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1992 Toyota Paseo - weirdest electrical problem ever. Gauge cluster lights & side markers flash when battery installed. No crank no start

OK this is so weird.
1992 Toyota Paseo 5spd 155,000 miles.
I let it sit a while, and the battery was low. It cranked and wouldn’t start because the battery was just too low. As I was getting out of the car, I noticed the gauge cluster lights flashing or something, I didn’t pay much attention at the time, but I unhooked the negative battery terminal [I was going out of town] to be safe.

So - I just charged the battery up. It’s showing 12.8 volts, 400 CCA - so not GREAT.

Also it pretty grody. And the positive terminal has a brass terminal with a screw connector for the ring terminals on the positive battery lead in the car to screw on to. It’s stuck on it’s terminal GOOD, and got pretty good green crud underneath it.

So - I install the battery. Instantly, no key in the ignition - the side markers start to flash, along with a relay click sound.

Look in the car, and the gauge cluster lights [not the “idiot” lights, the night time so you can see the gauges lights] are also flashing in time with the side markers.

turn the key, and the flashing stops. No crank though.

Screw around enough and the flashing stops.

Try to start the car, again no crank and after trying to start the car the flashing begins again.

& keeps going with the key removed.

It was night, so I just unhooked the negative battery terminal. But not after pulling the main relay under the hood & reinstalling, and pulling the EFI fuse and reinstalling.

Also hitting the hazard lights turns them on and lights up the blinker lights on the gauge cluster, which hadn’t been lighting up with the cluster lights.


Thanks, Mark

I suspect that when the battery was reconnected you set off an alarm system and that made the outside lights flash. You may have to do some reprogramming on the alarm system in order to get the starter to work. If the problem with the starter isn’t due to an alarm system issue then you may need to replace the battery. It may not have enough reserve capacity to run the starter.

The battery charged up all right 12.9 volts but the cold cranking amps on the test showed it was about 4:50 and it should be 5:40. So it’s a little low. Also there is a brass terminal on the positive lug that’s got a wing nut that hooks to the ring terminals on the positive cable. I tried to take it off the battery when I went to get it charged and it’s stuck on there pretty darn good with some nice green corrosion underneath it.

I could see how that would prevent the car from starting. But I have no idea why that would cause the side markers and dash illumination to flash along with the relay click?

I just talked to a local Toyota dealer they were not at all helpful. I was thinking alarm at first but I can’t seem to find any reset procedure for a 92 Toyota Paseo. I used to have a a Cressida and you had to unlock the passenger door to reset the security system.

Only thing is this car doesn’t have power locks.

I can’t seem to find any security system reset info for this car, so I’m pretty well stuck. I guess I can try and jump it, or I’ve got another battery that I know is totally good it’ll fit in there not with the hood closed but I guess that would tell me if I just need a new battery.

That is an aftermarket alarm, if you don’t have the remote look for an over-ride button under the dash, press the over-ride button while turning the ignition on.

Makes sense - it came via a ricer…
I’ll have a look.

If I had to guess…

It’s an aftermarket alarm with a starter kill. Whoever you bought it from disabled it because they lost the key fob. Then you replaced the battery which killed power to the car, which made the alarm forget it had been disabled.

If it doesn’t have an override switch, it may have an override procedure. Often that’s doing something like flipping the key between off and on 5 times in 1 second, or similar. But sometimes it’s wired to a seemingly innocuous button - for instance you have to press the defrost button before turning the key, or the like.

What you’re really going to want to do is dive under the dash and see if you can find the alarm’s brain. It’s probably wired under there somewhere. If you can find it, you can figure out what brand/model it is and either remove it or buy a replacement fob for it.

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These cars did not come with any type of security system from the factory, not even as an option. Neither did the Tercel of similar vintage, which I used to own. Since this is obviously an aftermarket alarm system, a Toyota dealer is not going to be able to help, other than to remove it (if you’re willing to pay to have that done).

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A bad connection between the car’s electronics and the battery could cause this. But I fully concur w/the advice above. If the car is configured w/an alarm system, removing or disabling it is where to start.

You also need to clean up that positive terminal.