CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Brand New RX350 with Defunk AC - Demand a new car?

I bought an RX350 and when we drove it off the lot the AC did not work. It turns out it needs a new compressor. Should I let them fix it or demand a new car? I expect when you pay $40K+ for a new car it should work. Am I being too hard?

I don’t think you can reasonably demand a new car over this.

Early life failure of the compressor, doesn’t mean the whole car is junk. Though, you’d think that they would have caught that at the dealer check drive.

You can demand a new car. I don’t think you’ll get it, but OK to try. If the AC didn’t work from moment 1 they should have not delivered the car in the 1st place. If the exact model, color, etc. is available on the lot request a different car.

Of course there maybe something amiss with it too. JD Power ratings are based on the number of problems per new vehicle in the 1st 6 mons. to a year on the road. Therefore no car is perfect. That is why they have service departments. Even brand new cars need repairs.

Only demand something that you know you will receive, otherwise you wind up looking foolish.

In the case of a new vehicle, multiple warranties are in effect to protect you against defects in materials and workmanship, and a bad compressor is clearly a defect. The warranty will give you the new compressor that you deserve, and–of course–you will not pay even one penny for this. Being a luxury vehicle, the dealership will give you a loaner vehicle for the period of time necessary to obtain the part(s) and to install them.

Warranties do not provide for a new vehicle when a defunct or defective part is found. However, if the dealership is not able to repair a defect after three attempts, the Lemon Law in most states does provide for a replacement vehicle.

Keep careful records of repairs related to the A/C system, and if you become eligible for a Lemon Law settlement under the terms of your state’s statute, then you can qualify for a replacement vehicle. In the meantime, research the terms of this statute in your state.

Demand all you want. The only thing you will get, and that you’re entitled to,is a warranty repair of the defective part.

While a certain percentage of any manufactured part will be failures from the get-go or shortly afterwards a compressor failure is rare.
Compressors can also be frequently misdiagnosed so I would say there is a chance the compressor may not even be bad.

Was the A/C not working during a test drive?

Fair enough. Can you tell what you think is reasonable? Just saying they will fix it seems to fall way short of the value proposition of buying a new luxury car.

While the minimum of what I am entitled to may be a warranty repair, I think it is hard to sell someone on the value of buying a luxury car if all the dealership offers on service is what is entitled. Isn’t it fair to expect the dealership to do something to make it right? How is it that the expectation can be the same service regardless of whether the issue was caused by regular wear and tear two years from now and a defect at the time of sale?

You need to understand that the dealer who sold you the car does not warranty anything on that car for one minute. Any warranty is by the car maker, not the dealer.

The car maker is not going to give you a new car because the air compressor is (allegedly)bad. You can sue them but if you choose to do this I think you will find the law is on their side.

Other than still wanting to know if the A/C was working when you bought the car I’d also like to know if the car was purchased new. (as in 5 miles on it, not a 100, 200, etc.)

While it’s entirely possible to have a compressor failure it’s very rare and if the compressor failed on you while driving then it should have been accompanied by some noise.
As I said, compressor problems can and are often misdiagnosed so maybe a look at it by someone else might be helpful.

The dealer IS doing something to make it right. They are replacing the defective compressor for free, which is exactly what they should be doing.

I know it’s a disappointment to have a problem with a brand new vehicle, but it happens now and then.

Are you getting a loaner while it’s in the shop?

The AC was not working when I bought the car. I failed to realize this until we pulled off of the lot. The car was new - 6 miles on it. I assume that if they change out the compressor and the AC still does not work we will not it was misdiagnosed. Fair asusmption?

It should work, and they will make it work. Anger management is something that helps us make better decisions. Eliminate the revenge and the decision is easy.

You are correct. If the compressor is changed and still no A/C then it’s a botched diagnosis.

There could be any one of several dozen reasons why the compressor does not engage.
I have no way of knowing how they arrived at the bad compressor conclusion but assuming that electrical power actually makes it to the compressor, a faulty compressor should appear as a noisy one or by the system pressures being incorrect.

The reason I asked about mileage is to simply make sure this was not a dealer demo car. Sometimes demos get whacked due to a lead-footed salesman and I was considering the possibility of front end damage leading to an A/C system oil leak, which in turn could trash a compressor due to lack of oil.
Your car is apparently “new, new” so this would not be the case.

You might keep us up to date on this. All new vehicles are supposed to go through what is called a “PDI”, or Pre-Delivery Inspection, and checking operation of the A/C is supposed to be part of this.
A faulty compressor should not be present on a 6 mile vehicle and the nagging thought of a botched diagnosis keeps entering my mind.

Dealership missed the boat on the pre delivery inspection which likely includes AC check.

Call, demand loaner if not offered and it will be fixed. Complain of your dismay of this and see if dealer offers free oil change(s) or whatever. If not complain to Lexus. Lexus exists to keep customers happy.

In the end your vehicle is really just a glorified cushy Toyota and simply a car. $40k(upper end) or $12k(lower end) for price does not mean fail proof.

I bought a new Volvo many years ago that must have been built on a Monday or a Friday. It had a whole array of things that simply didn’t work (e.g. door lock, an engine temperature sensor) or had been carelessly assembled, as evidenced by stripped and cross-threaded bolts, and a rear hatch hinge with a big burr on it that scratched through the paint to bare metal.

The dealer fixed everything without hesitation. I wrote a letter to Volvo detailing all these problems (likely did no good at all, but made me feel better).

19 years and 280k miles later, that car still takes me to work every day. It looks and runs great. It was far from a lemon, it just had a few ‘new car glitches’.

The reason for having warranties is that no car is guaranteed perfect. A friend of mine bought a new Buick Roadmaster with the 5.7 liter engine.It blew in the first week of ownership.

He was satisfied to have the dealer install a new engine and give him a loaner car. This is basically what the warranty is for. Today, 10 years later he is still drivng the same car and is happy with it!

The dealer will do what Toyota allows him to. This is probably just replacing the compressor or fixing the seals. I had a similar situation on a Ford Taurus. The AC failed shortly after purchase. I noted when I bought it that it sat on the lot for over 8 months. I guessed that the seals had dried out and needed to be replaced. The dealer wasn’t in a listening mood and tried something else. They botched the repair 6 times, and I contacted Ford about a lemon law return. The dealer then decided to replace the compressor and everything was fine.

This does not mean that you will have more than one visit. But I offer the story to remind you of how important it is to document every visit for this or other problems that may crop up while the Lexus is subject to a lemon return.

It is likely that the car will be fine after replacing the compressor, and you should get it done ASAP.

An automobile, particularly a new Lexus RX 350 is not a throw-away item. Had you bought a new toaster, a new television set or a possibly even a new refrigerator, it might be replaced instead of repaired under warranty. The cost of repair exceeds the cost of a new unit. I mentioned refrigerators because I once bought a new refrigerator and opened the freezing compartment and found that everything was melting. A couple hours later and it was freezing again. I called the independent store where I bought the refrigerator and the repairman came out. All was working fine when he got there and he checked everything. Just as he was ready to leave, the refrigerator went back into its goofy cycle of not freezing. He checked everything and finally called the store with the model number and told them to send me a new refrigerator. He said to me, “You bought new merchandise and it should be right”. He explained that they would turn it back to the manufacturer because the cost of trying to diagnose the problem and then repair might be as much as a new refrigerator.

However, it is not feasible for Lexus to replace your car. They may replace the compressor instead of rebuilding it at the dealer, but they won’t and should not replace the car. I had a car that was under warranty and a problem that I was having was traced down to a cracked cylinder head. By the time the head was removed to find the problem, enough coolant had leaked into the combustion chamber that the cylinder wall was scored. Ford replaced the entire engine. I told the service manager that I was surprised that they didn’t just hone the cylinder wall. He said that on warranty work that wasn’t allowed. I didn’t get a new vehicle, but I did get a new engine and I was more than satisfied. Replacing an air conditioning compressor is not as serious as replacing an engine.

Are you sure it’s the compressor and not just a fuse that may not have been put in? When I went to a Toyota dealership testing out a new Rav4, the sales lady told me they had to get a fuse put in before we could go for the test drive, otherwise we wouldn’t have had the AC working.
If a new compressor doesn’t fix things, this may likely be the culprit.