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Ask Peter Bagley Your Own Question
Peter Bagley
Peter Bagley, Auto Service Technician
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 312
Experience:  master tech at Toyota dealer
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The battery light flickers then illuminates then the

Customer Question

the battery light flickers then illuminates then the instrument panel lights all come on then slowly all electrical components stop running, radio, headlights and then the car dies and leaves me with a dead battery
JA: Have you checked the fuses? Have you checked the bulbs?
Customer: no I had the charging system checked and everything battery alternator checked out.
JA: What is the model/year of your Toyota?
Customer: 2004 Camry
JA: Are you fixing your Camry yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: Yes, I'm still trying to determine what is failing. The weird thing is that once the car is jumped it can run fine without symptoms for weeks
JA: Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: The check engine light also just came on throwing a P0420 code
Submitted: 18 days ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Peter Bagley replied 18 days ago.

Hello and welcome to just answer. I value your input to my questions so I may help you better. This may be very difficult because it's intermittent. The one thing I would try doing is to try and duplicate the lights flickering by wiggling some wires as it runs. I would start with the wires coming from the alternator and it's connections. also around the fuse block in the engine compartment. Check all connections for corrosion and tightness from the battery.

Expert:  Peter Bagley replied 18 days ago.

Here is a description of that code which usually indicates a catalytic converter is bad. http://www.autocodes.com/p0420_toyota.html

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
i checked the battery terminal connections for corrosion and proper fit. Nothing was wrong with that. It's not a situation where everything happens at once it was a gradual process of electrical components slowly failing. The engine loses power and the battery is drained. It has happened twice now.
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Yep, I had the auto parts store pull the code. The code just showed up today and was unrelated to the two situations when the electrical components failed. Is it possible that the alternator is failing intermittently? When I have it checked the problem isn't present so everything is operating normally and I get a good readout. But with that much drain on the electrical system (driving at night with lights, radio, heater) everything slowly fails over the course of 20 minutes or so.
Expert:  Peter Bagley replied 18 days ago.

How many miles are on your vehicle?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
175000 - I just contacted my neighbor who is a mechanic and he confirmed my suspicion that it is the alternator that is failing intermittently. I am going to replace the alternator on his recommendation. He also confirmed that the failing catalytic converter code is unrelated which I thought it was.

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