Problems With Lexus Cars: 5 Known Issues (Explained)

The Lexus brand shares the exceptional reliability and durability of its parent company, Toyota.

While Lexus vehicles don’t break down often, they still encounter some common problems.

This article has put together 5 major problems with Lexus cars, including the names of the problematic models.

1. Oil Leakage 

Users often report this problem on the Lexus IS 300 and Lexus RX350 engines.

This is caused because the oil line that passes through the VVT solenoid to the oil feeds is susceptible to breaking and causing oil leakage. Another frustrating part is that even the replacement has the same issue after some time.

Generally, 2004 is the worst year for the Lexus RX models.

The replacement oil line can cost anywhere between $10 and $100.

Another cause of oil leakage is damaged engine gaskets. When the engine reaches extreme temperature, the gasket can’t withstand the heat.

A coolant leak causes an overheated engine. The coolant is meant to maintain the temperature of the engine no matter the weather.

Fixing the leaking gasket usually costs about $2000 upward, according to Consumer Reports. This is a friendly reminder to take this problem seriously and watch out for common warning signs that come with it. These signs include:

  • Engine overheating
  • Loss of power
  • White smokes
  • Oil change and contamination (brownish-yellow color)
  • Rough idling
  • External leaks

Oil leakage is also a common problem with the Lexus ES. With that in mind, you should know the best and worst Lexus ES years.

2. Sensor Problems 

The Lexus IS 250’s O2 sensors are prone to failure.

O2 sensors monitor the oxygen level in the exhaust gases and deliver this data to the control unit that maintains the air-to-fuel ratio, to improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle.

The Lexus IS has a pair of the o2 sensors called the upstream and downstream sensors.

The most important type is the upstream O2 sensor, and they are usually located close to the engine to maintain the air and fuel levels. Any damage done to this sensor affects the entire performance of the vehicle.

The downstream sensor is located deep down in the exhaust system after the catalytic converter. The main job of this sensor is to ensure that the catalytic converter works properly by measuring the amount of pollutants that go through it.

A damaged downstream sensor may not necessarily affect the engine, but a warning engine light will usually come on. The cost to repair and replace a faulty o2 sensor ranges from $50 to $500 according to

This price, however, depends on the type of vehicle and the skill level of the mechanic. Common signs of a bad o2 sensor in the Lexus IS include: 

  • Slow acceleration 
  • Rough and irregular idling
  • Loss of engine power
  • Less fuel efficiency 
  • Jerking and hesitation while accelerating 
  • Car stalling
  • Bad odor from the exhaust 
  • Tailpipe emissions 
  • Warning engine lights

On the newer models like the RX-450H F-SPORT, users might have issues with the parking assistance sensor.

This hinders them from detecting certain objects while trying to park.

The malfunction is often due to dirt, harsh weather or disconnected wiring. The great thing is that it’s easy to fix and might just need the car’s system to reset it.

Meanwhile, explore the best and worst years for the Lexus IS.

3. Drivetrain Problems

Users commonly see this drive train problem on the Lexus GX470 model. Faulty U-joints often cause a drivetrain failure.

The U-joint connects the driveshaft to the differential and allows the drivetrain to maneuver the car’s movement properly. Once there’s a problem with the U- joints, the car’s suspension system falls apart, which leads to grinding noises from the vehicle.

Another cause of a failing drivetrain is a bad transmission. Ordinarily, an issue with the drivetrain causes transmission leaks, but on the other hand, a transmission leak could also cause a problem with the drivetrain.

A leakage with the transmission causes grinding and friction because the fluid responsible for lubricating is absent. Unlubricated transmissions affect the drivetrain and the entire performance of the car. The common signs associated with a faulty drivetrain in a Lexus include:

  • Strange and weird noises
  • Leaking transmission fluid
  • Slow acceleration 
  • Intense shaking and vibration 
  • Drivetrain warning lights 

The usual cost of replacing a driveshaft ranges between $300 to $1300, including the cost of labor.

Luckily, new Lexus models have a drivetrain warranty. This warranty may cover the axle shafts, CV joints, transmission, and other important components.

Related: Toyota VS. Lexus: 5 Important Differences (Before Buying)

4. Water Leaks 

Water leakage into the cabin is common with the:

  • Lexus RX 300,
  • Lexus 450h
  • and Lexus RX400 h.

Water leaks can come from the tailgate if you use a hatchback model because the rubbers used to seal the openings could wear out and leak into the back seats of the car.

The leakage could also be from clogged pollen filters. If the filters become clogged, condensation can accumulate and cause water to leak into the interior.

Last, inspect your windshields, door and rear window as leaks could come from those locations as well.

Related: 6 Lexus Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

5. Brake Problems 

Brake pads have to be replaced often in most cars, and the Lexus model is not an exception. In the Lexus models, the brake actuator is the most common part to fail in the braking system.

It is a system that comprises many parts, like the pump motor, wheel cylinder, accumulator, linear solenoid valve, and cylinder pressure sensor.

Brake problems are also among common Lexus ES problems.

The basic purpose of this actuator is to make sure that the braking system of the car works alongside the ABS system.

If the brake actuator fails, leakage often caused it and when the actuator is pressed, this leakage reduces the amount of pressure and might lead to delayed braking of the vehicle.

Replacing and fixing a brake actuator could cost up to $3,000, depending on the car model. The common signs to look out for include:

  • Weird noises
  • Stiffened brake pedal 
  • Delayed braking
  • Dashboard warning lights (ABS light and brake lights)

Related: 6 Lexus Models You Can Lease (And Some You Cannot)

General Maintenance of Lexus Cars

Regardless of the fact that Lexus is a reliable car brand, car owners should not handle their vehicles recklessly.

Scheduled maintenance makes your car last longer to serve you well.

Some major tips for maintaining your Lexus car include:

Follow Your Manufacturer’s Instructions

Every brand has its recommended maintenance tips for their cars.

Therefore, Lexus owners should follow their dealer’s instructions and keep up with their manual, as these recommendations are necessary for running the car safely.

Take your car to the dealer so that all the maintenance services can be scheduled. Some short-term maintenance services include:

  • Oil changes 
  • Battery checks 
  • Air and cabin filter replacement 
  • Tire rotation
  • Brake pads replacement 

Asides from these, you can also make it a routine to inspect for any fluid leakage before sending them off to the dealer.

There are some major fluids in the vehicle that owners should take notice of. They are the antifreeze, brake fluid, power-steering fluid, and transmission fluid.

You may also want to probe some common Lexus IS problems.

Adopt a Healthy Driving Habit 

Reckless driving has a tremendous effect on how long a car will last, regardless of the brand and how reliable they are.

Lexus is a remarkable car brand, but if your driving habit is poor, you will experience frequent breakdowns.

Some healthy driving habits include:

  • Reduce towing heavy loads
  • Do not speed up suddenly 
  • Avoid potholes as much as you can
  • Avoid hard braking

Meanwhile, also explore some Lexus LS problems.

Keep It Clean

Lexus cars have a good resale value.

Taking care of its exterior gives you higher leverage if you plan to sell it later on.

Keeping it clean involves regular washing and waxing when necessary. Do not allow stains to accumulate on it for so long because they might contain acidic elements that can eat into the car’s paint.

Check and Change Your Tires

This directly affects your safety. Driving with bad tires can raise the accident rate of your car.

Rotate them as often as you need to, check for threads if they can still grip the road, and change them all when they’re due for replacement. Ultimately, there are specific Lexus UX problems you should explore.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.