Jump to content


Does The Rx 400h Hybrid Harbours A Dangerous Design Fault


Recommended Posts

LEXUS HYBRID RX 400H:

The Pursuit of Perfection?

For me the reality is rather different!

Does the RX400h harbour a dangerous design fault?

Chronology of events involving my 2005 Lexus RX 400h (25,000km on the clock):

13 Jan 08 My Lexus developed the following fault while I was driving:

the power steering steered in the opposite direction to the steering wheel – with no warning or indication of a fault!

Only the fortunate coincidence that the vehicle was travelling in an urban area with an experienced engineer at the wheel prevented a tragedy. I was on the way to the Autobahn; the consequences had the fault developed there are quite unthinkable!

14 Jan 08 The vehicle was towed to the Hamburg Ost Lexus centre, where first the electronic control unit and then the entire steering system were replaced. I called in at the workshop to check on the progress of the work three times over the course of the seven days it took to complete the repair. The people there could hardly believe their eyes when they saw the fault in action. A film was made and sent to Lexus HQ.

My wife and I agreed that the shock of what had happened had destroyed our faith in the brand, so we decided to ask the Lexus centre to repurchase the vehicle.

We sent three letters and e-mails in three weeks to Mr Sudo (President of Lexus Germany). Here are the sobering results:

14 Jan. 08 We learn that no hire car will be provided despite the mobility guarantee.

24 Jan. 08 An e-mail arrives apologising for this “problem”, which, the message states, has now been resolved; the message includes assurances that a fault of this kind has not been seen previously.

30 Jan. 08 E-mail, “… we need more time to resolve your issue. Your patience is appreciated.”

1 Feb. 08 Lexus offers a new vehicle with a 3.6% discount and part exchange on the old vehicle at a cost of approximately €17,000.

4 Feb. 08 Meeting with the Lexus district manager for northern Germany, who acknowledges shortcomings in Lexus Germany’s emergency response and understands our decision not to drive a Lexus again. A solution for the repurchase of the vehicle is outlined, but it is made clear that the consent of Lexus Germany will have to be obtained.

5 Feb. 08 Lexus Germany will not approve the solution proposed, and instead offers to repurchase the vehicle at a price below the guide price listed by DAT (a leading German automotive market research company), which would mean a loss of value of almost 50% for a vehicle:

- that has done only 25,000 km,

- that has been kept in a heated garage,

- that could easily have caused an accident had its driver been less fortunate, and

- that no longer has the trust of its owner.

6 Feb. 08 Mr. German, customer service manager at Lexus Germany, confirms that the repurchase offer is still available, but explains that the company cannot offer more than the value of the vehicle as calculated in its commercial assessment.

Given the events that have unfolded and the manner in which they have been handled, it seems almost superfluous to mention that my complaint about the way the start battery always goes flat after a few days without use has as yet received no formal response from Lexus: park for ten days at the airport and it’s impossible to start the engine!

Questions and more questions but no sign of any answers

The Pursuit of Perfection! What is the point of a marketing campaign costing €80 million a year in Germany alone if product safety and customer service do not measure up?

Is it acceptable from a design point of view for a component as important as the steering to be able to malfunction in this way without triggering a single error message or emergency stop warning?

There are three different voltages in use onboard this hybrid vehicle. The power steering unit, which operates at 42 V, is linked into the main electrical distribution system. Is this the root cause of the breakdown?

Does this happen only with the RX 400h or all Lexus hybrid models affected?

How would the manufacturer react if people were injured in an accident whose cause could not be explained? It would be very difficult to establish faulty steering as the cause of an accident – it simply seems too unlikely to be true. A fault of this kind in poor driving conditions or on a slick surface would inevitably end in disaster.

The tale of the last few weeks shows that Lexus is falling a long way short of the targets it has set itself. The Pursuit of Perfection this is not!

Set against the backdrop of the response detailed here, marketing claims of this nature begin to sound rather cynical.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have said in many posts here that Lexus's customer treatment is light years behind that you get from BMW or MB along with imperfect electrical design (I'm not talking about hybrid part of the system)

Now given your situation I'd have my lawyer call their office and let them know that the only way we can settle is in court. I would also go public with the way they have threaten you. This is ridiculous-you should get fair price for it at least.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not to downplay the situation, but you should peruse the MB forums some time - horror story after horror story about breakdowns, leaks, rattles, etc. In the almost three years since I've been on this forum, this is the first time I've read anything like this. Is this an epidemic? Not at all. While I am not saying that you shouldn't tell people what happened, I believe it is a very rare occurence.

Also, I would think that the media in Germany would have a field day with a story like this, considering the fact that Lexus has stolen many a customer from MB over the years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not to downplay the situation, but you should peruse the MB forums some time...

Never one to miss an opportunity to bash MBZ, eh? :wacko:

I grow more convinced by the day that you're a Lexus employee.

If you read many consumer mag’s (like consumer reports), you see over the years, that M/B quality really went into the toilet. These magazine sources are not Lexus dealers. We had an M/B 300 series for many years, and right after the warranty expired, we spent a ton keeping it up. I rant about that, but we're not a Lexus dealer. You don’t have to be a Lexus Dealer to know MB’s history. The only cars worse for us personally was our brand new '72 Chevy Vega. It wasn't even worth repairinig. You get a bum car, you tend to rant ... what can ya say. But back to the OP.

Note that this is the OP's first post. NO one but me smells Troll? Maybe not, but most folks ask other members something like, "hey, anyone else had a similar experience?" ... but not here in this case ... just BOOM. Lots of folks have funky things happen to their cars. But writing the car off? Wow. Heck, our Range Rover spent plenty of time in the shop, and they didn't always have another RR to give us as a loaner (once was even a Chevy Pick up) but that's the nature of cars ... they sometimes break down. This person must be the exception to the rule. I wish I'd never before had a bad car experience :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry that some of you don't have a great dealership as I do out here in L.A. I bought my 400h at Glendale Lexus and they have been superb. I also haven't had my car a long time as of now, it's been a little over two years but they answer all of my emails about things that I need help with and all of the questions that I ask when I don't want to bother you good folks. They are really very nice. When I drop my car off for its oil change, etc. I drive off with a loaner car and it's all very, very easy and they have always been a great help. I have no complaints about my dealership whatsoever. You should just get a MB if you like their service better. Since we can afford a nice car, we should also be treated well...dammit... so don't put up with bad service. Besides, how often do you have to deal with the dealership? I actually like going there and I like it when they give me a non 400h just for the difference. That's also how I found out how much nicer the 400h is compared to the RX350...I got one once... great car but it's no 400h! Anyway, be happy, get what you want and if the MB dealer or BMW dealership treats you better, get one of their cars. My sister has a MB and she wishes she had a Lexus after all of the problems she's had with her MB, and all of the money it's cost to have it. I've never had a better car than my 400h. Toodle-loo, Rey

Link to comment
Share on other sites


There is no 2005 400h.

Something is up here. For one what he is saying happened should not be possible. The steering is a mechanical rack and pinion, he says its the power steering steering in the direction opposite his steering inputs. That should not be possible since the steering rack is just that, a mechanical rack. All the power steering does is help with the effort.

Makes no sense...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Makes no sense... "

I agree. Internet smear campaigns are so common now that I am always skeptical of posts like this. There is as much chance that this guy works for MB as it is that the story is true. I wish the guy luck though if he has a true problem. No one else has ever reported this problem though and there are lots of Lexus and Toyota vehicles on the road with nearly identical steering mechanisms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good Morning!

after 1700 visits during 36 hours ot the EU lexusownersclub site the Power steering failure has obviously been confirmed.

Lucky enough I drove my car in town centre.... just 1 km before entering the Highway..... Would have been like russian roulette to estimate what could have happened...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good Morning!

after 1700 visits during 36 hours ot the EU lexusownersclub site the Power steering failure has obviously been confirmed.

Lucky enough I drove my car in town centre.... just 1 km before entering the Highway..... Would have been like russian roulette to estimate what could have happened...

pitti2, Can you provide proof that this event occured? So far it is all heresay. Just a very interested lexus owner. TIA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not to downplay the situation, but you should peruse the MB forums some time...

Never one to miss an opportunity to bash MBZ, eh? :wacko:

I grow more convinced by the day that you're a Lexus employee.

I don't think anyone would have doubts about that. Lexus is THE BEST, MB, BMW- BAD BAD ;)- well it' not so hard to figure out who's here ;).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have said in many posts here that Lexus's customer treatment is light years behind that you get from BMW or MB along with imperfect electrical design (I'm not talking about hybrid part of the system)

this sounds like a story from MB not a lexus. MB is terrible customer service along with all the german junkmobiles on the road.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sad enough...

Please contact European LEXUS HQ, or even better the local LEXUS FORUM HAMBURG EAST dealer (english spoken).... they will certainly confirm what you do not want to hear....

please do not overestimate human power, if the power steering wants to get the other way....with more power than you or your wife has...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sad enough...

Please contact European LEXUS HQ, or even better the local LEXUS FORUM HAMBURG EAST dealer (english spoken).... they will certainly confirm what you do not want to hear....

please do not overestimate human power, if the power steering wants to get the other way....with more power than you or your wife has...

Without posting PROOF It is my beleif that you will not convince any member on these forums. Spoof :chairshot:

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Sad enough...

Please contact European LEXUS HQ, or even better the local LEXUS FORUM HAMBURG EAST dealer (english spoken).... they will certainly confirm what you do not want to hear....

please do not overestimate human power, if the power steering wants to get the other way....with more power than you or your wife has...

Without posting PROOF It is my beleif that you will not convince any member on these forums. Spoof :chairshot:

LOL- you guys are hilarious. "We want PROOF! We don't believe anything we read on a forum (but if you want proof that MBZ is crap, just go read the MBZ forums)."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The better specialists are available here:

Lexus Forum Hamburg Ost

info.Hamburg-Ost@lexus.de

I am aware that it will NOT BE POSSIBLE for a single LEXUS driver to convince anyboy about this kind of unbelievable product failure.

This seem to be a PREMIERE !

Did we arrive in the century where the cars are taking over the helm on their own?

So, if you are interersted.... get your proof on your own.

regards from Europe!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The better specialists are available here:

Lexus Forum Hamburg Ost

info.Hamburg-Ost@lexus.de

I am aware that it will NOT BE POSSIBLE for a single LEXUS driver to convince anyboy about this kind of unbelievable product failure.

So, if you are interersted.... get your proof on your own.

regards from Europe!

The link produces an invalid syntex error, Wonderful info.

Regards from the USA !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The better specialists are available here:

Lexus Forum Hamburg Ost

info.Hamburg-Ost@lexus.de

So, if you are interersted.... get your proof on your own.

I wrote lexus.de a while ago ... still waiting ... surprise surprise, no response. Now let's see, what is there, maybe a million or more RX's on the road? If this WAS a real steering issue? What did "Frau Blucher" figure we'd all be thinking ... maybe something like "That does it, I'm putting my 400h up sale in the auto trader" (shaking head). "Thank goodness an engineer was driving when the steering went ka put" Hugh? What does that mean? My wife has had a high speed front flat in a truck, that had NO power steering ... now try THAT on for size if you want an 'E' ticket ride. She didn't say, 'oh my god sell it quick'. Similarly, there have been hundreds of folks driving when a power steering unit looses a belt. "HURRY, SELL the CAR !!" Who know that apparently some will do that. I guess we won't be hearing regularly then, from Frau Blucker any more. Oh well ... don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The better specialists are available here:

Lexus Forum Hamburg Ost

info.Hamburg-Ost@lexus.de

So, if you are interersted.... get your proof on your own.

I wrote lexus.de a while ago ... still waiting ... surprise surprise, no response. Now let's see, what is there, maybe a million or more RX's on the road? If this WAS a real steering issue? What did "Frau Blucher" figure we'd all be thinking ... maybe something like "That does it, I'm putting my 400h up sale in the auto trader" (shaking head). "Thank goodness an engineer was driving when the steering went ka put" Hugh? What does that mean? My wife has had a high speed front flat in a truck, that had NO power steering ... now try THAT on for size if you want an 'E' ticket ride. She didn't say, 'oh my god sell it quick'. Similarly, there have been hundreds of folks driving when a power steering unit looses a belt. "HURRY, SELL the CAR !!" Who know that apparently some will do that. I guess we won't be hearing regularly then, from Frau Blucker any more. Oh well ... don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.

A "million or so" Hybrid RX's on the road (after all, the specific complaint is against electric-assisted PS) is probably a few orders of magnitude optimistic. There are, BTW, several documented incidents (by the NTSB) of electic assist failure in both RX hybrids and HiHy's (same system), however those have all resulted in loss of power assist- not this reverse steer that the OP reports.

That notwithstanding, let's burn the OP at the stake for daring to post on this forum and soil the virgin reputation of this fine vehicle!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A "million or so" Hybrid RX's on the road (after all, the specific complaint is against electric-assisted PS) is probably a few orders of magnitude optimistic. There are, BTW, several documented incidents (by the NTSB) of electic assist failure in both RX hybrids and HiHy's (same system), however those have all resulted in loss of power assist- not this reverse steer that the OP reports.

That notwithstanding, let's burn the OP at the stake for daring to post on this forum and soil the virgin reputation of this fine vehicle!

Consider how many years the highlander & RX (virtually same steering / chassis / engine) have been made and it's not such a far off magnitude as you'd think. Heck, over the last year alone, Toyota manufactured more Prius' than Ford manufactured Explorers. And in it's short existence, the Prius all by itself now numbers over a million. However point taken that the hybrid steering DOES have a different power source, than the belt driven PS. So with that in mind ... yes the hybrid numbers drop by 1/10.

Even so, there have been over 100K Toyota / Lexus hybrids sold in Europe. Thus, the fact that this may (or may not) have happened, it's still about on thousandth of one per cent of hybrid production there. Perhaps this IS the same TSB issue ... as PS assist failure might be interpreted by a hysterical person as the steering fighting in the opposite direction.

Those of us who look at the OP with a raised eyebrow (to put it mildly) are not alone. If you go the the German Lexus owners forum using translation software (for those who don't speek german) you'll see that this report received the same high degree of skepticism ... they're making comments like 'impossible' and 'that makes no sense' to pick the milder ones. You post your 1st thread saying you have a (possible) design fault and you don't base it against the number of instances it occures to the hundreds of thousands of similar cars, then go tell it to folks that love the car, and you get adversarial point for point ... go figure. You read enough boards, you DO see this scenero fits trollish behavior ... granted, it may not be, but like the German board, eyebrows are raised ... as you'd expect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love this forum but this whole succession of posts has been negative and just plain weird. I haven't had any problems with my 400h and I know that machines aren't perfect but I feel pretty comfortable driving a Lexus product. They have a great reputation and good people at the top. I read a lot about Lexus before I bought my first one. When I didn't have much money,after college, I did great buying used Toyotas and will always be a fan of Toyota. On two occasions I had American cars and that's when I had complaints! To be fair I never had a luxury American car. When I was finally blessed enough to get my first luxury car I picked the 400h. I need the room for my job, the lift back... everything else was just icing on a really nice cake. I didn't know that I would love the GPS so much, for instance. Now I don't know how I got along without it. It's not at all why I bought the car, it's just one of the many things that I now love about this beautiful car. I am very grateful, I have work that I love, my health, family and the car is just a machine. If it's broke, fix it or get rid of it and move on. Life's too short. The post doesn't seem reasonable. Somehow I would have read about this problem of the car steering in the opposite direction somewhere, somehow, like the "Pinto" fiasco of the 1970s. Anyway, I'm happy with my 400h, if I reach a point when it does something "funky" or I simply don't like it any longer, it's not a pet, it's a machine, I'll get rid of it. But I think I will have this car easily for the next 8-10 years as I usually do, except of course for the two times I had an American car. happy trails, Rey in L.A.....USA!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Detailed Specifications section on the Lexus RX400h website:

Steering

Electronic vehicle-speed-sensing, power-assisted rack-and-pinion

Then when you click on rack-and-pinion you get the following pop-up:

Rack-and-pinion steering

A steering system that uses a pinion gear at the end of the steering column to move a horizontal rack, which steers the wheels. All Lexus passenger cars use this type of steering because it provides good road feedback.

I thought I had read somewhere that the 400 steering was electrical and did not have a traditional steering column. As I think about it, it would be REALLY dumb to introduce ANY risk of losing steering ability even with a total electrical failure in the car.

The steering is electronic speed sensing which makes the steering "stiffer" the faster you go. Our last Audi had that same feature but the Lexus is not as pronounced as the Audi was.

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