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Toyota Avalon Electrical Problems

bjk2001bjk2001 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 atlantaPosts: 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.
  • 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 AreaPosts: 12,726
    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)

  • 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 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 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 AreaPosts: 12,726
    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 Posts: 2
    nippononly - Thank you for your time!
  • mbt1mbt1 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.
  • 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 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 Posts: 358

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

  • hmannhmann 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.)
  • 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 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 AreaPosts: 12,726
    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)

  • 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.
  • 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 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 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 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 Posts: 3
    Kicker, thanks! It came off as you described.
  • founda98founda98 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 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
  • 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.
  • '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 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?
  • 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, CaliforniaPosts: 64,463
    NO! Don't test the alternator by disconnecting the battery cable while the engine is running. BADDDDD Idea!

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  • sanandtonsanandton 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,
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