Teshoo Lama

Metallic whine from RX450h. Have I been sold a pup? A used car story.

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Hi folks, hope you're well. I could make this brief but I may as well give you some colour. This will also serve as therapy for me.

TLDR: does anyone's RX make a high-pitched, audible (but not too loud) metallic whining noise above 45mph or so? Is my hybrid system in peril? Do any independents fix hybrid systems?

 

Week 1

After much research on this forum, I bought a 2010 RX450h SE-L Premier with just over 104k on the clock, in "Windsor Blue" with cream interior. I think I paid a reasonable price from a dealer in Leicester. Ultimately, I was happy to risk potential air suspension costs for all the toys and the trim I wanted.

Good vibes from the dealer - not spivvy. Single owner from new, the dealer says. Full Lexus service history. He even gave me the VIN so I could look it up online. Confident in his wares! Service and hybrid health check only 6 months prior (albeit over 10k miles ago). Only trivial warranty claims in the history. Faded Lexus badge anyone? Car comes with a 6 month warranty from "Handler Protect". Who knows how comprehensive this is, but it's better than nothing.

Didn't notice anything on the (low speed) test drive, and yes, the dealer was willing to give a little on price, so decided to take the plunge. The car screamed "motorway miles" to me. Given Lexus' well-earned reputation, I was comfortable with the mileage. I didn't notice anything on my drive home down the M1.

 

Week 2

Some impressions. It's a stunning vehicle in my view. It's a credit to Lexus design that it still looks contemporary (sans aggressive front end, so fashionable in 2019). Apart from the gently worn (but undamaged) leather, you might mistake it for a new car, inside and out. I've attached some of the dealer photos.

It drives beautifully. I like the air suspension. It doesn't feel floaty on the motorway at all (because it auto-lowers at speed I believe). There's surprisingly little roll when cornering. Doesn't feel good over speed bumps though! The reviewers got that one right.

I really like the rumble of the V6 just as much as the silence of the electric glide. Apart from when I almost reversed into a bloke for the first time. That was startling for us both. You really must prepare for pedestrians crossing when they would otherwise remain staring at their phone.

You don't realise you need a HUD until you have one. Being able to keep your head up and eyes somewhat on the road for speedo and satnav seems to make driving less fatiguing.

With £150 VED and a free parking permit (a privilege Westminster Council reserves for "alternative fuel" vehicles), I couldn't be happier with my purchase. I've been patting myself on the back.

 

Week 3

The car had an odd combo of Dunlops and Bridgestones on; the Bridgestones were worn and I don't like either of them anyway. The alignment was out too. So I had my trusted local garage fit Crossclimates all round and do an alignment. These guys were servicing a classic Rolls as they complimented me on my purchase. They thought I'd bought well. ULEZ expansion was the talk of the garage. It's really going to hit the many pre-2015 Range Rover drivers hard. What a crying shame.

In fact, as I write these words with my window wide open, a Land Rover Disco is making a drop off (people and/or drugs) across the street. It sounds like a piece of farm equipment while idling.

In any case, these changes seemed to reduce road noise even further and certainly improved the general feel. It also seemed to help my mpg. I'm getting what I consider amazing economy between fills, including one at 39 mpg, all with the AC on. This is due in part to the prevalence of 50mph zones on the M1 (radar cruise, how did I ever live without you?) and some basic hypermiling techniques gleaned from YouTube. Without AC and improved technique, I actually think I could get near the official ratings.

I was so very chuffed with myself. Until...

 

Week 4

V5C finally arrived. 3 former keepers. Hmph. Limited Company, to husband, to wife, perhaps? Or was the dealer just spivving it up? I'm ****** off, but the car is perfect, so far.

 

Week 5

I strap my dog into his nifty booster seat in the back, and take a run up to Lancashire to visit the folks. Traffic is absolutely horrendous, but for the first time in my life, it doesn't bother me. I think this is the Lexus way. It's also the first time I've owned an automatic, so that helps. But this is different to previous autos I've rented.

On the smoother surfaces, there is very little noise in the cabin. I start to hear a strange sound. A high-pitched, metallic, whining, whirring noise. It's constant, but seems to spin up and spin down with speed, above about 45mph. It's not very loud, but once you've focused your attention on it, it can't be ignored. My general paranoia is now in full bloom, and the sound begins to grow in significance.

It's not a pleasant sound. It's not the distinctive regeneration whir, which I actually quite like for some reason. I never read about it in reviews or road tests. It seems to be coming from the near side front area. I take my dad for a test on the local 50mph bypass. He can't hear the noise and calls me paranoid (which I am), but then, he's no spring chicken. He doesn't exactly have the ears of a bat either.

 

Week 6

I take it to JEM in NW London for a full service and a range of consumables. Some early (spark plugs, last done 53k), some late (coolant), brake fluid right on time. I also go for a transmission fluid change, since it's cheap. Not the cheapest place in the world I think, but I successfully negotiate the total down, and they agree to try and diagnose the dreaded noise for free.

JEM were pleasant to deal with. A courtesy car was offered, but declined (I work from home). Work seems to have been successful (they said the spark plugs were an absolute ***** of a job) and everything is running well. They did a full inspection and confirm the car is indeed in A1 condition, including the suspension.

Unfortunately the noise is still present, and very much not in my imagination. It's not a wheel bearing, brake caliper issue or anything like that. Apparently, in the words of the technician (relayed to me via a middle-man), "it's coming from the hybrid system, and could be suggesting a future failure. It could even be why the car has been moved on. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But apart from that, the car is in great condition!"

My heart sank. I just can't afford to have bought a ticking bomb or potential brick. Everything I was worried about - like air suspension - seems to be fine. While the thing that I had read was bullet proof - the hybrid system - may be on its way out.

That said, I didn't speak to the technician. I don't know how speculative this diagnosis is. I plan on taking the car to a Lexus dealer for a Hybrid Health Check. But, I admit, I don't really want to know the results. I'd almost rather plod along in ignorance and await my fate.

So, I thought I'd throw this open to the OC and find out if anyone else has had a similar experience that didn't turn out to be fatal. Any opinions on what the precise problem with the hybrid system could be? Perhaps no problem at all?

I understand that when hybrid system problems do occur (that can't be fixed by replacing the 12V Battery), Lexus basically want more than the value of the car to repair. Does anyone know if independent hybrid technicians actually exist? A quick Google produces an alarming lack of results, which surprised me, given that - thanks to Uber - every other car on the road in London is a Prius.

I'll keep you updated...

 

 

 

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44 minutes ago, Teshoo Lama said:

I plan on taking the car to a Lexus dealer for a Hybrid Health Check. But, I admit, I don't really want to know the results. I'd almost rather plod along in ignorance and await my fate.

As far as I know the Hybrid Health Check is only a check of the main hybrid Battery. I don't think it involves any of the moving parts. And I realised recently that the Hybrid Health Check is really for the benefit of Toyota/Lexus rather than the customer, except indirectly. On a recent service I was told they couldn't do the health check because the internet was down. Baffled, I asked why the internet was necessary to checking the Battery. They said it's because they have to feed the data on the condition of each Battery cell to the central European Toyota office to store the data.

So really, it seems to me, the health check is a way for Toyota to gather data on how this newish technology is faring and whether the batteries are lasting as long as they hoped. In return for the data (and your money!) they give you a year's warranty to encourage you to keep coming back with more data. But this is not a bad thing. Obviously, the data has been so good that recently they increased the Battery warranty from 10 years to 15 years; so the customer benefits too.

So it's not clear what the dealer meant about the noise being from the "hybrid system" and whether they mean it's an electrical whining noise or from the transmission.

 

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6 minutes ago, Thackeray said:

As far as I know the Hybrid Health Check is only a check of the main hybrid battery. I don't think it involves any of the moving parts. And I realised recently that the Hybrid Health Check is really for the benefit of Toyota/Lexus rather than the customer, except indirectly. On a recent service I was told they couldn't do the health check because the internet was down. Baffled, I asked why the internet was necessary to checking the battery. They said it's because they have to feed the data on the condition of each battery cell to the central European Toyota office to store the data.

So really, it seems to me, the health check is a way for Toyota to gather data on how this newish technology is faring and whether the batteries are lasting as long as they hoped. In return for the data (and your money!) they give you a year's warranty to encourage you to keep coming back with more data. But this is not a bad thing. Obviously, the data has been so good that recently they increased the battery warranty from 10 years to 15 years; so the customer benefits too.

So it's not clear what the dealer meant about the noise being from the "hybrid system" and whether they mean it's an electrical whining noise or from the transmission.

 

 

That is an interesting take on the health check, and does make sense. Food for thought.

Indeed, this may be a very speculative diagnosis. But he at least ruled out any of the common causes of such a noise, and perhaps the location of the noise ruled out the transmission. I should also point out that there are no actual faults or warning lights and the hybrid system and Battery are performing excellently. There's just something "off" about this sound that doesn't fill me with confidence. But on the other hand, perhaps it's just a hallmark of a high-mileage hybrid vehicle?

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6 minutes ago, NemesisUK said:

The hybrid health check also looks at the cooling system, it's more than just the traction battery check.

https://blog.lexus.co.uk/lexus-hybrid-health-check/

That's useful to know. Seems unlikely but could the noise be a cooling fan?

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2 hours ago, NemesisUK said:

The hybrid health check also looks at the cooling system, it's more than just the traction battery check.

https://blog.lexus.co.uk/lexus-hybrid-health-check/

Just read the article and if it came from Lexus then they need to get their fact right. Quote "Our free* Lexus Hybrid Health Check is designed to do just that, we first analyse the status and condition of your Lexus “traction” Battery. This 400 volt pack is the Battery that powers your car’s wheels, and is separate to the 12v starter Battery that’s used to start the engine." The 12 volt Battery is only there to provide power to the 12v auxiliaries and to "start the hybrid system". The engine is started by the hybrid Battery via a separate motor generator.

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6 hours ago, Teshoo Lama said:

Hi folks, hope you're well. I could make this brief but I may as well give you some colour. This will also serve as therapy for me.

TLDR: does anyone's RX make a high-pitched, audible (but not too loud) metallic whining noise above 45mph or so? Is my hybrid system in peril? Do any independents fix hybrid systems?

 

Week 1

After much research on this forum, I bought a 2010 RX450h SE-L Premier with just over 104k on the clock, in "Windsor Blue" with cream interior. I think I paid a reasonable price from a dealer in Leicester. Ultimately, I was happy to risk potential air suspension costs for all the toys and the trim I wanted.

Good vibes from the dealer - not spivvy. Single owner from new, the dealer says. Full Lexus service history. He even gave me the VIN so I could look it up online. Confident in his wares! Service and hybrid health check only 6 months prior (albeit over 10k miles ago). Only trivial warranty claims in the history. Faded Lexus badge anyone? Car comes with a 6 month warranty from "Handler Protect". Who knows how comprehensive this is, but it's better than nothing.

Didn't notice anything on the (low speed) test drive, and yes, the dealer was willing to give a little on price, so decided to take the plunge. The car screamed "motorway miles" to me. Given Lexus' well-earned reputation, I was comfortable with the mileage. I didn't notice anything on my drive home down the M1.

 

Week 2

Some impressions. It's a stunning vehicle in my view. It's a credit to Lexus design that it still looks contemporary (sans aggressive front end, so fashionable in 2019). Apart from the gently worn (but undamaged) leather, you might mistake it for a new car, inside and out. I've attached some of the dealer photos.

It drives beautifully. I like the air suspension. It doesn't feel floaty on the motorway at all (because it auto-lowers at speed I believe). There's surprisingly little roll when cornering. Doesn't feel good over speed bumps though! The reviewers got that one right.

I really like the rumble of the V6 just as much as the silence of the electric glide. Apart from when I almost reversed into a bloke for the first time. That was startling for us both. You really must prepare for pedestrians crossing when they would otherwise remain staring at their phone.

You don't realise you need a HUD until you have one. Being able to keep your head up and eyes somewhat on the road for speedo and satnav seems to make driving less fatiguing.

With £150 VED and a free parking permit (a privilege Westminster Council reserves for "alternative fuel" vehicles), I couldn't be happier with my purchase. I've been patting myself on the back.

 

Week 3

The car had an odd combo of Dunlops and Bridgestones on; the Bridgestones were worn and I don't like either of them anyway. The alignment was out too. So I had my trusted local garage fit Crossclimates all round and do an alignment. These guys were servicing a classic Rolls as they complimented me on my purchase. They thought I'd bought well. ULEZ expansion was the talk of the garage. It's really going to hit the many pre-2015 Range Rover drivers hard. What a crying shame.

In fact, as I write these words with my window wide open, a Land Rover Disco is making a drop off (people and/or drugs) across the street. It sounds like a piece of farm equipment while idling.

In any case, these changes seemed to reduce road noise even further and certainly improved the general feel. It also seemed to help my mpg. I'm getting what I consider amazing economy between fills, including one at 39 mpg, all with the AC on. This is due in part to the prevalence of 50mph zones on the M1 (radar cruise, how did I ever live without you?) and some basic hypermiling techniques gleaned from YouTube. Without AC and improved technique, I actually think I could get near the official ratings.

I was so very chuffed with myself. Until...

 

Week 4

V5C finally arrived. 3 former keepers. Hmph. Limited Company, to husband, to wife, perhaps? Or was the dealer just spivving it up? I'm ****** off, but the car is perfect, so far.

 

Week 5

I strap my dog into his nifty booster seat in the back, and take a run up to Lancashire to visit the folks. Traffic is absolutely horrendous, but for the first time in my life, it doesn't bother me. I think this is the Lexus way. It's also the first time I've owned an automatic, so that helps. But this is different to previous autos I've rented.

On the smoother surfaces, there is very little noise in the cabin. I start to hear a strange sound. A high-pitched, metallic, whining, whirring noise. It's constant, but seems to spin up and spin down with speed, above about 45mph. It's not very loud, but once you've focused your attention on it, it can't be ignored. My general paranoia is now in full bloom, and the sound begins to grow in significance.

It's not a pleasant sound. It's not the distinctive regeneration whir, which I actually quite like for some reason. I never read about it in reviews or road tests. It seems to be coming from the near side front area. I take my dad for a test on the local 50mph bypass. He can't hear the noise and calls me paranoid (which I am), but then, he's no spring chicken. He doesn't exactly have the ears of a bat either.

 

Week 6

I take it to JEM in NW London for a full service and a range of consumables. Some early (spark plugs, last done 53k), some late (coolant), brake fluid right on time. I also go for a transmission fluid change, since it's cheap. Not the cheapest place in the world I think, but I successfully negotiate the total down, and they agree to try and diagnose the dreaded noise for free.

JEM were pleasant to deal with. A courtesy car was offered, but declined (I work from home). Work seems to have been successful (they said the spark plugs were an absolute ***** of a job) and everything is running well. They did a full inspection and confirm the car is indeed in A1 condition, including the suspension.

Unfortunately the noise is still present, and very much not in my imagination. It's not a wheel bearing, brake caliper issue or anything like that. Apparently, in the words of the technician (relayed to me via a middle-man), "it's coming from the hybrid system, and could be suggesting a future failure. It could even be why the car has been moved on. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But apart from that, the car is in great condition!"

My heart sank. I just can't afford to have bought a ticking bomb or potential brick. Everything I was worried about - like air suspension - seems to be fine. While the thing that I had read was bullet proof - the hybrid system - may be on its way out.

That said, I didn't speak to the technician. I don't know how speculative this diagnosis is. I plan on taking the car to a Lexus dealer for a Hybrid Health Check. But, I admit, I don't really want to know the results. I'd almost rather plod along in ignorance and await my fate.

So, I thought I'd throw this open to the OC and find out if anyone else has had a similar experience that didn't turn out to be fatal. Any opinions on what the precise problem with the hybrid system could be? Perhaps no problem at all?

I understand that when hybrid system problems do occur (that can't be fixed by replacing the 12V battery), Lexus basically want more than the value of the car to repair. Does anyone know if independent hybrid technicians actually exist? A quick Google produces an alarming lack of results, which surprised me, given that - thanks to Uber - every other car on the road in London is a Prius.

I'll keep you updated...

 

 

 

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

4.jpg

 

 

 

Teshoo,

1. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the Motor Trader who sold you the car is responsible for correcting and paying for any significant problems which occur within 6 months of purchase.

2. The 6 month Warranty you bought is worthless and unecessary and has been mis-sold to you and you should ask for your money back.

3. Ask your nearest Lexus Dealer to identify the problem and detail its resolution including cost, in writing, on its official Letter Heading, to you.

If the total cost is less than £10.000, then

4. Take the letter and show it to the Dealer who sold you the car and demand that he corrects the matter which has been identified by the Lexus Dealer. If necessary remind the Dealer that you have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

5. If the Dealer refuses to honour his Statutory Responsibilities inform him in writing by Recorded Delivery (and keep a copy) that you will have the problem corrected by a Lexus Dealer and you will sue the Motor Trader via the Small Claims Track of the County Court for the recovery of all of your costs including expenses.

6. If the cost under 3. above exceeds £10,000, then seek the advice of a Solicitor and ask the Motor Trader for all of your money beck and return the car to him.

Good luck.

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29 minutes ago, royoftherovers said:

Teshoo,

1. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the Motor Trader who sold you the car is responsible for correcting and paying for any significant problems which occur within 6 months of purchase.

2. The 6 month Warranty you bought is worthless and unecessary and has been mis-sold to you and you should ask for your money back.

3. Ask your nearest Lexus Dealer to identify the problem and detail its resolution including cost, in writing, on its official Letter Heading, to you.

If the total cost is less than £10.000, then

4. Take the letter and show it to the Dealer who sold you the car and demand that he corrects the matter which has been identified by the Lexus Dealer. If necessary remind the Dealer that you have rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

5. If the Dealer refuses to honour his Statutory Responsibilities inform him in writing by Recorded Delivery (and keep a copy) that you will have the problem corrected by a Lexus Dealer and you will sue the Motor Trader via the Small Claims Track of the County Court for the recovery of all of your costs including expenses.

6. If the cost under 3. above exceeds £10,000, then seek the advice of a Solicitor and ask the Motor Trader for all of your money beck and return the car to him.

Good luck.

Thanks Roy, sobering stuff.

Incidentally, I wasn't sold the warranty as such, and I wouldn't go out of my way to buy one. The dealer seems to sell all his cars with this warranty as part of the package, as a matter of course. His website and adverts all state "six month warranty included at full asking price". I negotiated a reasonable sum off asking, but asked to keep the warranty all the same, and he went with it. I didn't see any real downside for me, given I'd already taken the price down to what I considered a fair price.

I'm aware a 6-month warranty is a marketing sleight-of-hand on a used car. But I think the product is a legitimate offering on his part though, since he offers 1 and 2-year warranty extensions, which I declined.

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Perhaps getting a little ahead of ourselves here? Let's see what Lexus diagnose from their health check? Generally speaking the hybrid system is very reliable, with only the batteries failing on the rare occasion there's a problem. 

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As suspected, the hybrid health check is really only a Battery test and won't suffice. I've booked it in for a one hour diagnostic.

The discrepancy in pricing for things between dealerships is interesting. For example, Lexus Edgware Road want £180 for the diagnostic and no less than £390 for a satnav update. Lexus Bolton is £120 for the diagnostic and £160 for the satnav.

Obviously I won't be getting the satnav done if the hybrid system is shot 🙂

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20 hours ago, NemesisUK said:

Perhaps getting a little ahead of ourselves here? Let's see what Lexus diagnose from their health check? Generally speaking the hybrid system is very reliable, with only the batteries failing on the rare occasion there's a problem. 

Totally agree. And isn't the hybrid system under the Lexus 15 year warranty if it has full main dealer history? Or is that just the Battery?

And anyway, first thing I thought of was the new Cross Climates and the tracking. Could be a bad tyre or misaligned. Especially showing up at that speed.

Bit naughty of the seller to fib about the previous owners though. Something else you might want to do is speak to the last servicing main dealer. If you're polite, tell them you don't want personal details and ask them about the history of the vehicle they'll tell you. I've done it a few times. I also know that the lexus app shows up all work done in the dealer network so if there's anything nasty it'll be there.

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1 hour ago, rich1068 said:

Totally agree. And isn't the hybrid system under the Lexus 15 year warranty if it has full main dealer history? Or is that just the battery?

And anyway, first thing I thought of was the new Cross Climates and the tracking. Could be a bad tyre or misaligned. Especially showing up at that speed.

Bit naughty of the seller to fib about the previous owners though. Something else you might want to do is speak to the last servicing main dealer. If you're polite, tell them you don't want personal details and ask them about the history of the vehicle they'll tell you. I've done it a few times. I also know that the lexus app shows up all work done in the dealer network so if there's anything nasty it'll be there.

The warranty seems to only apply to the Battery, and in any case, the car has done more than 10k since the last hybrid health check in January, so that warranty period has expired.

The previous owners thing is probably what has turned a potentially innocuous noise into impending doom 🙂

That said, the dealer didn't hesitate to hand over the VIN so I could check the full service history on the Lexus website. There's absolutely nothing of concern in there.

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Hi I've just read your whole post have you any new updates ,I'm looking at buying a Rx450H myself.

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I took my RX to Lexus Bolton today for the diagnostic check and a satnav update.

First off, the general service was on another level. I walked in with my 9 year old, second hand RX that they've never seen before, and was treated like I had recently purchased a brand new vehicle from them. It was just an all round pleasant experience.

A technician took the car out for a motorway test, and also did a full inspection. In a nutshell, the car is absolutely fine!

I'm not imagining the noise. The tech called me and told me it was the CVT transmission. He said it's normal, and that I don't have anything to worry about. He didn't say this specifically, but I suspect it's basically the sound of an older, high mileage example like mine. He also texted me a link to a video report, which I've not had the chance to watch yet.

He also added that he's been servicing the 3RX since its release, and Lexus Bolton have never seen a 3RX hybrid system or transmission failure in that time. Not bad for a 10 year period!

To cap it all off, since there was nothing wrong, they didn't charge me anything for the diagnostic session (originally quoted at £120).

So all in all, a great result. I will be that little bit more relaxed on my journey back to London tomorrow. Major kudos to Lexus Bolton. Based on my experience today, I'd recommend them in a heartbeat.

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That’s great news, happy to hear you’ve had such a result. I’m also relieved to hear the quality of the work at Bolton as my car was serviced there for most of its life


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  • Club Hybrid Poll

  • 377 Hybrid Reliability

    1. 1. If you were to consider buying a Hybrid model over 5 years old, would you be worried about the reliability of the Hybrid system?


      • Not really as Hybrid systems are always reliable
      • Not if it had a Manufacturers Warranty on the Hybrid system
      • I would not buy a Hybrid model over 5 years old