Toyota Camry Hybrid Electrical & Lighting Questions

obrienklmobrienklm Member Posts: 3
edited September 2014 in Toyota
I have owned my TCH for approximately 3 months. Every single time the vehicle has sat unused for more than 3 days, I end up with a dead starting battery. It starts immediately when jumped, but this is becoming more than a bit annoying. The dealer at first insisted that the $350 starting battery was defective and has replaced it 3 times. They are now convinced that something is intermittently draining the battery, but after having the car for a week on one occasion and almost a week currently, they have no clue what is going on. I had thought it was probably the smart keys “communicating” but on the most recent dead battery occasion both keys were 1300 miles from the car. I am beyond careful to be certain that everything is off and lock the car every time it is left. Any ideas or similar experiences??



  • satchselmersatchselmer Member Posts: 2
    My TCH is now 3 days old. Day 1 worked beautifully. Loved it. Day 2, 8 a.m., would not start. Lots of warning incons appeared on the message console, including Check Battery and Check Engine. But car would not give Ready light and would not move. Service guys from Rudy Luther Toyota / Dealer arrived and also could not get it to Ready status. Jumping battery didn't help. Now they say it's a computer problem. Day 4, still don't have a working TCH in my garage. VERY disappointed and VERY angry. Dealer told me that some people had experienced starter battery problems, and he tied that to leaving the smart key in the car or leaving a door ajar. While niether of those appear to apply in my case, I just don't buy it. Something serious is wrong with these cars. I truly regret buying it and will warn off anyone I can. They simply are not ready for prime time. Buyer beware!
  • bobflbobfl Member Posts: 19
    I understand your frustration but you are over the top saying the TCH is not ready for prime time. As an example: I have owned mine for 10 months and have had NO problems at all. Now approaching 8000 miles and getting life of car 37.6 mpg. You just have a problem with your car that needs to be fixed.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Member Posts: 1,405
    I truly regret buying it and will warn off anyone I can. They simply are not ready for prime time. Buyer beware!

    Hummm. Three cars out of about 40,000 with this problem so far. I'll take my chances.
  • sturdilysturdily Member Posts: 4
    I have had identical battery failure problems with my 2006 Prius. Battery failure December 8, jumped, dealer said no problem, no draws. Failure December 20, dealer replaced battery. Battery failure Fbruary 19, dealer says no problem, no draws. Returned from one week vacation to battery failure March 11. Dealer cannot diagnose problem. Now forced to start car every other day to have confidence that it will start. There is obviously an intermitent drain. I also though that it might be a smart key or loose door problem, but have ruled those possible causes out.
  • obrienklmobrienklm Member Posts: 3
    Not sure if you are aware of the GreenHybrid site but there is a much longer discussion of this issue on that site:

    Re my situation: Update on the dead battery saga… I was away last week and my TCH starting battery was stone cold dead again this morning. I think that is the 6th time it has been dead when left more than a couple days. As always it started immediately with a jump and my dealer again promised to figure out what’s causing the drain. And… they think they have it!!!

    It seems that Toyota has notice several similar problems with the THC, all in the northern states, and they have tracked it down to a problem with the computer that controls the remote start. Apparently there is a malfunction between the smart key and the remote start program that is draining the battery over time. They plan to install a new computer tomorrow and hopefully the problem will be solved.

    I'm letting it sit over the weekend... we'll see.

    Regards, Keith
  • sturdilysturdily Member Posts: 4
    Hello Keith. Thanks for all of your updates. All of my failures occurred after cold (under 10 degrees) mornings.If the new computer works, I'd love to get the details so I can pass them on to my dealer. As I reported before, I have had the exact pattern of failures and immediate jump starts and have checked and double checked all switches, lights and doors.
  • sturdilysturdily Member Posts: 4
    Hello Keith:

    It's been about a month. Has your battery stopped draining? If it has, what was the fix?
  • obrienklmobrienklm Member Posts: 3
    So far so good. I have not actually left the car without running it for more than 3 days, but up to 3 days idol has not been a problem. I am fairly certain that the new chip for the remote start has solved the problem.
    I should mention that I do not believe that my problems had anything to do with cold weather, simply the amount of time the car sat discharging. Cold weather should actually help the starting battery maintain its charge, as batteries discharge at a much slower rate at lower ambient temps. It was never an issue of the typical cold weather, slow turning engine. The battery was so dead I had to unlock the doors with the emergency key and usually lost my radio presets.
    If your dealer wants to know more, I believe the Chicago district of Toyota is one that finally made the connection to the remote start computer. They may even had a Tech Bulletin our by now.

  • sturdilysturdily Member Posts: 4
    Hello Keith:

    That's good news and I will pass it along to my dealer. If they furnish a new remote starter chip and it solves the problem I will let you know.
  • copperbucketcopperbucket Member Posts: 1
    Hi, just bought my TCH a week ago and so far love it. No problems whatsoever. However, in reading the manual and viewing the DVD that comes with the manual, Toyota warns that if the car isn't driven for 2 weeks, the hybrid battery could discharge. I was wondering if anyone else has had an experience after leaving it undriven for 2 weeks. We like to travel and several times a year fly off for 2 weeks, sometimes more. Will my battery discharge if I do? What happens then? Does it have to be towed to a Toyota dealer to be fixed? That could make vacations very costly indeed!
  • dukeshahdukeshah Member Posts: 10

    Recently I found my 2009 TCH to be completely dead.
    No light or unlocking or anything. Suspecting that the battrey was dead - I called AAA who helped with jumpstarting the vehicle.

    Good news- is that the car is now working. Bad news is that there is no radio or information panel on the system. The system asks for Navi disk (which is not available since my used car did not include the disk.

    Upon calling the local Toyota dealer, the service manager indicated that I should bring car in for diagnostics - a charge of $99.

    Anyone have any suggestions? I do not want to pay the dealer for something very simple.

  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    The 12V battery keeps the electronics 'alive'. If your 12V went completely dead then everything in memory was wiped, including your nav info, bluetooth pairings, radio station presets etc.

    You can read the codes yourself with a reader or ScanGuage, and take it to the dealer if there is a code that is an issue. The Nav disk you are going to have to aquire either used or a new one from a dealer.

    A bigger issue you have is that your 12V went dead. 2 things here. 1) why did it go dead? Was the car not used for several weeks? or is your battery bad? Your TCH is under warranty so a bad battery will be replaced. 2) you had the 12V jumped. The AGM batteries do not like sudden spikes in voltage. You MAY have damaged the 12V battery by jumping it.
  • snaab93se1snaab93se1 Member Posts: 69
    Did AAA follow the instructions in the owners manual for jumping the battery?
    Does anyone know if you can jump another car with the TCH? There is no procedure listed anywhere in the manual for jumping another car.
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    Does anyone know if you can jump another car with the TCH? There is no procedure listed anywhere in the manual for jumping another car.

    Actually, the manual is quite explicit about not jumping another car. The quick drain of a boosting another car damages the AGM battery that the TCH uses.
  • snaab93se1snaab93se1 Member Posts: 69
    I couldn't find that info anywhere in the 2008 manual...what page was it on? Do you have the 2009 or 2010 manual? Thanks for the info by the way.....
  • dukeshahdukeshah Member Posts: 10
    Thank you for your prompt response & feedback.

    I do not know if the AAA folks used the right procedure. I know I do not have the manual, and the AAA driver did not even know where the TCH battrey was (he asked me to open the hood, while the battrey was in the trunk). The AAA driver did mention that he has jumped a lot of prius, and he had a portable charger he used for my car.

    I think the battrey was dead due to the door being open for a few days - but I am not sure. By the way - what is an AGM battrey?
    Since the radio etc is all dead (no response when I try to switch on the button) - but the Navi is working - I thought that may be the system needs to be reset by pressing a few buttons, and punching a code. I do not know how to do either - and do not know where to get the code from!.

    Again - thank you for your prompt, and insightful response.
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    The AGM is a Glass Mat battery which works well for slow and constant charge/discharge but is damaged by rapid charging/discharging. I don't have the Nav so I cannot help you with that side of things.
  • lzclzc Member Posts: 483
    You will almost certainly find the owner's manual and Nav disc available on eBay.
  • bbillinbbillin Member Posts: 11
    My husband has a 2009 TCH. He is away and the car is in the garage. I went to start the car, and the power swithced on but the battery light stayed on. Same with the brake light, even though I released it.

    A few weeks ago it was fine.

    Could it be due to the cold? The manual says the car needs to be taken to the dealer, but can't this be done a simpler way???
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    I went to start the car, and the power switched on but the battery light stayed on. Same with the brake light, even though I released it.

    A few weeks ago it was fine.

    Could it be due to the cold? The manual says the car needs to be taken to the dealer, but can't this be done a simpler way???

    Question, did the car start? Did you get the "READY" light on? If you are not sure, go out again and step on the brake and while the brake pedal is depressed push the start button. Depending on various things it may take up to 7-10 seconds before the engine actually fires up.

    In response to the cold question; it could be only if the cold also brought with it enough condensation somewhere where some electronics got wet. Likelihood of that is low. My TCH is now going through its second winter and we average in the -20s and we have -40s during some part of winter as well with no problems at all here.
  • bbillinbbillin Member Posts: 11
    I power goes on in the accessory mode so I can turn on the radio . I left in that mode for 15 seconds and tried to take off the brake slowly. Still, nothing. The battery indicator light comes on, engine light and brake light. I guess I will have to get it towed to the dealer. I don't understand as it has been less than 2 months. I thought being new, it would still start.

    I have heard terror stories of trying to jump start the battery. Any suggestions?

    Thank you
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    If the dash lights up your 12V battery is good and has power.

    Just a clarification, you are pressing the regular brake pedal (not the parking brake) when pressing the START button, right? Any messages in the display that is in the speedometer?
  • bbillinbbillin Member Posts: 11
    Got it going. I guess I wasn't holding the break down long enough and the steering wouldn't unlock.

    Thanks for tips.
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    Glad you're up and running!
  • snaab93se1snaab93se1 Member Posts: 69
    Does anyone have an idea of how long one can expect the 12V AGM battery to last?
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    On another board the user SteveHansen posted;

    "AGM batteries typically do last longer than regular lead-acid batteries. The usual failure mode of a lead-acid battery happens when a plate warps enough to touch an adjacent plate, creating a short. The plates of an AGM battery are separated by fiberglass mat, which prevents them from shorting. Because shorting is prevented, the typical failure mode of an AGM battery is chemical, and failure is gradual instead of sudden.

    AGM batteries typically retain the hydrogen and oxygen inside the case, and recombine it to water, so they don't lose water. However, they also have overpressure valves to release the gas, when there is too much gas to hold. The gas venting occurs during periods of heavy gas-generation, which occurs during rapid or over charging. Gas production is increased by high ambient temperature.

    If you keep the batteries in temperature-controlled space, and never rapid-charge or over-charge, AGM batteries can last many years. In some communications systems "float" applications, for example, AGM batteries are scheduled to be replaced at 20 years, though premature failures do occur. But, if you over-heat and over-charge the battery, it can still "boil" the water, and failure can occur in a very short time.

    So, the life expectancy of an AGM battery depends on the usage, not the calendar. In automotive usage, in a particular model of vehicle, I expect the battery life depends on how smart the engineers were in designing the charging system. For TCH, we probably don't have enough history to know that, yet."
  • h_samh_sam Member Posts: 7
    Earlier today my 12V battery died/drained down - was a bit surprised, as I had just driven the car earlier on the day. This a brand new 2010 TCH, that I purchased just 2 days ago.

    Since I am still coming to terms with the key-less starter, it could be that I left the car on. However, I read in the manual that the car is supposed to shut down after an hour of staying 'on' with no driving.

    Everything worked fine after I jump started it - (Of course, I lost my mileage history and bluetooth presets).

    Is the battery a 'lemon', or should I give it some more time to charge up?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    The AGM battery should not be jump started and must NOT be used to jump another car. Take it back to your dealer and have them check it out as that battery does not do much except keep the electronics going. The traction battery does all the work for keeping the car running.
  • h_samh_sam Member Posts: 7
    Interesting - I basically 'jump started" exactly as per the manuals instructions -everything worked fine after that. However, it seems a bit much to call the dealer every time you leave the lights on and drain the battery.
  • cdn_tchcdn_tch Member Posts: 194
    The lights are powered off the main traction battery, not the 12v.

    The 12v is used primarily to keep the ECUs powered.
  • bbillinbbillin Member Posts: 11
    Hi there,

    Can you please tell me how AAA jump started your vehicle? My Camry Hybrid is totally dead. You push the power and it is green but nothing goes on. No dash lights, window don't work, no radio.

    I called service (I'm in Europe) and they were going to start from the front under the hood. But the manual says to jump start it with the 12V in the trunk. So, I decided to wait.

    Can you please tell me how they jump started the car??????


  • bbillinbbillin Member Posts: 11
    It's me again. I had this problem before. I have been driving the car but not enough. Now, I went out and no dash lights go on. So, it must be the 12V. I read in the manual that if the battery dies, the smart key system can stop and you might not be able to open the trunk. So, I opened the trunk, in order to jump start the 12V. Is this okay, or am I causing more damage. I know we need to jum start the 12V in the trunk. There is no radio and no dash light. Also the windows don't go up.

    The dealer here told me to call road service and have them jump start it from under the hood and bring the car in. But the manual says to jump start from the 12V in the trunk.

    Please help. I don't want them to cause more damage.

  • bbillinbbillin Member Posts: 11
    I just had my TCH jump started as my 12V went dead. I drove it to the dealer to re-charge the battery. He said maybe I needed a new 12V battery. It has been there 3 hours and the battery has now charged 40% and he told me to leave it until tomorrow.

    The 12v was jump started per the manual and everything was working fine, I just went to get the battery re-charged.

    We are in Europe and they said to import a 12V for the TCH from the states is 700E. They said maybe the battery will die again, and we should get a new one.

    Is this really necessary?????

  • dukeshahdukeshah Member Posts: 10
  • mephisto98133mephisto98133 Member Posts: 4
    Under the hood there is a fuse box. Take it off and look for the red square with a + sign. unlatch this and pull it up. That is where you "jump" the car. Place the positive there and the neg on the left hand side on a engine mount bolt.

    hope this helps.

    If you do not have any clue about what to do, call AAA. ;)
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