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New Hybrid Transaxle

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Sometime ago, I posted about my inverter leaking coolant and being replaced under the hybrid warranty.

See here

In my post, another user posted about a leak from his transaxle, BELOW the inverter

See here, post #22 with pics

In December, I had my timing belt replaced and while checking the engine compartment to make sure that the dealer didn't forget any bolts/wires/connectors etc., I thought I might check to make sure that my transaxle wasn't leaking like the vehicle in post #22 (above).

Was I in for a shock when I discovered a leak in the exact place as the other owner. I mean the EXACT place. See the attached pics. The stain from the leak in the other owner's picture (from above) is much worse than mine, so it was likely leaking for a longer period. It would appear that I caught my leak in the early stage.

This location appears to be where the hybrid transaxle mates with the mechanical engine. There is a seam right there and the leak appears to be from the seam. I also noticed at this time that the hybrid coolant reservoir was low.

Before anyone asks, yes it's leaking coolant, not transmission fluid because the electric motors in the hybrid transaxle are cooled by the same coolant that cools the inverter. There are two cooling systems in the hybrid, the normal gas engine cooling system and the inverter/transaxle cooling system - that's why there are two coolant reservoirs in the hybrid. It's also possible for this thing to leak transmission fluid, of course, but it's not in my case.

I took the vehicle to my Lexus dealer, the technician was stumped, pressure tested the hybrid cooling system and said all was well. I sent them the same pics you're seeing and they sent them to Lexus corporate (to some engineer I would hope??) who said the only way to diagnose this would be to take the tranny out.

The first pic was a week after the dealer had checked it and cleaned the area. You can see from the cleaner looking metal that the stain was much bigger when the dealer checked it, however, the technician cleaned the area and asked me to bring it back so he could assess how quickly it was leaking. The second pic was about two weeks later. You can see the pink coolant stain spreading. The third pic will hopefully give you a better idea of where to check on your own vehicle.

Anyway, I took the RX in on Monday this week for this leak to be diagnosed and repaired (along with some other items before my extended warranty expires). (I got a nice 2011 RX (not a hybrid though) as a loaner...very nice vehicle, but the mileage difference between the two vehicles is huge - roughly 13 l/100km vs 9 l/100km). Today I got a call saying they were going to need the vehicle for a few more days as it's getting a new transmission. (or transaxle as Lexus likes to call it). I just hope they can put it together as well as the factory in Japan.

A new hybrid transaxle, by the way, is $4500 CDN plus the labour charges (which I imagine woud add at LEAST another $1000 if not more). Luckily, there was one in stock at head office, because I imagine if they had to order one from Japan, it might have been quite a while, given what's been happening after the earthquake.




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hey great shots, thanks for the info...I will check mine in the morning....

You'll be looking directly under the inverter. You'll see a smaller coolant hose leading into the transmission - it's just to the left of that hose. Look for the bolt with the dab of paint on it. Mine had pink paint, but I've also seen blue paint.

The air intake snorkel will be in the way - you have to kind of look around the snorkel (or remove it - with the snorkel removed it's easy to see the spot in question). The second and third pics were taken with the snorkel removed.

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So, I got my RX back today. New tranny and some other assorted parts replaced (or on order) under warranty. Looking at the new transaxle, I can now see that the seam where it was leaking is not actually where the transaxle mates with the gas engine - that mating point is more towards the centre of the vehicle. The seam where it was leaking is actually where two separate halves of the tranny are put together. If you look at the bottom of your tranny, you can follow the seam (and you can likely see some dried out sealant that seeped out when they put the two parts together) right up to the point where mine was leaking. I'm not sure if the leak would have lead to a tranny failure down the road or not since I have no idea if the coolant was leaking somewhere important internally as well as externally. Anyway, I encourage you all to check your transaxles for a leak in this area.

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