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Hi,

Today, after ~30min of driving in the rain, my 2013 RAV4 engine shut off while I was in stop-and-go on the freeway. Most often these warning lights were all lit together (plus a few more)

A/T Oil Temp (automatic transmission fluid temp), charging system warning light (battery symbol), electric power steering system warning light, and the low engine oil pressure warning light.

Sequence:
1. While in stop and go, my car suddenly went nuts with audible alarms, a ton of warning lights (didn't pay close attention to which lights, but easily half a dozen or more lights were lit), and I noticed my braking wasn't going well so I used my emergency break to come to a sudden stop. I lost power foot brakes. I lost power steering. My car was quiet, except for some alarm noises.
2. I tried to start my car a few times. (Ok, I'm getting nervous with a toddler in the car and I'm on the freeway in pouring rain hoping the hazard lights I just turned on prevent us from being rear-ended). I tried a bunch of things that mostly didn't work, but the audible alarms stopped and for a moment I thought I might have the gas pedal back and started heading for the shoulder.
3. My priority was getting out of freeway traffic and I was fortunately able to coast gently onto the shoulder and the steering became easy again.
4. I tried to start my car. A ton of lights. I used my cell to call for help. I made note of the lights that most commonly kept appearing together.
5. I tried to start my car again. It sounded like it was almost turning on and then just quietly and slowly turning off. I turned it off, waited a little (barely 30 sec?), then turned it back on again.
6. No warning lights. Completely normal car.
7. I drove off the freeway. I pulled into a parking lot.
8. Toyota service center recommended I have the car towed to the service center. I did.

Now, the car isn't reproducing the faults. It seems fine. Toyota is still looking at the vehicle. Anybody experience anything like this? Flakey electrical? Water where it shouldn't be?

What do these 4 lights have in common? And how could my car be completely normal again?

I'm super nervous about driving my car again if they don't find anything to fix.

Thanks, Kristy

I have the 2013 Limited with all the perks package (sunroof, power lift gate, etc).
 

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One of your engine sensors is probably bad. Have the diagnostic codes read and have it fixed. Unlike cars from a more simple era, modern engine control systems rely on several different sensors from crank position sensors, mass airflow sensors, temperature sensors, throttle position sensors manifold air pressure sensors, O2 sensors etc. all must be in perfect operating condition for the entire system to work properly. If any one or two sensors are malfunctioning, usually the engine will either stop or only run in "open loop" (limp home) mode.

Get it diagnosed and the defective part replaced.
 

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Sounds like a major failure in the ECU (engine control unit - the computer that controls engine operations).

I don't think it is a single "sensor" failure. When a single sensor fails is usually will result in a warning light and the car may go into "limp mode", but it will not shut-down completely. All car systems / electronics are designed to be "fail-safe", what means that in case of a failure they default to a "safe mode" which still leaves you some level of control of the car, but does not "kill" the engine completely. In case of a single sensor failure, the engine may get into a mode that may result in serious damage / destruction of the engine, but the car is designed to get YOU safely out of the way. Basically, the engine (and most other car systems) are designed to "kill" themselves first, before killing you.

A multiple symptom problem like the one you described could be caused by a major failure in the ECU. One hint could be that you were driving in rain. If for some reason the ECU housing or cable connections are compromised, water could get inside and cause a simultaneous failure of several signals, confusing the ECU into a condition it was not designed to deal with.

Let the dealer do all the diagnostics and ask for a loaner car in the meantime. If I were in your place, I would refuse to take the car back until they find the root cause. You may want to call Toyota directly to open a case.
 

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Hope you're driving a different auto provided by Toyota in the mean time?


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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Today, after ~30min of driving in the rain, my 2013 RAV4 engine shut off while I was in stop-and-go on the freeway. Most often these warning lights were all lit together (plus a few more)

A/T Oil Temp (automatic transmission fluid temp), charging system warning light (battery symbol), electric power steering system warning light, and the low engine oil pressure warning light..
These lights are normal when the ignition is turned on, and the engine isn't running (see this). They do not help indicate the cause of the problem.

It seems to me that your problem was caused by the battery voltage becoming extremely low. At very low voltages, electronic circuits start to become erratic. You probably would have lost your power steering assist first, but may not have noticed it if you were traveling at slow speed on a straight road. Next the various lights would come on as those circuits began to fail, And finally the engine would stop running when the engine computer failed.

Once the battery became drained this deeply, it would not be able to restart the engine, but often times, when a battery has a few minutes rest, there may be just enough energy to kick over a warm engine.

The cause of your problem may have been the fact that your engine was running at very slow speeds, consuming lots of power with the wipers running, the headlights on, and the heater (or AC) running. At slow speeds the alternator may not have produced enough output to maintain the power draw from the battery. After a period of time the voltage reached the critical point and circuits began to fail.

The possibility of water leaking into an electrical component is also a possibility, but you have probably been in the rain before without noticing any symptoms, and a rain soaked component would not recover as quickly as your problem did.
 

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I agree, low battery voltage. I would start by tightening the battery cables. Seems simple but effective. My Acura showed a check engine light, erratic trans shift etc. After hours of checking the system I found a poor connection on the positive battery cable. Cleand both terminals and tightened cables. Problem fixed.
 

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Until Toyota can diagnose and repair the problem it's best to have them supply a loaner vehicle to be used. I would be very wary of driving a vehicle which would quit, especially with a toddler in it, until it is sorted out. The problem obviously is an intermittent fault involving something electrical. The Toyota service reps. should attempt to reproduce it by driving the RAV under the same conditions as were experienced when the trouble occurred. Also the trouble situation should be reported to the NHTSA as a safety issue: https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/Complaint.cfm
Thousands of Oregon and Washington State drivers drive quite frequently under similar conditions and apparently don't experience this problem so it may be quite difficult to solve this one, unless it is as simple as a battery and/or battery connection situation.
 
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These lights are normal when the ignition is turned on, and the engine isn't running (see this). They do not help indicate the cause of the problem.

It seems to me that your problem was caused by the battery voltage becoming extremely low. At very low voltages, electronic circuits start to become erratic. You probably would have lost your power steering assist first, but may not have noticed it if you were traveling at slow speed on a straight road. Next the various lights would come on as those circuits began to fail, And finally the engine would stop running when the engine computer failed.

Once the battery became drained this deeply, it would not be able to restart the engine, but often times, when a battery has a few minutes rest, there may be just enough energy to kick over a warm engine.

The cause of your problem may have been the fact that your engine was running at very slow speeds, consuming lots of power with the wipers running, the headlights on, and the heater (or AC) running. At slow speeds the alternator may not have produced enough output to maintain the power draw from the battery. After a period of time the voltage reached the critical point and circuits began to fail.

The possibility of water leaking into an electrical component is also a possibility, but you have probably been in the rain before without noticing any symptoms, and a rain soaked component would not recover as quickly as your problem did.
That's basically what I was thinking..... So check battery connections and cables.
 

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That's basically what I was thinking..... So check battery connections and cables.
Also, don't forget to check the ground cables from the negative post of the battery to the body and engine ground points.
 

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Extremely low battery voltage theory sounds pretty reasonable

It seems to me that your problem was caused by the battery voltage becoming extremely low. At very low voltages, electronic circuits start to become erratic. You probably would have lost your power steering assist first, but may not have noticed it if you were traveling at slow speed on a straight road. Next the various lights would come on as those circuits began to fail, And finally the engine would stop running when the engine computer failed.

Once the battery became drained this deeply, it would not be able to restart the engine, but often times, when a battery has a few minutes rest, there may be just enough energy to kick over a warm engine.

The cause of your problem may have been the fact that your engine was running at very slow speeds, consuming lots of power with the wipers running, the headlights on, and the heater (or AC) running. At slow speeds the alternator may not have produced enough output to maintain the power draw from the battery. After a period of time the voltage reached the critical point and circuits began to fail.
Ah ha! Thanks!

This all sounds very reasonable. I'll ask the service center about checking or replacing the battery and cables.

Yes, I was driving straight and very slow for several minutes. There was an accident and I was in stop-and-go in the slow lane. Wipers On. Lights On.

Yes, I still have the loaner vehicle (2016 hybrid RAV4 is fun).

The service center has already contacted Toyota. They're sending what they have, but they weren't hopeful since, if I understood correctly, the faults weren't logged; they didn't see anything in the computer. They did, however, assure me that after 80miles of testing the faults didn't reproduce.
 

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Also ask the service center about checking or replacing the alternator. It might not be producing enough output at low speeds with all of the accessories that were on (light, wipers, heater, etc.) to recharge the battery.
 

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This has started happening to my 2018 Toyota RAV4, four times in the last year and twice in the last week. Two times, the vehicle would not start after being parked for 30 minutes or so (once at night, once in the day). Two times, the vehicle would 'shudder' noticeably while driving, then the engine would cut off. Toyota has twice now said they could find no problem, there is no problem.
 

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FYI, there is a TSB for the fuel pumps in the late model Tacoma PU trucks. Toyota has no solution as of yet. The Tacoma's are exhibiting the same/similar characteristics that you have described.
 
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