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Toyota RAV4 Battery and Electrical Problems



  • I have a 2009 RAV4 V6 Limited. When pushing the start button, there's always a slight pause, a unique sound (described previously as grinding, but it's definitely in the dash electronics, not mechanical), then the vehicle starts. It's done this since day one for me, so I've always assumed that's "normal".

    Is this atypical, or common to all new, keyless RAV4s?
  • I started a thread in this forum and here is all the info regarding that. Bottom line is it is not a problem and I also learned we have to just push the start button, like we would turn on a computer and not hold it down till engine starts. I have not tried that yet as I am in NYC and Car is in Greece.

    Could you try that, and tell me if it works for your car

  • This sound is normal--it's the mechanism that unlocks the steering column. On my 2008 Limited, turning the key unlocks the column just like any car with the ignition key on the column. But with the push button start, a small motor does the job when you press the button. Also, when you stop the engine and open the door, you'll hear it re-lock the column.
  • Hi Junebug
    Its RAV4 Athens. Good to see you are spreading the correct info to all :)
  • I bought a 2009 Toyota Rav4 in August 2009. Last week, during a cold (but certainly not unusual) spell here in Maine I went into the garage to start the car and it was dead. We recharged it, I took it to the dealer, they checked the battery out and said it was fine. The sevice manager asked if I mostly drive short distance and I said yes. He said that can wear the battery down in cold weather because it needs to be driven longer distances to recharge. He said he has seen this with other customers.

    Huh??? I have lived in Maine for decades and have never heard that, nor had a new battery die. So now the dealer says they will keep the car for 24 hours and hook it up to see if some sensor is not turning off and draining the battery.

    Has anybody else been told that?

    One feature I note about the Rav4: if the headlights are left on when the ignition is turned off, they remain on for, I guess, several minutes before turning off automatically. Can this be a bad design that drains the battery if done a lot?
  • comem47comem47 Posts: 399
    "One feature I note about the Rav4: if the headlights are left on when the ignition is turned off, they remain on for, I guess, several minutes before turning off automatically. Can this be a bad design that drains the battery if done a lot? "

    I don't have a RAV-4, but many vehicles keep the lights on when you walk in from your car so the path is lit, but you can turn them off early by hitting the remote lock button a second time once your at the door to your house. Something worth trying if you haven't already.
  • jhs5jhs5 Posts: 2
    I am experincing similar problems with a 2008 model. At times the battery seems to be dead and the car won't start nor will the steering wheel turn. Its happened 4 times this month. Last Sunday I pushed the RAV4 from my garage because I thought the battery was dead and I was going to use jumper cables and my truck to recharge the battery. However, I tried to start it once again before attaching the cables, and it started. The same thing happened earlier today.
    I will never purchase another Toyota since the problem has occurred on past models of the RAV4.
  • jhs5jhs5 Posts: 2
    I am experincing starter problems with a 2008 model. At times the battery seems to be dead and the car won't start nor will the steering wheel turn. Its happened 4 times this month. Last Sunday I pushed the RAV4 from my garage because I thought the battery was dead and I was going to use jumper cables and my truck to recharge the battery. However, I tried to start it once again before attaching the cables, and it started. The same thing happened earlier today.
    I will never purchase another Toyota since the problem has occurred on past models of the RAV4.
  • This is a simple problem that has nothing to do with a dead battery and should be fixed for free under warranty. Take it to the dealership and tell them to perform this Toyota TSB:

    TSB Number: TSB-0348-09
    Bulletin Title: Intermittent No Crank/No Start
    Release Date: September 30, 2009
    Applicable Year(s): 2006 - 20010
    File Size: 171 kb
    Download: Link

    Description: Some Highlander, Matrix, and RAV4 vehicles may intermittently exhibit a “no crank” condition. The engine can usually be started after moving the shift lever to the Neutral position or by cycling the shift lever in and out of the Park position. A revised neutral start switch assembly is available to address this condition.

    Download TSB
  • mandylmandyl Posts: 4
    I wanted to know if you had found a solution to the starting problem. I have a 2007 Rav4 and started having the same starting issue fall 2009. Only once, maybe twice a week. I notifed the dealership, as I take it in every 3K miles for oil change, they ran diagnostics and found nothing. Blamed it on the cold weather and getting miles on it. Well, the problem still exists, in fact every morning and after it has sat for at least 6 hours, it takes a while for it to crank over. I wanted to see if you had an resolution to the problem. Thanks!
  • Hey, janyboy (mandyl), did you read the previous message (post #71)? Next time you are at your dealer tell them to look at TSB-0348-09. That will probably fix your problem!
  • mandylmandyl Posts: 4
    I did, but they didn't think that was the issue since I have never had an issue with not having power or not cranking. They cannot get it to replicate the issue at the dealer, but they believe the pressure issue with the gas pump, that if they can get it to replicate the issue, they can diagnosis it pretty easily. As long as it does not leave me stranded, I am okay, just irritates me that it is doing it more than anything.
  • OK, so it cranks but it takes too long to start? I would have a battery load test done. The battery on the RAV4 usually only lasts 3 years. There is a tremendous load on the battery at starting what with the electric power steering on top of everything else. If the starter saps too much energy from the battery when cranking, the voltage can drop too low for the fuel pump and computer to work properly.
  • mandylmandyl Posts: 4
    Thanks for the advice. The local Toyota dealer has tested it a couple of times and it checks out fine, but this last time they did say that it tested weak at times; its the original battery My husband has thought all along that it acts like its not getting fuel at start-up, so your fuel pump comment makes sense.
  • toja10toja10 Posts: 1
    2007 Toyota rav 4
    My toyota never had any battery issues and today 90 degree weather I went on two trips, the second time there was an all systems failure, nothing worked, I could not even lock the doors. Called AAA which checked the battery after they jumped it they mentioned that the alternator may not be working. After they disconnected the battery and I try to start the car, it still did not start. Only after they connected the battery again I could get it to start. I drove the car home, however it stands dead in the street. Contacted Toyota dealer however they will be able to get the car taken care of in 4 days.
  • I'll bet a new $75 battery from Wal-mart would solve your problem. You probably could have had the AAA guy replace it when he was there. Would have been more expensive, but cheaper than the dealer and it wouldn't have taken 4 days.

    Oh, and if you disconnect the battery on ANY car, it will not start!
  • mandyl or janyboy - have you gotten your issue resolved? 3 weeks ago I started having the EXACT same problem. When my car sits for more than 8 or so hours, most times I get into it and try to start it it cranks for an extra 2-5 seconds before it finally catches and starts. I had it in for oil change 2 weeks ago and they couldn't recreate the problem. Sunday I brought it to dealer and told them not to touch until late Monday for best chance at recreating the problem and of course they said it worked just fine for them Monday afternoon, so they didn't do anything. I don't think it has to do with that TSB about the neutral start switch because it's not a "no crank" situation. They tested the battery when I had it in 2 weeks ago and said it's a little low, but that shouldn't be causing the crank problem. Someone mentioned possibly pressure in the fuel lines to me as well. Any thoughts or solutions you've found? Thanks!
  • lizzie, check this out. Maybe it should be extended to cover Rav4's as well, huh?

    I'm having starter issues with my 2006 currently and am getting nowhere with answers either.
  • You need to bite the bullet and install a new battery. If they tested it and it was "a little low", that means the battery is on its way out. The original Toyota battery has a typical life span of 3 years--if you can squeeze 4 out of it you're doing good. Spend the $75-85 on a new battery and I'm almost certain it will solve your problem.
  • I have a 1996 Rav4 - Whenever the speedometer stops working, the O/D light flashes and the transmission acts up
  • Check your VSS (Vehicle Speed Sensor) located somewhere on the transmission and either fix the wiring or replace the sensor as necessary.
  • I have not been able to find the solution. I just took it back in for an oil change and didn't say anything hoping that it would be asked of me. I asked how the battery tested and before I even said a thing about the starting issue, the technician asked, "why, are you having starting issues?" I said yes and all they could tell me was that until they can recreate it, they cannot diagnose it. The last technician thought it was a pressure issues in the fuel line as well, but again they cannot do anything about it until they recreate the situation. I don't understand how it isn't doing it for them, as it is about every time that it starts this way now. Frustrating, because it is starting like it has 200,000 miles on it when it only has 50K. I will keep you posted and let me know if you hear anything more. thanks!
  • Mandy, I urge you to replace the battery. The original battery only lasts 2 or 3 years, and the RAV4 is heavily dependent on the battery because the electric power steering uses a lot of electrical power. One day real soon your battery is just going to die leaving you stranded without warning. If you do manage to get it jumped off, it might start and run but your power steering will be cutting in and out making it unsafe to drive. Replacing a battery is no big deal. Get an Everstart from Wal-Mart for 75 bucks and they will install it for free. Problem solved.
  • This morning at 5:45 am, I am heading outside and notice headlights on...thinking it was my company car and that I had accidentally hit the key fob, I go outside to discover that it is my daughter's 2002 RAV4 - the headlights are on, but they were definitely not on when we went to bed last night. Naturally, I checked both the headlight switch and the fog light switch and both were off - the lights continued to burn. I cranked it up with no problem (we put in a new battery early summer). I thought if I disconnected the battery that might do something (okay, I'm not really a car guy). Upon reconnection, the lights were still on, but now the horn was blaring, everything was beeping, AND NOW the vehicle would not crank. I figured there is some code that must be entered via the radio or something. Anybody got any suggestions on (1) resetting the vehicle and (2) what the issue is with the lights? :confuse:
  • My daughter has a 1997 RAV4 that has 178,000 miles on it and is still going strong. It is messy inside but that is her own habit, and is not due to defects of the car. As her father is a mechanic, she has done all the necessary maintenance on the car and to my knowledge, has experienced no serious problems. Perhaps it's because in 1997, the RAV4s were built better, but it is nice to know that the brand itself is not inherently bad.

    I just recently bought a 2005 RAV4 and have had no problems, but have had it only a few months. Hopefully, it is a vehicle that is problem free. I do have a AAA membership and a cell phone, however, so maybe I can be worry free.

    I have owned two long-running Corollas that never gave me ANY problems but I needed a larger, "taller" car for medical problems with arthritis, and since my daughter loves her car, went with this one. I've read nothing about any recalls for 2005. I hope I will not rue the day I bought it! :)
  • deloiddeloid Posts: 18
    98 Rav 4 with isstrument cluster lights out, shifter stays locked on park unless manually released with the button and tail lights out. Replaced two fuses by the steeering wheel and all worked then the fuses blew again.
    Can I get a heads up on where to start? Wiring looks fine, cluster works, doubt it's a short at the headlights...thinking short at dimmer, ignition or a relay.
  • Wednesday morning, following a very cold night (but we've had colder!), my RAV wouldn't start. Wouldn't even crank when I turned the key in the ignition.....just dead silence. Couldn't move steering wheel or move automatic shifter out of park. At 3:00 the same day, when it was warmer, it started right up. Thursday same thing......dead silence in the morning, started right up in afternoon. Took to Toyota dealer who did diagnostics and said it was a faulty neutral safety switch which they replaced. This morning.........wouldn't start again! Dead silence, can't even put into neutral to try starting it in another gear. Called the service manager at the dealer and he said he is stumped. I will start the RAV this afternoon, drop it off at the dealers so they can try starting it in the morning, and maybe if it won't start then, it will help them to figure out what is wrong. What on earth is in a car's motor or electrical system that could be freezing overnight, preventing the car from starting, and then thawing out in the afternoon????? They said the battery is fine, by the way. It is only 2 years old. The vehicle has 24,000 miles on it, 90% of it highway driving. It is used every day. Thanks for any help
  • It might be a relay that is sticking in the extreme cold, and then works OK when the temperature warms up a bit. I had a similar problem once, but it was the fuel pump relay instead of the starter relay.
  • Thanks! I'll mention that to the service manager, although he said they checked out the starter and it was fine. I left the RAV at the dealer's overnight, and wouldn't you know, it started fine the next morning! Brought it home on Saturday, and it started on Sunday morning, so I'm hoping that it really was the neutral safety switch and it was just a weird fluke that it didn't start the day after they replaced it.
  • ellenrodellenrod Posts: 1
    Hi All:

    This same 'starter' problem happend to me only about 2 or 3 months ago. The ignition wouldn't start, turn over or make any sound what so ever. I called AAA and their person told me it was a battery problem, so he sold me a new one and installed it. The very next day it happened all over again! Another AAA person came out and said he felt it had to do with how we use our remote control car alarm systems versus the locks on the inside of the driver's door. He said to ensure that all doors were locked each time, to hit the remote three or so times. The same when you want to disarm the locks. So I've followed that directive religiously ever since. Unfortunately, I think it almost happened once again a couple of days ago! It hasn't happened today, but now I'm becoming anxious all over again. I believe I'll follow the advice of one of the other writers/readers here who said what to direct the dealership to do when I take it to them for repair. I've sworn by Toyota for many years and this is the very first one I've ever had issues with. Between this issue and now the recall for the floor mats and excellerator, I couldn't be more disappointed and concerned than I am presently.
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