Lexus RX300 Problems

by Andy Joseph

Manufactured between 1999 and 2003, the Lexus RX300 was one of the first "crossover" vehicles that blended the attributes of a truck and a passenger car. The vehicle was so successful that Lexus followed it up with the RX330 and RX350 series. Despite its overall reliability, the RX300 was not without its problems.


As it is with virtually all first-year entries in a car generation or series, the 1999 edition had the most problems. Common defects included odd noises from the audio system, squealing brakes, faulty exhaust systems and strut supports, rear and side glass glazing that failed to conform to federal motor vehicle safety standards, and throbbing racket from the moon roof due to the location of the luggage-rack cross bars. The most frequent defect was the failure of headlights and taillights to automatically illuminate in low ambient light when the headlight switch was placed in "AUTO" position, thus decreasing visibility. Lexus issued an eight-year unlimited mileage repair for failures of the engine, the air-fuel ratio sensors and the mass air-flow sensor due to engine oil gelling. This problem can be avoided by maintaining a proper oil change schedule.


Most of the defects and recalls of the 1999 RX300 were addressed by the time the 2000 version hit the market. Audio, exhaust and wind noises were largely gone from the vehicle--solved by exchanging the amplifiers under warranty, installing a damper weight, and rearranging the cross bars, respectively. However, despite a decrease in occurrence, some RX300s still had problems with their exterior lighting systems, as well as the persistence of brake squealing, suspension noise and engine failures.


Revised strut support with new bushings considerably reduced suspension noise. Revised rotors, shims, support plates and pads greatly reduced brake noise.


By this time, only exterior lighting, questionable glass glazing and faulty engine sensors persisted as problems for the RX300.


The problems that plagued the RX300 throughout its production life were still present with the last entry, as were engine malfunctions--this time with the evaporative emission system. However, the car's technical problems had been considerably reduced since 1999, making the 2003 version the most refined RX300.

About the Author

Based in the D.C. area, Andy Joseph works full-time as a data analyst and technical writer. He has been writing articles about technology, health, politics, music, culture and automobiles since 2007. His work has appeared in The Express, Congressional Report and Road & Track. He has a master's degree in journalism and technology management.

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