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Quick Tips, Tricks & Odds n' Ends
Links To Page Content In No Particular Order Indicates Most Recent

Startup/Shutdown Screen Toyota's Tricky Logo Wireless Phone Charging
Center Console Organizer Dashboard Sensitivity Training Interior Light Replacement
Cabin Filter Replacement Emergency Trunk Release Stopping a Suspension Squeak
Electrical Circuit Diagrams Speaker Replacement The Throttle Blip
Brochures & Specifications When Your Avalon Sings The Secret Menu
Windshield Wiper Replacement Accessory Mode From Run Rear Window Cleaner
Remote Battery Replacement Oil Change Tips Coin Holder
Cabin To Engine Compartment Wire Center Console Light Leave Your Motor Running


Have you set up a startup (if applicable) or shut down screen in your entertainment center yet?  You'll want to check the owner's manual for your system because some don't offer this function at all while others let you load your own 'off' screen only.  If you can use them, here are some options that will work for both screens.  Just click on the thumbnail then save the full size version (right click, save image as)  Transfer the image to a memory stick (jump drive) in a folder named StartupImage or DisplayOffImage (note label folders exactly as shown or this won't work).  Any photos saved in StartupImage can be shown for a few seconds as the car is started when it's offered for your system.  Photos in the folder DisplayOffImage will display if you turn the display off.  Go figure. 

Once the image has been saved to one of those folders, plug the memory device into your car's USB port and turn on accessory mode.  Go to Settings/General and scroll down to Customize Start Up Image or Customize Screen Off Image.  Make your choice and all the images in the appropriate folder will be shown.  Choose which to upload then which to be displayed (just follow the prompts).  I love the broken screen for the Screen Off image but, of course you can simply toggle between an assortment of pictures once they've been uploaded to the car.

Avalon Broken

Click The Thumbnail For Larger Image Suitable For Use As Startup or Shutdown Image


That Toyota logo is trying to tell the world something.  Have you ever looked at it, really looked to try and find some meaning/message in the pattern?  Like so many visual puzzles, once you see it you'll always see it.  The logo spells....Toyota.

  


You can wirelessly charge your phone and you don't have to pony up for the Limited model to do it.  The Limited has a Qi charging pad built into the lid of the electronics cubby at the front of the center console.  It allows drivers to drop their Qi enabled phone on the sliding door and instantly start charging.  Now 'all' Avalon owners can do the same. Search eBay for "Trident Qi Charging Pad" and you'll find the item shown at right.  Once received all you have to do is connect the pad to a 5v USB source in the electronics cubby (the existing USB plug will work fine or slip a multi-port USB converter into the 12v accessory plug).  The Trident pad sits on top of the door and is so thin it doesn't inhibit the door sliding up/down at all. 

Photo Credit Tyler Spaulding

 


 You can set the sensitivity of your dashboard soft touch buttons.  This will be handy for those who find themselves inadvertently activating or changing things just by moving their hand a little too close to a button.  There are two methods, the one you use depends on your particular dash setup:

Method 1 (seems to work best with Limited models)

 

This works best with the car in a dark or shaded place.  You have to be able to see the dash lights.

 

1. Turn power switch on to ( ACC).

2. Within 30 seconds, press the radio "seek track" up and down buttons simultaneously for 10 seconds or more. All panel switches on the navigation/receiver will blink Indicating you are in the change sensor mode.

3. Select a sensitivity level using the "Seek track" up or down switches. The number of blinks for each sensitivity level is: 4 blinks for high (default), 3 blinks for medium and 2 blinks for low sensitivity.

4. To save and exit, press the Setup button.

 

Note. The up switch will only increase sensitivity and the down switch will only decrease sensitivity. It does not loop back around.

 

Method 2  (reported to work with Touring and some other models)

 

1. Vehicle ignition to ACC

2. Within 30 seconds press the "PWR\VOL" on the radio for off

3. Press the AUDIO and SETUP switches simultaneously for 10 seconds or until "Capacitive Sensor Setting" is displayed on the screen.

4. Set the sensitivity level by using the SEEK TRACK up or down buttons.  One beep is low sensitivity, two beeps is middle sensitivity

three beeps is high sensitivity.

5. Touch any button other than SEEK TRACK UP or DOWN to exit.


If you're tired of digging around in your center console trying to find chargers, cords, cameras or whatGrid-Itever you keep down in that well here's a solution.  It's called a "Grid-It".  It's a flexible board covered with heavy duty elastic bands criss crossing the surface.  As you can see in the photo, it holds a lot of 'stuff'.  The one shown fits fairly nicely (at 10.25x5.13" it's just a hair long but not a problem) down in the console.  When you need something there's no rummaging.  Just pull the Grid-It out and pluck what you need from the elastic.  You can find it on Amazon in assorted sizes, shapes and colors.


Depending on your Avalon model, there may be a hidden diagnostic menu lurking in your nav/setup screen.  To access it:  Put your car in accessory mode (press start button once).  Once your system is completely booted up (you're past the warning screen) press and hold the "Info" or the "Audio" button (depending on your year/model) on the dash while turning headlights on/off three times.  The hidden menu will appear with the options shown at left.  From there you can choose a large assortment of screens, some of them shown here.   Suggestion: Don't change any settings unless you're really sure what you're doing.



Are you ready to change out the interior light bulbs of your Avalon?  It's a very simple and inexpensive process to remove all the incandescent bulbs from the doors, overhead dome, sun visor and other sockets replacing them with more modern looking leds.  But it helps to have pictures and that's where "Pauls Travel Pictures" site is extremely valuable.  He also helps out with other common maintenance chores.  Here's a link.



Have you replaced your cabin air filter?  This is one of those maintenance items that's easy to forget since it only comes around every 30k miles or 36 months.  The filter has a big job, catching all the dust, pollen and other small particles that are drawn in from the great outdoors while you're driving.  All that gunk slowly clogs the filter reducing effectiveness and blocking airflow to your vents.  Replacement is a simple 5 minute task.  First you need a new filter.  This is the one I'm using but purists might opt for the OEM Toyota filter.  Once you have the new filter in hand, remove everything from your glove box then open the door at the rear (photo left).   Remove the door and you'll see the old filter.  Pull it out, noting the direction the arrows are pointing.  Air flows from top to bottom for the Avalon.  If you're using a Toyota filter it will feature an arrow with the word "up".  Install so that points upward.  Some aftermarket filters feature an arrow with the wording "air flow."  in that case the arrow will point downward.  Slide your new filter in, replace the door, replace your glovebox contents and you're done for another 3 years (sooner if you live in a dusty place).  


 From the 'helpful hints' file: You may know this but maybe it'll help someone who missed a page in the manual.

Let's pretend. You just tried to start your Avalon and the battery's dead. There's a perfectly good car with a perfectly good battery parked in front of or beside you and you have a set of battery cables tucked away with the spare tire. No problem then, just push the button to open the trunk and....wait, the battery is dead. Now what?
Trunk Loop
There's a way. You dimly remember something in the owner's manual  but you don't carry that with you. This is when you're going to be glad you practiced 'pulling the loop'. If you've never checked it out, this might be a good time. Slide into the back seat, pull down the armrest and open the hatch (pass through for gas cars, access panel for hybrids). At the top, you'll find a cable with a looped end.  Trunk Loop

Pull the loop and voila! The trunk pops open. Now there's a pretty good chance you'll remember the loop is there if you ever need it.

Gas Door Pull

While the trunk is open, this might be a good time to check the manual release for the gas filler door.  It's on the left side of the trunk and is covered by an oval plastic piece just below the hinge. Remove the cover, then you'll probably have to feel around a little to find the loop. You'll probably never use it but ya just never know. Stuff happens.


Bushing NutsWhen your rear end starts squeaking (stop laughing) it's probably time for an easy fix.  My Avalon needed new (or lubrication for the) stabilizer bar bushings at just 30k miles.  The fix is easy. 

BushingJack up the rear of the car, crawl under with a 12mm and a 14mm deep socket and ratchet wrench.  Remove the nut for the stabilizer bar link and two nuts holding the cap on the bushing.  Pop the cap off, slip the old bushing off the bar, lube the inside of the new bushing (or your old one) with a nice coat of white lithium grease and put everything back together.  It might take you a half hour.  My car went from this sound recorded next to the left rear wheel when bouncing the rear end to absolute silence.  Note There are identical bushings in the front suspension so if that's where you locate the sound perform this same procedure there.

 


Diagram

 If you do any of your own work on a car, any car, you'll probably have to deal with an electrical circuit.  There's a wire color for everything on the vehicle and someplace there's a diagram showing that wire path.  This is that place.    All you do is fill the boxes with year, manufacturer and other info to zero in on the diagram that will help you out.  It's a terrific aid that should be bookmarked in your 'car stuff' folder.

 


Speaker replacement shouldn't be scary.  If you've destroyed one of the originals or just want to replace your oem tweeters and woofers with something of  higher quality, replacement is a fairly simple do it yourself project.  This Crutchfield pdf file provides all the detail you need including recommended tools.  You can find speaker recommendations on Avalon related forums and in discussion groups.


Almost everyone waits too long to replace windshield wipers (if it's been more than a year you're one of them).  Fortunately for Avalon owners wipers are super simple to change and not necessarily expensive so why put it off?  You don't need an engineering degree to remove our OEM wipers.   Just locate the latch shown at right and, using a small screwdriver or even a sturdy fingernail, flip it up (photo left).  Now just slide the wiper toward the center of the car and off the 'hook' at the end of the arm.  You're halfway there and it's taken all of 30 seconds.  Now, if you've chosen to order Toyota's refill blades (which are just the rubber part of the blade) remove the rubber from your blade assembly by squeezing the inside (fat) end and sliding the assembly out of the holder.  Remove the metal pieces from each side and place them in your new 'blade' then reverse the disassembly process.  If you've gone with an aftermarket blade (Anco, Bosch, Michelin, RainX) it's even easier.  Just slip the new assembly onto the hook until you feel it 'click.'  Done!


Have you ever tried to clean the inside of the Avalon's rear window?  If you have, you know it's nearly impossible to reach the bottom.  If you haven't then you're either going to need a special tool or an easily bribed small child to get the entire glass clean.  I was fresh out of small children but recalled having a washcloth attached to a stick long long ago to reach a similar space.  You could do that but it's the 21st century and there's something better.  Check out the modern version; Invisible Glass microfiber towel on a stick.  The pointy angles allow you to reach down into those far nether regions you'd never get a rectangular pad into.  Shop around, prices vary widely between Amazon, Walmart and eBay.  Oh, pick up a spray bottle or can of Invisible Glass while you're at it.  Good stuff.


Remote Battery Low is a message you may eventually see on your information display.  When you do it'll be time to put a CR2032 battery on your shopping list.  The most difficult part of the process may be getting the battery out of the blister pack.  Once you've cleared that hurdle follow these steps:  1. Remove the key from the remote case then, with a small flat blade screwdriver pry the case halves apart.  2. Remove the 'remote' electronics from the case completely  3. Using your small flat blade screwdriver lift the battery out from the bottom.  4. Check contacts to be sure they're clean  5. Reverse the process, inserting your new battery + side up, snap the case back together, put the key back in its slot.         

Open Blister Pack Split Case Remove Battery Check Contacts

Did you know your Avalon automatically 'blips' the throttle when you downshift in sport mode to match engine rpm to speed, just like back in the day when you double clutched your stick shift? Did you know different suspension parts (not just struts/springs) are used for 18" wheel models for sportier handling? Actually, there's a lot that isn't mentioned in sales brochures or your owner's manual. That's what makes this press release fascinating. You can really learn a lot about your car. Check it out!


Buying Pre Owned?  A good way to sort out the various years and models is to pull information from their assorted brochures and spec sheets.  So, here's a collection.  Just click the link for the brochure or other item you need then download the pdf file that magically appears.  You'll notice very little change from year to year except some items that were options for earlier models became standard later.

2013 Avalon Brochure   2014 Avalon Brochure   2015 Avalon Brochure   2016 Avalon Brochure   2017 Avalon Brochure   2018 Avalon Brochure

Comparison specs for:  Avalon Touring & Limited    Avalon XLE    Avalon Hybrid 
Note: these three items are from a 2018 manual, not all options will apply for some earlier models


You can put your Avalon in accessory mode directly from run mode.  This is handy if you want to turn the engine off but you want to listen to the rest of a song or a news report without being forced to completely restart the system after engine shut down.  Here's how: Park your car but instead of putting the transmission in park, put it in neutral (foot on the brake of course).  Now press the engine start/stop button.  Your engine will stop but you will stay in accessory mode.  Now you can put the transmission in park and continue listening to the radio or watch a video on your nav screen (if equipped); anything you can normally do in accessory mode without having to reboot the system.  Accessory mode will automatically shut down after 20 minutes to save the battery or you can press the start/stop button again to shut everything off or press the brake pedal and the button to restart the engine. 


Oil changes are pretty simple but can be messy and if you don't put everything back together properly there could be an issue down the road. Here's a tip. The Avalon (and many other Toyota vehicles) use a cartridge style oil filter.  The filter is contained in a 'cup' that has a drain in the bottom. Most replacement filters (including Toyota OEM) come with a plastic tube that's pushed into that drain allowing the cup to be emptied before removal.  Good plan except for the oil that ends up running down your arm and onto the floor as soon as you insert the tube.  The alternative is to use a Purolator PL25608, Fram Tough Guard 9972, Carquest Premium #84047 or Purolator Boss Premium PBL25608 filter.  Those all come with a different style drain tube that screws into the drain allowing more control over when to unleash the gusher.  The 'wings' on the valve allow you to keep your hand out of the oil flow completely.  When you're finished with your oil change, keep the valve so you'll have it no matter what brand filter you use in the future. 

If you want a release valve that'll last virtually forever, check out the MX2341 from motivxtools.com.  It's about $25 at this writing (free shipping)

Bonus tip: Torque values for reinstalling the oil drain valve and filter cup are: oil drain plug 30 ft lb, filter cup 18.5 ft lb, filter cup drain plug 9.2 ft lbs.  You can round those numbers off if you want.  No torque wrench? Use a fish scale attached to the end of a 1 foot breaker bar.


A coin holder is a handy thing to have if you ever use a toll road, cross a bridge or use a fast food drive-up window.  But where to you put one?  There are plenty of options from tossing a few coins into the Avalon's nifty (and frequently overlooked) accessory cubby to ashtrays repurposed to fit into a cup holder.  And then there's the option shown at right.  It holds three types of coins at one time: up to 21 quarters, 27 dimes and 19 nickels (pennies work in the dime slot).  The handy thing is, it fits easily in the accessory cubby (photo left)Tip: If you've overlooked it, the accessory cubby is on the left side of the Avalon's dash near your left knee and just below the button that opens the trunk. 


There's an easy way to run wire between the cabin and engine compartment. Check the photo at right and compare it to your firewall on the passenger side.  There's a large grommet that's protecting wire already running through the two areas.  Now, you 'could' just pry that grommet back along the edge and fish a wire down into the cabin through that opening but, someday, that wire could be cut by the sharp body and suddenly you have fuses popping, wire melting or even a fire. The 'correct' way is to make use of the grommet but it's a very tight fit if you want to use the center opening already crammed full of OEM wire. 

You can create your own opening with a punch and a small funnel as shown (2" funnel in photo left).  Feed the punch through the funnel then carefully press the tip against the grommet well away from existing wire and push.  If there's a bunch of resistance you're probably too far toward the edge and hitting steel.  Once the punch is through the rubber membrane push on the funnel, twist a bit until it's enlarged the hole and is in place then withdraw the punch.  You now have simple pass through.  Once your wire is strung (photo right) remove the funnel (hopefully you remembered to leave the engine bay side of the wire unattached for the moment).  The hole you've made will self seal around the new wire.  Finally, tidy everything up with some wire loom and zip ties (left).  Note: your new wire will end up behind the heater/ac fan housing.

The cable shown at right is the hardwire for my front grill (parking) camera.  At left is the finished product.

 


You know how anemic the Avalon's little center console light is but with a small accessory you can fix that.  This inexpensive Oxy Motion Sensor light will do an admirable job of letting you see what's in the deepest recesses of the console on the darkest of nights without turning your interior lights on.  Mounting the light is simple.  A rectangular piece of metal attaches to the console with double sided tape.  The light attaches to that strip with built in magnets which makes it easily removable for use as a flashlight.  The light is motion sensitive so it's only on when your hand is down in the console (plus about 15 seconds) and only when it's dark.  Some reviewers have had issues with battery life, something a pair of lithiums would probably fix.  I haven't noticed a power problem in the first month but how often do we really dig into the console?  Anyway, it's a worthy addition if you've ever thought "wow, it's really dark down there."

Interior Lights On Interior Lights Off Tray In Motion Light Looking Deep Tray Out Motion Light Off  Tray Out

It's a Phoenix in the summer or Fargo in the winter day and you really want to leave your car running but want to lock the door.  You can do that! Just use the old fashioned key that's in your fob.  Exit the car (still running, fob in hand), pull the key from the fob and lock the door.  Now you can run into the convenience store or grab the little tykes from the baby sitter and return to a nice cool/warm car.  Oh, be sure you return the key to the fob so it won't be in the pocket of your other pants/jacket next time it's needed.  


So, I wander out to the garage for my normal evening door lock check and my Avalon is singing to me. Ok, more like humming. It's the first time I've ever heard that and start exploring. It's coming from the rear of the car and sounds like an electric motor. I ask myself...self...why is the fuel pump running with the car off? Time to dig out My Owners Manual and wouldn't ya know, MOM told me about that and I missed it. So, just in case, some day, you find your Toyota parked and quietly humming this is what it's doing. MOM page 8.

"Approximately five hours after the engine is turned off, you may hear sound coming from under the vehicle for several minutes. This is the sound of a fuel evaporation leakage check and, it does not indicate a malfunction."

I prefer to think of it as just a happy car