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Toyota avalon electrical problem

Dear Barbara,

I saw you on DC's Fox 5 morning news this morning. I'm hoping I could bother you for a quick question on a matter on which I am certain I'm getting the run around.

The backdrop:

Minor body damage to the passenger fender and passenger door and a mangled side view mirror of my 2006 Toyota Avalon. Body shop fixes (during the course of, they disconnect and reconnect battery, remove and replace side-view mirror, remove and replace front bumper). No other mechanical issues existed, very well maintained car.

So, I pick up the car, battery is dead in the lot. Jump started it and several days later the battery is dead again. I had the dealership replace the battery because the one that was in the car was only 11 months old and under warranty. Dealer ultimately replaced two more times (I told them it wasn't a bad cell, something else seemed wrong)--they kept dying. In addition, the "auto" function on my headlights no longer worked. Dealership ran diagnostics and told me:

For the multi-battery replacement:

Perform draw test on battery and found draw coming from dome light circuit. Traced the circuit and found the trunk light staying on. Needs trunk latch assembly and striker and costs $532.00 to replace.

For the auto-headlight function not working:

Please check wiring harness behind headlamp and near battery for damage. Found TSB EL007-07 needs updated junction block. Updated parts $331.00.

My contention is that the body shop's handling of my electrical parts, while not intentional, short circuited something (didn't hook up cables correctly, jump started it incorrectly, etc.). Of course, despite my plea’s, they are telling me more or less "prove it", we're not fixing it. The TSB talks about DRLs, not the entire auto function for my headlamps.

My insurance company MAY decide to honor these issues as part of my claim, but they want an independent mechanic to state that it's certainly possible that mishandling of the electronics (vis-à-vis the battery and the mirror) could cause damage that would result in the electrical gremlins.

I would love your opinion, whether it supports my hypothesis or not, and I truly appreciate your time. (BTW, I really enjoyed your piece on the news--especially about the oil changes and the filter. Ironically, Avalon was getting its oil changed yesterday at our local garage and couldn't remove the filter because the dealer had jammed in the car too tight--so, I need to go to task with them on this issue since they were the last to touch it and I wonder how old that filter really is!).

Thanks again,


Dear Terry,

The trunk light could very well not be related. I would remove the light bulb in the trunk to keep your battery alive for now. Secondly, you should have another body shop inspect the work the first body shop did so to verify that the work was done correctly. Make sure the two shops do not know each other so you get an honest reply being at this point it will very hard to prove anything seeing how there seems to be an explanation for everything.

Thanks for writing in,



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