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Troubleshooting Toyota RAV4 Battery Issues

It is unfortunate that the Toyota RAV4 is known for experiencing electrical faults due to faulty batteries and mountings.

Despite Toyotas being well-built and enjoying a reputation for quality, the popular SUV is prone to electrical failures, with battery issues listed as a significant problem area.

To troubleshoot Toyota RAV4 battery issues, start by checking that the vehicle battery is securely fastened and that the battery terminals are in good condition. Check that the positive and negative terminal clamps are tight. Check that the battery is holding its charge and if not, replace it.

Your battery may be draining overnight due to a parasitic draw. That is when a circuit within the wiring in your car is live even after you have turned off the ignition key. You can identify which circuit is the problem by checking the voltage drop on each fuse.

Testing car battery

The reading on your multimeter should be between 25 and 50 milliamps when testing the battery with the ignition switched off. If the reading is higher than that, then you have a parasitic draw.

Remember that the amp draw needs a little time to stabilize. So, leave the probes on your battery for a minute or two and see what the final reading is.

The alternator is another possible cause of battery failure. While leaving the multimeter attached to the battery, remove the wiring harness and any other connections from the alternator and check to see if there is a voltage drop. If the voltage does drop, then you know it is the alternator that is causing your battery to drain.

When checking your fuses inside the vehicle, either close the door or push the switch on the door in, so that the interior light goes out. Failing to do this will negate your testing, as the current draw from the interior light will affect the battery voltage.

There are 3 fuse boxes on a RAV4, two under the hood and one underneath the steering column. You’ll need to check all of them to find which circuit is the problematic one.

Why Toyota RAV4 Battery Keeps Draining?

Confused girl scratching head

While Toyota RAV4s have a bad reputation for having electrical problems with their batteries, they are not the only vehicles that suffer from this problem.

There are potentially 3 ways that a battery will fail in a Toyota RAV4.

A Toyota RAV4 battery drains overnight due to a parasitic draw or because the battery has worn out. After 2 to 3 years, a standard RAV4 battery will start to wear out and no longer hold its charge. A short in one of the electrical circuits or an alternator fault will also cause the battery to drain.

The battery should hold a charge of 12.6V or more after it has been fully charged. If the reading falls below 12 volts, then the battery is not able to hold a charge.

If you find that there is an amp draw on the battery while everything is switched off, then the wiring either has a short due to damage to the insulation or an electrical component has failed which causes a short.

It is also a good idea to check that interior lights are turned off and that the switches inside the vehicle are turned off, as they can also cause the battery to drain.

How to Fix Toyota RAV4 Battery Keeps Draining

Thumbs up next to car battery

It is most inconvenient when your battery is dead and you cannot crank the engine.

However, finding and fixing the problem is not as difficult as you may imagine.

To fix a Toyota RAV4 battery that keeps draining, first, check that the battery is still serviceable. If it can hold a charge of at least 12.6 volts, then there is a parasitic draw that is causing the battery to drain. Use a multimeter to check which circuit is drawing current from the battery.

To check if your battery is serviceable, first charge it overnight to make sure that it can hold a charge. Once charged, the battery should register at least 12.6 volts on your multimeter.

If the battery voltage is less than 12 volts, after it has been on charge overnight, it has worn out and must be replaced. Over time, the plates inside the battery lose their ability to hold a charge. They will then drain very quickly, even when they are fully charged.

If the battery is fine, then you can assume that the reason for the battery draining is because of a circuit that is drawing current.

The first step in finding the problem is to hook up your multimeter to the negative terminal. Using the negative terminal will avoid damaging your multimeter in the event of your probe grounding the battery by mistake during the test.

After removing the battery terminal, hook up the multimeter by clamping one probe to the battery terminal and the other to the wiring harness clamp. Using the highest amp scale, check to see what the current draw is.

If the current draw is more than 50 milliamps, and the vehicle is switched off with all the doors and boot closed, then you have a parasitic draw and you can move on to identifying where it is.

To identify the circuit that is drawing power from the battery, remove the fuse box cover, and remove each fuse to see if any of them causes the amp reading to drop significantly on your multimeter. There are two fuse boxes under the hood and one under the steering wheel.

If none of the fuses under the hood cause the amperage to drop, you’ll need to test the fuses inside the vehicle. Remember to depress the door switch before checking the fuses, as it will draw current for the interior light if the door is open.

You should also disconnect the multimeter before opening the door. This prevents the current from damaging the multimeter when the door switch triggers the light.

If the circuits are all fine and none of them cause the amperage to drop, then you may have a problem with your alternator. To check it, disconnect the wiring from the alternator to see whether it affects the reading on the multimeter.

Why Toyota RAV4 Battery Not Charging?

Nervous guy with hands on forehead

If you find that your battery is dead when you try to start your Toyota RAV4 in the morning, then it may be due to a faulty battery or the alternator not charging it.

If a Toyota Rav4 battery isn’t charging, it may have a worn-out battery or the alternator is not charging the battery while the engine is running. The alternator may be faulty or the belt driving the alternator may be worn out or incorrectly tensioned. The battery may also not be securely connected.

As the battery charges and discharges during normal operation, the plates inside the battery wear out. After 2 to 3 years, the battery will struggle to hold a charge and a larger than normal draw, while the vehicle is standing, will cause it to discharge completely.

Toyota RAV4s have a known problem with their battery clamps, which in extreme cases have caused fires both while the vehicle is driving and after it has been switched off. These fires were caused by the clamps shorting against the battery terminals.

Loose or corroded battery clamps and wiring will also prevent the battery from charging properly.

To check if the alternator is the cause of the battery not charging, attach a multimeter to the battery terminals. Then start the engine to see what the voltage reading is. If the voltage increases to between 13 and 15 volts, the alternator is working properly. If there is no appreciable increase in voltage, then the alternator is the source of your problems.

How to Fix Toyota RAV4 Battery Not Charging

Car battery jump start with cables

There are a limited number of reasons why your battery is not charging.

To fix a Toyota RAV4 battery that isn’t charging, check that the battery is able to hold a charge. When fully charged, it must read at least 12.6 volts. Run the engine to see what voltage the alternator is providing. With the engine running, the voltage should read between 13 and 15 volts.

After charging the Toyota RAV4 battery overnight, use a multimeter to check the voltage. A serviceable battery should hold a charge of at least 12.6 volts when fully charged. If it does not and the voltage is below this figure, your battery is worn out and needs replacement.

When checking the alternator, you should expect the voltage to rise to between 13 and 15 volts. This shows that the alternator is providing sufficient current to charge the battery. If the voltage does not reach at least 13 volts, then you need to check the wiring and the terminal clamps for corrosion and wear.

The clamps should be secure and the wiring will need to be replaced if it is broken or damaged in any way.

Then check if the alternator is producing a charge of a maximum of 15.5 volts while running the engine at 1500 rpm. If the reading is higher than this, then the alternator is overcharging, which is just as bad as if it is undercharging.

If the alternator is not producing enough current, check all the connections to see that they are all secure and in good condition.

Check the drive belt and tensioner. If the belt is too loose, the alternator will not spin and it will then not produce electricity. Also, check that the pulley is secure and that it rotates when the engine is on.

Also, check that the alternator is able to provide at least 0.5 volts more than the battery voltage when you have a high electrical load on the system. To do this, switch on the headlights, the air conditioner, heater, and any other electrical equipment. This will place a maximum load on the alternator and let you know if it is able to produce enough voltage and is in good working condition.

If the alternator is not charging, then it could also be a problem with the connection from the alternator to the ECU. The connection to the ECU is via a sensor that detects how much field current it must send to the alternator to generate the charging current.

If the sensor or the ECU is faulty, then you should consult an auto electrician before replacing your alternator.

What is The Typical Lifespan of a Toyota RAV4 Battery?

Girl asking question

Modern batteries are designed to last for a few years and then be replaced.

However, the life of your battery depends on how often you drive your vehicle as well as the temperature ranges that you encounter.

You can expect Toyota RAV4 batteries to last for between 3 and 5 years. Many factors affect battery life, including the weather conditions, the type of battery, and your driving habits. You can increase the battery life by ensuring that the battery is regularly charged.

If you allow your battery to stand without being charged, then you can expect it to shorten the life of your battery. It makes sense to run the engine for 15 to 30 minutes every second week if the car is not being used regularly.

If your RAV4 is going to be garaged for an extended time, disconnect the battery.

How Do You Know It’s Time to Change Your Toyota RAV4 Battery?

Changing car bettery

It is easy to take the battery for granted as you drive your vehicle, but there are a few warning signs you should not ignore.

You’ll know it is time to replace your Toyota RAV4 battery when you struggle to start your engine. If you discover corrosion on the battery terminals or connectors, then it is a sign that the battery is wearing out. You can check the voltage to see if it is below 12 volts after overnight charging.

If the battery fails to keep its charge after being fully charged, check that the alternator is charging properly before replacing the battery.

Copyright protected article by Know My Auto and was first published on Aug 26, 2022. .

If you experience problems with your battery after 3 years, it is usually an indication that the battery needs replacement.

Tips on How to Keep Your Toyota RAV4 Battery Healthy

Male holding a sign for tips

It is easy to forget about your battery, but it is worth taking some basic precautions to keep it healthy.

The best way to ensure that your battery remains in good health is to drive your Toyota RAV4 regularly. This will cause the battery to discharge and receive a charge regularly. If the battery is allowed to run down without being recharged, it reduces its lifespan.

If you are not driving your RAV4 regularly, make sure that you let it run for at least half an hour twice a month. Avoid doing this in your garage due to the exhaust gases.

Check that the battery terminals and clamps are free of corrosion. If you see corrosion, you can wash it off by removing the battery from the engine bay and washing it off with a baking soda and water solution.

The copyright owner of this article is and was first published on Aug 26, 2022..

To help protect the terminals and avoid corrosion building up, cover the terminals and the connectors with a light covering of petroleum jelly.

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