B5Bill

Used Rx400H Questions

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I've spent the last year or so researching AWD crossovers, and recently stumbled upon the 400h as an option that I didn't even know existed! Imagine my delight at the thought of getting a Lexus with all the qualities I wanted! In the interest of being thorough, I would like to ask you some questions and I hope you'll oblige a potential new owner and member. I've done a fair amount of reading of reviews and forum posts, so I feel I have a good overall sense of the vehicle, but have some fairly specific questions. I hope I don't give off the foolish n00b vibe... I'm looking pretty specifically at an '07 model as that is currently in the sweet spot for price, although I'll consider '08s should my purchase be a ways off (Oregon inventories are pretty slim...)

1. How is the AWD? I've heard ... mixed reviews. As you can see, I live in Oregon, but I live in the valley and so rain is 99% of what I deal with. However, we do get an occasional snow storm and one of my justifications for buying this car would be the peace of mind of knowing that in that rare snow or ice storm, I could get us where we needed to go in an emergency. Because we get so little snow, there are no plows or salt, so a good storm can really gum up the works. I know the 400h is not an off-road vehicle, and most of the negative reviews I've seen of the AWD system are from people who live in and deal with constant snow. But I read a post about someone getting stuck on a hill, and the wheels not turning because of a safety mechanism and that's a little troublesome. I'm probably worrying for nothing, right?

2. Traction battery warranty. I did a lot of reading about the hybrid battery system warranty and replacement costs and I think I have a good understanding of what's going on. But I have some questions related to the CARB state extended warranty. First of all, that warranty is not first owner only, right? I believe Oregon is a CARB state but I'm curious as to whether the extended 10y/150k warranty will apply to any car I buy. Does it just have to be registered here? Does the first sale have to be in Oregon? Does my purchase have to be in Oregon? What few 400h's there are in Oregon are in the Portland area and could have possibly been purchased or registered across the border in Washington.

3. Does the hybrid warranty cover the troublesome inverter, or was that an '06 issue?

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Bill

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The warranty is:

48 mo/50k mi bumper to bumper

72 mo/70k mi powertrain

96 mo/100k mi hybrid system (including inverter)

It follows the car based on original purchase date. I believe only CA has the extra hybrid warranty. There were some recent recalls to inspect the inverter power module, which are free even if the warranty is expired.

I would not worry about the hybrid traction battery, they are designed to last the life of the car. I don't know why there is this fear about battery failures in people who have not bought a hybrid. It's not based on facts. If batteries were failing left and right, there would be recalls and you would hear about it on the news.

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Thank you for the reply. I do not have a "fear" about battery failure, but I do want to understand the warranty. A failure, however rare, would be a large expense. And my ideal "life" of the car may exceed the manufacturer's. If as you say the extended warranty applies only to California and not other CARB states, then that makes a significant difference in the model year and mileage I'd be willing to accept, and consequently, what I'll end up paying.

I notice you are also in the Pac NW - do you have the AWD model?

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The 150k warranty only applied to the 2006 I believe in California, my 2008 doesnt have the 150k mileage warranty....As for AWD many have said it is not up to what you think in snow. It will help in Rain with slippery roads...Mine is AWD and always feels secure, but We dont have snow where I live other than in the mountains....

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I have the AWD model. When I was looking at used 400h's, it seemed at leat 90% were AWD models. We don't get snow that often in the Puget Sound area, but during a bad storm in fall 2010 it performed excellent on snowy roads. I had just installed new Yokohama Parada Spec-X tires, and tires make a big difference. I didn't get a chance to drive it in snow with the original Michelin MXV4 S8 tires. I will say that the OEM S8 tires, which are low rolling resistance, gave me about 2-3 mpg better gas mileage. But the tradeoff is better traction and safety with the higher performance all-season tires.

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That's really helpful, thank you. I remember that storm was pretty bad. I'm lucky that we're mostly flat down here in the Willamette - we got about 8" of snow last year and that's the worst in awhile (according to my neighbor anyways). I just need to feel comfortable that we could get to the store and hospital in that type of weather.

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The Rx400h is built like a tank. I have a 2008 Rx400h AWD, bought it with ~42,000 miles in May '09 and i have ~85,000 miles now. Not a single problem that i didn't cause myself (from tinkering).

I abuse the crap out of my Rx400h and it drives like new. I drive a LOT. Also, a lot of "idle" time in parking lots with the ignition ON. I have a very heavy foot, too. I have the oil changed three times a year, have all of the recommended maintenance done at Lexus, use premium gas, and that's it. Mine hasn't had a wash since August, and probably won't get one till May. The thing is truly built like a tank.

The AWD i will admit isn't the best AWD out there. Better than a FWD sedan for sure, but not as good as the AWD in my old 2003 Rx300 AWD. However tires DO make a huge difference. I just got new tires last month, and i haven't had ANY trouble with recent snow storms here in Rhode Island.

I love my Rx400h more than i did when i got it. I wouldn't trade it for any other SUV in production.

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Now when I was your age :whistles: (all the way up to the present, to some extent), I had two cars and a motorcycle.

The convertible sportscar was for hysterical-laughing fun (and to show off a bit).

The practical car (starting with a 68 Mercury Cougar) was for going places where I didn't want to take the sportscar.

The motorcycle was for white-knuckle riding with similar, no-fear friends.

Cduluk, it may be time to get yourself a BRZ or MX5. Don't get rid of the RX, but enjoy the warmer months with something lighter and "tossable". You're young only once, at least in age!

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Thanks cduluk for your thoughts. Good to know it can handle RI.

I picked up in passing that something with the AWD system changed between the 06 and 07 to lessen the "wheels won't turn" issue. Is that true or just Internet nonsense?

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Maybe a more useful question is how does the AWD compare to RAV4 or CRV? Different class of cars, I know, but they are still on my list...

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I bought a 2008 400H almost 2 years ago as a certified used with almost 40,000 miles. It is all wheel drive and other than the main hybrid battery failing(under warranty) we have had zero issues with it and now have 64,000 miles. Depending on who drives, me or my wife, the mileage varies, I get better than her average around town/highway about 27-28. I do believe the tires that are on the car are what is keeping me from any higher averages. When time comes for replacement tires I will investigate what will work for us. We live in southern Arizona, so no snow to deal with so cannot help with that question. The seats are very comfortable for long trips and we like sitting higher than most cars allow you to sit. We see many of these RX models in and around Az and I'm pretty sure when we hit 80,000 miles i will trade/sell this one and move up to a newer one.

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I have an '06 with 157k miles and the only non maintenance items have been the two cooling fans. No signs of battery issues. I'm in the warm coastal SC so no snow here, but the AWD works well in the sometimes heavy rains we get.

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I have an '06 with 100K miles. I love it and have had no issues with our heavy rains in Florida. Drove to Ohio for Christmas and had snow/ice from Virginia to Ohio - first time driving it in nasty winter weather. The last leg was over hilly, rural Ohio with several inches of snow/ice - I would not have tried it in our Camry or old RAV4. Traction control kicked in a few times but had no problems at all. Found out next morning snow emergency was in effect and dozens of accidents in the area.

I love the RX400h but extra expenses that I have found out hard way. AC went out (and you need AC in Florida) - expensive on any car but with the hybrid a $1500 repair was over $3500 (and I shopped around)! At 90K recommends timing belt change - about $650 with water pump on most cars is $1200+ repair on 400h. Neither repair is unusual for any high-milage car but expenses are 2x+ for the hybrid. To their credit, the dealer service is excellent and costs were LOWER than local mechanics estimates.

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I have owned my AWD '06 RX400h since early 2005 (2nd one to hit the road in my state). Being that this is Minnesota and we get to experience every kind of weather imaginable, I can honestly say I have never gotten it stuck. I've also never experienced the AWD lock out problem.

IMO driving on snow and ice has more to do with tire design and tread depth than the vehicle itself. That's where you'll need to be very careful. If you read the forums, you'll see a lot of grumping regarding tire lifetime on the earlier RX's. I'm on my 3rd set of tires and don't have 80K miles total on it. I drive it every day but I live ~5 miles from work. It's the age old performance and ride comfort vs. wear and noise problem. You can buy tires that will last longer but bthen it rides and sounds like a pickup. If buying a used RX, check the tire tread. If there's 4-5 32nd's left, you'll probably be paying for a new set within a year.

My batteries are still seeming to be going strong so I can't offer any more insight than the other members on this question.

Being I have an '06, I was affected by the inverter recall problem. Completely covered under warranty. Other than the inconvenience to take it to the deal (75miles drive one-way), it was completely replaced a little over a year ago and all has been fine since. I didn't have any catastrophic failure while driving.

All in all I'm quite happy with the vehicle. Along with a recall or two everything has been covered under warranty. The only other thing is I've had a couple little annoyances with the Mark Levinson audio system. The worst was it ate a CD once and the head unit had to be pulled to get it back. The dreaded "Error 04".

The internet is your friend on this one. I did not take it to the dealer and pay several hundred bucks for them to pull the unit and potentially have to send it in to be disassembled. Only had to buy a magnetic socket and I was able to pull the head unit myself watching the youtube video. Once removed, the trick is to leave the unit plugged in, turn it upside down, and then hit the eject button. The disc cassette get's hung up and won't move slot 6 all the way up. Gravity fixes that problem. I supposed it would work to use a hydraulic turn table and invert the whole car -- but that seemed a little excessive. 8*)

Good luck on your search.

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Thank you both for your thoughts. I guess I should worry less about the AWD and figure out what tires would be appropriate for my region. I do suspect my price range will push me into the expired warranty range, so I do worry about some of the costly repairs you mention. I do work on my own cars but can't do everything... Especially on a heavy car with no lift.

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I also have a 2008 RX400H and have had no problems. Runs great!

My question: Is there an after market electric sun shade that can be installed on the rear lift gate door?

When parking in the hot Vegas sun, it would help keep the car cooler.

Thanks

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So I test drive an 06 yesterday - great car, wrong color. Anyways I noticed when I started the ignition, the ICE fired right up. The sales guy was talking most of the time so I couldn't really tell, but it sure didn't feel like the ICE was shut of at any point, and we were on some back streets and at traffic lights. Does this sound typical? What should I look for as "normal" when test driving?

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If the car was cold, the ice will run until warmed up....Other than that maybe it needs a reset on the ice...search this site and you will find the procedure....The Ice should definetly shut down when coasting....easy enough to see on the display under INFO selection....Good luck with your search.

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Thanks for the tip on the display system. I think I just left it on the NAV screen. I was there early but they had been driving it around to have it washed and detailed. But maybe not enough to warm it up. I'll keep an eye on it next time - I doubt I'll get this one; the color was not to my taste and they sell like hotcakes so probably gone by Monday.

I'm definitely sold on this model though... what a beautiful car!

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Realizing that this is an older thread, I want to give my thoughts as other people will probably stumble upon it.

I purchased my '06 RX400H as a certified used car from the dealership. It was a lease return with about 55,000 miles on it. I've had it for about three years now, maybe four. It is at somewhere around 125,000 miles on the clock. Most discrepancies were handled under warranty. The audio system was replaced because it would not eject a disc. Other little things here and there - nothing major. A bunch of recalls. I don't know what the '06 inverter problem is, or if it is fixed in my car. I have my Mercedes mechanic perform routine maintenance.

Mine is a AWD and have had two experiences in snow. Two Christmas' ago, we spent the week in West Yellowstone. Snow was everywhere, and we encountered snow on the drive to and back home in Utah. Took chains, but never needed. Car worked fine. The rear wheels kicked in on occasion, but didn't really focus on when it did or did not. (As an aside, I was amazed at the difference between Southern California and Montana/Wyoming. In California, even at the first hint of snow, the CHP forces you to install your chains. In West Yellowstone, even though snow was on all the roads, nobody was using chains. Ya just drive slower and give yourself more time to stop.)

Other snow experience was the following Spring, (one year ago), in central Montana. Most roads were clear of snow, but it snowed off-and-on throughout the week. Never had to use chains and my return trip was delayed a few hours due to the previous night's snow and the person I was visiting was fearful that I'd slide off the dirt road that runs from the highway to her ranch. After leaving her place, I had to drive over some mountain passes in heavy snow. No problems! Just went a bit slower than normal and drove a bit more carefully. Again, I did not really focus on if or when the AWD kicked in.

This past weekend, on the last field work session with some of my students, we were doing some off-roading. We were going up a hill on a very-little-used, and very poorly maintained jeep trail. The road was really bad. Erosion ditches all over the road. Going up the hill, the AWD was engaged almost the whole time. No problems. Worked great - otherwise the car would probably still be stuck up there.

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This relates to your third point - and even though I'm from Australia I hope it's relevant...

We have a RX400h that's six years old and has 137,000km on the clock. Recently the hybrid system's inverter failed - luckily we were not moving at the time. I've been told that this part alone costs around $11,500 but in other markets (US and Canada for example) the complete hybid system (inverter and batteries) is covered by a 96-month, 100,000 miles warrantee. That warrantee was brought into Australia after we purchased our (then new) RX400h but our car falls under those conditions (age and mileage).

Any suggestions please?

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Sorry to see you are having problems. It appears your warranty has expired. I would go to a Lexus dealer and ask if there has been a recall issued for this part. If the dealer cannot help, your only other option is search the internet for the best deal on a replacement part. One other option is to search auto-wrecking yards for this part. Good luck!

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Thanks. Then again, I have a major issue with a global organisation such as Lexus selectively having different warranty details for different markets. Particularly when it has changed conditions in this market to cover the hybrid inverter in cars sold after mine.

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I've got an '07 RX400h AWD, California model, bought in 2009 with 40K miles, now have 86K miles. Overall I love this car; it's been good to me, and I have no interest in getting anything else. I live in Vancouver, BC, where we get a LOT of rain, and occasional icy/slushy/wet snow.

Here are my observations:

1) Front brake rotors were warped when I bought it. Replaced not long after with inexpensive non-OEM rotors... In the last 40,000 miles, they've developed a slight warp, but nothing worth fixing. The original owners lived at the top of a mountain, so when they went to work in the morning, the ICE would be running, and I generally get minimal brake regen when it's warming up.

2) Original Michelin tires lasted until now. I don't think the original owners ever replaced them, and I just replaced the Michelins last week. They were not impressive in the rain, and downright scary when there was black ice.

3) AWD: since the rear axle isn't mechanically connected to the front, it's not going to give you as good traction as a traditionally-equipped vehicle with a locking transfer case. That said, I've been quite happy with it. When the Michelins spin in the wet, a moment later the rear axle kicks in and it goes good.

AWD stories:

-Once I was heading up a mountain to go skiing, the road was wet, and it was snowing. The higher I got, the more the snow was sticking and it was nasty slippery slushy stuff. The traction control kicked in, and kept flashing at me as I leadfooted the car up the hill. The rear axle was running, and I was quite impressed at how stable the car felt, and how fast I was able to go up a steep hill in the slippery conditions. No complaints from me.

-Last winter we had a couple days of snowstorms. Vancouver's got tons of steep hills, and hardly any plows because it rarely snows here. The major streets were all gridlocked because it was crazy slippery. I drove home (12 mi) on side-streets (with steep hills). At one point, crossing Broadway, I was on a steep uphill (in Fairfiew Slopes, for those who know the city). There was a Hyundai SUV in front of me (I don't know if it was AWD). He kept trying to go, but his wheels kept slipping, so he was stuck on the hill. After getting frustrated waiting for him to go, I decided to pass him, and with occasional bits of wheelspin, I smoothly cruised past him. I was happy!

-AWD front wheel lockup: Vancouver's a rainy city, and the front Michelins slip frequently. If I'm heavy into the throttle, traction control applies ABS brakes to the slipping wheel. This causes a stiffening of the steering wheel which could be interpreted as a lockup. It most definitely is not, at least in my experience-- sterring gets stiffer than usual, but still steers, just with a bit more effort than usual.

4) It takes a solid 5 minutes to warm the engine up in the winter. Expect the ICE to run all that time, and your mileage will suck until the engine's warm.

5) Fuel economy: in 90% congested city driving, using the air cond all summer and defroster/heater all winter, I have averaged 9.33 Litres/100km over the last 43,677 miles. Converter says that's 25.2 MPG (US). That's based on the odometer plus my fuel receipts. This is better than my last car, a 4-cylinder manual transmission Honda Accord. Actually, it's the most fuel-efficient car I've ever owned.

6) Recalls: none to date have applied to my car.

7) What's gone wrong: the 12v lead acid battery was replaced once/twice by the previous owners, and I've replaced it once; it's undersized for the car's draws, and you can expect to come back to a dead car if you go on vacation for 3-4 weeks. The rubber boot on the parking brake pedal came off, and I replaced the front brake rotors (and pads) at 43K miles. And I just replaced the tires. My mechanic says I've still got 70% brake on the front pads, 50% on the rears (factory original pads).

8) My single biggest (and my only notable) complaint about the car is the undersized 12v battery. I don't know what Lexus was thinking. Mine failed about two years ago-- I'd left my headlights (and driver's door) open while filling the car with gas. There was enough juice to make all the accessories work, but not quite enough juice to get the car to flip on the power solenoid to the big hybrid batteries. So I was stuck on that cold, rainy evening until I found somebody who was willing to give me a jump. Previously I've had a couple of vacations where I get back home to find a car that won't start, for the same reason. Have to put a charger on it, or get a neighbour to give me a jump. He sure got a laugh out of jump-starting my two-year-old luxury car. All you need is enough volts to flip the solenoid to the hybrid battery.

Edit: because it's a tiny battery, it's cheap. A battery dealer installed a regular lead-acid battery (not the fancy OEM AGM battery) for $55, labour included. Still going strong after two years.

9) Cabin air filter: don't forget to replace it every year or so. My was gross when I replaced it at 40K miles.

10) I had my independent mechanic price out the cost of the timing belt job, which is due at 90K miles: $804, plus tax (Canadian dollars). Includes water pump, hydraulic adjuster, tensioner bearing, timing belt, long-life coolant, and labour. Parts all sourced from Toyota/Lexus.

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Apologies for dredging up old thread, but I wanted to thank those of you who contributed to this thread after I stopped responding. An unexpected tax bill put my luxury dreams on hold for a while. But an even worse snow storm this past winter has again put us in the market for an AWD vehicle before the end of the year, and so I've been looking back through my prior research on the subject.

Looking at local inventory and prices, I think I am very firmly in the '06 market. This would mean that the standard Lexus hybrid system warranty will likely have expired at 8 years. Given the recalls on inverter components and the high cost of replacement (not to mention the horror stories about complete failure at highway speeds) I feel compelled to determine the answer to the second question I asked: living in Oregon, does the extended 10/150K CARB warranty cover any hybrid that I purchase, or would it have to have been originally sold and continuously resided in a CARB state?

If any one has any further insight on this, or can point me to someone who does I would greatly appreciate it.

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