It takes me 2-3 attempts to start my car the last few days. Yesterday it didn't start at all (no noise, but the lights/radio worked) and started after I got a jump and pumped the accelerator. I'm not sure if this is relevant, but a few weeks ago the Radio would only power on sporadically. I checked all the fuses and they were fine, the mechanic said I have a "bad unit" but it's been working fine since then. Also it recently got cold where I live (30F at night). The carfax says the battery and alternator were replaced 3 years ago, and I didn't see any corrosion on the terminals. 2 days ago the Maintenance Light came on for the first time. Car is a 2008 Rav4 4 cylinder.

So do you think I need a new battery? Or is it another component?

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    Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! If the engine light came on, did you get the codes read? Jan 17, 2019 at 1:06
  • Welcome to the Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair forum. We're all passionate car owners so you'll get lots of good advice here.
    – Bevan
    Jan 17, 2019 at 6:19
  • What do you mean by needing multiple attempts – what symptoms did you experience on the unsuccessful ones? Typical symptom of a bad battery is that the starter is audibly having difficulties cranking the engine (or, if the battery is really flat, cluster lights will flicker/go out and the starter won’t move at all). If, on the other hand, the starter is cranking the engine but the engine won’t start, battery power isn’t the problem. The engine either isn’t getting a sufficient amount of fuel, or fails to ignite it.
    – user149408
    May 26, 2023 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


Welcome to the Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair forum. We're all passionate car people so you'll get lots of good advice here.

From my experience as a parts sales and technical support person, I'd say you have a Calcuim based battery and that it went flat recently (lights left on?). They never charge back up to 100% capacity on the car, it needs a special battery charger which your mechanic should have. Net effect is it's like trying to start a car with a torch battery! 3 years with cold nights would definitely shorten a Calcium battery life-cycle.

I assume the 'bad unit' the mechanic refers to was the battery? As @Paulster2 says, the codes should tell the mechanic "low voltage fail" - which you already know. I'd be externally recharging the battery as a first stem, and replacing it if unsuccessful.

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