2007 Lexus RX 350

Took our 2007 Lexus RX 350 in for normal oil change at Lexus dealer and are advised that it needs (a) Rear engine head gasket replacement and reseal at a cost of $4,329 and (b) Right front lower arm control at cost of $1, 013 plus alignment after control arm replacement for $130 for a total $5,472. Car has 106,00 miles on it and this would be our first major repair on it. Car has shown no visible sign of oil leakage on garage floor to date but have noticed slight “shimmying” in front end around 75MPH. Kelly Blue Book trade in value shows about $11,666 for this model in good condition. Inclined to have item “b” right front lower arm control arm replacement and alignment work done either at Lexus or an independent to avoid uneven wear on tire and begin search for replacement vehicle but do nothing on the more costly item “a”. Lexus has advised that priority should be on correcting item “a”.

Your thoughts please.

Get a second and maybe third opinion on both items from independent shops. They will charge less than the dealer and might not agree that the service is needed. Do you notice oil usage between changes, and if so has the oil consumption increased recently? I would not mention the dealer recommendations if you get a second opinion. That might invite a similar opinion. Maybe get your next oil change at an indie and mention the shimmy when you drive way over the speed limit.

+1 for @jtsanders. Sounds like the dealer is trying to find several boat payments here.

A head gasket would be VERY unusual. What do they say indicates you need one? A valve cover gasket would be less surprising and much less costly. But you would notice some oil leakage or burned oil smell. If not, repair isn’t needed.

There are several tests and checks for a bad head gasket. Get them done first.

HOW did they detect headgasket issue? Low coolant? External coolant seepage? Question #2, they will remove motor to remove 1head? Or do job in car? It is good idea to only pull 1 head? Many will disagree.

The rear of the engine doesn’t have a head or head gasket. There is one on each side that runs from the front to the rear. Of course the engine is probably in there sideways, so we can only assume they mean the one in the rear of the engine compartment which would be the one on the left if you look at the front of the motor.

On the rare occasion that I’ve had a dealer near me look at my own car, I’ve noticed that the techs there seem basically to be trained/programmed/cajoled into recommending fixing anything that doesn’t look exactly the way it did when it rolled off the line new. Skip this dealer altogether and find a good, locally owned independent shop that will work more like a person than a business machine.

Definitely get a second opinion from a reputable independent shop. No six year old car has ever gone into a dealer’s garage without at least $4,000 worth of work being recommended. It’s a way of life with dealerships.

If your car needed a new head gasket the chances are that you’d know it. It would operate poorly.

I agree with everyone else. The head gasket don’t make sense. $4000 to repair?? Get the second opinion. Same for the steering component. Go to a reputable shop to have that done. $1,100 sounds very very high

In looking at the parts explosion and pricing for the lower suspension arm, I too was shocked by the estimate. But., when I looked at the labor time I found that the time is 10.6 hours for one arm and 11.6 for both. The majority of the labor is the removal of the engine and transaxle. I quess the engineers figured the lower arem would never need replacement. At least with both repairs being done, there should be a labor discount for having the engine already out and drwined of coolant.

“The majority of the labor is the removal of the engine and transaxle.”

For a control arm! Holy shhhhhh cow.

Please, please, please get a second and third opinion from an independent shop, especially one that works on Lexii. They may know a shortcut if the lower arms do need replacement, which I doubt. But, that is more plausible than a bad head gasket. If the gasket were indeed bad, you’d have a world of driveability problems, or grossly leaking fluids. I call BOOOOOOGUS on this.


like the others said, get another opinion from a different shop, preferably an independent shop that’s been around for awhile and works on Toyota and Lexus

shimmy at 75mph . . . your rims probably need to be balanced

As for the lower control arm replacement . . . ask them to show you why it needs to be replaced, and ask them why they can’t just replace the bushing

BTW . . . in case the control arm bushings are in fact in bad shape, I believe there are Beck Arnley aftermarket parts available

Same thing for the head gasket . . . ask them to show you the problem. And ask them to explain what will happen if you don’t replace the head gasket

Control arm problems/bushings are best fixed by a local indep shop, esp if you can find a well recommended one that specializes in Japanese cars. A dealer shop isn’t necessary for this.

What is the dealerships reasoning on the head gasket? Usually if your engine has a head gasket problem you’d notice a symptom, like it was overheating or loosing coolant or oil, white smoke out the tailpipe, coolant or oil leaks under the car, loss of performance, acceleration problems, stalling, check engine light on, stuff like that. Do you notice any of those symptoms?

All of your comments/input were helpful, reassuring and spot on. Did take it in to an independent yesterday and they, “independently”, identified (a) crack in control arm which they recommended doing nothing on for the present and (b) beginning of a leak in the power steering pump but no indication of head gasket issues. Many thanks.


You’re welcome

And thanks for the update

BTW . . . in regards to that crack, I presume the bushing is cracked, not the entire control arm. Is that correct?

This sounds like a shop you can trust. There’s no need for a vehicle this age to be at the dealer’s anymore for any reason.

Thanks for the feedback. We so rarely find out how the story turned out, and we do care.

It is common to see oil dripping from the power steering pumps on the RX350 and ES350. If they remove the power steering pump they will see the oil is really dripping from the cylinder head. The leak usually from the timing cover to block/head seal failing. There is a bulletin for this repair and another for resealing the cam shaft housings.

These oil leaks normally aren’t severe enough to cause a problem unless the right lower control arm bushings become saturated with oil and fail.

If you are planning to replace this vehicle in the next year or two I won’t fix the leak unless the control arm bushings are being damaged by the oil.

@Nevada_545 gets a big gold star from me for this answer. Thanks.

Seems like @Nevada_545 has shown that a second opinion isn’t always a good one. It appears that the power steer leak shop #2 found may not be a power steer leak at all.


The fact of the matter is that none of us have actually seen the vehicle