Toyota RAV4 Dead Battery Guide

There’s nothing worse than going out to the car in the morning only to find out that the battery is dead. Yet, it’s not difficult to fix a RAV4 dead battery if you know what you are doing.

In this guide, I cover the steps to take when the RAV4 battery dies. I also discuss some reasons the battery dies, so you can prevent it from happening.

jumping car battery

How to Fix

You don’t need to have a lot of mechanical experience to fix a RAV4 dead battery. With some simple tools and detailed steps, it’s easy to get back on the road.

Step 1: Jump-Start the Vehicle

jump starting car

To jump-start the RAV4, you connect the dead battery to a good battery in another vehicle. To connect the two batteries, you need jumper cables. It’s wise to keep these in your vehicle as part of a roadside emergency kit.

Once you find another car to jump the battery with, follow these steps.

  1. Position the running car so the batteries are as close together as they can get
  2. Attach the red clamp to the dead battery’s positive terminal
  3. Attach the other red clamp to the good battery’s positive terminal
  4. Attach the black clamp to the good battery’s negative terminal
  5. Attach the black clamp to an unpainted part of the engine on the car with the dead battery
  6. Start the engine of the good vehicle, then wait 1-3 minutes
  7. Try to start the dead RAV4
  8. Once the engine is running, disconnect the cables in reverse order
  9. Drive your RAV4 for at least twenty minutes to charge the battery

Never allow the clamps to touch one another as you jump a vehicle. It could create sparks and is dangerous.

(Kelly Blue Book)

Step 2: Get the Battery Checked

testing car battery

If the Toyota RAV4 battery doesn’t seem to hold a charge, it’s important to have it checked. At most local auto parts stores, the team tests batteries for free. Check with your local AutoZone or Advance Auto Parts to see what’s offered.

If you don’t have an auto parts store that offers this service, you can visit a mechanic or Toyota dealer. Just keep in mind that the dealer charges a premium price. The dealers are also known for attempting to sell additional services that may or may not be needed.

Step 3: Address the Underlying Issue

If the RAV4 battery is dead, it’s possible that you simply left the lights on. However, if there’s no excuse for the battery to die, there may be an underlying issue that should be addressed.

In most cases, replacing the battery fixes the problem. A car battery has a typical lifespan of three to five years.

If the battery isn’t to blame, other issues cause dead batteries. I discuss the top problems in a few minutes.

Why Does the Battery Keep Draining?

If you jump-start the RAV4 battery and it dies again, there could be larger problems. Car batteries shouldn’t continue draining. If the battery checks out okay, consider these possible problems.

“Parasitic” Battery Issue

A parasitic drain occurs when the battery discharges power continuously. In most vehicles, the battery isn’t drained while the engine is off unless accessories or lights remain on. However, when a parasitic drain occurs, the battery continues being drained until it dies.

Sadly, the 2020 and 2021 RAV4 is known for this problem. In a 102-page complaint, it appears the data communications module (DCM) of the RAV4 is defective, so it can’t properly regulate electricity flow.

When taken to the dealership the DCM is reset and the firmware is updated according to this service bulletin. This is covered under Toyota’s basic warranty (36 months or 36,000 miles whichever occurs first).

If you think the same is true with your RAV4, a trip to the dealer might be in order.


Electrical Components Left Running

Another reason the battery drains is due to electronic equipment remaining on while the engine is off. If the headlights, interior lights or accessories are left on, the battery continues supplying power until it dies.

If you don’t get back to the car before the battery drains completely, you won’t be able to start the car engine.

Bad Alternator

car alternator

The alternator is responsible for charging the car battery while the engine is on. It also supplies power to the electronics, giving the battery a break.

If the alternator fails, the car battery doesn’t recharge. The average alternator lasts anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 miles. In some cases, it can go much longer. When it starts to fail, these symptoms are typically present.

  • Lack of power to car accessories, especially while idling
  • Dim headlights
  • Dim dashboard lights
  • Battery warning lights on the dashboard


Extreme Weather

Harsh weather, whether hot or cold, can do a number on the car battery. Cold is the enemy of a car battery because of the slower chemical reactions that occur.

However, the heat might be even worse. High temperatures encourage corrosion and the electrolyte solution inside tends to evaporate.

To prevent getting stranded, it’s important to have the battery checked at the beginning of every season. If it’s already starting to fail, it’s best to replace it before extreme weather hits.


Old Battery

As the battery starts to die, it no longer holds a charge the same way. This problem is one of the most common issues when dealing with a battery that continues dying.

Thankfully, the solution is as simple as having the battery checked and replaced. Before you do that, make sure that the connections aren’t corroded. If there’s corrosion, the battery may not be able to charge. You can clean the corrosion with a simple baking soda and water solution.

(Web MD)

Replacement Cost

The cost of a new battery depends on several factors. First, the price is closely related to the quality of the battery. You get what you pay for.

Additionally, if you can’t install the battery yourself, there are labor costs involved that add to the price.

According to, you can expect to pay around this much for a battery replacement on a Toyota RAV4:

  • Total: $201 – $239
  • Parts: $121 – $143
  • Labor: $80 – $96

If you aren’t installing your own battery, I encourage you to shop around for a good price. Additionally, consider going to a local auto parts store. Many of them install batteries for free if it’s purchased at that location.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your car battery may have drained because of accessories and electrical equipment left on. It’s also possible that the battery couldn’t recharge because it’s old or the alternator failed.

A Toyota RAV4 battery typically lasts between three and five years. If you purchase a high-quality battery, it may have a longer life. Additionally, you should keep the battery charged to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

When the RAV4 battery starts dying, the engine becomes hard to start. You may also notice that the headlights and interior lights are dimmer. Plus, electronics may not work as they should.

Charging the RAV4 Battery

If you don’t drive your Toyota RAV4 enough to keep the battery charged, you must take an additional step. With a trickle charger, you ensure that the battery maintains an appropriate charge, so it’s ready to go when you are.

Additionally, pay close attention to the signs that the battery is failing. In this way, you prevent getting stranded in a precarious situation.

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  1. Mary Wieben says:

    My 2018 Rav4’s battery keeps dying. It happens only in extremely cold weather ( below zero). I bought a new battery last year and it died twice already this year. This has happened every year since I bought the car in 11/20. Each time it happens, my toyota dealership takes the car and charges it for a day but the charge doesn’t last long. Can you advise me as to what I should do? Thank you.

    1. Jonathan Buckley says:

      Hi Mary,

      This is slightly unusual, but not terribly uncommon in such extreme temperatures such as that, especially if you let you car sit for several days at a time.

      The way to resolve this is with a trickly charger. This will slowly add charge to the battery to prevent it from draining. Here is the trickle charger I recommend:

  2. Timothy W Kuzava says:

    My daughters rav4 would not start. The display panel indicated that the smart key had an issue. I suspected a dead battery in the remote key. Replaced with cv2032 battery. Car wouldn’t start. Then the dash display only showed a flashing car and nothing else. It said depress the brake and push the start button. Nothing. Now nothing comes on. Tried the holding remote over the on/off button according to manual and youtube. Nothing. Thought I’d try the hazard lights just to see if they’d atleast work. Odd and continuous clicking noise. It will not stop no matter what I’ve tried. Now the car is completely unresponsive. Basically dead except for the sound. Very confusing. Any help or anything sound familiar?
    Thank you very much!

    1. Jonathan Buckley says:

      Hi Timothy,

      Sorry to hear that you’re experiencing this issue.

      Have you tried jump-starting the vehicle yet? It sounds like the 12-volt battery in your car is dead. The clicking sound is a common symptom of this.

      After jump-starting the car, I recommend getting your battery checked at a local auto parts store. Get a new battery if they recommend it.

      Also, to be more prepared for this in the future, I recommend keeping a portable jump starter box on hand. Here is my recommendation:

      Let me know if this helps!

  3. Hi,

    I have a problem, My 2023 Rav4 hybrid. If I leave the car in the warm season at 10 days, I find it with a completely discharged battery . In winter, the battery runs out in a week. Is it normal ?

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      That seems a bit excessive for draining. You may want to invest in a trickle charger and get the battery tested.