2015 Lexus RX 350 - Transmission

Our Lexus 350 started a random problem with the transmission. We purchased a 2015, with about 28,000 miles on it, last Dec. 2018. Within the first few weeks, while driving up a steep hill, the car dropped out of gear. The engine raced, but there was no drive to the wheels. After pulling over, and braking, the car went back into gear, and we were able to continue without episode. We thought is was a random issue that wouldn’t occur again, so didn’t bring it in. At 31,874 miles it did it again. It was again while climbing a hill, on a highway, at speeds in the 60’s. This was very frightening because cars driving behind us had no idea that we were going to stop accelerating. We were abler to put on the hazard light and make it to the shoulder. Once again, after we stopped, it ran fine. This had put us at high risk of a rear end collision, so we brought it to the dealer. After much testing, we were told that they found nothing. The did nothing for us, and we were forced to bring the car home. At 33,396 miles the car slipped out of gear, while climbing a hill, on a highway again. This time we were almost rear-ended before we could coast to the break down lane. We brought the car into Lexus again. This time they found that the transmission fluid was burned, and down, and they replaced the transmission with a new one. We thought our problems were over, and were very happy with the result. At about 5,000 miles with the new transmission, the transmission slipped again. This time, we were on level pavement, in a neighborhood, driving in the 30 mph range. We brought it back to dealership, they were unable to find a problem again. Now we don’t trust the car, and feel it is putting us in danger of a rear end collision. The dealership had a service technician look over the car in detail. They couldn’t find anything. Now we have been called and asked to come in and drive the car, with the service technician sitting with us! Not being said, but implied, is that we are somehow screwing up the transmission. It should be noted that prior to this car, we had a 2006 Lexus RX330, which we gave to our grandson, with 260,000 miles on it. there was never a transmission problem, and it has still had no issues. We have called Lexus headquarters in Texas to voice our concerns. A letter is coming out to us with directions on our next steps. We told the dealership that we are waiting for the letter, and will not be coming in to drive the car with anyone!

That is a GREAT idea and one I would have suggested. It is NOT implying that you are doing something to screw up the transmission at all. It is trying to re-create the problem while a tech records what is happening inside the car’s computers so he can fix the actual problem.

This is NOT something to get upset over! Lexus is trying very hard to do the right thing for you.


You have a problem with this vehicle and it is not a minor problem . The request that you drive with a technician is not out of line or an insult. It is a honest attempt to solve this .

Just curious: Is this vehicle still under the original drivetrain warranty, or is it covered by a certified pre-owned warranty? If so, Lexus will end up fixing it for you, but you need to let them drive it. Second question: Why not trade this vehicle in for another vehicle (new or pre-owned)? It is past the initial depreciation and likely worth about what you paid for it. Why torture yourself?

[quote=“GorehamJ, post:4, topic:143174”]
Why not trade this vehicle in for another vehicle (new or pre-owned)? It is past the initial depreciation and likely worth about what you paid for it. Why torture yourself?

Good point , John. Just for fun I put this vehicle in Kelly Blue Book and I think I would just sell it to Carmax or the dealer and it appears that the money would put them in a nice new vehicle without adding a lot of money. And why does it have to be a Lexus or any expensive vehicle ?

Thanks for your thoughts. We have been talking about a trade in, but maybe a sale would bring better money. We don’t have to have a luxury vehicle. What sold us on the Lexus was our great experience with the first one. We bought a 2006 RX300, in 2010, with 83000 miles, and drove it for almost 11 years, with never a problem. As I said, my grandson has the car now, and it is still worry free, at 263,000 miles. We are both retired, and in early 70’s. Not to sound morbid, but we cost justified the car because we looked at it as our “bury me” car. For 10 years of worry free miles, the car is worth it, but obviously this is the wrong car.

@KathrynDow. I hope you are not looking at your Lexus as your “bury me” car. I am 77, drive a 2017 Toyota Sienna and I hope it isn’t my “bury me” car. When my fellow musicians quit playing their instruments and I am not transporting them to gigs, the Sienna is going to be replaced with a Mazda Miata which will have just enough room for me and my horn and then I can do some real driving. In fsct, my doctor wrote a prescription for me on his pad that said for my mental health I needed a a Miata. Unfortunately, Mrs. Triedaq took the prescription to be filled and it was filled with s generic substitute-- a Toyota Sienna minivan.
I think you should let the technician ride with you. We all drive differently. I have had technicians ride with me on several occasions in my 61 years of driving. One example was on a 1990 Ford Aerostar that I once owned. It had antilock brakes on only the rear wheels. Sometimes the rear wheels would lock up. The Ford dealer’s service department looked at the Aerostar and said they couldn’t duplicate the problem. I thought about the conditions where the problem occurred. I had the technician go for a ride with me. I only went around the dealer’s lot, drove back to the service entrance and slammed on the brakes. The rear wheels locked up and wouldn’t release. The technician then knew the problem was in the controller for the antilock brakes.
There is nothing wrong with your driving so don’t take it as an insult that the technician wants to observe your driving.

Thanks for your response. It may sound morbid, but in reality, I’m hoping for a long life, with a car that can live that long with me. Obviously, this isn’t the car. I don’t believe that 2 transmissions are bad. My suspicion is that something in the computer system is sending a wrong signal to the transmission. Changing the transmission wouldn’t change that problem. So We will probably go car shopping and call it a day.

@KathrynDow You are probably making the right decision in going car shopping. Just keep in mind that technology changes, needs change, and the next car you buy may not be your last.
Some years back, I bought a new console television. It was a wonderful set,.but the high definition flat screen sets came out. My console with the old style picture tube was out of date. We built a house almost 30 years ago and put in new appliances. Last Christmas, after 29 years, the dishwasher gave out. I bought a new one and I can’t believe how much quieter it is and how much better it cleans the dishes.
I believe that keeping up with the times is the best deterrent to aging. Replace the Lexus, but don’t think of your next car as your forever car.

Your drive train warranty is 48 months/50,000 miles - is it still in force?

Yes, I believe the warranty is still in effect

Then help Lexus help you.


The OP has nothing to lose by elevating her complaint to Lexus at the corporate level. Contact info can be found in the Owner’s Manual.

My suspicion is that something is not set up right in the systems to control what choice is selected in the transmission. In an older car this would be a mechanical linkage, but in the Lexus it’s undoubtedly electronic. It could be as simple as a faulty or maladjusted selector switch in the thing you move to select Drive or Reverse, etc. Your suspicion of the computer system might be right, too, but often the most sophisticated computerized operations are brought down by a very mundane thing.

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I can understand trading the car because one has lost confidence in the car. If I owned the car, my curiosity about the problem would make me want to keep the car just to find out what is causing the problem. Once I had the problem fixed, I would trade the car. I know I drive Mrs. Triedaq nuts when I want to know why something doesn’t work right even if it’s old and we are going to replace it anyway.