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6 Common Problems Of A Lexus RX450h Hybrid

6 Common Problems Of A Lexus RX450h Hybrid

We’ve written extensively about Lexus and the various questions you might have about these cars and their various features, whether we’re talking about the types of gas they take or common problems of certain models.

In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an RX450h. However, let’s first start with a quick question and answer:

What kind of problems does a Lexus RX450h usually have?

The most common problem of Lexus RX450h are failing brake actuators and booster pumps, both make braking difficult and increase the risk of a crash. Furthermore, 2010 and 2011 models experience oil leaks, leading to engine stalling and power loss. Finally, the 2016 model were recalled for the airbag sensor failure, which prevented airbag deployment.

That was the most straightforward answer possible, however that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the article below, we’ll discuss every problem in detail. This includes identifying the issue, fixing it, and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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We Use Real World Vehicle Data To Create This List Of Problems

Before we dive into the most common problems, let’s quickly explain how we created this list.

This data comes from vehicle owners like you. It’s based on real data from real drivers. No guesswork or hypotheticals here.

We use resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many others, to review the most common complaints issues by owners along with the full history of recalls and active investigations.

From there, our team of automotive experts takes a closer look into each problem and breaks down why it happens, what you can do to prevent it, and how to fix it.

We review the data and interpret the results to make your life easier. Now that you understand how we came up with this list, let’s get into it!

1. Oil Leakage

Oil leakage was a major complaint against the earlier models, 2010 – 2011. The low oil pressure warning usually indicated it, but a complete loss of power was experienced in the worst-case scenario. The root of the problem can be traced to a defective oil cooler pipe.

No recalls were made for the defect, but it was covered under the Lexus basic warranty. Owners experiencing the oil leaks could take their vehicles to the dealers and get the oil cooler pipe replaced free of charge.

However, most consumers had a problem with how Lexus dealt with the defect. For starters, they complained that they were not informed of the issue adequately, even though it was pretty common. Then, a more major concern was that Lexus only covered the cost of replacing the oil pipe and not any damages caused by the defect.

If you’re interested in getting a 2010 or 2011 RX450h, it’s best to check if the oil cooler pipe has been replaced. If it hasn’t been replaced, most owners would recommend that you dish out the $200 to $400 for its replacement because the potential damage it could cause would drain your wallet quite a bit.

2. Brake Actuator And Booster Pump Failure

Brake actuator and brake booster pump failure is a problem faced by owners of some Toyota and Lexus vehicles, including the Lexus RX450h. This problem generally presents itself after the vehicle has been used for years, or rather we should say the problem occurs after the vehicle has been used for years.

An ABS or brake warning light usually indicates this problem, but some consumers unfortunately only found out once they had an accident involving brake failure.

Apart from this, some other symptoms accompany brake actuator failure. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Leaks in the closed pressurized system cause hissing or whistling sounds. This noise is more prominent while using the parking brake.
  • Delay in braking response.
  • Increase in pedal pressure. If you find it difficult to apply brakes, or if the brakes appear to be more stiff than usual, it could mean something wrong with the actuator.

A possible reason for the failure is a minor brake fluid leak inside the actuator, which may cause it to wear out prematurely. There has been no recall, and getting the issue fixed comes with a hefty bill, anywhere from $2500 to $4000.

3. Air Bag Failure

Airbag failures are serious safety risks resulting in fatal injuries in crashes and collisions. Two recalls were made regarding airbag failures in the 2016 Lexus RX450h.

The first recall was a minor one (small scale) made in 2016; it replaced the driver’s knee airbag assembly that had become defective due to an inflator gas leak. An improper weld caused the defect, which allowed the gas to escape.

However, the second recall was a major one. It potentially affected 48,672 units according to NHTSA and caused complete airbag failure. This airbag failure is due to defective sensors which prevent the airbags from deploying in the event of a crash. The recall required that the dealers replace the faulty pressure sensors and acceleration sensors free of charge if needed. 

If you’re looking to get a 2016 Lexus RX450h, it’s best to check if the airbag sensors have been replaced or if the vehicle was part of the recall. Replacing the airbag sensors on your own can cost anywhere from $200 to $800, so it’s best if the car has been taken in for the recall.

4. Exploding Sunroof

Some consumers brought attention to a surprising problem: exploding sunroofs. There were some complaints about the sudden shattering of sunroofs in their Lexus RX450h, and so we did some research. We found that this problem was not limited to Lexus and other brands like Kia and Hyundai had similar complaints.

Unfortunately, we found that there was no defect to point at or a specific explanation for the shattering glass roof. The conclusion that we and many others came to was that even though the sunroof is made of stronger, tempered glass, it can still shatter.

Possible reasons for shattering could be stresses during installation or temperature changes, and small debris could become triggers.

Although this problem is not particularly common and you don’t have to worry about a definitive failure, it’s best to ask for a sunroof inspection when you’re in for a service or maintenance visit.

5. Soy-Coated Wiring

A common issue for most brands including Lexus is Soy-coated wiring. Most automakers switched to soy-based coating for their wiring because it was more biodegradable and so more eco-friendly. Although it’s better for the environment, it’s also better for the automaker as these soy-based coatings are cheaper than their plastic counterparts.

The problem with these soy-based coatings is that they attract rodents which then like to chew on them and use them as nesting material. This could cause an array of problems, any system that utilizes wires accessible to these rodents is at risk of failing. This has become quite the problem since there is no easy solution and it’s a problem found in most vehicles by most automakers.

There are some simple steps to include into your routine to try and catch these rodents before they cause an expensive problem. This includes regularly opening the hood and looking for signs of rodent activity, looking for shredded pieces of wire where you park your cars and cleaning out all the food in your car.

Soy wiring, and the problems that come with it, can be difficult to avoid. It’s something that impacts vehicles across several manufacturers and price points from Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid to other more luxury vehicles like the Lincoln MKZ hybrid and everything in between.

6. Transmission Problems

Another problem faced by Lexus RX450h owners includes issues with the transmission. The transmission problems manifest itself in the form of shifting delays, shaking car while driving, whistling noises coming from the hood, sudden bursts of acceleration, among other symptoms.

These issues can be quite problematic if they appear out of the blue (which occasionally happens with cars that have transmission problems). These problems normally occur due to fault on driver’s part – not changing the transmission fluid on regular intervals and fluid leaks are the usual suspects when it comes to transmission problems.

Till date, there have been no recalls by Lexus that deal with transmission problems. That being said, it is likely that if your transmission fails, you’ll have to buy a new one. Transmission change can be costly. It takes around $3500-$5000 to change a Lexus RX450h transmission.

However, small-scale transmission problems can be rectified by transmission fluid change and a thorough car service – which will usually cost around $200-$300.

What’s The Worst Year Of The Lexus RX450h?

Lexus RX450hs are very reliable cars that should last for at least 150,000 miles and could even last over 300,000 miles. They have reliable batteries with little to no complaints. Therefore, it’s safe to say that a Lexus RX450h is a great option. Nevertheless, some models are better or worse than others in every vehicle series.

The worst years of the RX450h would have to be 2010 and 2011 which is reasonable since the initial years of a vehicle series are the most troublesome ones.

These are the worst years simply because of the oil cooler pipe defect which was limited to these years, the only other issue limited to a specific year was the airbag failure of the 2016 model which was fixed with a recall.

The other problems were common to the entire RX450h series so it only makes sense to avoid the models with the most problems, the 2010 and 2011 models.

As we have stated before, the 2016 model’s airbag failure has been fixed with a recall but you may or may not want to opt for that model. It all depends on whether you’re willing to put the effort into confirming the airbag sensor replacements.

All the other model years from 2012 to 2022 are excellent options with minimal issues and great reliability. The 2022 model has garnered rave reviews from automobile industry but is also the most expensive make amongst the aforementioned models.

Closing Thoughts

Alright, we’ve delved deep into the most common issues you might face with a Lexus RX450h Hybrid. From possible oil leaks that can lead to power loss and engine stalling to failing brake actuators and booster pumps that can cause a crash, we’ve got you covered on what to look out for.

Now, if you’re a Lexus enthusiast or you’re not sure which model you should commit to, then don’t forget to check our other articles on Lexus models and their common problems, like the Lexus IS 350.

You may also want to read more about this brand altogether and figure out if this is the type of luxury car suits your lifestyle!

In conclusion, while Lexus RX450h Hybrid has its fair share of problems, being informed and proactive can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Happy driving!


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