I'm trying to charge the battery on my 2002 Celica.

Here is some background:

  • Battery is a bit old, around 3 years or so.
  • Corrosion has been building on the battery to the point that it almost cannot get a jump due to damaging the terminal on the negative side.
  • Car makes a ticking sound on startup. Ticks 4 times rapidly. Sometimes will also set off the horn alarm as well.

A few winters ago, it did the same thing. Turned out it just needed a good jump. However, now it seems that it cannot start period.

When I charge it, it will make a clicking sound that repeats a few times, then stops eventually. I've been told this could be the solenoid. However, it might also be the battery not putting enough juice to start the solenoid, as that was the case a few years ago when my car did this.

I've done some research and have determined it is one of two things: 1. A bad battery. Duh. 2. A bad solenoid. This would explain the tick tick tick at the startup.

It could also be the corrosion causing the battery to not charge fully needing a new terminal. However, might as well get a whole new battery if I'm getting a new terminal, yknow? If corrosion is building, then the battery is either dead or on its way out.

Anyways, based on the above, what would you suggest I do? I'm about to head to Auto Zone to get a new battery. Is there anything else you guys would look into to get a handle on the situation?

  • 1
    As a side note I believe most auto stores can test batteries
    – John Dream
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:11
  • Update: added a new battery but it is now not starting. I don't have good contact. However, this could be because I had a two part wiring system, one part with cable and another with the original, now broken, terminal and only one part of the cable is attached in the terminal. I think I have to find a way to rewire it so that both wires meet up with the new terminal, somehow... Jan 19, 2016 at 21:24
  • Also, it's freezing outside so I can only work on the car for 30-45 minutes at a time. LOL Jan 19, 2016 at 21:24
  • Give your starter a couple of taps with a metal hammer then try starting again. I've resurrected 5+ cars that wouldn't turn over, only click.
    – self.name
    Jan 20, 2016 at 22:25
  • The corrosion may have eaten away the power or ground wires under the insulation. May need to change the cables completely if tapping the starter doesn't work.
    – Dee
    Jan 21, 2016 at 20:55

4 Answers 4


Repeated clicking is a result of not enough power making it to the starter. Your battery either has a bad connection, or is too weak to turn the starter motor.

Battery Connection

Your problem may be entirely due to a bad connection. Starters draw a lot of amps, and batteries are weaker in cold temperatures. I'd start by fully exposing the terminals. You want to get the entire pole down to bare metal. No rust, no oxidation; nothing but metal. Get a good battery terminal wire brush and really clean other things off.

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Next, clean the INSIDES of the clamp. There will usually be a brush found inside of the terminal cleaner brush (see above) that you can use get up inside of the clamp. Again, you want no visible rust or corrosion. The goal is metal on metal.

Re-attach the terminals, and tighten them securely. You should not be able to spin the terminal on the pole. Attach positive (+) first, then negative (-). If this worked well, you'll see a small spark; the two metal pieces should now be conducting very well.

As others have mentioned, applying a wash of baking soda and water to the terminals will also help clear debris. I've personally never tried this, but others have mentioned that they use the technique frequently to neutralize the acid and corrosion.

Still hearing clicking?

If you've cleaned everything thoroughly, your battery is most likely shot. Take it to any number of places (Advance/Pep Boys/AutoZone) and ask them to test it. If it fails, pick up a new battery. But ask yourself why it failed. Is it because it wasn't being charged properly? It's entirely possible that your charging system has an issue, or that the poor connection contributed to the issue.

  • Great answer! I'll upvote when votes come back. I ran out :-( Jan 19, 2016 at 19:49
  • Repeated clicking is usually accompanied by repeated dimming of the dash lights, which adds to the evidence for a bad connection or a bad battery.
    – HandyHowie
    Jan 19, 2016 at 20:21
  • 1
    I'd also suggest - when you have heavy acid corrosion buildup on the battery end of the cable, check the OTHER end of the cable - where it attaches to the block, car frame, solenoid... Also, heavy corrosion buildup indicates acid has been leaking from the battery. Even if you add water, the acid is diluted and the battery capability permanently decreased. Jan 20, 2016 at 0:30
  • 2
    Never add drinking/faucet water to a battery!!!!! Only distilled water... Drinking water carries a charge and will ruin your batteries capacity to hold a charged... Distilled water does not.
    – Dee
    Jan 21, 2016 at 20:45

This could be caused by multiple things, the most likely case would be a bad battery in need of replacement. However before coming to that conclusion there are a few things which can be checked.

Make sure your battery terminals are in good working order and are not grounding out any where make sure they are insulated and not cracked and touching metal.

Also try removing the corrosion from you battery, remove the terminals and mix baking soda and water to help erode the corrosion from the battery.

An indication of a bad solenoid is usually when you turn the key and get only a single click and the engine does not turn over, so that is unlikely to be the cause.

  • 1
    If it is the battery, and he needed a boost the year previous, it is probably worth getting the charging system tested. Putting new batteries in a car with a failing charging system will just get you back where you started.
    – J...
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:24
  • Hey thanks for the input. I have been having trouble with the terminals and got a replacement as well. Per above I don't think it is the solenoid as it is getting several clicks. Will try back later after I've replaced the terminal and battery. Jan 19, 2016 at 19:03

I fixed this. Here is what I did:

  1. I added a fresh, new battery. It was going to be needed regardless as the battery was producing corrosion, a good sign the battery is at the end of its life.

  2. I put a fresh terminal on the damaged terminal where there was corrosion. I stripped the old wires and slapped on a 5 dollar terminal from autozone, plugged the bad boy in and it fired up alright, although it took a few tries to get the car going. The starter probably froze.

I appreciate all the insight into this matter from you all and thank you, this is what fixed it for me. Good luck anyone with similar issues!


Starter/Solenoid: The starter spins your motor up, the solenoid pushes the Starter & Engine gears into contact during starting. Sometimes things get sticky from corrosion or dirt inside the Starter/Solenoid and you'll hear a click or two when you try to crank. Solution: Find your starter and give it a couple of soft to medium TAPS with a hammer (bonus points for using a deadblow hammer) and try starting it again. I can't count how many times I've saved myself from jumping a stranger's vehicle by just tapping on the starter. Its magic.

Alternator: When this goes bad your battery goes empty eventually, either drive to a Car Parts shop that will test your alternator and/or battery in the parking lot or you can DIY it by removing your terminals / corrosion crust and re-charging the battery. The charged battery should get you started (give the starter a couple taps before starting if its still clicking), if the fresh battery doesn't get you started your battery could be bad. Drive the car normally, close to home or with a support vehicle in case it dies again. If the battery dies again quickly your alternator is bad.

Battery: After all that, you've pretty much narrowed down a bad battery. I like to get them tested as a second opinion before buying a new battery, but you've pretty much narrowed it down.

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