paulsRX300

Engine Failure!!?

Recommended Posts

After owning a 2001 RX for 14 years (It was 4 years old when we bought it)  and never having a single issue with the car it finally dies at 274,000 miles. The greatest vehicle I ever owned and I've owned about 10 different cars and SUVs. So I get a bright idea to see if I can find another one in decent condition with low miles for my daughter since she needs a car for college. Long story short I find a 2001 RX 300 with 125,000 miles! It's at a local Honda dealership so I go have a look with my daughter. Right up from they tell me it has a rebuilt title. No problem since the minor accident happened in 2004 with less than 50,000 miles on it at that time and it's still running fine here in 2019. It looks great inside and out, like its been taken care of. I take it for a drive and noticed the transmission slip leaving the dealership driveway. I'm hoping it was some ice but I know the feeling. I take it to my mechanic and he does an inspection and says if I don't buy it he will, he could not find the tranny problem, the dealer wants $2000 for the RX. So on the way home I find a deserted road and do a few fast reverses and hit the brake hard, the second time I do this I hear a nauseating bang/slam! I'm guessing the torque converter sliding around. Anyway, I gas it forward and everything seems ok. At this point, I have not bought it. I look into buying a rebuilt tranny at my friend's transmission shop., $4200. Considering we almost bought a 1999 RX with 145,000 miles needing the timing belt replaced for $6500 plus around a grand to replace the timing belt and related parts. We opted for the 2001. Delivered it to my friend to have a rebuilt tranny installed, total cost was around $6375, we thought, great, a little less than the one we almost bought.. Also, the carfax showed the local Toyota dealership replaced the timing belt/water pump 10,000 miles ago. She should be good to go.

So, great car, ready for a couple of years at college for my daughter. About a week later my daughter comes back into the house and tells me the car is making a weird noise. I lifted the hood and something was making a sound that sounded like a dry bearing, I was thinking the alternator but the sound was coming from the middle of the engine, water pump? Maybe those !Removed! at the dealership didn't replace the water pump, I have a deep distrust of dealerships formed by experience. Well, we parked it and waited on Monday to take it to the shop and I made it about a mile when it went dead. Got it to the shop and my mechanic showed me a broken front camshaft due to oil starvation on two of the bearings!! Just had the oil changed when the guy did the transmission swap using my favorite oil, Mobil 1.

My question to you good people here is: Any idea why the bearings were starved of oil?? Anyone think there could be metal in the engine from this disaster, enough so that the engine should be trashed?? If so where is a good place to get an engine? Money is an issue due to myself being disabled and can not work. Almost all our money will be tied up here in this car. I want it right, can have my daughter 1500 miles away in a crappy car

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The engine could have had sludge.  Quite prevalent with that year and not using high quality oil.  Once the sludge build up no amount of good oil is going to clean it out.  Also possible because of sludge in the oil pan the pump starved and no oil was going to cam.  There is also screens on the VVTI cam solenoids that could have plugged up causing oil starvation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know about the sludge engine thing. My question is why did it take 125,000 miles to destroy the engine? If I buy another engine how can I be sure it will not happen again?? This really makes me sick, I'll have $10,500 into this 2001 RX by the time I'm done with it. I could have bought a 2008 instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, paulsRX300 said:

I know about the sludge engine thing. My question is why did it take 125,000 miles to destroy the engine? If I buy another engine how can I be sure it will not happen again?? This really makes me sick, I'll have $10,500 into this 2001 RX by the time I'm done with it. I could have bought a 2008 instead.

Time is the enemy on this engine, I first hand saw what happens to my neighbors highlander with same engine.  His wife only drove short under 3 mile trips daily, the engine never warmed up to proper operating temp, He also used non synthetic oil, when we took the engine apart there was gobs of tar like sludge throughout, the oil pan was the worst, it had blocked the oil pump strainer and caused the failure.  I personally had the RX300 (1999) and never experience this problem even after 14 years of ownership until I sold it with 189k miles.  But the key was I used synthetic and kept up the maintenance.  At the time I was using Castrol Oil German formula.  First oil change after switching even the crust came off where you add oil...I apparently has great detergent properties.  On my RX400h I used Mobil 1 and Penzoil synthetic.  I am at 235k miles. Sorry for your failure.  If you take the front valve cover off which is easy, you will know whether you have sludge or not...my neighbors car was terrible under that valve cover.  Lexus made changes later in the valve covers to help the sludge issue.  Good luck friend, sorry for your problem, We all have those terrible experiences, but remember these are mechanical beast, and they need attention.  sometimes more than other engines. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, lenore said:

Time is the enemy on this engine, I first hand saw what happens to my neighbors highlander with same engine.  His wife only drove short under 3 mile trips daily, the engine never warmed up to proper operating temp, He also used non synthetic oil, when we took the engine apart there was gobs of tar like sludge throughout, the oil pan was the worst, it had blocked the oil pump strainer and caused the failure.  I personally had the RX300 (1999) and never experience this problem even after 14 years of ownership until I sold it with 189k miles.  But the key was I used synthetic and kept up the maintenance.  At the time I was using Castrol Oil German formula.  First oil change after switching even the crust came off where you add oil...I apparently has great detergent properties.  On my RX400h I used Mobil 1 and Penzoil synthetic.  I am at 235k miles. Sorry for your failure.  If you take the front valve cover off which is easy, you will know whether you have sludge or not...my neighbors car was terrible under that valve cover.  Lexus made changes later in the valve covers to help the sludge issue.  Good luck friend, sorry for your problem, We all have those terrible experiences, but remember these are mechanical beast, and they need attention.  sometimes more than other engines. 

Hey again,

My first Rx was a 2001. We bought it with 48,000 miles on it in 2004. Like you, I took care of it and always used Mobile 1. That RX dies Late last year with 274,000 miles on it. Actually, the tranny locked up without warning, the motor was running like a top. With that many miles, it seemed senseless to fix it. Now we have this new to us RX where the engine failed after only owning it for about two weeks, it only had 125,000 miles. Oh well, I guess. As far as the sludge goes the underside of the valve cover looks good. I'll see what the oil pan looks like asap. If I don't find any metal in the oil pan I may find a new head to replace the damaged one and go from there. If sludge didn't cause the camshaft bearings to starve what did?? Any ideas?? I hate to fix this motor only to have it die again!

Share this post


Link to post
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...