Toyota Avalon Electrical Problems

bjk2001bjk2001 Member Posts: 358
edited January 2018 in Toyota
Our 97 Avalon XL rear window defrost is not working. I checked fuse is fine and every time I pushed the defrost button on the center console defrost light will lit up and I can hear a relay on the driver side clicking. Does anyone have any idea what went wrong?


  • finfin atlantaMember Posts: 594
    Based on postings from another Avalon topic, ALL Avalon owners should check the battery terminal posts for corrosion. Seems the cable ends may be inferior in design or material and allow premature corrosion at the post. My '99 had a little more than expected after 4 years. If you find a problem, fix it before the cable fails. Or have the dealer fix it if still under warranty. Most Avalons do not seem to have this problem but look to be sure. A minor event in an otherwise wonderful product.
  • tiredmom2tiredmom2 Member Posts: 3
    Is anyone else having these problems or did I just get a lemon?

    -My 1997 Avalon with 56k miles is on its 4th battery. One time, we were driving down the road when all power went out. One mechanic told me he thinks the alternator is over charging them.

    -There is now a loud moaning noise when I turn the steering wheel. Dealer tells me I have a leak in the rack and pinion and need it replaced for $1200.

    -The left rear door's window quit working a few months after the warranty expired. Dealer says motor has a short in it. Will be $408 to replace.

    -The speaker in the left rear door has static if it works at all. Dealer says bad speaker that needs replacing.

    -The left brake light is out. I tried a new bulb, doesn't help. Interior indicator light stays on saying that light is out. I told dealer all of this. Dealer kept car all day to check and came out and told me that "just needed new bulb". I then walked the rep around the car and showed him myself that the light was still not working and that the indicator light was still on! Dealer couldn't tell me what was wrong with this. Said there must be a short somewhere.

    I asked the rep at the dealer repair shop if he didn't think it odd that so many things could have "shorts" in them in the left rear side of the car. Seems beyond coincidence to me. He thought it was all perfectly normal and I should willing hand over large sums of money to fix it. Needless to say I walked out.

    I have already had the struts replaced (under warranty thank goodness). The car has always had a lot of road noise too. Very annoying on long trips. I think I am going to find some local mechanic to fix cheaper and sell ASAP. I am going to sell and buy a Honda before the year ends. My last car was a Honda and never had any problems.

    I am so disappointed. I bought Toyota because I thought they were reliable. I loved how roomy the Avalon was. Now I realize that leg room doesn't help me when the car won't run.

    Would love to know if anyone else has had similar problems. Perhaps my car just "fell off the truck" or maybe it got hit by lightning on the truck! What ever happened, it is a piece of junk.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    I think you got hit by lightning!

    Rear lights that don't work can be a sign of an accident that has been repaired - have you owned it since new.

    Have never had a problem with toyota power windows before, all the way out to cars that were 15 years old or more.

    OTOH, their stereo speakers were never anything to write home about - no surprise there.

    The old Avalons were always noisy too at high speeds - mainly tire and wind noise.

    Six years old is a lot for only 56K - your batteries might be dying prematurely due to low use and consequent discharge. Either way, it does not need to be a guessing game. Just have someone measure the output of the alternator to see if it falls within specs. I'd be surprised if a Toyota alternator gave up the ghost after 56K.

    The moaning noise sounds a lot more like the power steering pump than the rack and pinion - I think you need to go to a new dealer, and get a second opinion on the expensive repairs. They may be incompetent, or they may be milking you.

    PS If you need a power steering pump, there are cheaper reputable places to get it replaced or repaired than the dealer.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • tiredmom2tiredmom2 Member Posts: 3
    I think the dealer is incompetent. They don't know what is wrong. Either that or they think I am stupid enough to believe what ever they say and just hand them my check book. Maybe it is the woman thing. I came close to telling the guy that I have more degrees behind my name than he has neurons in his head. Not that my education helps me understand auto mechanics one bit, but it would have made me feel better to tell him off. I didn't waste my time. Just got my keys and left.

    Anyway, I have called around and talked to some local mechanics. They can replace rack and pinion for $500. They will of course inspect it themselves before replacing to be certain that is indeed the real problem.

    I took it to the dealer for eval to see if it might be something covered under a recall. Also, I had a coupon for a free inspection with printed list of required work and cost. When I went to pick the car up, they tried to charge me despite the free coupon. I protested and their response was "the visual inspection is free but the actual diagnosis costs". I told them they were full of it and I wasn't paying a penny since I already signed a work order for a "free inspection" that said it included a written list of recommended work and costs.

    I have owned the car since it was new. I drive it just about everyday. I work about 20-30 minutes from home. All driving is highway driving. We use my car for family outings also- weekend errands, dinner, church, vacation.

    When we lost all power while driving down the road, we were actually on vacation 6 hours away from home (and one hour from civilization). A local mechanic was kind enough to come out and help us back to our hotel until he could look at the car the next morning. After looking it over, he thought that maybe the alternator was stuck in the on position causing the batteries to overcharge.?? I don't know.

    I am dumping this car as fast as I can and getting a Honda Pilot or Odyssey.
    Speaking of rip off dealers, the Honda dealer tried a major scam on me when I had my old car. Years ago in college, I bought a used Honda Civic. It had been in a wreck before I bought it and the front end dented and rubbed a hole in the radiator. I replaced the radiator and had the front end repositioned to not rub on it any more. Not long afterwards, the air conditioner quit working.

    I lived only 2 blocks from the dealer so thought I would have them check it real quick. Well, the guy comes out shaking his head and sits down and says he has bad news. He proceeds to show me a written list of all the things that need replacing including the radiator. He says the ENTIRE a/c system needs to be replaced for so many thousand dollars. I looked him in the eye and said "oh really, you mean my brand new radiator that I just had installed is already bad?" He knew he was busted and started stuttering, "uh, uh, well I didn't say it was bad. I'm just saying that it isn't a Honda part and so we should replace it." I took the car to a local mechanic who found a wire had popped loose. Cost me $50 bucks to replace the wire.

    Despite the bad Honda dealer experience, the car was great. It was totalled by a teenager before I bought it. While I had it, a tree fell on it. All this and it just kept on ticking.
  • bjk2001bjk2001 Member Posts: 358
    My 97 XL dashboard fule gauge light went off for a while then it came alive for a few weeks. Just 2 weeks ago when it starts to rain it went down again!

  • mbt1mbt1 Member Posts: 33
    I noticed a single tick in the fuse area on the left side of the dash shortly after I shut off my wife's 2000XL. Is that normal? Thanks for your help.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    this sounds like the solenoid for the lights in the armrest that stay on for a preset amount of time after you turn the car off, then turn themselves off. Could that be it?

    nguyet - sounds like your HVAC fan might have died? Either that, or there is a problem with the electronic controls for the HVAC, but since manual blower speed lights light up, my vote is a dead fan.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • nguyetnguyet Member Posts: 2
    nippononly - Thank you for your time!
  • mbt1mbt1 Member Posts: 33
    Thank you for your help. Your explanation sounds reasonable. On a related note, have you or anyone else on this forum noticed that when you press the rear window defroster on or off, there is a simultaneous "tick" sound in the fuse box area on the left side of the dash? The defroster works, but I was wondering if the sound is an indication of anything wrong. Thanks again for all of your help.
  • rdballerrdballer Member Posts: 16
    I believe the "tick" you are hearing is the relay that is being powered when you press the button to turn on the rear defroster. The power draw of the rear defroster is greater than the small switch you are pressing can handle. So, that button is simply powering a relay in the fuse box area that then sends power to the rear defroster.

    You should also hear a "tick" sound if you leave the rear defroster on long enough for the timeout to take place (20 minutes I believe). That is when the relay timer cuts off power to the rear defroster so you don't "leave it on too long".
  • jim243jim243 Member Posts: 7
    I had the same problem with my 1997 XL. I went so far as to take the dashboard apart and removed the bulb in order to replace it. However, I found that the bulb was still good. The problem seemed to be in the dash display because it is one big circuit board. By flexing the dash slightly I was able to get the bulb to light. It was fine for about 6 months and it went out again. This time I figured that I was not about to take the whole dash apart again, so I decided to hit the top of the dash above where the bulb is located with my fist (not a very hard blow), and sure enough the light came back on. It has been over 5 months and it is working fine. Ihope that this helps you.
  • bjk2001bjk2001 Member Posts: 358

    I need to borrow your fist I tried to hit it but nothing happened the light still off.

  • hmannhmann Member Posts: 3
    The outdoor temperature gauge on my 2001 XLS (24K miles) has consistently read 4 to 5 degrees higher than the actual outside temperature, ever since I bought it.
    The dealer states that there is no way that he can fix this. The thermometer is set at the factory and he can't change its reading.
    Anybody else have this problem? Anybody have any luck getting it fixed? (In the meantime, I'm becoming expert in subtracting five from two-digit numbers; my first-grade teacher would be proud.)
  • moonshadowmoonshadow Member Posts: 256
    If he cant adjust it, then have him replace the sending unit. ie the temp probe.

    Since it has always been this way then perhaps the probe is defective or improperly manufactured.

    They would have to have a high manufacturing tolerence for the probes or provide a adjustment for the variance of the probes.
  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    The thermomemter that you are usinga s the control is incorrect?

    Or, if you are postive that it is in error live with it and subtract the margin of error form every reading. Not worth the hassle!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555
    I think this is just about universal in the temp sensors that Toyota uses for the outside temperature readout. The one in my car is about 4-5 degrees high, and the one in my sister's Toyota too, and just about every Toyota rental I have ever had. For my guide I use the bank readouts that all agree with each other as to how much my car is off, as well as the National Weather Service reported temperature for my town at home.

    Timing belts: if you are willing to allow the possibility of having to be towed, for avalon, camry, and some others just leave 'em a while. Everyone I know with a Toyota in the last ten years leaves them until at least 90K, and I have never known of anyone having one break.

    Platinum plugs: I don't think this is just a thread thing, because you have to bear in mind that Toyo is using the iridium plugs in most of the new cars now, and those are good for 105K miles, so I don't think they are worried about threads. However, platinum plugs can deform in 60K, depending on your driving habits, so that the gap is degraded to the point of affecting emissions, which is why they change them. It is a cheap little insurance policy to help guarantee that your car will pass the next smog check. And BTW, you don't have to pay retail at the dealer's service department - order them on-line ahead of time to get that $5 price, then just tell your service advisor that the new plugs are "in the little bag on the passenger seat".

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • gnawk719gnawk719 Member Posts: 14
    New 2003 with 3,000 miles.Odometer seems to be inaccurate in that it records about 3% less mileage than actual. Anyone with this problem and how do I get it checked and what can they do? Should I leave well enough alone, own car so leased mileage not a factor.
  • moonshadowmoonshadow Member Posts: 256
    What are you using as your reference. Highway milage markers? Another car?

    Remember that a man with two watches does not know what time it is.
  • bjk2001bjk2001 Member Posts: 358
    Is there a light in the grar shifter box for 97 XL? If there is one, how do you replace it? I couldn't find a way to pop the plastic cover/panel.
  • ghtecghtec Member Posts: 3
    Can anyone help me with advice on how to get the lens off(the light with the three way swictch on it)so the bulb can be replaced? Using a screwdriver in the obvious end-slot doesn't budge it and I'm afraid to force it. Am I just holding my mouth wrong, or what?
  • kicker9kicker9 Member Posts: 57
    On the passenger side edge of the lens, in the very center, there is a small indentation for a flat bladed screwdriver to be partially inserted, insert the screwdriver into the slot and move the handle toward the passenger side window and the lens should pop off easily, there are 2 tabs on the opposite side that secure that edge in. Hope this helps.
  • ghtecghtec Member Posts: 3
    Kicker, thanks! It came off as you described.
  • founda98founda98 Member Posts: 11
    I have the exact same problem as in message #83. Does anyone know what the cause actually turned out to be? 98 Avalon 35k. Dealer appt 7/24/03! Can I fix it myself?
  • deepandeepan Member Posts: 342
    96 avalon hazard light inside the switch (interior) is burnt. Anyone know the procedure. does the front panel come off or can the switch itself gently taken out. thanks
  • riffrafterriffrafter Member Posts: 1
    I too have the exact same problem both of you were having (MSG #83 and #212). Would really appreciate it if anyone could post the cause of problem and the $$ to get it fixed. I have a service appt in a few days.

    Thanks in advance.
  • avalonsadavalonsad Member Posts: 1
    '96 Avy, less than 70k miles..woke up and wouldn't turn over. Charged battery for 2 hr til it turned over and then started driving around died and pushed it home!
    This a.m. clicks when trying to start and won't hold a charge...battery's not that old and I'm afraid to put it on the road in case it dies again. Battery? Relays? Our toyota dealer has made a fortune on this car -- suspension/struts already.
  • sanandtonsanandton Member Posts: 342
    Sounds like my older cars behaved when the Altenator went out. Can you still test the altenators by cranking on a charged batt then disconnecting the battery to see if runs?
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Member Posts: 668
    Age of the battery means nothing. I've had virtually new batteries fail and I've had '48 month' batteries last twice that long. My 96's OE battery lasted 7 years.

    If you have a volt meter available you can check to see if the alternator is charging the battery. Start the car (charge the battery or jump start) and check the voltage across the battery. It will be over 13 is the alternator is charging the battery.

    If you check the battery before starting the car it should read 12 or just above. Less means you have a battery problem. If you can start the car without a jump look at the voltmeter while the car is cranking. If the voltage drops close to 10 or below 10 you have a bad cell in the battery.

    If the battery is low on water cells fail sooner than when the water level is correct. The green eye on battery top checks only one cell. There are 6, so any of the others could be bad and the 'eye' would indicate a good battery.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    NO! Don't test the alternator by disconnecting the battery cable while the engine is running. BADDDDD Idea!
  • sanandtonsanandton Member Posts: 342
    Is there a short explanation as to why disconnecting the battery while a car is running is now a bad idea, or has it always been a bad I idea, and I never knew it. (Sincere question) Thanks,
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Destroys the diodes. They generally do not like current going in more than one direction. They are a one-way street.
  • sanandtonsanandton Member Posts: 342
  • alan_salan_s Member Posts: 362
    Right on - DO NOT RUN ENGINE WITHOUT THE BATTERY. It is in the manual. You will destroy your very expensive electronics. Call AAA if you are a member and they'll test it, or take the car to a Walmart service center if it runs, and they will run a stress test on the battery and the alternator at no charge. If it is the battery they have pretty good deals on replacements. Our Sienna battery died after 18 months, but it was cheaper to buy one from Walmart than get it replaced under warranty because of the "pro-rated" cost.
  • kuolkuol Member Posts: 7
    First ,thanks! John609.

    Another question please anyone knew it give me some helpful suggestions.

    Just bought a 1996 Avalon XL.
    The rear tail light warning often lights on after driving for a few minutes. Sometimes it doesn't light at all. It looks strange. I checked the car all around it. I found the front parking light is burnt out then I replaced it. It still lights on (rear tail warning). So I changed another front parking light (it almost burnt out). I think it should be normal again but never. I checked the rear tail light working normal. The backup lights normal, the turn signals normal, the license plate lights normal.... Anyone has ever met this situation before? Thanks!
  • deepandeepan Member Posts: 342
    i had an older camry that had warning lights as well. Everytime it rained or moisture in the air the warning light on the dash would come up. All exterior bulbs were fine. After they dried the warning light would go off. Happened for yrs on the car. Water didnt collect in the bulb holders/compartment
  • zebra5zebra5 Member Posts: 47
    The rear tail light indicator on my 97 had been lit up for much of the eight years I've had the car. I've never been able to identify the problem myself (should be simple, right?) Recently a dealer service center finally fixed the problem for me, and they mentioned to me that one of the tail/brake lights (I unfortunately don't know which one) is "multi-element" (what that means I'm not sure), and for the nonexpert like me it would be difficult to identify that one of the elements was not operational (hence the indicator light comes on). Anyway they fixed it for less than $10, if I recall. I can't tell you how much better I feel without that rear tail light indicator light constantly annoying me. Good luck.
  • jackcharlesjackcharles Member Posts: 1
    I am having a similar problem with by 97 Avalon XLS. Bought the car in Virginia in 99 with 26000 miles. Have been living in Maine since 2000. In November of this year, '04, the car wouldn't start. Battery was low on fluids, added fluids, but didn't help. Decided that after at least 7 yrs, I needed a new battery. Bought one off the shelf at local Napa store in late afternoon. Car started right up. Next morning, nothing. Recharged the battery--on the assumption that it had been sitting on shelf for long time and didn't have much of a charge. Car started. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to take car to dealership. Couldn't get an appointment for several days, As I used the car over the 5 day interim period, I kept taking off one of the battery leads as I assumed there was a discharge occurring. Under that practice, car started all the time. When Dealership checked the battery,they could not find any problems. According to their report,"... battery/charging system, battery test good. Has a 19 milliamp draw which is (sic) exceptable. Charging voltage is 13.2-14.5 volts. It cost me $68. They said if it happens again, they would want to keep it for a day or two.


    So, with that diagnosis, I left the battery leads on all the time. For the better part of a month, no problems. Until yesterday. Didn't use the car for two days. Temps have been in low 20s in garage. Battery totally drained. Re charged the battery, car started right up.


    I normally leave the lights and the radio in the on position when I turn the motor off. Under those "on" conditions, when I recharge the battery and replace the leads, the headlights come on. And this is without the key in the ignition and turned on. Then when I start the motor, the radio switches to the CD player. Does that indicate anything other than defaults?


    My question. Where do I go from here? What can I expect from the dealership? Should I take the car say to a AAA repair shop first? Has this been a common problem with Avalons of the 1997 period?
  • jkcjkc Member Posts: 1

      About 2 weeks ago, my 96 Avalon had have the rear warning light on when I drive for appr. 45 min or so, but it is randomly, I check all light when the warning light is on, all light bulb is good. So do you already fixed the problem? I appreciate if you can tell me the solution, or Anyone who know the answer? Thanks!
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Member Posts: 668
    Had something similar happen to my 96 a few years ago. All the bulbs worked when I checked, but still got an occasional warning. Changed all the tail light bulbs, including the center brake light, and the problem went away.
  • kuolkuol Member Posts: 7

          Have been busy these days. A little late to reply you.

          For my case, it was all fixed after I changed the parking lights. (next to head lights)

          It's number is 168 and you can buy a pair in stores with less than 2 or 3 dollars. Do it as the owner's manual then your problem might be fixed.

           The previous parking lights still working but dimming. I changed one but still warning. So I changed the 2nd one but still warning. I give up that day. It is wonderful when I get up the next morning. It doesn't show any warning at all. It never bug me until now.

             I don't know if it works for you. It looks like someone else fix the problem by replacing the rear lights. Anyway, good luck to you!
  • rodgers1rodgers1 Member Posts: 1
    light in driver door and passenger front door do not come on when doors are opened,additionally, door central locking does not work from both doors.what can i do to address this problem.

  • cjponlinecjponline Member Posts: 17
    I'm eagerly waiting for my '06 LTD, and have a question as to how to wire my ESCORT radar detector. Is the enough play in the headliner to route the power cord from around the rearview mirror down to the fuse panel?

    Any other suggestions? I a bit leery about tapping into the mirror's power connections.

  • abfischabfisch Member Posts: 591
    I have an 02 Avalon, with a Valentine ONE radar detector. What we did was attach the detector's clip to the driver's sunvisor, ran the cord underneath the fabric of the sunvisor, down the front pillar into the underside of the dash, then obviously through the firewall, and around to the battery with a in-wire fuse.

    This has preformed flawlessly to date.

  • cjponlinecjponline Member Posts: 17
    So you tapped directly into the battery. I was hoping to tap into the fuse panel under the dash. Any open spots in the '05/'06 fuse panel? I was able to do this with my '01 XLS.

    Also, any thoughts about using the suction cup bracket directly on a LTD windhshield?

  • abfischabfisch Member Posts: 591
    I suppose you could go to the fuse panel and would not have to go through the fire wall. I forget why I did that. I would do what the instructions say usually and I think they suggested that.

    I do have thougths on the the suction cups and I disliked them for many reasons.

    1. The detector can be seen. It cannot be seen on my 02 secondary to the roofline. Yes, I cannot roll my sunvisor down now unless I unhook it. But that is why I have very good sunglassess for.

    2. Radar detectors work better, the higher they are in the vehicle. There performance goes up, especially if you have a burm or hill in front of you and someone is aiming his radar and you cannot see it.

    3. The Valentine ONE has 360 degrees converage, really front and bad, as radar does not work from the lateral sides. There is a window on my unit to detects radar coming fromt the back of me, and has helped me greatly. Putting it lower on the windsheild would beam it at the headrest in the back instead of out the rear window.

    4. In colder climates, the cups loose there suction. Painful.

    Hope that helps. Whoever does it, do a neat job and you will enjoy it.

  • kicker9kicker9 Member Posts: 57
    You can also run the wire under the headliner back to the dome light and around the bulb contacts, I used a coat hanger to fish the wire through.
  • tnhackertnhacker Member Posts: 3
    My '03 XLS has a dealer installed spoiler w/LED stoplight. I'd like to have the third brake light (in rear window) not operate. I think it looks better if the inside stoplight doesn't work. A light on the dash signals if the bulb is removed, and I've tried painting the bulb (even w/high temp paint), but the paint burns off. The bulb gets extremely HOT. Any ideas?
  • awcomon0awcomon0 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Avalon. The intermittent wipers have stopped being "intermittent" and instead stay on continually. Is there a fuse involved? Or is it a switch that needs replacement? Does this require pulling the steering wheel and therefore dealing with the air bag? Any guidance is greatly appreciated.
  • aksanaaksana Member Posts: 1
    Has anyone hardwired a valentine one into the wiring for the lights in the headliner, behind the rear view mirror? I found instructions for doing so on a BMW 3 series that identified switched power, and it works am trying to find the same for an Avalon.
  • ljhelwegljhelweg Member Posts: 1
    Interesting coincidence. My 2001 Avalon has just developed the same problem -- also when I shut off the wipers they won't return to the lowest position any more. I have just been informed by the dealership service department that I need a new wiper motor which, with labor, will cost me $315 ... I've been told that the motor is no longer "reading" where it is in the cycle. Hope you have better luck. I'd be interested to know if this turns out to be a simple fuse. I'm having serious doubts about my trust in this dealership. Good luck.
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