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I'd like to buy one, but not sure if to go for one with air suspension or to avoid them. I'm looking at the model that started in 2009, examples with around 40-70k miles on the clock. I know air suspension can be problematic and pricy to repair, should I avoid or go for it?

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Personally I wouldn't go near one with air suspension because it's very expensive to repair (if needed) but doesn't give enough benefit to justify that expense.

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Maybe the fact that Lexus dropped it for the 4th generation sort of confirms what Herbs has said.  

Some people do not have a problem with it despite covering quite large mileages over a long period, whereas I needed two new front units in just under 40K miles from new at a not inconsiderable total cost of some £2,200 and this after a reduction of about 10% contribution by Lexus.  I had not offroaded the car and I don't think the original lady owner had either.

If you do opt for the air suspension, I would take out Lexus 2 year for the price of 1 warranty, which I subsequently did in case the two rears also failed prematurely.  It also covers against some other expensive items which can involve a lot of stripping down to replace.   

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Thanks, good to know. I'll try to find a SE-L on regular coils then. Out of interest, how much would the Lexus warranty set me back for? Might be something worth going for either way.

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57 minutes ago, abtx said:

Out of interest, how much would the Lexus warranty set me back for? Might be something worth going for either way.

£995 for two years cover on an RX. That gives you the warranty, full AA European breakdown cover and two MOTs. It's only available to be taken out if the vehicle is under 10 years old.

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I assume this means the MOT's will have to be done by Lexus.  Does this mean it can be at any Lexus dealer or only from where you take out the extended warranty?

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8 hours ago, Barry14UK said:

I assume this means the MOT's will have to be done by Lexus.  Does this mean it can be at any Lexus dealer or only from where you take out the extended warranty?

Any dealer.

Obviously you can get an MOT done elsewhere if you wished for an additional expense, but it is included in the price of the warranty.

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Yeah, I'm looking at 2010 models, so no bueno on the warranty. I looked up services on eBay that claim to refurbish the air suspension struts for around 80 quid a piece. Maybe that's a worthy route out of misery of owning one with air suspension? 

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I have a 2011 on air suspension and no problems so far and it has almoust 140k miles. If the s**t hits the fan and its to expensive to repair i will just put coilovers and ditch the air struts. 

I knew from the start about the price of the air suspension but its reliable so i just went for it

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Thanks, yeah, I'm looking at a 45k SE-L model with air suspension and 55k SE-I w/o air suspension. Former 2 previous owners and FSH, latter 1 previous owner FSH, both 2010. Both seem like good options, practically same price too. Do you think air suspension adds a lot to ride quality?

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4 hours ago, abtx said:

Thanks, yeah, I'm looking at a 45k SE-L model with air suspension and 55k SE-I w/o air suspension. Former 2 previous owners and FSH, latter 1 previous owner FSH, both 2010. Both seem like good options, practically same price too. Do you think air suspension adds a lot to ride quality?

You really need to check this out for yourself by driving models with an without because it can be subjective.  Also, it is generally accepted that having air suspension makes a good difference on some models, the Q5 Audi for instance according to journalists and some years ago a friend of mine had a conventionally sprung Mercedes while mine was the same model but with air.  I thought mine rode flatter and better and he agreed but incidentally developed a problem and I contemplated changing to coils or selling and did the latter.

The balance of opinion on this forum from people that have converted to coils seems to be that the small difference between the two systems on the RX is not worth the risk of far greater expense.

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I had a 2003 2nd gen 300 SE-L with air suspension and loved it.  In fact, I didn't realise Lexus had dropped it in favour of springs on my current 4th gen.  I must admit to having had to shell out over £1200 to get the compressor replaced, at one stage. But the ride was superb!  Also, it had the distinct advantage of being able to lower the car to kerb level to allow my tiny mother-in-law to get in or out!

Now, the 4th gen feels just like any other good car on good springs - nice, but nothing special.

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8 hours ago, abtx said:

Yeah, I'm looking at 2010 models, so no bueno on the warranty. I looked up services on eBay that claim to refurbish the air suspension struts for around 80 quid a piece. Maybe that's a worthy route out of misery of owning one with air suspension? 

If anyone offered to refurb an air strut for £80 I'd have to put my doubtful/sceptic hat on and think more than twice!

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Thanks, I think I'll go the the strut one. FSH from Lexus and 1 owner probably outbalance the extra few speakers and gizmos on SE-L (that one is SE-I). Cheers!

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2 hours ago, abtx said:

Thanks, I think I'll go the the strut one. FSH from Lexus and 1 owner probably outbalance the extra few speakers and gizmos on SE-L (that one is SE-I). Cheers!

It's just my opinion but it seems to make sense to go for something that is less likely to cost you in the long term, and air suspension has other components that fail, not just struts.  I've had three vehicles with air so far and three without, all Lexus, and I still struggle to understand why people rave about it so much.

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Makes sense, thanks for your advice. Another factor is that the air suspension model last owner did maintenance himself, since he's meant to be a mechanic, and there's no service logs. That has no chances agains full 11 or so stamps done at Lexus.

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On 5/13/2021 at 12:27 AM, Barry14UK said:

I assume this means the MOT's will have to be done by Lexus.  Does this mean it can be at any Lexus dealer or only from where you take out the extended warranty?

 

On 5/13/2021 at 8:49 AM, ColinBarber said:

Any dealer.

Obviously you can get an MOT done elsewhere if you wished for an additional expense, but it is included in the price of the warranty.


Just to expand on that, a warranty can be claimed on nationwide, as can the MOT. However, you can't take out an extended warranty unless you have the car serviced at a Lexus dealership. Again, single services can be done nationwide when required but if you were to take out a service plan, these are usually dealer-group specific.

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On 5/14/2021 at 5:10 PM, abtx said:

Makes sense, thanks for your advice. Another factor is that the air suspension model last owner did maintenance himself, since he's meant to be a mechanic, and there's no service logs. That has no chances agains full 11 or so stamps done at Lexus.

I would not be overly optimistic about dealer's service history: outside of the warranty period many repairs become optional (like noise in the steering mechanism, suspension etc), and owners often postpone them in anticipation of selling the car and partly because of thrill of the dealer's repair price tags. So it is perfectly possible to get a FHS car with a range of very expensive pending repairs.

Nothing replaces a good on-site check of the car by a qualified mechanic.

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On 5/12/2021 at 7:18 PM, abtx said:

I'd like to buy one, but not sure if to go for one with air suspension or to avoid them. I'm looking at the model that started in 2009, examples with around 40-70k miles on the clock. I know air suspension can be problematic and pricy to repair, should I avoid or go for it?

The troublesome part in air struts is the top mount, which is not sold separately by the dealer. Fortunately, Brian Herridge from Orchard Engineering can replace the worn/disintegrated bearing in the top mount by post (used to be £75 including return postage). Recently he teamed up with a nearby garage to provide drive-in same day replacement, which is much more efficient than what Lexus dealers offer.

Beside that, the air struts seem to be quite long lasting (my car has original strut at one side with 192k miles, but I had to repair the top mount).

Other parts which can bring some headache are height sensors at every wheel, and the air compressor (expensive parts, but I'm not sure how often they break).

Another material consideration, is that the pneumatic suspension on RX450h is stiffer than the sprung suspension (more sporty?), and the rear shocks have smaller travel for compression (see my post about it). Good news is that shorter travel means longer life for rear control arm bushes.

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On 5/12/2021 at 8:13 PM, Barry14UK said:

I needed two new front units in just under 40K miles from new at a not inconsiderable total cost of some £2,200 and this after a reduction of about 10% contribution by Lexus.  I had not offroaded the car and I don't think the original lady owner had either.

One of the reasons for the top mount bearing failure (if it was your case), is that the top mount is covered almost hermetically by a rubber boot from the top. When you pressure-wash the wheel arches, water squeezes between the top mount and the car body, and stays inside the boot. After some time the water gets inside the bearing covers, and rust starts to eat the bearing balls and guides.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In my case it was like the front was sort of fluttering up and down - not quite so pronounced but imagine a stone wrapped in some material inside a can and being shaken up and down with a little vibration transmitted to the car.  Incidentally, one of the boots had slipped down somewhat and somebody, most probably Lexus, as the car had a full service with them, had been temporarily hitched up with some sort of tie. which had again slipped. So probably this had enabled water to enter which would accord with what had previously been said here about why the top mounts could wear. 

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Thanks for the reply Barry,

The fluttering noise sounds like mine, So i need to get the top mount bearings replaced,

I know that someone offers a replacement service but i fancy doing it myself and 

I can identify the bearings when off the car, but I wonder has anyone got the spec of the bearings

and I can get them beforehand to save any delay when the struts are stripped?

would the worn bearings cause increased road noise?

thanks.

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On 5/27/2021 at 6:50 PM, alanann said:

Thanks for the reply Barry,

The fluttering noise sounds like mine, So i need to get the top mount bearings replaced,

I know that someone offers a replacement service but i fancy doing it myself and 

I can identify the bearings when off the car, but I wonder has anyone got the spec of the bearings

and I can get them beforehand to save any delay when the struts are stripped?

would the worn bearings cause increased road noise?

thanks.

Update,

I gave the car the once-over and the struts appear to be okay,

the pitter patter from the front turned out to be wheel balance,

the tyres are barely worn Bridgestone been on less than 2 years and less than 2k miles

but the weights were loose on nearside front and it looks like some of the weights had fallen off

so got it rebalanced today and the annoying  noise has gone.

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