I've got a puzzler for you. A real one

My 2006 RAV 4, 4 Cyl 2 wheel drive has a quirk and the Toyota garage will not do anything until I can make the car act up. When I start it sometimes, while it is in park, I turn the key and nothing happens, the lights dim like it is pulling current but nothing happens, It acts like it has a bad battery. However, if I jiggle the shift lever in park, the car immediatly turns over and starts. Problem is, it is intermittent and I never know when it will do it. The car has 32,000 mile on it and the warrnaty is still in effect but the garage won’t even put it up on the rack and at least check the battery ground lead or positve lead and that is what it acts like, that I have a bad ground.

It sounds like a problem with the park/neutral safety switch. This switch prevents the engine from starting unless the transmission is in park or neutral. Have you tried shifting it into neutral and then try starting the engine?


I agree that the problem is likely the neutral safety switch. Request that the dealership check the function of that switch.

The refusal of the dealer to do anything until “the problem can be duplicated” is BS. Contact the regional Toyota representative. Make some noise. A quite wheel gets no grease.

When you say the lights dim, do you mean that the headlights go completely out? If the dash lights dim when you turn the key, that is a symptom that is at odds with the other clue, which is that it starts when you jiggle the shift lever. If the neutral safety switch fails, there should be no response at all from the key other than the headlights switching off to conserve power while it tries to crank.

If interior lights dim, that indicates a power draw when you turn the key, which points to a dead spot in the starter windings. If that is the case and you can see the starter, a small metal cylinder, down low, toward the transmission end of the engine, try tapping it with a stick rather than jiggling the shifter lever next time. If that causes the car to start, you will need a new starter.

Odds are that it is the neutral safety switch that is failing or out of adjustment. This is good because it is not very expensive.

While your car seems too new for it, the starter contacts can wear out, leading to similar symptoms. Does it ever choose to start after refusing to without you jiggling the the shift lever?

Post is all over the map. Bad battery,bad neutral switch,bad postive or negative cable contact compounded with no duplication.

Get a independant to take a look (you don’t need to tell the Dealer you did this).