1999 Lexus RX 300 from North America - Comments

19th Aug 2006, 08:42

Our '01 RX300 transmission died just before it hit 84k. We have faithfully had it serviced every 15k miles at the dealership, although I'm not sure if they do more than a fluid change.

The dealership wanted 4600 to have it rebuilt. They offered to pay 1000 toward the job after we complained. My wife called around town and by luck found the transmission shop who claimed they did ALL the Lexus transmission repairs for the local dealership, and would do ours for half or 2300. They told us not to bother with Lexus because it would end up in their shop anyway!

The Lexus service manager (who seemed very surprised we found out about this) confirmed that they do farm out all their transmission work to this shop. So not only does Lexus have a transmission design problem, they profit off of each failure handsomely as they are only paying half or less of the money you fork over to have it rebuilt.

I asked the transmission shop to save the bad parts and he showed me the planetary gears that had broken pins which disintegrated and caused major damage. These pins are apparently the weak link in this transmission. He said the part numbers on the new parts were different than the originals, but of course they have to be the same size to fit so there is no way to know for sure whether they are stronger than the originals. I'm hoping they have at least hardened them better than the originals!

BTW, we have 4 other vehicles, all Toyotas and Hondas, and none of the other vehicles has ever had a transmission problem. One of them, a Camry, has 270k miles and we don't even service the transmission regularly like the Lexus. It seems like you might be buying more name than anything else with Lexus.

19th Sep 2006, 00:32

The transmission in my 1999 RX300 AWD quit as I was turning left at a busy intersection. It left me stranded. This occured shortly after a transmission fluid change. The transmission had jumped out of gear on several occasions, usually after coasting down a hill as it down shifted to go up the next grade.

I had the transmission replaced with a Lexus rebuilt, and although I've had problems with the rebuilt for the past year (engine light constantly on with a code indicating a transmission problem) and a couple of miss shifts, and fluid change due to metal on the dip stick, the Lexus dealer will not honor the warranty. They have stalled me until the year has elapsed. Transmission cost installed >$4300.

A great car so long as you don't have to depend on it getting you anywhere and you can afford very expensive repairs.

4th Jan 2007, 13:58

My 1999 Lexus RX300 started having a shifting problem yesterday morning. I have never had this problem before, and we just returned from disneyland to the bay area without a hint of anything wrong, today the transmission is locked up? Even though it has 94k miles, it is very annoying.

10th Jan 2007, 19:08

We bought a 2001 RX300 SUV Lexus in August 2005 with 85,000 miles on it. Looked and drove like new and had excellent service records. At 108,000 miles the car stopped on a Sunday afternoon drive. My wife says she heard loud noises coming from underneath the vehicle.

The mechanic shop said the transmission was shot. This is a problem that I now find is very common and we’re probably pretty lucky to have gotten over 100,000 miles out of this transmission. But, a replacement transmission for $4000 is pretty steep. I am very disappointed in this model and what appears to be a common weakness. Does anyone know who to direct their complaints to at Lexus?

12th Jan 2007, 12:08

We have owned Lexus cars since 1988 and have never had any transmission problems. Yesterday Jan. 11th, 2007, our 1999 4WD RX300 transmission failed at 64,000 miles, what a shock! The dealer has offered to pay for parts only and we are hopeful that this will be the only expense. I was totally surprised to see all the comments on this page regarding the transmission problems with the Lexus. This information certainly isn't available in consumer reports. Of course it's still the best car out there and I now drive a RX400H.

24th Feb 2007, 19:36

I have a 2001 RX300 2WD. I recently had the check engine light and the VSC light illuminated. So I take it to Advance Auto and they tell me that the computer says it has the SHIFTER SOLENOID E error. My research says that this might just mean the replacement of this transmission part. Have you guys heard of this error before? Any idea on the cost to fix it?

My transmission started slipping last night and was worse today...

23rd Mar 2007, 21:03

I have a 2001 Rx. The tranny died at 179K miles on it. Had it rebuilt. It has never been like new in shifting since. It is at the transmission shop right now for the same code as described above. Should know something on Monday. I am dissapointed in the fact it went out. I serviced the transmission every 15k miles myself. However its the only problem I have ever had with this car. Not even a blown bulb anywhere.

29th Mar 2007, 10:50

I have a 1999 Lexus RX300 with 124,000 miles, and the tranny just went out with no warning at all! It has been making a small whining noise on cold starts. If you hear that noise at all, take it immediately to the Lexus dealer. Now I am looking at a $3000 job for a rebuild. I thought I bought a reliable SUV. Oh, and the motor has been using a lot of oil and the check engine light has been illuminated several times. I had to replace the rear main seal and an oxygen type sensor, just to get it to pass emissions!

FYI: There is a settlement for a possible oil gel problem, where they will replace the engine. www.oilgelsettlement.com or call 1-800-279-4405 for more information.

1st Apr 2007, 12:12

You should have saved an extra $100 or so to have a qualified independent mechanic check out the car prior to your purchase. It would have been obvious that the transmission was going.

31st May 2007, 00:58

Lexus doesn't even fix the problem. It will go out again in another 80-150K. The car is to heavy for this motor and transmission. Its just an ES300 motor which is a lot smaller. Lexus still needs to recall this transmission even though most are 8 years old.

31st May 2007, 18:07

I bought a used 2000 RX 300 which had 82,500 miles a couple of months ago. The seller had all service records. 15 days back the engine malfunction light came on. I took it to the local Toyota Dealer and they said O2 sensor failure and replaced it along with the spark plugs. Cost $677.00. Just yesterday, the SUV started to jolt, check engine light came on and stalled this morning. Took it back to Toyota and they said the transmission is shot! Cost quoted is $4,600.00! I am cursing myself for buying a Lexus lemon and selling an excellent Camry I had for eight years! I hardly drove the Lexus for 2,500 miles and I am looking at spending a total of more than 5K! I have asked AAMCO to look at the transmission.