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I own a 2013 Toyota Corolla that only has about 22000 miles on it. Over the past few weeks, when I started the car, there was a little bit of sputtering i.e. the noise made when I turned the key into the ignition seemed kind of weak but the car started nonetheless.

Today, the car wouldn't start and when I turned the key in the ignition, it made sort of a clicking noise. Jump starting the car didn't work (though there is a slight chance I did this incorrectly).

Is it possible the battery is dead? I should state I live in Phoenix and we're in one of our hottest summers ever. However, as stated the car only has 22000 and the car model is only from 3 years ago so it seems a bit early for the battery to die. The positive terminal in my battery did have some corrosion on it, not sure if that's normal.

Should I try jumping again or should I go buy a new battery? Or is it possible it's something else?

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    4 years old? Probably time for a new battery. Suggest you drop into a battery specialist and ask for a quick battery test. They will have a flash meter that can do a test on the battery and tell you how bad it is. Modern batteries do not last as long as older ones. – Criggie Jul 29 '16 at 10:01
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    It is probably the battery, but jumping it didn't work, maybe it is another issue. Check out battery post-to-cable interface. "Exercise" the battery terminal connections (be care not to have anything metal touch both battery terminals simultaneously). I will assume you do not have any dielectric grease, but do have some tools. Loosen the terminal a bit so that it is a little bit loose. Keep the cable terminal on the post and rotate it right & left (CW & CCW) as much as the cable tension permits. Tighten the terminal and then try the other terminal. Then you can try the other answers below. – Jake Peters Jul 29 '16 at 13:55
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One of the worst things for batteries is extreme heat. It dramatically shortens battery life from average 5 years to about 3.5 years. This is due to the fluid in the electrolyte evaporating. Extreme heat also accelerates corrosion of connections. Extreme ambient (outside) temperature when coupled with heat in the engine generated under the hood only magnifies the effect.

As a result I would say that the battery is toast. A replacement is needed.

  • Agree with you, going to take it to O'Reilly's and have them recharged it which I think will result in me buying a new one. – Ser Pounce Jul 29 '16 at 6:08
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    Interesting about the heat and batteries. Guess it makes sense. I melt at 80º F. – dlu Jul 29 '16 at 6:15
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    @dlu: In Phoenix I imagine it gets in the range 110-120 F and the 200+ degrees in an engine I am surprised that all that might happens..... Fortunately I live in much cooler climate... In winter I am more worried about the electrolyte freezing and starting the car with reduced cranking ability. – Old_Fossil Jul 29 '16 at 7:18
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    Secondarily to heat, but just as bad (in my opinion) is running a battery flat. A battery left flat for a long period of time will result in sulfide crystals forming on the lead plates, which decreases the capacity of the battery. This, too, destroys batteries very quickly. Having a battery tender on a battery which is going to sit for a long period of time is a good way to maintain it. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 29 '16 at 12:45
  • @paulster2 Running a battery flat with a very cold environment is pretty nasty as well. A totally dead battery will freeze. I operate battery operated machinery in a sub arctic environment and have to recharge when idle just to keep the electrolyte warm. – Old_Fossil Jan 13 at 20:01
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It could be a dead battery, but the age and mileage both seem a bit low for that, battery life tends to be measured in charge/discharge cycles (I think in a car this roughly translates to starts) and it seems like you don't drive the car all that much, though if you did lots of short trips the battery probably wouldn't like that.

Testing a battery is a relatively straight forward thing. You can get a rough idea of condition by just turning on the lights and everything else (while the car isn't running) to create a pretty big load. A strong battery should be able to keep the headlights bright while doing this. If you have a volt meter, you could do a more quantitative test, or you could take it to a mechanic or a battery dealer (or autoparts store) and they can test with an Official Tester®. Don't just buy a battery blind, you may be just feeding an innocent battery to what ever problem is dragging down your current battery.

If you do the battery test after a bit of a drive you should get a pretty good idea of whether or not the battery is capable of taking a charge. If it seems to charge well and start well after just a short stop, I'd want to look for a load that is pulling the battery down before condemning the battery. We had a similar problem and I discovered that it was due to keeping an inverter plugged in to an always hot 12 V jack.

I would expect that you would be able to jump your car even with a completely dead battery. You might need to give it just a bit of charging time, but it should work – assuming your have good cables and they are well connected and the other battery is in good shape. So you might want to review jumping technique (and definitely clean up the corroded terminal).

  • Thanks for the long well thought out response. Are most auto parts stores honest? I'm going to O' Reilly's tomorrow and am going to ask them to charge it before asking them to test it. – Ser Pounce Jul 29 '16 at 6:14
  • More than not I'd say. Hard to stay in business when word gets out about deceiving customers. But this is easy to verify for yourself. As you drive to the store the battery should charge fully if you give it a few minutes – the starting load is huge, but brief. When you get there the battery should be up around 12.6 volts with the engine off, and will show around 14.2 at a fast idle or at least by ~2000 RPM. The Official Tester® applies a load to the battery and can also monitor the alternator output and starter draw. As the tech to explain how it works and what it shows. – dlu Jul 29 '16 at 6:23

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