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#1 (permalink) Old 12-25-2012, 01:40 AM
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Question 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.

UPDATE: 12/31/12

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.

UPDATE: 1/4/13

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
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#2 (permalink) Old 12-25-2012, 04:35 AM
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Inserted key and turned ignition. Engine cranked a normal speed but would not fire up.
This is the usual symptom of a low battery in these Rav4's. It may not sound low since it cranks, but there's still not enough juice to drive the electronics needed to start.

I'd suggest slow charging the battery overnight if you can, leaving it disconnected from the vehicle. Then try starting it again in the morning from a full charge. If that works then at least you may be able to get back home and have it serviced.

I don't know what your short may be but as a shot in the dark, try pulling the drain plugs in the rear and see if you've got water collecting that could be submerging some wiring. There's a recent thread around about that problem (the water that is, not necessarily submerged wires, that's just a wild guess on my part thinking about where the fuel pump wiring could be routed).
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#3 (permalink) Old 12-25-2012, 05:06 PM
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This is the usual symptom of a low battery in these Rav4's. It may not sound low since it cranks, but there's still not enough juice to drive the electronics needed to start.

I'd suggest slow charging the battery overnight if you can, leaving it disconnected from the vehicle. Then try starting it again in the morning from a full charge. If that works then at least you may be able to get back home and have it serviced.

I don't know what your short may be but as a shot in the dark, try pulling the drain plugs in the rear and see if you've got water collecting that could be submerging some wiring. There's a recent thread around about that problem (the water that is, not necessarily submerged wires, that's just a wild guess on my part thinking about where the fuel pump wiring could be routed).
Thank you for your reply...a very nice Xmas "gift". I just updated my original thread concerning the erratic dash light situation. Your idea about water may be relevant, as discussed in my update. Wet wiring seems to be limited to the front passenger foot well area but the wiring loom to the rear appears to be plugged into the right footwell wiring junction, so could well be related. Now trying to figure out what keeps hunming or buzzing under the hood and why the CEL and Oil Pressure lights stay on, even with key removed??
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#4 (permalink) Old 12-26-2012, 01:01 AM
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Glad you were able to get back home. Hope you're able to get the leak fixed.

I'll bet the wiring harness will be slow to dry out on its own. Maybe someone experienced with the Rav4 wiring system can suggest the best way to deal with that, unless you've got an extended warranty in which case I'd let the dealer handle it.
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#5 (permalink) Old 12-26-2012, 06:12 PM
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Don't have extended warranty, so called Toyota Cust Svc. Nearest dealer is 25 miles away, so some concern about a problem on the way there, Plus have to find a way home, as I doubt the fix will be one day. Right now, I have all the carpet padding, etc out of the vehicle and wiring junction in the footwell open to the air. At least I have a garage to keep from getting more water. If I leave battery connected, same two dash lights (chk eng and Oil Press) stay lit, even with key removed. Ditto for some sort of buzzing solenoid in the engine bay, near the alternator. It stops momentarily, the two dash lights dim or go out, then starting buzzing again and the dash glow brightly again. I checked battery voltage and was 12.67 v. With vehicle idling, battery voltage is 14.1 v, indicating alternator is charging the battery. Got rid of my 2000 Ford Focus because of endless problems and repairs. Now my first Toyota purchase and it's a not a pleasant one right now :-(
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#6 (permalink) Old 06-13-2013, 12:07 AM
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We have had nothing but a week solid of rain. Last week my rav was almost dead and hardly cranked when going out in the morning to work. Thought i might have left the interior light on.

Week goes by with nothing but more rain. Today i go to rush home to check out the house because we are getting massive rain storms and it will not start. Give it a boost and drive home to only find after i remove the key the dash lights stay on and gauges go nuts.

Find that i have a leak some place on the drivers side and it looks like it got a bunch of wires all wet.

On my back for an hour trying to disconnect all the connections and blow them out with an air gun. Unfortunately its still not working as it should.
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#7 (permalink) Old 06-13-2013, 03:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mazdacub View Post
We have had nothing but a week solid of rain. Last week my rav was almost dead and hardly cranked when going out in the morning to work. Thought i might have left the interior light on.

Week goes by with nothing but more rain. Today i go to rush home to check out the house because we are getting massive rain storms and it will not start. Give it a boost and drive home to only find after i remove the key the dash lights stay on and gauges go nuts.

Find that i have a leak some place on the drivers side and it looks like it got a bunch of wires all wet.

On my back for an hour trying to disconnect all the connections and blow them out with an air gun. Unfortunately its still not working as it should.
You should cover that car of yours before you are able to locate and permanently fix the water leak or your problems will only get worse. It should only cost a few dollars to get a waterproof cover for the car that attaches to the tire tires via plastic hooks

To identify where the leak is one alternative is to use a steam generator. It will fill the car with steam, allowing you to visually identify the leak.
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#8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2013, 07:49 AM
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Does it have a remote starter? Sometimes they cause weird symptoms when they "start" to fail.

Fred
2006 RAV4 V6 4WD Red Limited - wife's
2006 Accord V6 Hybrid - Dr. Dyno's - quick as the RAV but +8 mpg
2003 Odyssey V6 - handy people & cargo mover
1999 F-250 4X4 Diesel - snow plow, Bully Dog chip
2001 F-250 4X4 Diesel - truck camper, TS chip, 20' bike/trike dyno trailer
2004 Suzuki DRZ-400S Dual Sport

It's the pedal (or the handgrip) on the right!!
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#9 (permalink) Old 06-13-2013, 09:16 AM
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yes it does have a after market one that was installed at the dealer. I know for a fact that one of the components for the starter has hit by the water, in fact it was hit before because the sticker on it was all damaged from water contact prior to yesterdays rain. I will try and take out the main brain box for the starter today and see if its wet inside and blow it out.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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#10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 07:50 PM
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lots of good info, what was the solution to this issue?I am having the same issue with mine
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