2008 RX350 Engine problem


Asked by Oct 29, 2014 at 10:37 PM about the 2008 Lexus RX 350 FWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 2008 RX350 stopped while I was driving slowly due to heavy traffic - there wasn't
any abnormal sound or shaking before that. I tried to restart, but it couldn't. So I had it
towed to a Lexus dealer service center. The next day, they told me that my car had a
major mechanical issue within the engine; it looks like a valve has dropped, and
probably hit the piston; hence, we'd need to rebuild the engine.

Does this sound right? I chose Lexus for its liability. I'm really shocked to hear that the
engine has to be rebuilt (or replaced) after just 6 years. Anyone ran into similar issues
with their Lexus cars? BTW, I've been doing my maintenance work on schedule at the
dealership for the past 6 years; and the last one was done about a month ago.

33 Answers


It may have happened,but usually not at low rpm,s,,and you should have heard some sort of noise,tap,knock,,,not saying there not right,i would have to question ,,what was the cause of it,broke timing belt?Or?Sound,s like a fuel issue to me,being you kept it serviced,

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

I'm with T S T on this, being a previous Lexus RX owner I too find it hard to believe, but things do happen, so it is not unheard of as to what has happened to your engine. Did they do any real testing? If they did get the results, like is the engine locked up, or obvious engine damage, have them show you before you go further, and if the engine is bad then you have to decide is a soon to be 7 year old rig worth another engine, then what about the rest of the drivetrain, if the engine is new the rest of the car is 7 years old, will the tranny go next, it just opens up a big decision making can of worms.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

Assuming the dealer's finding is correct, this definitely is an abnormal case: customers choose Lexus for "peace of mind". I bet Lexus expects its engines work well way over 6 yrs or 100K miles. So I decided to call Lexus and report this problem. They said that a case manager would call me within 2 business days. Has anyone have much experience with Lexus case managers? What would be some reasonable expectation for the outcome?

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

They can be rather picky, I hope you have all of your service records or can get them cause if there is any deficiency in the services they just say too bad. You never know how the out come is going to be, sometimes they will foot the bill, sometimes they will pay a portion of it, but usually they don't do much if it is too far out of drivetrain warranty.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

The dealer disassembled the engine and found a broken valve spring. Since the valve spring was broken, the valve dropped and hit the piston and cause a bunch of damages. I found that there was a Lexus recall of various 2008 vehicles to replace valve springs - although RX wasn't on that list, the problem I ran into seems to be the same. Lexus offer to cover part of the repair cost, but I really feel that they should cover the full cost as a broken valve is a manufacturing issue. So I'm escalating it to Lexus up management. But if things don't work out there, what else can I consider?

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I have run into the same issue with our 2008 RX350. My experience with Lexus customer satisfaction was very poor. They would not acknowledge the valve spring issue. I have filed a complaint with the NHTSA and am filing complaints with my congressman and senator as Toyota has shown a history of trying to cover up these types of issues. I will also be sending correspondence to Jim Lentz president of Lexus.

7 of 7 people found this helpful.

I have 2005 rx330. Engine stopped on accelerating from stop. No prior warning. Could not restart but it seemed to be turning over. Diagnosis determined that the timing belt tore. 89k miles.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

Jasco57 did the right thing, you should do the same. Once I asked my Mercedes and Porsche mechanic in the shop why don't I see any Lexus in their shop, he answered that nothing goes wrong with those cars.That was 10 years ago. May be their quality has deteriorated. But My wife drives a RX400H with no issues so far, it has 140K miles.


Had the same problem. I was on the freeway at about 65 mph, had gone about 3 miles. Lots of weird noise, engine stopped. no Lexus dealer near by where i live, i had it towed to the nearest Toyota dealer. service dept. said a bold had come out inside the engine (part of the timing belt) and caused major damage. engine would have to be replaced. Lexus refused to open a case unless i could get it to a dealer. i lined up a auto transport but he canceled out on me. without a case i had no idea if Lexus would cover anything. It's got 65000 miles on it. We had a 100,000 warrantee but it's out of 6 year (original) and 3 year (certified used) time limits on warrantees. reading this blog it sound like this happens a lot. are there any class action law suits out there?

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Similar problem here , water pump failed without any prior notice , and by the time I pulled over to safe place ... Engine over heated ... Replaced water pump out of pocket expense because Lexus case manager refuse to take any accountability and declined for help . After water pump now head gasket is blown ... Again same story from Lexus ...... FYI : Car has ONLY 61,000 miles (2009 Lexus rx350) on it and power train warranty expired just three months ago ... My basis of argument is , water pump won't fail overnight , problem did exist even under the warranty ... Subsequent engine damage is just cause by one faulty part

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

To: Sharon2008, JASCO57...... So where do you stand on your problem ... Did Lexus participate in expense ? I hope your problem is not as bad as mine .... I am under water for $6000 expense on my own .... Lexus refuse to take any accountability even at 61000 miles .... I have to replace either head gasket or entire engine .... :( .... Big dilemma what to do on this ..... All mechanics I talked to acknedge same problem occurring in all 3.5L engine which goes in highlander Lexus and RAV4 ..... I am still surprised why no one has filed any lawsuits yet ..

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

File a complaint with the Consumer Complain website and also to your State attorney general and BBB and any other place you can think of. It makes me think twice before getting another Lexus SUV. We have a 06 RX400H with 140 K mi. Changed timing belt 3yrs ago. The old timing belt still looked new. After that just changed oil and other usual like tires and brakes and battery. Have been going to dealers for car wash only since then. This still drives like new and my wife will not part with it even I offered a new Lexus or Mercedes SUV. Remember the old proverb " Squeaky wheel gets the oil" Make as much noise as you can.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Don't let them off the hook. I would not buy another Lexus. I would take the 3K for the wheels before taking them to court after consulting with the attorney of course. There are so many serious complains about Lexus in this column that I decided not to buy another Lexus. It really makes me mad even though I don't have any problem with my RX400H. Wish you the best.


Wow, I just had the same thing happen two days ago to my 2008 rx350! Valve open, piston hit it, engine ruined. They are saying entire engine needs to be replaced, around $7k. Hmm, I want to know how it went for Sharon2008?

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

I had exact same problem for radiator & engine. Driving on freeway, radiator went out of nowhere, then engine blew up with smoking. Took the car to local mechanic because it happened on Sunday. The owner found out the radiator was defective itself, (2008 Rx350 only has 75000 miles on it) which should not be my problem at all. It's total mechanical issue. So then the towing truck took to Lexus dealer in Cerritos (which I will never go back for service, really bad customer service) and currently waiting to hear back from Toyota HQ. Last week was total nightmare calling service department and warranty services dept. I have platinum warranty which should cover any kind of damage to the main parts. The dealer's service managers came up with their "own" conclusion that I have to pay out of my pocket to repair. What a joke. Will see what happens for the next few days. What did you guys do with the repair? what was the conclusion from warranty services? I would like to know.

Last night I was driving on the highway and my 2007 IS 250 overheated, the SVC light came on and the thermostat needle moved between cold and hot. I added coolant but even after letting it cool down, it shut down on me on the highway. I had it towed to a Lexus dealer who told me that the engine needs to be re-built or that a used engine would need to be purchased, costing $6.5K. After reading everyone's experience, I am going to file complaints as well.

Oh my! My2007 Lexus Xr350 just blow the engine with no warning light, no warning sounds. Lexus case manager is to call me tomorrow. This sounds like a common issue, I was totally unaware. I took this Lexus to the dealer 2 months ago to see if it was burning oil. They said they put a filter on it and it may take 2 to 3 months for the final result, but not to worry. Told me that I needed to run higher grade fuel, and I did. Any advice on talking to this "case manager"?


YES, have the case manager contact Corporate Lexus in Torrance, CA. They originally wanted $13K to rebuild my engine, (valve spring failure at 62,000 miles). Bottom line, they sold and installed a brand-new short block with all new valve springs for $9K. Included in that price was a complete brake job and a one-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Be persistent and don't take no for an answer! My car runs great today! Like new!

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

wow , im suppose to purchase my beautiful wife a used 07 to 09 rx350 ? she,e driving a rx300 now, wow what a let down ,so what mid size suv should i consider ,she,s totaly in love with lexus , I sure dont wanna go down this road .


Lexus re-engineered the strength of the valve springs in the 2010 and on, year models. There hasn't been any problems I know of since. All the best.


Flyrich: Which evidence did you check or Is this just your opinion? I am sure people in Lexus co. will appreciate your comment. But I will not recommend any Lexus or buy anymore lexus even though my wife's RX400H has been a good car with cracks in the dash board which the dealer is dilly dallying to repair.Neither the Co nor the dealers give a damn about customers, cause they already captured the market.


It's hard evidence. Toyota, which builds the engine, increased the diameter of the steel in the valve spring over a two year period. Obviously, they now know they undersized the spring in the original design. I haven't read or heard about any problems since the redesign. Incidentally, this same engine is used in many different vehicles built by TMC. Nothing last forever, and, in my opinion, the arrogance and poor customer service has been a big factor in the fall of Lexus. Case in point: My friend just traded in a 2010 RX350. He was going to buy a new Lexus, but instead bought a new Hyundai SUV, with a 10 year warranty.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

Flyrich: Thank you. My RX400H still has no problem. When it does I will probably junk it and likely will not buy another Lexus hearing the problems of other owners. It reminds me of my experience with Jaguar XKE 12 cyl 1971. I took it to dealer 60 miles away to fix thermostat of the fan. After I got out of the dealer,within a block the thermostat failed. I wrote to the company. Co. did not even have the courtesy to reply. I promised to myself not to ever buy a Jaguar. I kept it to this day for 45 years. I saw a Jaguar dealer opened and closed next to Lexus in our city. I just smiled and never visited. I think if the consumers exercise their power, the manufacturers will eventually shape up. Remember three giants of auto Industry in USA and their junk in the 60s and 70s pushing down the throats of American consumers until the japs gave them the competition!.

I was also shock by my 2008 RX350 break down I was driving it on the freeway around 50mph and lights came on not the engine light three other lights I believe it was a VHS ABS and tracking light they and the air conditioner started blowing hot air. I drove about 7 miles to the lexus dealership where I was shocked to find out my car was leaking coolant and my water pump was gone then service dept said I have a more serious problem my check engine light is on and the car wont start it overheated. I said how can that be without any warning the check engine light was not on while I was driving and there was no smoke coming from the car. they said well the engine is gone and its 9 years old with over 100k miles so to put more money into is would be a waste I should trade it in.... I was so pissed I just had it towed and I still don't know what to do with it. REALLY THIS IS A LEXUS! I'm just shocked!

Seems like this is the way it goes for most manufacturers. I remember when Lexus came on the scene and knocked Mercedes from the top spot in the 90's. Fast forward and "little Hyundai" is now taking over with their awesome 10 year warranty! I can only guess Kia will be the next "top dog", :)


Just going to throw in my story. Two weeks ago my 2011 Lexus RX350 (62000 miles) broke down entering the freeway. Towed to dealership. Said they couldn't get the engine started without putting in a new starter,which we authorized. Nothing. Said they needed to take the oil pan off to inspect the engine. We said no, they are too expensive. As we were sending a tow-truck to take the car elsewhere they offered to do the inspection at no cost. They said a piece of a cylinder broker off into the engine and the repair would be $9000 but to hold off as they would contact the manufacturer to see if we could get some relief. Waited a week and they turned us down. We had two used Lexus sedans before this, no problems at all. I would never recommend this vehicle to anyone. A starter replacement at 62000 was really unexpected but the rest of the repairs for a vehicle with that low mileage is just unforgivable.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

You didn't need a new starter, as your engine was "seized" due to the metal contamination in the cylinder. It was the same in my case, (dropped valve, due to broken spring). This is the first time I have heard of this problem with an RX 350 newer than 2010? I am really curious exactly what the debris was in your case? In all my years of automotive experience, (50), I have never heard of a cylinder breaking, unless of course it was in a race car?


I just got the write up on the repair which says this (not exactly what I was told on the phone but sounds similar to a 2008 post in this thread): Condition: Engine locked up Cause: Valve spring broke in cyl # 6, dropped valve in cylinder damaging piston, rod and block Remedy: Replace short block, machine heads I'm going to call Lexus directly. Not expecting much.


That was my 2008 RX-350 I wrote about here 8 months ago, (see above). A valve spring broke allowing a valve to fall into a cylinder, seizing the engine. By the way, that happened at IDLE POWER! My research found that TMC increased the valve spring size in the latter models and remedied this problem. Yours is the first newer 350 I've read about? It's incredible that it happened at exactly the same mileage! I'm wondering if your engine might have been built with an older, smaller valve spring? Meaning, with all the engines TMC builds, that maybe they mistakenly installed at least one of the older defective springs during the manufacturing process? Either way, I feel your pain and disappointment. I will never buy another Lexus product, and I tell people my story.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Thanks for your response. I've opened a file with a Lexus case manager. I doubt I'll see any relief. To add insult to injury, when we had the car towed to our mechanic, the dealership mechanics had not returned the engine to whole -- they actually left parts in the back of the car!


My next car will be a Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Limited with a TEN YEAR warranty. Bye-bye Lexus :)


Good for you Flyrich.


Interesting -- I am considering that vehicle as well! We've had very good luck with Hyundais.

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