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Random dash lights/gauges even with key removed
2011 RAV4 base 4wd 2,5 4 cyl with 46K miles. Bought it 4 months ago from Hertz. Only driven 800 mi in last 4 mths but has always started and run fine until 3 days ago. Drove about 20 highway miles in cold rain/snow to a local Christmas retreat. After rain all night, went to check vehicle and saw two dash lights (chk engine and oil pressure light) before even unlocking vehicle. When I tried to start, battery was dead. Thinking I may have left on lights, I borrowed a commercial type battery charger and charged the battery for 2 hrs at 10 amp charge rate. Reinstalled battery and heard some sort of soft whine (like a pump of some sort). I thought something was resetting after battery reinstalled.
Inserted key and turned ignition. Engine cranked a normal speed but would not fire up. All the dash light were illuminating oddly. With the key in the OFF position, dash warning lights continued to stay illuminated, gauges would randomly fluctuate and the orange center panel (with odometer, trip meter) would random flash on and off. With the key REMOVED, the same bizarre pattern continues. Whatever pump or motor I can hear in the engine bay resonating through the metal exhaust pipe shroud keeps running as long as the battery is connected. Something appears to be shorted and that is depleting the battery. BTW, battery appears to be original Toyota (Johnson Controls) battery. Vehicle assembly date is 9/10.
I am stuck 20 miles from home in the boonies and trying to find some solution. I tried called Toyota customer number but they are on holiday schedule :-(
Thank you for any ideas/suggestions. First Toyota vehicle and NOT a great introduction to the brand right now!
UPDATE - 12/25/12
Found a significant leak from the front passenger door window, near the outside rear view mirror. The carpet was wet, with water down the door panel, including PW switch. Based on a earlier reply, removed sill panel and right kickpanel cover. Major wiring junction there and it was wet as well. Dried with towel best I could. Then decided to reattach neg battery terminal and try starting. It started up like normal and all lights went out as they should. I drove it for a little ways, then decided to head for home (about 20 miles). Ran fine all the way home. When I turned off the ignition key, again the oil pressure and CEL (chk eng) like remained illuminated, even with key removed. Also some sort of either buzzer or small electric motor keeps running in eng bay. Seems to be coming from near the alternator. After a few minutes, it would momentarily stop, then start again. I believe that is what drained the battery in the first place. I disconnected the battery for a couple of minutes, then reconnected it. Vehicle started up and all dash lights went out as they should. When engine turned and key removed, same situation above exists. So it's sitting in the garage to stop further water intrusion, with the battery disconnected.
After several days of sunny weather and leaving the vehicle outside, everything now appears to be dry. After two days of drying everything, the two dash light in question started to grow dimmer and the buzzing in the engine compartment intermittent. On 12/29/12, I was able to connect the battery with out ANY dash light illuminated and no buzzing in the engine bay. So far so good, at least until the next rain. I have now determined that the buzzing in the engine bay appears to be possibly the electric power steering pump motor, as it now cycles on and off with the key. Before it would run irrespective of whether the key was on or off. I believe that device is what drained the battery as it does draw considerable current, as measured with my volt meter. Toyota and the dealer are not taking any responsbility and expect me to pay several hundred $ just to diagnose, then more to actually fix anything they find wrong. Other postings on this site for water leaks indicate this leak has occurred on other vehicles of this 3rd generation RAV4.
Went to insurance adjuster contractor (body shop) on 1/3/13. They used pressure washer and water leaked inside between dash and passenger side door. They said the windshield was not original and thought it was leaking. So had Safelite install new windshield today on 1/4/13. The installer said the old windshield was properly installed and likely not leaking. He said it is more likely the cowl. With the windshield out, I saw this flimsy strip of foam which did not appear to be properly attached. So plan to go back to body shop to have them pressure wash again to see if problem fixed or not. If not, then I get it's the cowl next that needs attention. What a p.i.t.a !!
Last edited by hiker999; 01-04-2013 at 08:54 PM.
Reason: Updated info