Car has problems starting (battery?, starter?, alternator?)
I have a 1997 Rav4 Automatic (5 Door). I do not have an alarm system or an immobilizer.
Here is what happens. I put the key in and turn the ignition and a slight click is heard, but nothing happens and all the lights (and any other function that uses the battery) just die. If I put the key back to the off position and put to the on position (before turning to start), you can hear the "door open" beep, slowly start and the lights are dim. What I have been doing as a workaround is forcing the positive terminal connector to shift a little (which ends up making it loose). This resets the circuit breaker (because I can hear the click come from the relay box under the hood). I then can try to start my car again. Sometimes it works right away and sometimes, I just have to repeat all the steps over and over again mulitple times to get it to start.
This started about 5 months ago when my car just all of a sudden wouldn't start and it seemed to be the battery. I replaced the battery and after a day or two, it started doing it again. I brought it into the dealer and they said it was the "starter contacts". I paid $250-$300 to have those replaced and a day later, the same thing happens again. I take it to the dealer again, they now say, it was a loose "hot wire" in the positive terminal. A few weeks later, it happens again. I take it into the dealer again and now they can't find anything wrong with it (After I demanded that something be done, because they charged me all this money to fix things that don't need to be fixed). So, it has been continuing to happen over the past few months. I had to remove the faceplate of my radio, because during driving, my radio would cut off, if I used my blinker or stepped on the brake. My car has cut off on me on the highway, because I had to slam on my brakes, in which I had to quickly pull of the road. It got to be too ridiculous.
I checked all the fuses and checked the terminal connectors. There seemed to be a small amount of corrosion on the positive terminal, so I decided to replace the terminal connector with a marine terminal connector, which seemed to have fixed the problem. However, 3 weeks later and now I am having the same issue again.
I am thinking maybe I should replace the negative terminal connector, to see if that works, but I really think it goes beyond the battery and it's connectors. Something internally (perhaps in the wires) is going on (especially if my car can shut off in the middle of driving, just by pressing the brake hard). I am not sure if this could possibly be the starter, alternator, solenoid (I still don't know what this is), or perhaps a short in one of the wires.
I've searched other threads and seen similar issues that others have had, but not sure if it is the same. Any help, guidence, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.