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Toyota RAV4 Ignition Problems – What To Do?

Toyota is a reliable car brand, but even the most reliable cars can experience glitches and problems during normal use. Wear and tear on the mechanical and electronic parts is real. So, even the most looked-after cars with a full-service history can experience a breakdown now and again. To help you cope in those unexpected situations, here is a guide to possible problems you can expect with your Toyota RAV4 ignition and what to do when it happens to you.

Car key in ignition

When you are stuck in a situation where your Toyota RAV4 ignition problems- what to do? Try to remain calm and systematically rule out the possible causes of the problem. It is most likely caused by ignition that’s locked, ignition that won’t turn, faulty ignition coil, or the faulty ignition switch.

Even though, at the time, you feel like you are about to burst into tears when your car doesn’t start, don’t panic. Read on to find out which situations require a simple fix without the need of a tow truck and which ones need professionals to replace the necessary parts and get your car on the road again.

Toyota RAV4 Ignition Locked

Car key in ignition

A Toyota RAV4 ignition can be locked due to the steering lock engaging. The steering lock engages when someone turns the wheel after the engine has been switched off. When the steering lock is on, you will not be able to turn the steering wheel, and the key will not turn in the ignition. You must perform both actions at the same time to magically release the steering lock, and the key will turn seamlessly in the ignition.

Usually, the Toyota RAV4 ignition gets locked when you turn the tires after you switch off the vehicle. To unlock, insert the key in the ignition, push the start button, and turn the steering wheel in the same direction it locked. Jiggle the key to loosen the wheel and start the car.

Another (less likely) reason that your ignition won’t turn is that your key is warped or otherwise damaged. If your key is worn and won’t turn once inserted into the ignition slot, try to pull it back slightly and jiggle it back and forth. The gentle movement should help you find the position where the ignition turns and the car starts. Of course, if your key is damaged, you should have it replaced as soon as possible.

You should also check the obvious and make sure that your gear lever has not moved and is firmly in the “Parked” position. If it has slipped into “Neutral,” try to move it back to “Park.” The car will not start unless the gear lever is in the “Park” position.

Toyota RAV4 Ignition Won’t Turn

Car key in ignition

Starting the engine is a power-draining event in your Toyota RAV4. Sometimes the battery does not deliver sufficient amperage to the starter motor to turn it and begin the ignition process. Make sure that your battery has sufficient charge to initiate ignition.

When your battery is three years old, and you have trouble starting your car first thing in the morning, that is a sign you should get a new battery even if the voltmeter reading is still good.

The starter is an electric motor linking the ignition to the engine crank. You can find it under the hood on the passenger side, next to the transmission. When you turn the key in the ignition, the starter motor spins, effectively starting the engine. The ignition won’t turn if the starter motor is faulty.

When your Toyota RAV4 ignition doesn’t turn, it could indicate a problem with the starter. You should use a voltmeter to check if there is current in the starter wires. If there is a current, but the starter is not spinning, you need to replace your starter. 

If your Toyota RAV4 engine doesn’t start after you press the “Push start” button or turn a key in the ignition, it may indicate a problem with your starter. It is an easy problem to diagnose. You will know that the starter is damaged when you turn the key in the ignition, and all you can hear is a “click” sound and then silence. Also, a voltmeter reading will indicate that there is current flowing through the wires attached to the starter, but the starter is not spinning.

Toyota RAV4 Ignition Coil Problem

Car key in ignition

The ignition coils are there to amplify the 12V current from the battery and deliver the high voltage to the spark plugs to fire up the engine. Driving with faulty ignition coils can lead to engine damage or damage to the catalytic converter. So, if there is a problem with the Toyota RAV4 ignition coil, you should have it replaced as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your car.

You may suspect that your Toyota RAV4 ignition coils are the cause of your engine not starting if you have experienced the loss of power, engine misfires, and increased fuel consumption in the weeks and days leading up to the day your car does not want to start.

If you suspect your Toyota RAV4 has a faulty ignition coil, test it with a multi-meter, and if the reading is too low, replace it. There is no other way to save this situation.

A faulty ignition coil cannot be repaired. It usually needs replacing. Occasionally, the actual coil is not damaged or corroded, only caked up with gunk, like leaking engine oil, obstructing its functioning. In those rare cases, it is possible to have the coil cleaned, and it does not need to be replaced. However, if there is any rust or other wear on the coil, you will need to replace it.

Toyota RAV4 Ignition Switch Problems

Car key in ignition

Diagnosing Toyota RAV4 ignition switch problems is probably the easiest because the ignition switch is connected to and activates the main electrical systems in your car. So, when it gives out, more electrical features will not work besides the car not starting.

You may find that the radio, wipers, and turn signals suddenly do not work. You may feel the panic rising, thinking that there is a lot more wrong with your car, but having those other electrical parts also fail is an indication that your car won’t start because of a faulty ignition switch.

You will be able to identify the Toyota RAV4 ignition switch needs replacing when you cannot start your car. Your other electrical systems like the radio, trip computer, wipers, fuel pump, and turn signals also won’t work. 

To make certain that it is the ignition switch that is giving problems, you can test your ignition switch with a circuit tester or a voltmeter. To do that, turn the ignition to the ACC or RUN position, and check if there is current at the fuse numbers 5, 8, 10, and 14. If the fuses are good, check the power flow to pins 1, 7, 3, 8,9, and 10. If you find any of those dead, your ignition switch will need to be replaced.

It can be tricky to diagnose problems with ignition correctly. Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out what is the most probable cause of the ignition problems you are experiencing. Once you know what is wrong, you can replace the parts yourself, or if you are like me and would prefer professional help when it comes to fixing a car, you will be better prepared to explain the problem to a qualified service technician.

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KnowMyAuto is the sole owner of this article was published on Nov 28, 2022 and last updated on .

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