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Warning and some praise.

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As with many of us, I suspect, my Hybrid RAV-4 car has sat around doing very little over the last few months. My wife has been using her car for the shopping and a few too many weeks slipped by before I remembered to start up the car. This is where it all went horribly wrong. The car was dead and wouldn't unlock. No problem, I thought, I'll open with the manual key. It didn't work!  Neither did the spare key. I don't know if it has never worked from new, or some work I had done last year on a problem with the driver's door not unlatching from the inside, was to blame. The door fault was repaired under warranty and it has appeared fine since then, but I never tested the manual key.

Fortunately, I have the Toyota Roadside assistance, so I gave them the problem to solve. I was very impressed with the service. The AA guy turned up within an hour and he tried the key. Still didn't work, of course. So you have the dilemma of a car that can't be opened, a flat Battery which can't be accessed because the bonnet can't be opened because the release is inside the car.

The guy's solution was to use a wire through the driver's window, which was contorted around inside until it caught on the bonnet release lever, which allowed us to get under the bonnet. He was then able to put the car on charge, at which point the alarm went off, but was stopped using the unlock command on the key. Car was charged to the point where I could restart the car from inside and left it idling.

One interesting fact that I hadn't appreciated is that when the car is idling i.e switched on and in park, it is always charging the small 12V Battery. The car will regularly turn the engine on , run for a few minutes and then switch off again. When the car engine is running it is charging the traction Battery. The traction Battery is always charging the small Battery, if it needs it, whether the engine is running or not. The AA guy told me this and demonstrated it with a meter on the Battery.

So hats off to the AA guy! I suggest it might also be a useful thing to do to check your manual key for function, just in case.

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This as happened to me twice, the first time I ended up removing the undertray and using a length of wire to pull the bonnet release, scratching and bruising my arm in process. The next time, I used the physical key but held it in the unlock position for ten seconds. Suddenly it unlocked and I was in. Not sure if thats the method or there was just enough power in the Battery. It hasn't gone flat since so I can't confirm it always works. Maybe if anybodys in the same situation they could try it and report back. 


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