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Necessary to have (@30k) AWD Maintenance on Lexus IS?

I have a 2011 Lexus IS 350 AWD that I bought in January, and I took it in today for an oil change per the dealer’s recommended schedule of just over 4k miles (and to get rid of that red icon and message that popped up and takes up my center display). They found that my engine cover was leaking and took it into the shop for some warranty-covered repair. My question concerns some Recommended Maintenance they suggested…

They suggested that I have my “All Wheel Drive Service” that they recommend at 30,000 miles. (My car is at 41k miles now.) This would entail replacing both the front and rear differential and the transfer case fluids. (The cost to me would be $282.60, if that matters.) I’m not familiar enough with AWDs to judge how necessary or appropriate this work would be. Can the CarTalk team and community help me decide whether or not I should have them perform this maintenance?

My Google of “lexus is awd problems” came up with nothing. (First time I’ve ever Googled anything with no problems.) I’d say go by the manufacturer’s recommendation, not the shop.

The manufacturer’s recommendation; what would that be? My manual is in the trunk of the car back at the dealership while it has the other work done.

36 Months or 30,000 Miles

Replace engine oil with 0W-20 oil; replace oil filter
Reset maintenance reminder light
Rotate tires1
Replace air conditioner filter
Replace brake fluid
Replace engine air filter
Replace Smart Key battery
Visually inspect brake pads, calipers
and rotors
Check installation of driver ’s floor mat
Road-test vehicle

Inspect the following:

___Axle shaft boots
___Ball joints and dust covers
___Brake lines and hoses
___Brake pad and rotor thickness
___Brake rotor runout
___Engine coolant (see page 69)
___Exhaust pipes and mountings
___Front differential oil (IS 250 AWD)
___Fuel lines and connections, fuel tank band
and fuel tank vapor vent system hoses
___Fuel tank cap gasket
___Rack and pinion assembly
___Rear differential oil
___Steering linkage and boots
___Transfer case for signs of leakage
(IS 250 AWD)
___Transmission for signs of leakage

Download the PDF on this page for your maintenance schedule:

There is no such work in the maintenance schedule as what the dealership recommended. According to the manual, the owner just inspects the front and rear differential (for oil level and leakage) at each servicing [unless something breaks]. The way I am reading the manual, what the dealership recommended does not need to be done either now or in the future unless I start to notice performance issues – was that the correct inference?

Correct. In my experience, the dealership always recommends way more maintenance than is needed for a normally driven vehicle. Having said that, I would have all the drive-train fluids changed at 100k, but that’s just me.

Seeing as how a leaking cover (?) is mentioned, I would hope the red icon that is mentioned is not the oil pressure lamp…

30 k is a little early. But, I have had AWD and 4wd cars for over 25 years and I have always replaced the diff, front rear and center and transfer case fluids on 4 wd by 50 k . So I would do it. I always felt, especially with the AWD cars, that you never know how much harder they have worked if your car is used. Improper air pressure, u equal loads etc. all cause excessive wear and heat. If I had bought it new and really babied it, I have gone to recommended 60k on a couple of AWD cars. But I tow with my trucks and live on a dirt road so still they all get changed before 50 k. You don’t know the life your car has lived. I would do it now then at 100k.

The key to AWD longevity is how you drive and maintain it. They can be absolutely trouble free with a little extra care. If at 100k or more you decide to keep the car or keep it in the family, service like this will be welcome security.