Charging system malfunction in Toyota cars. Causes and solutions

Toyota cars are known for their resilience and reliability. But like other car brands, Toyota vehicles also have their fair share of challenges.

The most rampant problem in Toyota cars, especially those that have hit 100 miles, is charging system malfunction. So, what does it mean when your Toyota car dashboard indicates “charging system malfunction”?

When this warning light goes on, it means that your car is running solely on battery power. In this article, we will discuss in detail what it means when your Toyota car dashboard indicates “charging system malfunction”.

What does it mean when it says “charging system malfunction Toyota”?

If your Toyota car has a charging system problem, the dashboard will indicate “check charging system”, every time you turn on the ignition.

If this happens, then it means that your car is running solely on battery power. If your vehicle’s charging system fails and the battery is not able to recharge, it will run low and eventually die, thus stalling the car.

Therefore, if your car warns you of a charging system malfunction, you should take it to a trusted mechanic immediately for a thorough checkup and repair.

What is a charging system malfunction?

A charging system malfunction simply indicates there is a problem in the vehicle’s charging system. It could be that the alternator that charges the battery has stopped working or the battery has gone bad.

The vehicle’s charging system plays a crucial role in charging the battery as well as powering all the car’s electrical components, including lights, radio, and other appliances when the car is not running.

The charging system comprises wiring, a battery, and electronic control unit which works simultaneously to keep the battery charged for the proper functioning of the car’s electrical components.

When the charging system malfunctions, then the battery which cracks the engine to start and supply power to the car accessories when the engine is not running will not charge because of a faulty alternator, faulty wiring system, or a bad battery. If the charging system malfunction is not fixed quickly, then your car may stall because of a dead battery.

What causes the charging system to malfunction?

Multiple issues could result in charging system malfunction. Fortunately, a majority of these problems are not serious and can be fixed quickly by your mechanic. Below are the main causes of charging system malfunctions.

1. Dead battery

One of the main causes of a charging system malfunction in a car is a dead battery. For instance, if your car battery is old (more than 5 years old), it may no longer hold a charge.

So, if your car has a charging system malfunction and the battery is more than 5 years old, chances are that the battery is dead and needs replacement.

The best way to determine if the battery is dead or still in good condition is by conducting a battery test. If the test shows that the battery is fine but still not working, then the problem could be on the connectors

2. Bad alternator

Alternators play a crucial role in charging the battery. This device is usually reliable and lasts for a long time. However, like any electrical component, the alternator may fail due to things like a faulty voltage regulator that controls the amount of power that goes into the vehicle charging system.

When the alternator is faulty, it will not charge the battery and this may cause your car to stall because of a low battery. If the battery is in good condition but is not charging, then the alternator could be faulty.

3. Broken or worn-out belts

Another common issue that could cause the charging system to fail is when the alternator belt breaks down or wears out. If the alternator is working properly but the belt does not spin it quickly enough, the alternator voltage output may drop, making it unable to charge the battery.

If both the battery and alternator are in good condition but the car still shows the charging system malfunction alert, then the belt on the alternator could be broken or worn out.

4. Faulty computer system

If both the battery and alternator are in perfect condition but there is still a charging system malfunctioning error on the dashboard, then the problem could be a faulty computer system.

Most modern vehicles have a sophisticated computer system that controls the car charging system. So, if the computer system is faulty, then it will not be able to control the charging system.

5. Loose and corroded connections

A loose or broken wire connection on the charging system could also be the reason why your car’s charging system has malfunctioned. A corroded connection on the battery terminals could also result in charging system failure.

How do you diagnose a charging system problem in Toyota?

Below are simple steps to follow to diagnose the charging system problem in Toyota.

Inspect the belt

Conduct a visual inspection to check the belt condition. Replace them if they are broken or worn out. Also, examine the electrical cables and connectors for a sign of loose wires and corrosion. Also, ensure that the alternator is properly fixed.

Test the battery

Inspect the battery for any signs of unfastened terminals, physical damage, dripping fluid, or broken casing. If the battery has any of these problems, perform the necessary repair.

Next perform a battery test using the standard battery test techniques. Before you conduct a battery test ensure that it is fully charged. This will enable you to know if it can hold a charge for long to power your car’s electrical components.

Replace a bad or dead battery with a new one.

Perform a system voltage test

Another important thing to do when diagnosing a charging system problem in Toyota is to perform a system voltage test. Measure the voltage delivered to the battery when the alternator is running using a voltmeter.

If the voltage is 13.8V or more, the belt in the alternator is in perfect condition. On the other hand, if it is below 13.8V, then the belt does not provide enough spin because it is worn out or broken.

Test the output of the alternator

Conducting an alternator output test will help you determine if the alternator is providing sufficient current that meets the vehicle’s demands. Perform the test using an automated or manual alternator tester to determine whether the alternator is providing sufficient current.

How do you fix charging system failure?

Fixing a charging system failure in a Toyota car is incredibly simple. Once you have identified the faulty component, fix it or replace it with a new one if it is damaged beyond repair.

For instance, if the battery is bad, simply replace it with a new one that is recommended for your vehicle.

How much does it cost to fix a Toyota’s charging system failure?

The amount that you will pay to have your charging system fixed depends on multiple factors, including the cause of the problem, your location, and the experience of the mechanic.

For instance, if the cause of the charging system failure is a bad alternator, it will cost you more to fix the problem compared to if the problem is caused by loose wire or corrosion on the connector. But on average the cost of fixing a Toyotas charging system failure ranges anywhere between $500 and $1000.

Final thoughts

Charging system failure is a serious problem in Toyota cars. If the dashboard shows a charging system malfunction warning, you should take action immediately because it means the battery or alternator is bad.

Failure to take action on time will make your car stall. So, take your car to a reputable mechanic immediately for inspection and repair if this warning pops up on the dashboard.

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