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Discussion Starter #1
Recently on my 2007 Rav4, my wife started up the car and drove to an intersection and stopped. When she stepped on the accelerator, she lost power steering and all the dash lights came on. The car was still running. After pulling over to the side of the road, she turned off the car and was able to restart the car and it ran 'normal.' Only the cel, VSC, and skid lights stayed on. At a local repair shop, they plugged in the code reader and it came up 'speed sensor.'


A few days later the same thing happened to me after the car had been sitting all night.


A local repair shop replaced the speed sensor, which looked worn.


It didn't fix the problem and it recurred again in the same way. Repair shop thinks it may be a transmission problem.


Weather for all three instances were in the 50s for temps and the car was sitting overnight.


Any ideas what to check next?
 

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Sounds like it could be a battery/alternator problem. The power steering not functioning could be a result of insufficient current being supplied to the system due to a faulty alternator/weak battery. That also explains why all the dashboard lights turned on at one point, as that happens to a lot of rav's when there is insufficient power.

As you specifically stated, this happens after a "cold start". This is usually when the battery is at it's weakest before the alternator charges it back up after engine start. I'd get the alternator and battery checked if it were my rav.
 

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You failed to mention which engine you have but I agree with alextheonly especially if you have a V-6. Keep in mind the power steering is electric not hydraulic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestion. Btw, I have a four cylinder Rav.


After reading the thread, I do remember one morning very recent, that I noticed the battery light flicker a few times and then stayed off. I don't usually drive the Rav, so I didn't think much of it at the time and the few times I drove it since, I didn't notice it again.


The alternator was replaced last year and the battery was replaced about four or five years ago.


One more thing: the warning lights have gone out I think.
 

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narrowing the field

I get this bad feeling when I hear 'car' and 'electrical problems' used in the same sentence.


Are there any helpful checks I can request from my local shop to help narrow the possibilities, or should I just trust they will check the 'easy' things first, like alternator output, battery health, etc.?
 

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I get this bad feeling when I hear 'car' and 'electrical problems' used in the same sentence.

Are there any helpful checks I can request from my local shop to help narrow the possibilities, or should I just trust they will check the 'easy' things first, like alternator output, battery health, etc.?
It's not that big a deal if simply replacing the old battery fixes it. And from the many somewhat similar issues I've seen on the forum over the years I strongly suspect that's what is needed. (See post 10.)

Assuming they've checked for loose or corroded battery cables, the shop needs to do the two simple tests you mentioned.

1. Alternator output: Test the voltage at the battery with the engine running at high idle. Should be 13.8V minimum if the charging system is working properly.
2. Battery health: Load test the battery after fully charging it. Some shops have new sophisticated testers but a simple "toaster tester" will do too.

If either are failed you can expect any number of codes and symptoms.
 

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Battery. battery, did I mention battery ? My rav acted the same way. Steering went out, lights blinking, would only run for maybe a mile. Shut off and would restart and go for a little more. Brakes not working right. All this was because of a shorted battery. Some really weird stuff !
 

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I get this bad feeling when I hear 'car' and 'electrical problems' used in the same sentence.

Are there any helpful checks I can request from my local shop to help narrow the possibilities, or should I just trust they will check the 'easy' things first, like alternator output, battery health, etc.?
Go to any auto parts place and ask them to perform a LOAD TEST on your battery. Advance Auto does a good job, and it's FREE. Their machine will provide a printout showing the data on the battery, CCA, and good or bad. In this case my battery had a shorted cell, which would present the symptoms you described:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This morning the battery light began flashing. Too much rain here to have it checked at the auto store.

Took it in to the local shop. They did a charging system check and they said the alternator was ok, but the battery was giving very weird readings as it was giving the right amps but not the right voltage or something like that. The shop took the Rav for a drive and somehow were able to reproduce the power loss.

Replaced the battery (four year old Interstate).

Except for the battery light today, haven't had another power loss since the last time a week or so ago.

Will keep an eye out for any other issues.
 

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Took it in to the local shop. ... but the battery was giving very weird readings as it was giving the right amps but not the right voltage.

Replaced the battery (four year old Interstate).

Except for the battery light today, haven't had another power loss since the last time a week or so ago.
It's not that big a deal if simply replacing the old battery fixes it.
So maybe our members know what they're talking about?:surprise :doh:
Go to any auto parts place and ask them to perform a LOAD TEST on your battery. .... In this case my battery had a shorted cell, which would present the symptoms you described:
Battery. battery, did I mention battery ? My rav acted the same way.... All this was because of a shorted battery. Some really weird stuff !
 

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Discussion Starter #14
After the posts about the battery/electrical issues, I did call the local shop and discuss having the alternator/battery checked and was told to stop by anytime. They also checked the dates when the battery was last replaced and the alternator was replaced.

As things would work out, I was planning to go to the auto parts store to have it checked there as well, but I figured with all the rain and bad weather due to the hurricane, I would not ask the employees to venture out to do the tests and get soaked. Thanks to those who gave that input.


Hopefully the problem has been solved.
 

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I am having some issues. I'm not sure how to make my own post but any help would be appreciated!

For the last year or so when I drive long distances in cooler weather over 2 hrs under 70 degrees i get a flickering battery light. I have replaced battery and alternator within the last year. This weekend took a 4 hr trip to dallas and 3 hrs in battery light starts flickering. Made it and no other issues with flicker. Took off 3 days later after normal driving and romped the gas. I immediately lost power steering and all my dash errors came on. Shut car off and back on got my steering back. I had the codes read and only vsc came out. Took battery cable off to reset and braved a 4 hr drive back to Houston.

The light didn't start until a few miles from my destination so just kept going. Next day it was warm so I started it up and got the flicker from the start which isn't normal. Had the battery and alt tested while light was flickering and both passed? Drove about 5 mile @ 30mph and lost power steering and all lights came on again. I drove to oriellys and again only the vsc abs codes came back. I'm not finding any consistency on when it starts acting up besides the battery light flickering.

Got in it today before the sun and it was cool, no battery light flickering. Got in it a few hours later and it was flickering! I got out and pushed on the ecu wires (I initally was suspecting ecu issue) and pushed on alt wires. Light went out and drove fine there and back. I'm lost and dealer said they can't diagnose intermittent issues. I have a voltmeter and battery is as it should be.
 

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I had them read at the auto store. I didn't do the load test, I'll do that after going through the wires and checking grounds. Thank you! It is just hard to pinpoint with it happening so randomly. If the battery is bad could that be intermittent? Also worsened by long trips? I thought the alternator might have been bad because it was a reman. However with it only bad on long trips or cold I had forgotten about it over the summer. You would think if it was bad it would have worsened over the months. I can't find any shops around this area either who deal with auto electronics specifically, and dealers are my last option. I've paid for a diagnosis before and they were so far from the issue I lost trust, and money!
 

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As things would work out, I was planning to go to the auto parts store to have it checked there as well, but I figured with all the rain and bad weather due to the hurricane, I would not ask the employees to venture out to do the tests and get soaked.
Agreed. I didn't look up where you're from but it wouldn't have been fun here in CT those several days. Those chain auto parts store guys/gals have to work outside since it's probably not legal for them to have a shop. And what job do you see them doing in downpours? Changing wiper blades!

Anyway, glad we could help and likely save you from some dealer potentially chasing codes and replacing good parts.
 

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I had them read at the auto store. I didn't do the load test, I'll do that after going through the wires and checking grounds. Thank you! It is just hard to pinpoint with it happening so randomly. If the battery is bad could that be intermittent? ...
What you need to do is monitor the voltage while driving and during the intermittent issue. I'd use one that plugs into the 12V outlet.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Looks like this post is timely.


I had the battery replaced a few days ago and alternator checked out ok, but this morning the battery light was flashing again. Weather here was just below 60F and very damp.


I'm thinking some sort of loose connection somewhere? Where can I find a voltage monitor that plugs into the outlet?
 
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