I agree Ann. Many "Luxury" auto's are simply re-branded mid-level models in auto makers' lineups. Toyota is no exception. My 2000 Camry XLE has the same exterior and interior as the 2000 Lexus E300, down to the wood trim accents and leather. The third party DIY repair manuals say they cover both models.
IMHO Toyota made their best cars between 1998 and 2001, and have since gone downhill. They're probably not alone on this. Again, my opinion.
Lexus isn't the only "High End" make out there with engine issues swept under the carpet. The venerable M54 six cylinder in my '02 BMW has fallen prey to a poor oil separator design. Between two snow storms in the Mid Atlantic I chose to drive it instead of my IH Scout. The engine was running about 10 minutes when it started exhausting black smoke. Taking the girls to school I didn't notice until the engine locked up while I was trying to get around a front end loader moving snow. It actually sucked enough oil from its crankcase into the intake and hydrolocked the engine with only 88k miles. That engine was restored but subsequently failed at 110k. And BMW knows this was a problem for their engines in a cold climate. They are quick to replace/upgrade the oil separator if a customer indicates it's running roughly in cold weather. But if you tear into an engine 40 miles from the dealer only to realize the problem is a design flaw that is being actively ignored. You are likely out of luck. They did offer to look at it for me if I brought it to the dealer. Really? the car is on my mechanic's lift with the engine largely disassembled. And you may help me if I bring it to you. Not likely.
If car companies didn't worry so much about their image being tarnished by this sort of issue and allowed us to fix them correctly we would actually be able to get the miles out of these cars we expect. Now I have a worthless BMW convertible with a used engine.
I fear we'll be reading an update soon about a failed RX350 engine. If you've lost enough oil that the engine is "rattling", something very bad is happening to the engine internals. Were they hearing piston slap, rods knocking, who knows? But whatever the source, it's never good!
Sounds like you saved the car by applying common sense! I doubt the manufacturer anticipated such an action.
The light is designed to illuminate when the engine is totally destroyed, I believe. It's a sort of "return auto to dealer now" concept. Keeps the assembly lines rolling along. A sort of "designed failure" idea.
Ray, I thought the Lexus was their high end vehicle line. This does not sound high end. The fact that a metal part was needed in this application is suprising. I am not sure that you won't have problems with this setup in the future as well. The fact that the EMS did not light up the oil light is very troubling. Even old, non-electronic, cars could do that fairly reliably. On top of that, the fact that there was no recall or notice from Lexus is just the icing on the cake. This is a quality problem caused by design. Shame!
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