Electrical Issues? '13 Avalon

marwommarwom Member Posts: 5
edited November 2014 in Toyota
My 2013 Avalon Limited was purchased in Dec 2012. It is my 3rd one - have always loved them. But THIS one has been a disappointment. It seems that every 10k miles the battery completely loses its charge and the battery must be completely replaced or fully charged - RIDICULOUS. I only have 30k miles on it! Has anyone else ever had this issue? Is this a known issue with Toyota? I have gone from feeling completely confident in my car to not knowing whether it will start up when I need it!


  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,463
    How far does the car get driven each time it is started?
    Under 3 miles?
    3-5 miles?
    5-8 miles?
    8-10 miles?
    More ???
  • marwommarwom Member Posts: 5
    I drive over 200 highway miles per week back and forth to work. I start it in the morning and then drive about 20 miles in stop and go traffic to work on the highway. Same when I drive home. On the weekends I take short trips to the grocery store, etc. I would say 1 to 5 miles each trip on the weekends.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,463
    Stop and go traffic, short trips, enough said. The electrical demands on today's cars can exceed the alternator output when the engine is idling and that means the battery has to supplement the electrical system. Overtime your regular commute is stressing the battery because instead of it just having to help once in a while, power is constantly being pulled from the battery without ever recharging it completely.

    It's essentially a usage issue, not a vehicle problem so it isn't broken and cannot be "fixed" by changing any parts. If you could reduce the electrical load on the car that would help. But that means giving up specific creature comforts and AC in the summer is the first one that comes to mind. That of course would not be a popular solution even with me (I love my AC). If my regular commute was going to deplete my battery as yours does, I'd probably install a battery tender to restore the batteries state of charge overnight when the car isn't in use.

    It would take a lot of time to explain all of the reasons why this cannot be fixed by just kicking up the output of the charging system at idle. But I can mention a few of them and the first one has to do with cooling the alternator when its providing a lot of current. Another problem has to do with maintaining the engine idle speed and keeping the engine running correctly when the alternator would be putting a heavy load on the engine. On top of that, trying to charge at a high rate with a low engine speed causes electrical noise that can interfere with computer input signals and communication waveforms between computers in the car. All of this (and more) are why the battery becomes the primary power source at idle. If you could alter your commute to get away from the stop and go traffic that would be the best choice, otherwise you will go through batteries on a regular basis.
  • marwommarwom Member Posts: 5
    edited December 2014
    Wow. I have been making this same commute for the last 20 years and have done it in a Camry and 3 different Avalons - this is the first time I have had car issues because of the commute. I live in Texas so not using the AC is not an option for me in the summer. I understand that cars have changed quite a bit technically in the last 20 years - maybe having all the bells and whistles in a car like the Avalon is not a good thing. Oh well. I think it is time for me to consider another car - I really need to be able to trust my car. Thank you so much for your help. I honestly don't want to hear my Toyota maintenance group tell me that I "probably left something on" again - frustrating. Thanks again for your help.
  • allavalonsallavalons PennsylvaniaMember Posts: 67
    marwom - I have a 2013 and 2014 Lexus ES 350 and my wife drives 7 miles to work a day and I drive 3.5 miles a day to the bus stop. My wife's çar is 15 months old with 5,200 miles and mine is 8 months old with 4400 miles. We have not had any issues with the battery or charging and we both have every option available, including the motorized steering wheel, nav, and parking assist heated steering wheel etc, this that are not even options on an Avalon.
    While there may be issues as mentioned in previous posts, there is no way that your current driving would result in the battery draining as you've described.
    You may have left something turned on, however you say you are careful to be sure you don't, so I would take the next step that the next time this happens have it towed to the dealer, and when they charge the system have them tell you what they found still turned on that caused the battery drain. I had a Chrysler back in early 2000 that had a similar problem and after all else failed they performed a "jiggle" test where the jiggle the wires and found a ground short that was draining the battery but only when the wires "jiggled"a certain way. Always consider that with any mass produced product there will be problems with a certain % of product and you may have unfortunately received one of those.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,463
    @allavalons "While there may be issues as mentioned in previous posts, there is no way that your current driving would result in the battery draining as you've described. "

    Unfortunately this isn't accurate and there are TSB's with multiple manufacturers including this Avalon that describe the above condition. It simply takes exactly the right circumstances and the problem occurs. You tried to use the argument of your usage is limited as well but hasn't caused any issues yet and that doesn't mean you aren't depleting your battery as well. It only means that the symptoms haven't occurred yet, if they are ever going to.

    I'll try and explain this a little further. It takes a given amount of energy to start your engine. A fully discharged battery that has no reserve capacity left that can still start an engine. The reserve capacity is the amount of time that a fully charged battery can put out twenty five amps of current, and still have enough power left to start the engine. I'll repeat this, It's important to understand that a "discharged" battery at this point can still start an engine. Once the reserve capacity is all used up the battery typically remains in a constantly discharged state and begins to sulfate and fail. A "sulfated" battery is a condition where the sulfur that is in the electrolyte starts to crystalize in the lead dioxide plate rendering it no longer useful for further charge/discharge cycles. As long as the sulfur doesn't crystalize the chemical reaction is reversible through charging and the sulfur can be removed from the plate and re-enters the electrolyte.

    Your car(s) are likely still functioning with some level of the reserve capacity available but not at a full state of charge, should you happen to deplete all of the reserve capacity you will end up in the same condition as the O.P. It's a balancing act where your usage for now manages to replace most (but not all) of the energy pulled from the battery. Tip that scale even slightly and the results for you could be very different.
  • marwommarwom Member Posts: 5
    So basically there isn't really anything that can be done except to count on replacing the battery every 10k - or charge it and see how far it takes me. In my research I noticed that other more 'current' year cars also have this issue. In researching some used Mercedes with low mileage via CarFax, I found several with records which included replacing the battery - some every 10 - 12k similar to mine. Will it ever be possible to have a technology 'rich' car with enough power to sustain it for a reasonable amount of time - let's say 50k instead of 10k?
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,463
    The hybrids, especially the newest plug-in versions are headed the right direction and are making a difference. What makes this tough again is the car isn't broken and with different usage it would do just fine.
  • marwommarwom Member Posts: 5
    Okay. So no air conditioner use in the summer during my commute back and forth to work and take our 85 Chevy truck for the short trips running errands on the weekend . . . can I get my $40,000 back? Sheesh. Seriously though, thanks for your input thecardoc3. This has been very enlightening.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,463
    Your welcome. Again I know this isn't an answer that fixes the problem, in fact the worst thing someone could do right now is attempt to fix something that isn't broken. Your old GM truck has at best a 70amp alternator and the total electrical load (AC on) was likely under 30 amps normal operation. The electrical load on the Avalon could easily exceed 100 amps of current for a large portion of your commute. The reason that the hybrids make a difference has to do with the design of the high voltage electrical system which includes a significant cooling system just for the invertor and transaxle where the generator is housed.

    Follow the thread on the start/stop functions on the 2015's and try to imagine just what kinds of problems we will be growing through with those, especially if someone does encounter a lot of stop and go traffic.
  • bandmanusabandmanusa Member Posts: 1
    We have had dead battery problems for over 6 months. It sometimes does not get driven for 3 - 5 days. We know people who have Lexus vehicles that are fully loaded. They travel a great deal leaving the car idle for 2 -4 weeks at a time. It starts every time. What is the deal? We have had Avalons since their inception and very pleased with every one. This new design is THE problem.
  • robrobm1robrobm1 Member Posts: 1
    Having the exact same problem with 2013 Avalon Ltd. (11K miles) Car would not start last winter, and the dealer replaced the battery. This winter 2015/16, again the same problem. Car is dead in the AM, and won't start. If t's jumped, it runs fine all day, np starting. Then after a couple days, dead again in the AM. Having vehicle towed back to dealer to see if they can determine what is causing the drain and fix it. What a $40K POS this car is. I have to have it towed every winter and now drive around with a starter box in order for it run. Nice Toyota !!!!!
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,700
    I would add one freeway trip per week, 30 miles or so, see if that helps. I agree it shouldn't be a problem, sounds like they undersized the battery/alternator combo. 20 miles one way for a commute should be enough to keep it charged. I had a similar problem, but that resulted from multiple very short trips.
Sign In or Register to comment.