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Battery/Electric Problem 2000 Toyota Camry

2000 Toyota Camry Electrical Problem

My mother owns a 2000 Toyota Camry with 78,400 miles on it. In October, I received a frantic call from her after work that the car was dead and she couldn’t go anywhere. She’d left the after-market seat warmer plugged in and it had drained the battery. AAA jump started the car and we went to Merchants Tire together, where they told her that since she’d been running the car, the battery was charging up (this was without running any tests).

Her battery died again in November. She took it to Sears and they replaced the battery that was still under warranty with a new battery.

This last week, Monday before New Years, it died again. Same place, same characteristics. She took it to the dealer. The dealer couldn’t find anything wrong with it. She was torqued at the dealer because they did not listen to what she was trying to say and didn’t explain what they were going to do.

She took the car to a mechanic at an Exxon station today and he said that the battery was low, but that there was nothing wrong with the electrical system. He gave her a printout.

She then took it to Sears and they said that it was not the battery that was the problem, but that something was draining it through the electrical system. Sears did not run any tests.

By the way, the after-market seat warmer was given the old heave-ho, after the first disaster. She does not leave her GPS plugged in (puts it away in case of thievery).

AAA came to her rescue each time. She always parks in the paved parking lot at the Regal Theatre down the street from work. No trees, no trash, no nothing around, except other cars.

Could you please provide us an assist on this problem?

This car needs to be checked for a parasitic electrical drain. The problem is that it is time consuming. At current shop labor prices, this could get expensive quickly. One test that I always like to do, just to check how much draw is happening when the car is off, is to get an old single filament light bulb, bayonet style with a nice exposed center lug, disconnect the negative terminal on the battery, and touch the lug to the top post of the battery, and the cable to the side. If the bulb glows noticeably, you have a bad drain. Next is to start removing fuses until the bulb stops glowing. Remove one at a time, and replace after checking the bulb again. You don’t want to mixed them up. Once the bulb stops glowing, find out what is on that circuit. You just have to keep narrowing it down until the culprit is found.

A lot of times, these problems are lights that are not turning off when they should, like trunk lights, or glove box lights. I’d start with those fuses first if a drain is found.

Thank you for the advice. It is just a matter of scheduling to do this with my mother and we’ll be set. She told me she didn’t know what a fuse looks like, but I’ll find the box no problem.

Thank you again.

Believe it or not, I have seen the glove box and/or trunk lights drain the battery. The advice to look for a parasitic drain is good and the lamp should work. An ammeter would be better since you would know the magnitude of the current. A battery can supply a couple of hundred amp hours so a 1 amp drain could take a couple of hundred hours to drain the battery. The aformentioned bulbs are probably on the order of 10-12W so they would cause a load of 1 amp on a 12v system. If the car sits for days between uses it won’t take long for even a small load like that to drain the battery. Good luck.