2018 Lexus RX 350 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Fuel system, vehicle structure and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2018 Lexus RX350 is hailed as a luxury family SUV that owners want to drive. Even the newest lineup is labeled as “now even more refined,” but research shows that this model is struggling to maintain reliability and structural integrity. From the defective powertrain to the poorly-built structure and the malfunctioning fuel system, the automaker has a lot to explain.

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Problems with the Transmission

The main component of any powertrain is the transmission. It’s one of the most expensive parts of any car because it handles all of the shifting and feel. With this particular model, there are countless complaints about how this powertrain operates.

Just read this review left on the Edmunds website. “This is our 4th RX350. I have loved every one until this one. It drives HORRIBLE. The transmission is HORRIBLE. It’s as though it can’t make up its mind where it wants to go. When you are attempting to accelerate, the transmission has downshifted so low that you can’t go at all. The anti-collision has come on and attempted to break on the highway when a car was at least 2 or more car lengths in front of me (and turning off the highway) nearly causing an accident. When you attempt to accelerate to get on a highway, it will very often loose traction and spin or skid while accelerating.  We have had the vehicle into the dealership multiple times and they had kept it for several days. They said they could see and feel all the things we complained about and that they had communicated with Lexus and that it was just how that model was and there was nothing wrong with it. Also they drove another vehicle on the lot just like ours and it drove just the same. This car is dangerous and I hate to say that if it causes me to be in an accident someday, Lexus will be paying out a nice chunk of change!!!!”

Lexus isn’t attempting to hide any powertrain issues. There are several addressed to technicians. One that stood out is Service Bulletin #L-TT-0247-18. It says that some of the models exhibit a clicking noise coming out of the front wheel hub when shifting from either Drive to Reverse or vice versa. It also occurs when accelerating from a stop. If this is what “refined” looks like, it makes sense to find a crude version instead. After all, even the cheap cars can get the shifting down right.

Problems with the Vehicle Structure

While discussing noises, it’s vital to look at what’s going on with the structure of this Lexus SUV.

Here is one Edmunds review that illustrates the trouble. “Lexus RX350 and its sporty version F-sport, both have a noise factor that is extremely annoying. I own an F Sport which is even worse. I have been to the dealer 5 times in 3 months due to excess noise caused by the engine, exhaust and several other noise generating features they have. Nothing can be done by dealer, they say. Also most annoying is that dealer denies that no other customers have reported the issue like us, when every forum is talking about it since 2016. Big fat lie! BMW and Benz have sporty noise that is very natural with the engine performance. This is artificial in Lexus and everyone who rides with you will pick up that it’s noisy and question you.”

If the noises aren’t enough to convince someone about the quality of this Lexus SUV, maybe this communication is. Service Bulletin #L-SB-0021-18 says that some vehicles allow water into the door lock bezel. If this freezes, the door cable is rendered inoperable, keeping people from getting into the vehicles. This isn’t a concern if the owner lives in Florida or Arizona, but what about the rest of the world that will deal with freezing temperatures? For a premium price, customers aren’t expecting to deal with rogue water entering the structure. Maybe there’s some more refining that needs to occur.

Problems with the Fuel System

The last step is to look at the fuel system, which is probably the most defective of all of the systems discussed.

Here’s yet another Edmunds review to illustrate the point. “This is my 2nd RX350. I super loved the first one that I had 3 years. This one is a constantly frustrating driving experience over the past 12 months that I’ve had it. The engine / acceleration surges and chokes the entire time, which is significantly worse when the engine is cold, and consistently annoying when trying to drive. I’ve had it in the dealership, plus Lexus Corporate had a field service technical evaluate it. I was told the same thing others have reported here online, that it was typical of the model and nothing wrong with it.”

Sadly, there is a massive recall on the fuel system that affects nearly 700,000 vehicles. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V012000 states that the fuel pump can fail, thereby leading to the engine stalling and causing an accident. No one expects this level of defects, especially with a model that’s supposed to be “refined.” Between the possibility of stalling, the massive amount of noise and a bucking transmission, this vehicle is nothing short of a wild ride, but not in an enjoyable way. Most customers wished they had saved the money and gone with a Toyota version instead.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Lexus pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Tariq M

    Bought 2018 F RX350 in March 2023 pre own. Having issue on driver side out side mirror have vibration when driving 45 or over does more vibration drives me crazy.

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