// Elec error/car won't start due to conv't battery
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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Elec error/car won't start due to conv't battery

    We bought one of the first available HHs in 2005 and have driven it over 65K. We started getting an error message when starting the car to "shift to PARK before starting" (the car was in park). After a few tries this would resolve itself, however one mid-morning (after driving an hour) it did not. Per the dealer, the problem is with the conventional battery, which caused electrical errors when it was not putting out enough current to the system, and thus no READY light.

    Toyota tells us the battery (specific to the HH) has been ordered and may take several weeks to arrive. We post this so that HH owners are aware that there is a known problem with the conventional battery running down which can cause your vehicle electrical errors which prevent it from starting - we were able to jump start the car to get it to the dealer - and that at least right now the replacement batteries are not readily available.

    p.s. we found a tremendous mileage difference when not using the blower/ac/heat in the spring/fall (aver 28 mpg), granted opening the windows requires some finesse to avoid the wharble, but +6mpg is worth it

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  3. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    I see this post was from March, but figured I'd add our story in case there are others out there having this problem. We've had trouble with our conventional battery almost since we got our Highlander. If we let the car sit a week or two without driving it (we only use it when we need to pull a trailer for our business, which is sporadic) the battery is either completely dead or we're able to drive it a while then the battery dies later. One time we drove about 60 miles, stopped a while, came back, stopped again, then when it was time to start it again it didn't want to start. It seems counterintuitive to buy a hybrid in order to lessen your impact, but have to drive it more often so it will run. Any thoughts?

  4. #3
    The aux battery seems to be the nemisis of all cars produced with electric drivetrains, especially from Toyota (including the all-electric RAV4EV). This appears to be because they put cheap aux batteries in them. The solutions seem be be:
    1. replace the cheap original equipment one with a better battery
    2. put a battery keeper on the battery. These can usually just plug into the cigarette lighter and are powered either by plugging in to the wall or by solar power (if you leave the car out in the sun). The RAV4EV was easily served by simply placing a small solar battery keeper on the dash board and plugging it in to the lighter socket. I don't have experience with Toyota hybrids but I suspect the same will work for them as well.

  5. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Thanks for the info, ex-EV1! I forgot to mention that, like HHOwner, we would have episodes of "shift to PARK before starting," too. Crazy stuff!

    Here's what the Toyota FAQ says:

    In addition to the storage tips for our conventionally-powered vehicles, our hybrids require additional steps for each battery, as the hybrid vehicle battery and auxiliary battery will discharge and their condition is liable to decline.

    To prevent excessive auxiliary battery drainage, charge the battery at least once every two weeks by driving the vehicle for 15 - 20 minutes with all non-essential electrical accessories (such as air conditioning and audio equipment) turned off. As an alternative, you may disconnect the negative terminal of the auxiliary battery.

    For the hybrid vehicle battery, charge the battery at least once every two months by starting the hybrid system for about 30 minutes*. Check that the "ready" light is on and all lights and electrical accessories are off. It is not necessary to drive the vehicle, but do not start the hybrid system in an enclosed area unless the tail pipe is connected to an exhaust hose to prevent harmful build up of fumes.

    *If the battery was disconnected, it will have to be reconnected before the hybrid system is started.

    Looks like we'll sell our Highlander for something more reliable, or just rent something when we need to pull the trailer.

  6. #5
    This Toyota FAQ looks pretty lame. If you only use the HiHy infrequently, the benefit of the hybrid drivetrain is negligable to the planet anyway. My gas-guzzling non-hybrid 4WD SUV often goes more than 2 months without usage as well so I understand your position.
    Hopefully, in the future, Toyota will get their act together with storage of hybrids. It shouldn't be this difficult.
    You might want to try the battery charge keeper for the aux battery though. It isn't much hassle. I'd be surprised if the main traction battery goes dead if unused for a few months, unless (like I do), you live up a hill so it is nearly dead everytime you park it.
    The HiHy seems like a good vehicle. It's too bad it can't seem to handle these 'corner cases' of usage.

  7. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Same Problem with Battery

    I have had to have my Toyota HH jump started four times in the 16 months that I have owned it. I drive it 50 miles a day. I finally took it to the dealer who checked it and told me that all systems were working normally so there was nothing they could do. If this is working normally then that says very little for the design quality.

  8. #7

    I also have a 2006 Toyota

    I also have a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid that would not start on two occasions. Both times the car had been running for some time , turned off for 5 minutes and then it would not restart. On one occasion after sitting for a few hours it restarted. The other time it had to be jumped and the code read "Shift to Park" even though it was already in Park. I took it in and everything checked out and of course they said that they never heard of this happening before. Does anyone know what the correct battery should be or if Toyota is acknowledging a problem. Is there a chance of a recall to correct the problem?

  9. #8

    I have been having this same

    I have been having this same problem for the last 8-9 months. I bought my car in August 2006. I got the same answer from Toyota when I took the car in, but now it has happened again today, after leaving the car parked for only 45 minutes. Have you had any other communication with Toyota?

  10. #9

    I have the Lexus RX400h,

    I have the Lexus RX400h, 2006, which I bought used in 2007. In one year I have 4 failures to start and two new 12V batteries put in under warranty. 2 different dealers tell me it is charging normally, must have been a bad battery. (I don't know the service history before my ownership.) They tell me there is quite a significant current drain even when the key is out and all lights are off, and that the battery has less capacity than the one in the regular model of this vehicle. They have recommended:
    - drive it for longer trips - well it even happened after a long trip on a new battery, though 2 of the 4 events were after sitting for a week or three. So, tell me about fuel efficiency - if I have a three mile trip, I am supposed to drive 10 miles so I can be sure it will start again?
    - put it on trickle charge when away. Ha! - the manual says to charge it you need to disconnect the negative terminal, which brings in all the need to reset windows (see manual) radio, seats, and who knows whether the computer will be OK. After every battery change it seems mileage is poor for a while (though city mileage is worse than highway at the best of times!?)
    - disconnect the negative terminal of the battery when away - same problem as above. And since it has happened when I am not away form the car for very long, do I have to do this every time I park? Or where can I find a plug-in for my car (new meaning for "plug-in hybrid").

    None of this is acceptable for any car, let alone an expensive car like this. The dealer recommended I contact Lexus when I said their response was inadequate. Lexus is playing hide and seek on me because the car was originally delivered in the USA but is now living in Canada and Lexus US won't talk to Lexus Canada.

    Does anyone know the address of the President of Toyota, to whom I will give the last chance to deal with this design flaw, before I either go public or sell the car?

  11. #10

    I have owned my 2008 HH for

    I have owned my 2008 HH for 8 months and have 30,000 miles on it. Looks like I'm currently experiencing this problem. I regularly use the vehicle's radio and inverter w/ laptop without the car running. I have noticed the car will automatically shut off power after some time but as always started back up again. Perhaps this is a "new" system to combat the problem described here. If this problem persists my dissapointment could not be fully expressed within the posts of this site.

    I didn't buy an expensive new car to spend my time replacing batteries instead of working to pay for it. It might be time to ditch the $40K vehicle for a $5K one as it seems, based on the posts here, to be a more reliable option. Ridiculous!

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