Jump-started dead car, now no power anywhere in interior--2005 RAV4

toyota
batteries
rav4
alternators

#1

I left my dome light on and 3 days later car was completely dead, no sounds or light. AAA couldn’t get the car to turn over no matter what they tried, (starting fluid, re-setting the alarm kill switch) so it was towed to a garage one of the service guys recommended. They finally got it started, but had to leave the “jumper battery” attached to the car or else it died immediately. They say the alternator needs to be replaced, but I never had a single problem with power before I drained the battery by accident. Worse, there is now no power anywhere in the interior of the car (no radio, windows). There’s only the dashboard lights. They said 3 fuses were blown and have replaced them, and now have all my under dash panels hanging out, but they can’t find the problem. I’m told a power specialist needs to come in tomorrow and diagnose, since they can’t solve the problem. I’ve already agreed to pay $260 for a new alternator, even though I’m not certain that is even the problem. Can an alternator go bad from a jump-start? And what would cause all my interior power to fail to return?
It’s a 2005 RAV4 with only 63K miles. I’m the original owner and have never replaced anything before besides the battery and tires Should I have my car towed to a different garage? I really don’t know who to believe now.


#2

Well, let’s hope that the first thing that was done was a full charge of the battery, followed by load testing it. How old is your battery? If it’s been around a while (and even if it hasn’t) it won’t have appreciated being drained down completely.

Unfortunately jump starts can cause all sort of problems, and it sounds like there must have been some issues during the jump start attempts (e.g. blown fuses are a bad sign). But it’s very hard to say what’s going on without an ability to check things out. I can say that getting a known-good and fully charged battery into it is the first step. Nothing goes right if the battery is defective or discharged.

A weak battery will abuse an alternator. Ultimate alternator abuse happens when you run a car with a discharged battery because, while an alternator does keep the charge on the battery topped up, it is NOT a battery charger and asking it to charge a discharged battery is abusive to it. So there’s no telling about the alternator. All I can say is that they are not hard to test. And if appropriate testing shows it is no good - well, then it’s no good.


#3

I got a new battery in August. Like I said, there was never any problems before I left the light on, now there seems to be so many after the jump-start.


#4

Going between the + battery terminal and the underhood fuse box should be a wire called a “fusable link”. This “link” looks exactly like a wire, but is actually a fuse. They’re designed to bubble up if they’re overpressured, but don’t always. The “link” is designed to protect all the operating circuits in the vehicle from a dramatic pulse.

Check this link. You might get lucky.
If it is bad, only replace it with a proper fusable link for your car DO NOT replace it with a regular wire. Using other than the proper link could easily cause a car fire.

Post back with the results.


#5

I wonder if the cables were accidentally reversed when the car was jump-started. This can cause electrical issues like the ones you describe.


#6

Thanks for both answers. I’ve got to decide what to do tomorrow. Hopefully this won’t become a treasure hunt for the garage with me footing all the bills.


#7
 No question you're vehicle was jumpstarted backwards by AAA.  I work at a shop and see this exact symptom (multiple fuses blown after the customer tries jumpstarting) with cars all the time.  We do plenty of jumpstarting here at the shop and have never blown a fuse yet.  
 In addition to the fuses they replaced already, there is usually a large amperage fuse in the feed wire from the alternator to the battery.  Alot of times this fuse is hidden somewhere in the wire run.  If this fuse is blown, it will appear that the alternator is bad.  Make sure the shop has checked continuity in the feed wire from the alternator to the battery before they replace the alternator.  The easiest way to do this is to simply check for battery voltage at the alternator on the large wire.

#8

Damn! Thanks for that markbob. I wonder if I have any recourse from AAA. Of course they’re going to deny responsibility, but how else could all this have occurred?