Inadvertently drove 2007 Lexus RX350 40 miles with a massive oil leak. Did I kill my car?

Drove 40 miles today before noting that the rear windshield was dirty and wouldn’t clean with the washer fluid. When we finally pulled over to clean it (we figured it was tree sap or something), the back of the car was covered in oil. Automatically checked the oil and it was not showing on the dipstick. Put 3 quarts in and drove it 6 miles to a repair shop. They ended up replacing a rubber hose connected to oil cooler (after some research, I’ve seen that this hose was replaced with a metal one in later models due to this very failure). When we returned home, there was oil on the floor of our garage, proof that it had leaked a good bit overnight–before we drove it 40 miles!

The oil pressure light never came on, we never saw any smoke, never heard any noise from the engine. It sounds fine now. I know this HAD to have damaged the engine–what are the chances we’re going to have big engine problems down the road?

UPDATE: Did some research into the service history before I bought the car and the cooler line that Lexus did a replacement campaign to fix was replaced in 2010. This line is not covered under that, though this is the same problem (rubber hose under high heat and pressure). Ordered the metal part from Toyota and will have it installed to replace the rubber hose. Took it into the Toyota dealership today and had the oil changed–oil looked good, no bits or pieces on the plug or the filter (we cut it open to check). Looks like we may be in the clear for now. Thanks for everyone’s help!

No noise and no oil light is a good thing.

But no oil in the engine is a bad thing.

All you can do is drive it and cross your fingers and toes!


If you are SURE that the oil pressure light never lit up (and that the light is actually working), then you just may have dodged a bullet on this issue.

The next time that you start the engine, observe the warning lights on the dashboard that light up when you turn the key to “on”, but before you turn the key far enough to activate the starter. If the oil pressure warning light does indeed light up at that time, then it is working, and you are probably going to be okay.

The light does work, that was one of the first things I checked when I got home and found the oil in the garage (and subsequently panicked about how long it was actually leaking). Is there a chance that the light works but the sensor is out?

If the oil light turns off when the engine is started, the oil pressure sending unit is working.


Excellent. Thanks!


My brother had the same problem on his 2008 Highlander . . . identical engine to yours. Actually, at the time it happened, I was able to fix it myself, by installing a section of Gates oil cooler hose, which I happened to have in the trunk of my car. It cost us nothing, except some time and a few quarts of oil

After it happened, I also did some research, as you did, and found it’s a common problem on the 2GR-FE engine. And I found out about the factory fix. In fact, I even paid a few bucks to log onto the Toyota technical website, which has the same information the dealer mechanics use. It also gave me access to Lexus and Scion, BTW

What Toyota Motor Corporation will do is replace that leaking hose with an “improved” hose

Trust me . . . I’ve read the paperwork numerous times

They will NOT install that updated metal line

After a few years, that Gates hose I installed started seeping out from under the clamps. And Gates makes good hoses and belts. That tells me the only permanent solution is to install the all metal line w/o any section of rubber hose, and thus eliminate the weak spot

I paid for the line for my brother’s car out of my own pocket. I determined that, for the most part, model year 2009 and newer Toyotas . . . and Lexus and Scion, I suppose . . . with that engine, have the all-metal line installed from the factory. The fact that they had them installed from the beginning means they knew about the problem. In fact, while I was on the website, I even found some documents which pretty much prove that the factory KNEW about the problem BEFORE my brother’s car was even produced. That engine first appeared in the 2004 or 2005 model year . . . Avalon, perhaps. AFAIK . . . the first 4 or 5 model years of that engine all had that lousy design with the hose in the middle. In my brother’s case, a pinhole developed, without warning, from one day to the next, leading to an instantaneous and potentially catastrophic oil loss.

Yet Toyota feels it’s cheaper to throw a bandaid at the problem versus doing what they know to be a permanent fix . . . aka installing the all-metal line

In my brother’s case, he was driving on surface roads, on the way to a relative’s house. He called me on the phone while he was driving and asked me if I’d spilled some oil the day before, when I changed his oil and filter. I said I might have spilled a drop or so, but I wiped it off. He then told me the oil pressure light just turned on. I told him to shut off the engine immediately. He did and I headed to where he was, and installed that hose. That was a few years ago, and I can confidently say it’s suffered no damage, because he put on a LOT of miles since then.

Here’s what I did . . . I walked into the parts department and said I need that line and seals for a 2009 model year HIghlander with the 2GR-FE engine. They gave me the all-metal line. Just for kicks and giggles, I asked them to show me the part for a 2008 Highlander with the same engine, and it was that same BS metal line with the rubber hose in the middle :smirk:

BTW . . . I mentioned the oil change, because I can say with 100% certainty that line was not leaking at all the day I did the oil change. It appeared absolutely perfect. Yet the next day it let go catastrophically

Perhaps you can wring Lexus’s necks and somehow insist they do a proper fix and install the all-metal line. Tell them you don’t want a bandaid fix. Tell them you want them to install the good stuff, so to speak.

Unless I hear otherwise, I’m going to assume the “campaign” to fix that line is still open. Meaning it hasn’t been completed. If that is the case, Toyota will pay for damages related to that line failing

I don’t think you did any damage because you never lost oil pressure. Your engine was being lubricated. However, as the oil level decreased, the remaining oil was being cycled through the engine more frequently than normal and had less time to cool down between cycles.

For that reason, the remaining oil has been subjected to excessive breakdown. The fresh oil that you added will help, but I would recommend that you get an oil change pretty soon just to be safe. If you do that, I don’t think your engines life will be measurably shortened.

The mechanic at the repair shop should have recommended an oil change at that time.

@db4690 It is kinda ridiculous. I saw that Lexus did a voluntary. . .campaign, I think they called it. . .to replace the rubber hoses with the metal part, as it was an obvious point of weakness and likely to fail. It was back in 2010 or so. I plan to call the dealership after the holiday and talk to them about what happened, but it’s not under warranty and has about 140,000 miles. I actually just purchased it a couple of months ago. After our research on the common failure, we had already planned to just buy the metal line and have it installed, just as you did. Better safe than sorry, I certainly don’t want to have this problem again.


I strongly urge you to have the car towed to your local Lexus dealer on tuesday, since tomorrow is a holiday

Save the tow bill and the receipts from that repair shop you mentioned, and present them to the dealer. They need to reimburse you for that, as well

How would an all-metal line deal with the movement of the motor in relation to the cooler? Is the cooler mounted to the motor?

@db4690 Unfortunately, the closest Lexus dealership is about 90 miles away. We do have a local Toyota dealership, so I may consider that.

There is a warranty enhancement program for the oil cooler pipes, vehicles are covered for 10 years for first use/150,000 miles. The oil cooler pipe must be leaking to get a free replacement.

There is also a campaign for the VVT-i oil hose on the right cylinder head mentioned by db4690 that expires in 2021, the VVT-i oil hose gets replaced leaking or not.

@Nevada_545 Oh, good to know! Unfortunately I don’t think I’d be eligible since I had to have it replaced today in order to get home, but I’m totally game for calling the dealership and seeing what they’ll do.

After you discovered this, did your shop drain all the oil from the drain plug to determine how much was still in the crankcase? If so, how much ?

I don’t know what your dealer can do for you if the oil cooler in not leaking.

Check if you vehicle has incomplete recalls/service campaigns;

If your vehicle has an incomplete recall and you take the vehicle in they will refill your fuel tank and wash the car.


Yes, the hose gets replaced . . . with a hose, NOT a metal line

I’d be willing to bet lunch that the factory-authorized “improved” hose does not last more than a few years, before it too is seeping, if not outright leaking :frowning:

If you want the all-metal line, you have to pay out of pocket, or somehow have some kind of “pull” . . . I sure don’t. That’s why I just paid the money for the all-metal line, installed it myself, and I know it’ll never be a problem again

@GeorgeSanJose Unfortunately, I don’t think they did.

The VVT-i hose campaign started 6 years ago, if the replacement hoses only last a few years we would know about it by now.

@dookingcheekun You don’t have to drain the oil to determine how much oil was lost, how many quarts of oil were you billed for?