What the heck is going on here?

I have a 98 RAV4 which I had in my driveway and I stupidly allowed the battery to die on it from lack of use. I got it over to my mechanic, who is just around the corner, and he put in a new battery for me. Just my luck, the car was due for inspection. Since my mechanic had an inspection license, I let him handle it for me. Then he tells me that since the battery died out, the computer has to re-learn all of its parameters before it’ll pass inspection!


What kinda crazy thing is this???

He said that it must be driven around until the computer kicks in.

How long is this gonna take?

I want to sell the car, but, who will buy it if it doesn’t pass inspection?

What do I do now???

Does anyone know the name of this strange condition?


When the battery is disconnected on a modern car the engine computer has to relearn the ideal parameters to run things properly. Just use the car for a few days and it should be OK. Drive it 15 miles or so to get it properly warmed-up and then some.

Anytime you disconnect the battery, it should reset on it’s own eventually. TVs, satellite dishes etc. all reset computer when disconnected. So unless I’m missing something, I agree with “doubleclutch”. It’s not a big deal but normal and necessary.

The readiness monitors for the OBDII system have to be reset by performing what are called drive cycles. This means the vehicle must be operated under certain conditions to reset these monitors. There are three seperate drive cycles that must be performed exactly to reset readiness monitors for the EGR system, the oxygen sensors, and the EVAP system.

Ask your mechanic if he is able to provide you with a print-out of these drive cycles, and follow them to the letter. Otherwise, the vehicle won’t pass inspection.


OBDII cars “tell on” you when you do inspection. Right now, your car is saying test memory lost, and it needs to retest everything. Once it’s been driven enough, the emissions monitors will switch to the ready status. Once that happens, you have the car tested. This is normal, and applies to all OBD II cars. It keeps people who have a check engine light on from disconnecting the battery to clear the light before being tested.

What’s going on here ? computers !
The more computerized vehicles get , the more computer issues ( not automotive ) will have to be dealt with.

Many of my old mechanics are quite frustrated in how little “mechanics” there is to learn now , and how gawd awful much computer related technology they MUST learn to do their jobs these days.

Any car made in the last 15 years or so will do this, there’s nothing strange about it. OBDII is a good thing. All you have to do is drive it around for a while and it’ll relearn what it needs to.

Thanks for the replies so far.
I neglected to add that I brought the car over to my mechanic about 3 years ago, and it hasn’t reset itself yet! He used to drive it around, but, I think that he gave up sometime around Obama’s inaugeration! What if it NEVER clicks in? I can’t drive it around without the inspection sticker until it decides when it wants to work. I called a Toyota mechanic at a local dealer and he said the same thing. Just drive it around until it works.
So, the car sits in a caged-in area, covered with snow. If I take it home, how will I know if it reset yet unless I plug the computer in and check?
Thanks, again.

It’s not just a matter of just driving the vehicle to reset the readiness monitors. The drive cycles are precise conditions at which vehicle must be driven in order to reset these monitors. Some of these drive cycles are repeated three times exactly in order to reset the monitors.


This is much about nothing. Think of it, how many 1998 cars (be they RAV4’s or not) get a new battery ever day? all without issue. I kinda brushed over the part about “3 years and no-reset”.

What the mechanic really told you is that he doesn’t have time to drive it for you to get the readiness states completed. You do it and take it back. So many cold starts …so many miles. Combo of those …

The thing is that I don’t have inspection sticker on it. I don’t mind driving it, but, I could get a ticket if cop sees me. I want to sell it, but, who will buy it without sticker???
Its one of those Catch 22 things.

Why would having a sticker affect a sale? Don’t knwo what State you are in, but in MA, you need a reinspection withing 7 days anyway. If it fails, Lemon Law rules apply.
As for the why part of “what’s going on here”. If they system did not require readiness to be established, all one would need to do to pass with a defect is disconnect and reconnect the battery.
Drive cycles for readiness vary by manufacturer, but involve varying amounts of time driving at different speeds, accelerating for certain distances, as well as decelerating, and also idling. A few days of normal mixed driving will generally take care of it.

In in N.J. Inspection stickers on the windshield are mandatory and they MUST be current. My mechanic said that he could stick a temp. on there with a failed sticker. that would give nme 30 days to get it reset and re-inspected.
Why didn’t he tell me this 3 years ago?
I kinda forgot about the car and was gonna use it as a shlep-mobile to go to the hardware store with. But, the wife talked me into selling it, and hey, I make a few quick bucks with it.
It’s a 4-door 98 RAV4 with 5 speed stick with 172k on it. I’ve been told that I could get at least 5k for it.

MrFunOne…You’re overreacting a bit here…In reality the chances of getting a ticket for expired inspection tags are trully SMALL. Even considering the worst-case scenario when a cop will notice your tags and stop you, you still have an excellent chance of getting away without a fine; simply tell the truth and explain the cop what you’re doing and why-it makes perfect sense!!!
Let’s assume the worst: you’re being given a ticket. At least in my community, after said ticket, you have 10 days to get the car inspected and come back to court with papers proving that, and the ticket is dismissed with only a $10 charge for court papers. Perhaps the same is valid in your area; go and check. That small fee is well worth the risk. Alternatively, if you are so risk-averse that you become paralyzed at the thought of temporary driving without inspection tags, you could try and cover your as* further by asking you mechanic buddy to write up an invoice stating that you need to drive the car around in order to reset the OBDII computer, before an inspection can be performed. This should be more than enough to soften the heart of a policeman/woman, IF, and that is a BIG IF, you get stopped.
Or, you could just leave the '98 RAV4 parked, until the rust eats it all up, and you won’t have to worry about selling it :wink:

Sorry, but, perhaps you didn’t read my comment correctly.
The cops will try to shoot you if you look at them funny!
I once drove down a road under repair which had a couple of cops with their cars directing traffic. One of them noticed that I had an expired inspection sticker, he stopped what he was doing and he and the other cop got into their cars and chased me with their lights on for a couple of blocks until I pulled over!
They practically had their guns drawn!
Its the police in this state who overreact.
Especially, the state police.

There are probably about 11 readiness monitors on your car. State law allows for 2 monitors to be “not ready”. Your mechanic can find out which monitors are not ready, easily. Use the OBDII scanner. The readiness monitors, which are not ready, will show as flashing icons on the scanner.
There are repairs which your mechanic could do, to get the readiness monitors ready, if he used the appropriate DTC troubleshooting charts, such as at www.autodata.com.

You can go to an auto parts store, such as Auto Zone, and get the OBDII scan performed. Just observe the face of the scan tool for flashing icons.