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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello

I figured I would post this in the toyota forum as not many frequent the Lexus forum (Club Lexus). The vehicle is basically a Toyota with the 1MZ-FE engine with VVT-i which is also found in some toyota models.

About 5 years ago I purchased a 2000 RX300 1MZ-FE engine from a friend. He was the original owner. The dealer replaced the transmission when the car was around 3 years old.

Reviewing the records 2 or 3 of the O2 sensors have been replaced.

I recently had the water pump and timing belt replaced. An oil control valve failed and was replaced and then I replaced the other oil control valve out of preventative maintenance.

Brakes and filters have been replaced over the years. And I recently replaced one of the Water Temp sensors, the one that feeds the ECU as it was failing and throwing codes.

I also recently dropped the transmission pan and changed the filter. Front and rear diff gear oil has been changed. I also replaced the alternator. I also cleaned the IACV

The car runs great and I don't know what else it needs, maybe spark plugs, I don't see any history of them ever being replaced.

So here is the reason for my post. I am pondering the reliability of the car given its age and miles and previous work.

I live in the SF bay area and use the car (since it is a AWD) alot in the winter to drive the the sierra mountains (Lake Tahoe) to take my 7 & 9 year old kids skiing. The trip is 225 miles each way via highway 80 with an elevation gain of 7,200 feet. With traffic, bathroom breaks, and a stop for food each way is around 5 or so hours. Last winter we made about 7 weekend trips between the months of November and March,

I tend to hold onto cars for a long time, I just got rid of a 1984 GTi with close to 400k and have a 1987 300E with about 240k miles.

Am I foolish to continue to drive this car to the mountains in the winter with my 7 & 9 year old? My fear is the car breaking down on me. Worse case would be in a snow storm at night in the mountains when the kids are asleep in the car. I'll leave it at that, I think you get the concern.

If I was to continue to make these trips what are some recommended repairs or things I should consider? I do have AAA towing the Plus membership with the higher towing (I think 100 miles). And I know where the Toyota & Lexus dealerships are on the way.
 

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01 Avalon XL, 03 Avalon XL
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Our 1MZ-FEs are too young to help you out -- 01 Avalon at 68k and 03 Avalon at 95k, but I'm chiming in so I can see what others say about cars farther down the road.

We've replaced both the timing belt / water pump/ tensioner/ seals, as well as the valve cover gaskets on the 03 and will have to do the same with the 01 soon.

I dislike timing belts. I intend to hew to the 90k interval recommended by Toyota. Others disagree, but I'm convinced that both mileage and time age the belt. I've done quite a bit of technical writing around polymers and all polymers, not just rubber, are definitely affected by heat, oxygen, and time.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Our 1MZ-FEs are too young to help you out -- 01 Avalon at 68k and 03 Avalon at 95k, but I'm chiming in so I can see what others say about cars farther down the road.

We've replaced both the timing belt / water pump/ tensioner/ seals, as well as the valve cover gaskets on the 03 and will have to do the same with the 01 soon.

I dislike timing belts. I intend to hew to the 90k interval recommended by Toyota. Others disagree, but I'm convinced that both mileage and time age the belt. I've done quite a bit of technical writing around polymers and all polymers, not just rubber, are definitely affected by heat, oxygen, and time.
thanks - when I had the timing belt and water pump replaced I also had the mechanic change the two cam seals and the crank seal. After I had the job done I learned that the 1MZ-FE engine is a non interference engine.
 

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Personally I would keep driving it. Had a Sienna that hit 320k. I bought it at 277k for $1400 with 6 pounds of service records, gave it to a tenant in lieu of deposit he was paying me on a house and later found out they were stealing power and they left my house a disaster, but the Sienna was a solid ride, even at that mileage. I even bought another one with barely over 100k miles this year, but Pop confiscated it since they can get in and out easily at 98 (pop) and close to 94 (mom). I thought the oil might need changing, so we drove it to Dover Delaware and back and I checked the oil and it looked like new after I changed it before the 8 hour round trip.

This is one of the best engines ever made in the history of automobiles and I would not care what brand you compared them to. I also understand the engine can "freewheel" if the timing belt breaks (just the 3.0). The Sienna most recently purchased may even still have the original t-belt at 21 years old, they don't drive much anymore but I would like to pull one the the cam sprocket covers and get a good look at the belt. I told them I want it back when they are through with it. I'd put a trailer hitch on the back and get rid of my Tacoma pickup.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Personally I would keep driving it. Had a Sienna that hit 320k. I bought it at 277k for $1400 with 6 pounds of service records, gave it to a tenant in lieu of deposit he was paying me on a house and later found out they were stealing power and they left my house a disaster, but the Sienna was a solid ride, even at that mileage. I even bought another one with barely over 100k miles this year, but Pop confiscated it since they can get in and out easily at 98 (pop) and close to 94 (mom). I thought the oil might need changing, so we drove it to Dover Delaware and back and I checked the oil and it looked like new after I changed it before the 8 hour round trip.

This is one of the best engines ever made in the history of automobiles and I would not care what brand you compared them to. I also understand the engine can "freewheel" if the timing belt breaks (just the 3.0). The Sienna most recently purchased may even still have the original t-belt at 21 years old, they don't drive much anymore but I would like to pull one the the cam sprocket covers and get a good look at the belt. I told them I want it back when they are through with it. I'd put a trailer hitch on the back and get rid of my Tacoma pickup.

As far as interference engines with timing belts, I'll put it to you this way, my daily driver is a 2000 Echo with a chain. I own no more timing belt engined vehicles, but if I did it would be this engine.
one of the best engines ever made in the history of automobiles? even with the sludge issue?
 

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1MZ like Honda’s J30 were a response to the Nissan VQ 3L engine that set the bar on noise, vibration and harshness but the VQ could use more reliability and maintainability. Were these both as good as far as the driving dynamics? No I don’t think so.

I like the VQ for the drive but think the J30 is better engine to own. 1MZ is decent not bad by any means. At least it doesn’t have a 2GR rubber oil line that likes to burst and destroys the engine while you try to stop. The later U-series transmissions aren’t as reliable either. Not sure if you got the U140 (given it had an early death) or the old reliable A541 series.

At 280k any vehicle would be on the last leg. Just keep up the maintenance and inspection and as one member said in another recent thread, listen to what the car’s trying to tell you.

No need to push for Guinness world record with two kids in the back is how I see it.
 

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one of the best engines ever made in the history of automobiles? even with the sludge issue?
If you don't take care of your equipment I should call the equipment junk? I stand by my statement, wife rode 11 hours each way in her brothers RX300 at 319k miles, I offered to pay for the rental he refused.(4th t-belt)
 

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My sister's family has the 2001 RX300, which was always well maintained. For some unknown reason it cracked an exhaust valve at 180k miles. When the head was removed, there was no sludge and hardly any varnish coloring so this was surprise and mystery of what caused it.
 

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Heeyyy, Bay Area mechanic here (Santa Clara) that works on a lot of RX300/RX330. Weak point will be the transmission, that U140F is not great (have done two replacements so far), they didn't get most of it right until the U151 in the RX330. And those were daily drivers, you put yours through more than they ever did.

Install an auxiliary cooler and some sort of filter; I used to install Magnefines (still do, actually) but am trying a remote can-style oil filter this time. I would also consider installing a cold-weather bypass if you spend a lot of time in Tahoe. It won't do much in inland Cali weather, but will keep the trans from experiencing cold fluid-shock in snowy climes.

On a U140E/F, if you hear whining in 1st/2nd, it's on its way out (might be 5K, might be 50K depending on abuse). Synthetic fluid is a good idea; I run Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc in all the ones I service, shifts better, runs a bit cooler, and trans are still shifting fine when I recommend changes (every 25-30K on the U140, 40-50K on U151). In fact, the MaxLife works better than the T-IV I used to put in ES300 and RX300 where we were running 15K intervals to try and stave off trans failure...
 

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My sister's family has the 2001 RX300, which was always well maintained. For some unknown reason it cracked an exhaust valve at 180k miles. When the head was removed, there was no sludge and hardly any varnish coloring so this was surprise and mystery of what caused it.
Dang, one of those flukes! I hope they rebuilt it with a Stellite valve
 

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Hint: Always buy the safest car you can afford. I can go into the reasons, if you want. With those children in the car (I am familiar with the Tahoe/Yosemite to Modesto roads and the deer and drunken drivers, etc), I probably drove the secondary roads more than I80, but still I would be checking all the safety features in light of the hazards of those roads.

I have an 01 avalon with 290k and I trust it mechanically, but I rarely have kids in the car. If I had kids in the car, I would do a serious comparision of the safety features of your Lexus against cars with more modern safety features. Your Lexus had advanced safety features back when it was new, I am not sure if, from a safety perspective, it has not been surpassed.
 

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Hint: Always buy the safest car you can afford. I can go into the reasons, if you want. With those children in the car (I am familiar with the Tahoe/Yosemite to Modesto roads and the deer and drunken drivers, etc), I probably drove the secondary roads more than I80, but still I would be checking all the safety features in light of the hazards of those roads.

I have an 01 avalon with 290k and I trust it mechanically, but I rarely have kids in the car. If I had kids in the car, I would do a serious comparision of the safety features of your Lexus against cars with more modern safety features. Your Lexus had advanced safety features back when it was new, I am not sure if, from a safety perspective, it has not been surpassed.
Not meant to be a argument, maybe a counterpoint. Parents retired and moved to the Fla Keys (1975), I rebuilt a 77 Honda Accord ( first year of the Accord, weighed about the same as my Echo under 2k pounds). One day they are driving north through Marathon and a drunk in a Cadillac swerves into their lane. Pop was driving and he just whipped the car to the right and missed the oncoming drunk. Believe it or not it happened to them again AND it happened to me at a later date, at night in a heavy rain, I had to go left into a parking lot with telephone poles I could not see. In all 3 cases we were driving what could be called deathtraps and they would have been had there been a collision. The lighter more maneuverable car saved us on those 3 occasions. The other option was a 100mph combined impact with a two ton behemoth, most likely deadly. These 3 incidents all happened within 200 yards of each other and could easily have wiped out all 3 of us. 42 years later I'm 68 and they are 93 and 98 and they still drive.

Sure heavier is the bigger marble, but if you give me a Porsche and you get a school bus, try to hit me head on in the worlds biggest parking lot.
 

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At the Benz dealership in Houston (Intercontinental Motors at Kuykendahl road) they had a brand new 300SD turbo diesel come in with a hole in the side of the engine block. Tossed a rod, most likely a defective rod bolt, (stretch type). New engine came in a steel crate, padlocked, with a $500 freight bill. The engine was $7200 (1983). The old engine went in the crate and flew back to Germany. 600 miles on the odometer.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Heeyyy, Bay Area mechanic here (Santa Clara) that works on a lot of RX300/RX330. Weak point will be the transmission, that U140F is not great (have done two replacements so far), they didn't get most of it right until the U151 in the RX330. And those were daily drivers, you put yours through more than they ever did.

Install an auxiliary cooler and some sort of filter; I used to install Magnefines (still do, actually) but am trying a remote can-style oil filter this time. I would also consider installing a cold-weather bypass if you spend a lot of time in Tahoe. It won't do much in inland Cali weather, but will keep the trans from experiencing cold fluid-shock in snowy climes.

On a U140E/F, if you hear whining in 1st/2nd, it's on its way out (might be 5K, might be 50K depending on abuse). Synthetic fluid is a good idea; I run Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc in all the ones I service, shifts better, runs a bit cooler, and trans are still shifting fine when I recommend changes (every 25-30K on the U140, 40-50K on U151). In fact, the MaxLife works better than the T-IV I used to put in ES300 and RX300 where we were running 15K intervals to try and stave off trans failure...
Thanks for the post!

My vehicle had an early transmission failure within the first 3 years and the dealer replaced it, that was 15 years ago and about 150k miles ago. I heard they put larger valve bodies in the transmission as an improvement, not sure what I got.

My vehicle has a cooler, its stock, not sure which models got coolers stock? The AWDs? The ones with the towing package? Mine has the towing hitch. Did you mean install an addition one or one in place of the stock one?

I just dropped the pan about 2 months ago and changed the filter and put in new fluid. I didn't know about the other fluids so put in the Toyota IV. Transmission seems fine, no whine.

Next winter I will make about 9 weekend trips to Tahoe, Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. And maybe go for the week between Christmas and New Years.

The RX300 never had much power plus at its age and mileage, plus the loss at altitude, its a dog going up the steeper grades. I need to keep the rpms up to keep it in the max torque band. I will never get up donner pass taching 2,000 rpm. I turn overdrive off on using the switch on the shifter. I figure its better to let things rev a bit then lug the engine and transmission. I would say I usually don't have O/D off for more than 5 minutes or so. I turn O/D off only when I need to climb.
 

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Thanks for the post!

My vehicle had an early transmission failure within the first 3 years and the dealer replaced it, that was 15 years ago and about 150k miles ago. I heard they put larger valve bodies in the transmission as an improvement, not sure what I got.

My vehicle has a cooler, its stock, not sure which models got coolers stock? The AWDs? The ones with the towing package? Mine has the towing hitch. Did you mean install an addition one or one in place of the stock one?

I just dropped the pan about 2 months ago and changed the filter and put in new fluid. I didn't know about the other fluids so put in the Toyota IV. Transmission seems fine, no whine.

Next winter I will make about 9 weekend trips to Tahoe, Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. And maybe go for the week between Christmas and New Years.

The RX300 never had much power plus at its age and mileage, plus the loss at altitude, its a dog going up the steeper grades. I need to keep the rpms up to keep it in the max torque band. I will never get up donner pass taching 2,000 rpm. I turn overdrive off on using the switch on the shifter. I figure its better to let things rev a bit then lug the engine and transmission. I would say I usually don't have O/D off for more than 5 minutes or so. I turn O/D off only when I need to climb.
Yeah, keep O/D off...otherwise you'll overheat the trans.

I think tow package got those. I would upgrade it to a larger cooler (I like the Long Tru-Cool LPD line), and add in the other two things I mentioned. Plumbing and routing is easy on these Camry-derived platforms.
 

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Here's how I see driving older cars, which is all I drive.

If you live in fear of what could happen, you'll never be free.

Cosmo

P.S. As a Toyota mechanic once said to me: "It's a Toyota, it'll go on forever."
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yeah, keep O/D off...otherwise you'll overheat the trans.

I think tow package got those. I would upgrade it to a larger cooler (I like the Long Tru-Cool LPD line), and add in the other two things I mentioned. Plumbing and routing is easy on these Camry-derived platforms.


 
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