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Is The Mechanic Pulling My Chain, Or Is He Serious?


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Long post. Summary - coolent leak at transmission - was told the only way to fix was to replace transmission.

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I've had my 2006 RX400H for a few years. Purchased it as a Certified Pre-owned car from the local Lexus dealer at just shy of 60,000 miles on the clock. I understand that it was a lease return. Now, several years later, the car has just under 155,000 miles and has been relatively trouble free. Other than routine mainainence, just recall stuff has been done on the car.

Up to several months ago, I had my Mercedes mechanic perform that routine maintenance, but he has since retired and the fellow who took over his shop longer wants to service Lexus/BMW/etc. cars. The previous last oil change I had performed at the Lexus dealer where I purchased the car because they sent me a coupon for an oil change at only $50. That was a good deal, so I went with them. That was about 5,500 miles ago, and at that time, their 2,458 point inspection check didn't show anything that needed attention, save the rear tires, which I knew about.

Fast forward 5,000 miles and I had the oil change performed by local Toyota dealer last week, upon the recomendation of my lady friend. (The nearest Lexus dealer is about a 45-minute drive, one-way, from me.) The oil change was a good deal financially and I went ahead and had them change the cabin filter also.

Now, the crux of my "problem". The Toyota service rep, who is the senior service rep at that dealership, said that I have a coolent leak at the transmission. It's not a huge problem yet, but he said that the only way to fix it is to replace the transmission. For a Lexus, that will probably be half the cost of the value of the vehicle! Not worth doing, even though I love that car. (That's what Clark Howard, the consumer advocate out of Atlanta says. That when a repair is half the value of the vehicle, it's time to dump the vehicle.)

I was under the impression that under the skin, the RX400H and the Highlander Hybrid are the same. The service rep said that in 2006, the transmissions were different and that it is well known that this coolent leak is common on the Lexus...but not on the Highlander. He said the Lexus engineers messed up.

Is this true? Are the transmissions really different? Is this coolent leak a well-known issue?

The Toyota rep says that they could change the transmission.

Newer model RX hybrids that are certified are about $10,000 more than I paid for this RX. For that price, I'll purchase a new Subaru Forester or Outback. Brand new, they would be about $5,000 less than a five-year old RX hybrid.

My alternative is to just drive the car into the ground while keeping an eye on the coolent level. If I could get it to last another three years, at which time I retire, then I'll just donate it or give it away and get someting else at that time.

Thanks for reading. Would appreciate knowing what you more knowledgable RX hybrid owners have to say.

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I had a leak in my 89 Mazda MX6 GT auto transmission for about 10 years with no adverse effects other than adding a quart every 6000 miles. When I sold the car, the transmission had over 160,000 miles on it and it was still just fine. If you're not seeing a pool of coolant on your garage floor, every week, I'd say that you could probably keep driving your car for many years without having to spend big money to replace the transmission.

Also, I think if you execute a search in this forum, you won't find many transmission leaks. Sure there were a couple, but it's not a massive issue by any stretch of the imagination. Just keep an eye on the coolant level, every so often. With that amount of miles on the odo, it makes the most sense to keep your RX.

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Yes there were a couple of postings, hopefully they will give some advice. I too would just watch the coolant level and not worry. The leak on the other cars was up top on the front of the inverter engine area. I believe they could fix it, but haven't put that in their documentation yet because they don't work on the inverter. It is basically a replace policy.

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According to www.toyodiy.com , the same transaxles were used in the 2006 Highlander and the 2006 RX400h. To make it more complicated, three different transaxle part numbers were used in the 2006 models: one for the first four months of the model year, a second one for only one month, and then a third variation for the rest of the 2006 model year through the 2008 model year.

I would supply the exact URL's where this information is located but "paste" has been deactivated on this forum. One has to register on www.toyodiy.com in order to see the diagrams.

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