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Stranded in the parking garage

I’ve been using my brother’s car to travel back and forth (2 hr drive) on the weekends to see my kids while I’m working during the week at a busy NYC hospital. (I sent my kids to stay with family bc I’m working with COVID patients)
A few weeks ago it didn’t start but seemed fine after a jump start.
This past Monday I had to move it into the building garage and noticed the clicker wasn’t working to open the door. I used the key manually and the car started like normal. (I replaced the clicker battery.) but when I tried to start it yesterday, nothing. Lights came on but nothing even with over 5 attempts at jump starting with other vehicles and portable charger. Cleaned everything, no change. The battery is a year old but looks a little crusty. Now the complicated part- 3 different tow trucks attempted to get into the garage but could not fit bc of very low clearance. Now I’m stranded and the car is stranded! Any ideas? 2 part question- desperate to somehow get the car started but also ideas of how to get in out if an NYC parking garage? :sob::sob:

No sound whatsoever when turning the key? Try starting with the transmission in neutral.

And thank you for your part in fighting this terrible disease. Stay safe.


Thank you for your reply! No, there’s no sound at all. The other issue is it seems like I can’t put it into neutral without the power on…

AAA’s NYC operation has plenty of experience with tight NYC garages. Give them a call and see if they can help. I would guess from 100 miles away that the jump didn’t work because your jumper cables may not be a heavy enough gauge. Once you’re running and home, get a new battery

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Do you have the owner’s manual? There should be a shift interlock override. Or maybe just as simple as pressing on the brake, turning the key to on, and moving the shift lever.

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Thanks - Geico sent 3 different guys out to try… they each tried with their cables and portable battery starters too.

Also I did manage to get a new battery but didn’t install it bc it seemed like it wasn’t the battery after I couldn’t get it started at all… the garage guy left it hooked up for 20+ minutes and nothing… the garage is closed for the weekend but going to change out the battery on Monday anyway just as a Hail Mary

Year, miles? It could be a bad starter or starter solenoid.

The guy that towed me out of a low clearance ramp had to drop his light bar down to make it. Think you need a smaller rig is all.

I dunno though, if the lights come on, I just would question if it is a battery issue.

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Twice I dealt with that problem by pushing the car out into the lane and having people push me off to a start and the cars would pick up enough speed on the down ramps to coast across to the next. I guess it was a relatively small parking garage though.

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A competent mechanic should be able to diagnose a number of possible causes, and fix some of them on-site - be prepared to pay the time to get them there (or trade for health care!) If tempted to roll it down ramps w/o the engine running, be prepared for the lack of power brakes - it may not be possible to hold it back but you won’t know this until too late, you can add the parking brake but better left to professionals.

FWIW I was the mechanic (professional +/-) that was called by the owner of the garage and on both occasions the vehicles were owned by employees and only when I read your post did I think much about getting the vehicles out. I had the wrecker blocking the driveway entrance and a security guard blocking the pedestrian entrance so there was no one to worry about getting in the way and I guess I had a lot of experience maneuvering vehicles with the engines off. And about repairing the vehicles there, that garage, like most, was dark and there was virtually no space to work and no where to park my truck with the tools to make a repair. So, when you have only one choice choosing is simple. Luckily neither occasion involved a 4 door pickup or an extended van.

Yeah that reminded me. The garage I parked in at work was very low clearance plus a steep entrance and exit ramp. At any rate I lost a CV joint on the way to work. It stayed together going forward but when I put it in reverse to get in my stall, all the bearings fell out. Pushed it in place. Called the wife and described all the tools I would need to change the axle and she found them all with some work clothes. Drove up and we went to pick up a new axle after work. She went home and I went to work. I think it took me a couple hours. No one around except the guard to see what I was doing and drove it home, mission accomplished. Not my first axle so kinda knew what I needed to do. Geez I’m glad I’m retired and off the road.

Thank you - I looked and did find the info shift lock override! will try it out

It might help to know what model and year of vehicle you have. If there is absolutely no signs of power turning on, like the dash warning lights, when you turn the ignition ON then you need to verify power is getting to the ignition switch. Verify all the fuses under the hood are good.

It’s listed in the initial post: 2011 Toyota Highlander
All fuses are good
Battery replaced
tried starting in neutral
Out if ideas now…,

Starter? It’s old enough for that to be a problem. Toyota starters are known to wear out their solenoid contacts, causing a no-start with a charged battery.

Sounds like that’s likely to be it- was hoping for a solution I could do on my own in the garage but now arranging the tow…

The only other noteworthy thing is the key fob still doesn’t work to open the doors- which I thought was related to the car battery (key fob battery was replaced)

But you’re trying to start it with a key, not a button on the dash, right?