A dead battery is often the first problem that comes to mind when a car will not start properly. The Toyota Rav4, as with any other automobile, has several different components that are involved with starting up the engine. Knowing how to diagnose and troubleshoot common problems with starting an engine can save you time, frustration and money when working on your Toyota Rav4. With a little knowledge about basic auto mechanics, you will have your Rav4 back on the road before breaking a sweat.
Open the bonnet for your Rav4. Check the connections on the battery terminal to ensure they are tightened properly. Sometimes, wriggling the connections to the battery terminals will jostle the electrical connections so that they are properly joined to the terminals. Start the Toyota to see if it works after the wriggling trick.
Inspect the ends of the terminal connections to see if the circular connection points are corroded. If they are heavily damaged, then they may not be able to direct electricity from the battery to the starter. Replacing the terminal connections involves replacing the entire wiring harness that connects the Rav4's electrical system to the battery. The main battery cables can also be visually inspected for frayed, broken or exposed wiring. Some Rav4 models are known for bad battery cables.
Test the alternator. If you have been driving you Rav4 and it loses power and shuts down after 20 to 30 minutes of driving time and will not start, then that is an indicator of a failed alternator. Measure charging output by using an inductive amp probe, which is clamped around the BAT (B+) wire that connects to the alternator. The amperage should read between 120 and 155 amps. Auto parts stores are also able to use a bench tester for alternators. A failing alternator will allow a new and fully charged battery to drain without being able to recharge it. As a result, even a new car battery that is properly hooked up to the battery cables and electrical harnessing, will fail to start your Rav4.
Replace the starter. Locate the starter on your Rav4's engine by tracing the positive battery cable, which ends at the starter and solenoid. The starter is a part that resembles two cylinders joined together, with one cylinder having a larger size than the other. If the starter is accessible, remove it by using a socket wrench to unscrew the bolts connecting the starter to the flywheel. Remove the negative battery cable prior to removing the starter.
Replace the spark plugs, which can be unscrewed using a socket wrench. Screw new spark plugs in and tighten by hand. Check the owner's manual for the specific tightening torque since each Rav4's engine may vary from year to year.
Depending on the location of your starter, you may need to utilise a floor jack and jack stands to raise your Rav4 and crawl underneath it to unbolt the starter. Tap a failing starter lightly with a hammer, which can jostle it just enough to reconnect with the flywheel for a couple of more times.