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Toyota frequent dead battery

My 2014 Toyota Corolla battery has had problems since new. After four attempts to find reasons for dead battery and 2 new replacement batteries problem still exists. Corporate tells me if this car is not driven for 2 days it is considered long term storage and dead battery would not be unusual. Their solution is to plug in a trickle charge. Is this a reasonable solution? Do I own a lemon?

Corporate is wrong. Any car can handle 2 weeks without draining the battery. Can you tell us exactly what corporate said?

But one thing: any car battery that is drained until it is dead is damaged. Recharging only restores part of the battery. Do this a few times and the battery is useless.

The dealer has to find the parasitic drain, it could be anywhere in the car.

I had a similar problem, turned out to be the dome light was not always going off. If I left the car for 3-4 days and the dome light stayed on, the battery was dead.


Toyota Service could find only minimal drain they say is within specs. Corporate representative said low mileage would cause dead battery along with not driving for 2 days. And they did say 2 days. We can think of nothing being left on to cause a drain. Toyota service has kept the car for a few days each of the four times we had it in for battery problem. I also spoke to a local battery expert who said this should not happen.


Ask corporate, what do the dealers do with all the new vehicles that sit on the lot for over two days?

I’m sure there are no trickle chargers attached to each vehicle.

The vehicle has a parasitic battery drain as the vehicle sits.

But what Toyota wants to do is hope they can drag you along until the vehicle is out of warranty. Then they’ll be more than willing to look for the current draw. On your dime!

Keep records of the issue, and the visits to the dealer for this issue.

As long as the vehicle has this issue under warranty, and the issue isn’t resolved while the vehicle is under warranty, and the vehicle goes out of warranty, this is called an On-Going Warranty Issue.

This means the dealer isn’t off the hook until the vehicle is repaired under the original warranty.


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If you don’t drive the car enough to keep the battery charged, then a trickle charger is a valid solution. I bought one from Amazon for $50 for my brother’s car when he was too sick to drive for a long period. I also had to buy a new battery, as the old one would no longer hold a charge after being repeatedly discharged.

More details about your driving habits would help.

But once the battery is fully charged, either from a long drive or the charger, it should be ok for 2 weeks at least.

At the last service it was fully charged, we then drove it for a few days then left it set for a week to test it. It died after a week. I know a trickle charger will work but I feel I bought a gas car not an electric car.

How much did you drive it for those few days? How long was each trip?

I assume the dealer checked your alternator and the charging circuits? but you may want to have it rechecked, it’s relatively easy to do.

I think it was driven 150 miles in those two days. Will see if they checked the alternator. Thanks

That should be enough to keep the battery charged.

“minimal drain” ? get them to give you a number. You can use that with the capacity of the battery to calculate how long it will last.

Eg, if the battery capacity is 70 amp-hour and you don’t want to discharge it past 50%, ie, 35 amp-hour. and if the drain on the battery is 50 mA (0.05 amps)
then you have 35 amp-hour / 0.05 amps = 700 hours or 29 days. I would not expect it to last that long, as there is also internal leakage in the battery. But even if that doubles the drain, we still have 15 days.


What you were told by corporate (which I take to mean is the regional or main office of Toyota Motor Company) is total bunk. There’s obviously an abnormally large parasitic voltage draw.

If 2 days is considered long term storage with dead batteries being the norm I wonder how they would explain the cars sitting in the factory lot, on the dealer lots, and in transit on trains going across the country.

By their logic this would mean every new Toyota getting a train ride would have to be pushed off of the transport cars.
You were obviously talking to a low watt bulb at corporate and believe me, from a mechanical standpoint there are a lot of them at the offices of any car make.


Corporate rep. said there was noone else I could talk with and no more information he could give to me.

It might help if you go to another dealer besides the one you purchased the car from. The statement that 2 days is long term storage would be amusing if it wasn’t so wrong. People let their cars set at airports for longer than that.

The two day statement is crap. Period. As is the statement that there’s no one else you can talk to. You may want to check the paperwork that came with the car. There should be an “escalation path” (my words) that you can follow to get problems resolved.

You could also try removing nonessential fuses one at a time. This might help isolate the problem.
I assume you’ve double checked all your auxiliary lights (domelight etc.) to see that they’re not on? You could even remove the bulbs one by one.

Any shop can test for excess drain (called “parasitic drain”) pretty cheaply, and once you know you have it you’ll have actual written data to use against the dealer and/or any other corporate “reprehensitive” (made that up) that you come across. If you DON’t have a parasitic drain, you’ll want to have the charging system tested. That’ll be cheap, and, again, if it’s defective you’ll have actual data to work with.

Keep in touch. We do care.


Thank you for the good suggestions.

Toyota service has kept the car for a few days each of the four times we had it in for battery problem.

So, after these few day stays at the dealer’s, the car failed to start, right?
(I.e., they’ve reproduced your problem.)

Have you yourself directly contacted the Toyota USA Corp. office that handles customer complaints, as defined in the Toyota documents that came with the car when new? That is to say, not a contact that was initiated by the dealer you have been working with? If not, it’s time to do so.

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No. They kept the car to check for a battery drain. Found no drain. But the car did start after two days because I assume they had it fully charged. It takes more than 2 days to fully drain battery. It takes about a week.

Some of my cars sit for months, and start up without a problem

If they’ve checked the parasitic drain and found it to be less than around 75 mA, about the only thing I can think of, just a guess I’m sure you understand since I’ve never seen your actual car, are these two ideas

  • Something is turning on in the middle of the night and they are not able to catch that with their parasitic drain current measuring method. If the wind blows and it jiggles a door switch, that can happen. Or a raccoon or house cat runs across the top of the car, something like that. The door switch would have to be out of adjustment too. That wouldn’t necessarily turn the dome light one, as it might just happen for a second or two. But it will turn the computers on, and they draw quite a bit of current. You’d have to have the current monitored over the course of the night to know for sure. There are cell phone apps that will take a photo every few minutes, set it up to take a photo of the meter, something like that might work.

  • If you don’t drive the car very often and when you do, typically only a few miles of stop and go city driving, that can prevent the battery from ever fully charging. The problem is when that happens, you can end up with a sulphated battery. That prevents it from further accepting a charge, so even if you drive for 100 miles one day on the freeway it might not fully charge up. The trickle charger, if used regularly, can bring a sulphated battery back to life. Maybe that’s what the shop is thinking. I’d try the trickle charger idea. If it works, you’ll probably find you don’t have to trickle charge every night. Just once in a while.

A good battery should not go dead in a week IF the parasitic draw is normal.
“They found no drain?”. That statement in itself is not correct because ALL cars have a parasitic drain. The only question is how much.

Since you’re dealing with putzes my suggestion is to take the car to a well established independent shop that specializes in electrical problems. Ask them to check for a parasitic draw and notate on the repair order how much that draw is. This should cost you very little and only take a few minutes.

Post back here with the Milliamps (or horrors, amps…) being consumed and we’ll take a look at it.
If the draw is several hundred Milliamps or more then there is a problem no matter what the dealer or corporate says.
If there’s a problem I’d also demand they reimburse you for the cost of having a shop check this issue for you.