fixes and their symptoms for the RX product series, '99/'01-'03/'04--, my guess would be that your '99's gear type ATF pump does not have enough capacity with the engine at idle or nearly so. Without enough pressure to fully and firmly seat any "shifting" clutches QUICKLY the wear rate will be accelerated.

The problem could be something as simple as a pressure bypass relief spring being too weak, or even a flaw in the control pressure system. But these are so simple to address inexpensively it makes no sense for Toyota not to have provided a fix.

So my guess would be that unless your rebuild somehow addresses the ATF pump capacity you'll be facing the same problem in another 70-80,000.

But by then you will have 140,000+ miles so maybe not care..??

For myself I plan DIY overhaul with OEM components when and if. But if anything my '01's ATF pump is over-capacity (or maybe a stronger pressure bypass relief spring??) which is why my ATF is being overheated and burned.

Did you also read..?

http://www.importperformancetrans.com/foru...topic.php?t=502

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks wwest!

I didn't even see the other post while searching around.

how much do you think we could save if we did the DIY rebuild like what you're going to do?

my brother's rebuilt transmissions before but it was pretty time consuming for domestic GM i think and rebuilding a tranny is something i've never tackled before.

maybe if it's worth the cost savings, i'll pull it apart and try to rebuild with your help?

lots of posts and pictures obviously.

maybe you'll already be rebuilding yours by the time mine goes out? who knows...

anyhow, when you say you're going to convert it to R/AWD with he removing of spider gears and welding, etc..., so the whole rear shaft will be removed and it'll be essentially a front wheel drive right? what's the benefits of doing this again? mpg and longer life?

-k

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks wwest!

I didn't even see the other post while searching around.

how much do you think we could save if we did the DIY rebuild like what you're going to do?

my brother's rebuilt transmissions before but it was pretty time consuming for domestic GM i think and rebuilding a tranny is something i've never tackled before.

maybe if it's worth the cost savings, i'll pull it apart and try to rebuild with your help?

lots of posts and pictures obviously.

maybe you'll already be rebuilding yours by the time mine goes out? who knows...

anyhow, when you say you're going to convert it to R/AWD with he removing of spider gears and welding, etc..., so the whole rear shaft will be removed and it'll be essentially a front wheel drive right? what's the benefits of doing this again? mpg and longer life?

-k

Mine is now at ~65,000 miles and at that rate I expect it will be at least 2 years before mine goes TU.

FWD and F/AWD (front torque biased AWD) can be dangerous at times, especially in adverse roadbed conditions.

My intention is to convert it to R/AWD, rear biased AWD by removing the mechanical connection to the front wheels and relying only on the VC to "pickup" the front drive effort if the rear does not have enough traction.

IPT gets ~$500 for a DIY overhaul kit, ~$3000 to overhaul, typical dealer cost is ~$4,000.

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