2021 Lexus RX Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Structure, forward collision avoidance, and seat belt issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Customers who purchase the 2021 Lexus RX are excited at the possibility of a reliable, luxury SUV that impresses. After all, the automaker emphasizes the new model’s “refined style and function.” But owners are complaining about a plethora of problems from faulty seat belts to a pre-collision system that malfunctions.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022   2023

Most Common Problems with the 2021 RX

Complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the 2021 Lexus RX are varied. In terms of numbers, forward collision avoidance, structure, and seat belt complaints rank the highest. Other components and systems that are linked to complaints include airbags, backover prevention, exterior lighting, brakes, steering, and tires.

There are no single issues that stand out, but many complaints highlight crashes. While some were caused by malfunctions others resulted in injuries because safety devices allegedly failed.

There is one recall, and it only affects the 2021 Lexus RX 350 SUV. It doesn’t affect the 350 L or any of the 450 models.

Issued on February 3, 2021, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V043000 warns that a transport hook may not have been removed from 1,081 2019 and 2021 RX 350 vehicles. Oddly, it doesn’t affect any of the 2020 vehicles. The problem is that if a vehicle with a transport hook still installed is involved in a rear-end crash, the hook can damage the fuel filler pipe. This, in turn, increases the risk of a fire.

2021 Lexus RX Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Air Bags
Unknown Or Other
Seat Belts
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
Exterior Lighting
Service Brakes

Forward Collision Avoidance Problems

An owner from New York was seriously injured because of a forward collision avoidance issue. After parking on a slightly elevated driveway, the driver put the vehicle in Park. He sat in the car for about 12 seconds before getting out with the engine running and the air conditioner on. He was standing outside the vehicle with both feet on the ground reaching back inside when the vehicle began to suddenly roll down the driveway, injuring him seriously. The assumption is that the parking system failed.

The pre-collision system (PCS) detected a car in front of a Lexus RX from Nevada. “My car went into Park but kept rolling and the engine revved to 7500 rpm,” the complaint states.

Of course, the Lexus RX PCS is designed to monitor vehicles and pedestrians ahead of it. If a frontal collision is likely it sends alerts and improves braking capability. Or that’s the way it’s supposed to work according to Toyota, the automaker.

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Problems with the Strcture

People pay a premium price for the 2021 Lexus RX. They expect to get more than they would from a Toyota model. When they don’t, it’s predictable they will be sorely disappointed.

An owner from Florida was dismayed when the Lexus RX drain system malfunctioned. It “failed to properly route water out of the car after heavy rain and an automatic car wash in two separate incidents. The water would leak through the sunroof along the edges and leak down into the passenger side compartment and land on the floor mats.”

An owner from Alabama describes an issue with the doors. “I was driving home on US Highway 82 and my driver-side door opened while I was driving. I know the door was completely closed before I began driving. There were no warning lights or audible alarms until the door automatically opened while I was driving.”

This isn’t the only latch or hinge that is causing trouble. Service Bulletin #L-SB-0042-20 states that the hood release cable is prone to seizing, sticking, and binding. What is causing this issue? The cable assembly has already started to corrode, even though it is a newer model. This doesn’t sound very “refined.”

Seat Belt Problems

An owner from Alabama was involved in a single-car accident during which “the vehicle went off the road and hit an embankment and the vehicle bounced.”

  • The front driver’s side hip and shoulder seat belts didn’t engage and the driver sustained a compression fracture to the vertebrae.
  • The passenger front seat belt at the hip did engage with the sudden stop but the shoulder harness did not engage. The passenger wasn’t injured.
  • The back seat passenger seat belt did fully engage. This resulted in seat belt markings to the right shoulder and clavicle area of the passenger that required evaluation at the Emergency Department.

The Toyota claims department inspected the seat belts and they were “found to be operational.” They also tested the emergency locking retractors and found them to be operational too.

According to the event data recorder (EDR), the front seat belts were buckled at the time of the incident. The seat belt pretensioners were not commanded to deploy. However, the complaint records the fact that the owners’ manual states that “pretensioners do not activate in the event of a minor frontal impact, a minor side impact or a rear impact.”

The complaint goes on to ask, “Why encourage all to use seat belts if they do not engage in the event of an accident?”

Malfunctioning Components and Crashes

An owner from Georgia listed a complaint as being a steering and airbag problem. “My SUV locked up when I swerved to avoid hitting a car in front of me. My vehicle wouldn’t stop and I had no control over it as it ‘threw me around’ the highway. The only reason it stopped was when it collided with another vehicle.”

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, an owner had major problems with Bridgestone tires that “are absolutely useless in even the slightest dusting of snow. They are prone to locking the Anti-Lock Brakes at single digit speeds and are resistant to making even slight turns or steering corrections.” After turning to avoid a multiple-car accident on the road ahead, this owner braked, and the “Anti-Lock brakes locked and the car began sliding forward regardless of steering input. I released the brakes but they remained locked which I assume is because the car kept them applied because it was sliding. I slid into a car at the opposite stop light.

“After the accident, I drove to an empty parking lot and attempted snow driving maneuvers such as stopping slowly and making gentle turns. These tires proved incapable of the slowest, gentlest of maneuvers in a light snow situation.” The complaint adds that these all-season tires “are most definitely dangerous if not deadly on snow and ice.

Your Rights If You Have a Lemon

Not every problem indicates that a vehicle is a lemon. But if you experience problems that recur there’s a possibility yours may be.

Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners. And they have to pay the legal fees for lemon law cases. So, if you think your 2021 Lexus RX is a lemon, contact Lemberg Law and we’ll assess your problems free of charge.

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.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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