2000 Lexus LS400 Transmission Issue

I own a 2000 Lexus LS400 with approximately 60,000 original miles. I drove about 1.5 miles to get a haircut today. As I was making the return trip home (1.5 miles) the car started having a shifting problem and I immediately thought to myself, there must be something wrong with the transmission. Accelerating from 0-20mph was very difficult and the car’s tachometer was registering at about 6,000rpm. Once, the car got past 20mph, I continued down the road at 35mph with the car at a high rpm and the car felt and sounded like it was in the wrong gear. Going up a short incline was even more difficult and I couldn’t go past 35mph. I finallly made it home and it was quite a challenge even driving up and over the curb to get into the driveway.

Once I got up past the curb, I noticed a huge puddle of oil that I had not seen before I left because I wasn’t paying attention and because the car was covering it. When I turned the engine off, I noticed a steady stream of oil for 100 feet that went on the street before my driveway that followed the pattern of the car. I assume the car must have leaked a lot more oil earlier on the way home when I was going at a faster speed. I opened up the hood and checked the transmission dipstick, and it was dry. The fluid on the driveway was red so it’s definitely transmission fluid. The car must have been leaking transmission fluid before I went to the barbershop because when I came home, I noticed the car’s front end had covered a huge puddle that I didn’t see before. However, the transmission symptoms only appeared on my way home from the barbershop. I didn’t check for leaks in the parking lot of the barbershop because I went to a parking spot where there was no one in front of me, so I didn’t back out. I’m assuming something was under pressure and burst and caused an even greater leak.

Could a transmission hose or reservoir burst, or do you all think the entire transmission needs to be replaced? When I went under the hood I noticed more wet fluid underneath the right side of the car in front (right side in this situation means passenger side) vs the driver’s side. If I need a new transmission, do you all think it’s worth spending money on a transmission replacement vs selling the car?

Something transmission fluid certainly blew - could be several things maybe even as simple as a cooler line.

You’ll have to have the car towed - the surest way to truly wreck the trans would be to try to refill it and drive it - not to mention that this would be environmentally unfriendly. There is a good change that no serious damage has been done yet. Find a reputable and locally owned transmission shop - not a chain. Have the vehicle hauled in and they can check it over.

I actually had this happen to me once and no permanent or serious damage was done to the trans.

AAAAAAK!!! 6000 rpm while the trans is slipping, continuing down the road at 35mph with the car at high rpm, then the incline!!! I can just see the clutch steels eating through the frictions and glowing hot. If your lucky they didnt weld themselves together. When an automatic transmission starts slipping the absolute WORST thing you can do is put your foot into it harder. Thats what most people do so dont feel too bad. If what you are telling us is accurate, that transmission is roasted. Its time to get it to a trans shop. Be sure to let them know about the leak so they can also concentrate on finding the source of the leak so the new/rebuilt trans doesnt meet the same fate.

Please follow up with us on this and let us know what happens.

Good luck,


Well I decided to sell the car to a master technician with over 16 years of automotive repair experience and one week later I see the car is up for sale for $4,000 more than what I sold it for. The ad doesn’t mention anything about a replacement transmission. I was quoted anywhere from $3,500 to $4,500 for a replacement transmission, so I don’t see how he could have put in a replacement transmission. In any event, it’s beneficial to be in the auto repair industry where you can buy “mechanics specials” and make a profit on them. What happened in my situation was a rabbit ate the transmission hose (no, I’m not making this up–I saw the actual hose with rabbit fur on it when the tech came over to buy the car and put in a new hose and coolant) ,causing the fluid to leak out. I’m not a tech, but I don’t know how he could have repaired the transmission because it didn’t sound and feel good at all when I was driving it and unfortunately there was no where to pull over. I think a repair still would have been expensive in my opinion because of the labor costs involved. I’m thankful the transmission didn’t go out on the freeway because at high speeds that would have been scary. Assuming the tech who bought the car drained and refilled the transmission several times to get rid of the metal shavings or he did some repairs to the transmission without replacing the entire unit, is the transmission’s life expectancy reduced based upon what happened? If this was your car, what would you all have done?

Get an estimate to replace or fix that transmission.

I have a bad feeling the repair price will be 50-75% of the resale value.

You may be able to firesale it in this condition however your target buyer will be very slim and not do this without a serious bargain for taking a headache off your hands.

I sold the car already but was just curious about future if it happens again, if a repair would be cost effective or if that is just a short term patch that doesn’t erase the pain inflicted to the transmission.

Given the car only had 60k you likely had lots of life left in the car if maintained before.

Water under the bridge…

If a technician is to fix the car for you, the repair has to last a while. After all, you want to get your $4000 worth. Replacing a new or a properly rebuilt transmission is the safest option to ensure a quality repair. The replacement unit would like have some sort of warranty on it. If it doesn’t last, would you likely return for future service?

But if the technician is to fix the car then sell it, the repair doesn’t have to last. The car just has to move for the duration of a test drive. A used transmission from a recycling facilities would work just fine for that purpose. But like any used car, there’s no guarantee that the transmission would last. If it fails a day after the car is sold, too bad.

That’s what a technician had to done our 92 Corolla after the transmission crooked. We sold the thing for $100. Then we saw it on the road after a month.