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Battery light on dash keeps flickering

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Old 08-21-18, 06:09 AM
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funcrusher
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Default Battery light on dash keeps flickering

The car is driving great but it's really annoying. I had the alternator, battery and starter tested at AutoZone so I have no idea what's causing it. It's not staying on, just keeps flickering.

06 ES with the battery light in between the seatbelt light and airbag warning light.

Last edited by funcrusher; 08-21-18 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 08-21-18, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by funcrusher View Post
The car is driving great but it's really annoying. I had the alternator, battery and starter tested at AutoZone so I have no idea what's causing it. It's not staying on, just keeps flickering.

06 ES with the battery light in between the seatbelt light and airbag warning light.

Try getting it tested at a different shop?
Check your grounds?

I dont any of the dash lights are suppose to flicker it may be the bulb that illuminates the battery light or wiring to the whole instrument cluster it self.
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Old 08-21-18, 08:17 PM
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A Voltage Regulator/Alternator is going south on you. Your car should read well over 14VDC at an idle and stay there. Battery lights coming on indicate the car is Intermittently running on battery.
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Old 08-22-18, 09:06 AM
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Damn! Guess I'm going to have to get a Highlander alternator sooner than I thought. Anything else I should replace while I'm doing the alternator?
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Old 08-22-18, 12:15 PM
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Well look at it like this, a faulty alternator will also cost you a battery if you don’t fix it. Be sure to disconnect your battery while replacing the alternator or you’re sure to fry one of diodes inside. While it’s disconnected would be a great opportunity to service it and be sure to clean the top of it to reduce pole-to-pole leakage. Using ordinary distilled bottle drinking water is fine for batteries. Stay away from those with electrolytes added.

Last edited by Richardsr; 08-22-18 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Info
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Old 08-22-18, 03:03 PM
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+1 on disconnecting battery, and also servicing it. The 100A main fuse will protect your car if you ground a lead, but replacing it is a PITA (it requires fuse box removal - not simply replacing a spade fuse). Once a year or two, I take the battery strap off, check the fluid, then clean and wax the top. The wax prevents the electrolyte trails that cause the leakage he mentioned. Just spray some furniture wax on it, or use car wax. Really effective and you will get longer battery life most likely.

Flickering is highly indicative of the brushes wearing down and making intermittent contact before they wear fully out. I personally would buy a bearing and new brushes and install them myself, it's less than $20. Auto parts store alternators have a very high failure rate because of sketchy or mis-matched VR boards. Yours is good, so why run the failure risk and pay a lot more? Alternatively, get a shop to rebuild it or get a high quality rebuild, which is a lot more than the O'Reilly, Autozone, et al. sketchy units. Basically your risk/reward/cost is like this:

$20 - install new brushes and bearings - Should perform as new and last a long time. VR board could fail in future.
$130 - LAP store bought alternator - Should perform as new, but VR boards likely to fail. Warranteed, but diagnosing and replacing again a hassle.
$200+ - Professional local rebuild or high quality rebuild - Will perform as new and last. Warranteed.

IMO, the middle option makes no sense if your VR board is good.
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Old 08-22-18, 03:54 PM
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I'm going to go ahead and get a "new" remanufactured, Highlander alternator because I'm putting a system in and want that extra power. 130 amps versus the stock 80. I was going to replace it later this year but nope...

The light either stays on or flickers. Periodically turns completely off but not really.

Last edited by funcrusher; 08-22-18 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 08-22-18, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Oro View Post
+1 on disconnecting battery, and also servicing it. The 100A main fuse will protect your car if you ground a lead, but replacing it is a PITA (it requires fuse box removal - not simply replacing a spade fuse). Once a year or two, I take the battery strap off, check the fluid, then clean and wax the top. The wax prevents the electrolyte trails that cause the leakage he mentioned. Just spray some furniture wax on it, or use car wax. Really effective and you will get longer battery life most likely.

Flickering is highly indicative of the brushes wearing down and making intermittent contact before they wear fully out. I personally would buy a bearing and new brushes and install them myself, it's less than $20. Auto parts store alternators have a very high failure rate because of sketchy or mis-matched VR boards. Yours is good, so why run the failure risk and pay a lot more? Alternatively, get a shop to rebuild it or get a high quality rebuild, which is a lot more than the O'Reilly, Autozone, et al. sketchy units. Basically your risk/reward/cost is like this:

$20 - install new brushes and bearings - Should perform as new and last a long time. VR board could fail in future.
$130 - LAP store bought alternator - Should perform as new, but VR boards likely to fail. Warranteed, but diagnosing and replacing again a hassle.
$200+ - Professional local rebuild or high quality rebuild - Will perform as new and last. Warranteed.

IMO, the middle option makes no sense if your VR board is good.
Spoken like a true mechanic. Bravo!

For or most of us the last option is the best one for the money. VR boards either work or they don’t and I should have pointed that out. Not working (blown diode) would show a steady “battery light”. Brushes wearing out is the more likely problem. An OEM Alternator is roughly $300 from lexuspartsnow.com and saving a $100 is still cool, so keep the money local.

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Old 08-22-18, 04:30 PM
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My car just died while in park and I had to push it off the street! The stock radio turned off at a red light then the ABS and Brake lights came on. Light turns green and I drive about a mile, put it in park then the car turned off and wouldn't start!
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Old 08-22-18, 05:14 PM
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If you’re not set up to press bearings or much mechanic’ing, Oro’s last suggestion is a great one. And because they blew their opportunity for greatness with me over a freakin’ gas cap, so much for the Autozone checkup.

Another thought, get the bearing pressed at a shop and install the VR board and brushes yourself. The standard Alternator housing comes apart and back together pretty easy. Long ago before I knew better and much to my Wife’s chagrin, I did one on the kitchen table in 20 minutes.

Be double sure to disconnect battery when removing the old Alternator and the same for re-installing the new one. If the old VR board is OK, you don’t want to blow any VR board diodes removing it. Keep it for a spare if the new is bad-outta-box or if the new one fails down the road.

On a another note, you’d be first person I’ve read about “pushing a Lexus”. You should have taken a selfie for posting here. lol

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Old 08-22-18, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by funcrusher View Post
I'm going to go ahead and get a "new" remanufactured, Highlander alternator because I'm putting a system in and want that extra power. 130 amps versus the stock 80. I was going to replace it later this year but nope...

The light either stays on or flickers. Periodically turns completely off but not really.
You don’t have an 80amp alternator; the stock is 100 after 2002. Unless you are putting in a really big amp, you are OK. But there is really no downside to the 130 - many places (ra, e.g.) have them about the same price. The 3es had 80 units, not the 4th gen.
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Old 08-22-18, 09:12 PM
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Thanks everyone. This is a sign to hurry up and fix this car up haha. Shes forcing me to speed it up. Fixing the AC 2 weeks ago then this...I have to put a system in

Last edited by funcrusher; 08-22-18 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 08-24-18, 03:31 PM
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I put the 130 amp Highlander alternator and a Northstar battery today. Holy ****, the idle is as smooth as a LS now.

Last edited by funcrusher; 08-24-18 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 08-24-18, 09:27 PM
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Good. So many, many idle and low rpm issues are electrical and people just don't get it and resist it. "Hey, my engine turns over so it can't be electrical, buzz off."

I wanted to put a 130 in ours "just because" (no audio upgrades planned), but when ours came due I needed to get it on the road next day.

I cut my "mechanic's teeth," so to speak, on '70s, '80s motorcycles, mostly Japanese, though later Harleys are the same - very susceptible to low rpm voltage issues. Modern cars (after late 90s) are increasingly so, but people recognize it less (so far, it will change).

My machinist dad, who taught me all my basics, extended his knowledge all the way back to 1850's tech. He was an apprentice machinist in the late '60s with the L&N, and a bright and promising one, so their master boilermaker tagged him to help with a restoration of "The General." Kind of amusing, as when they were restoring it, it was actually the subject of a US Supreme Court case going back over 100 years to the Civil War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ge...and_exhibition

Anyway, there's no knowledge of "old tech" that is not helpful is solving "new" tech.
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Old 08-24-18, 10:04 PM
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While we’re on Alternators and Batteries and all... Another way to save your Alternator VR Board Diodes while being a great guy with a jumpstart is to learn this guide. This is the proper way.




Last edited by Richardsr; 08-24-18 at 10:11 PM. Reason: Info
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