1997 Camry battery

We have a '97 Camry that has been maintained in our garage, has 40,000 miles on it, and is only used for long trips/vacations (interstate driving). The battery has never been replaced & the indicator still shows it to be “good”. Should I replace it anyway? It has never had a problem starting, etc.

yes even a battery used very little will go bad. you lucked out on this deal. if battery shorts out it will cause more problems then you want
it could kill electric components. get it changed asap.

I suspect the battery may work ok for some more time since the car doesn’t get used that much. It isn’t a bad idea though to replace it now as it may prevent some problems later on. If you would like to try to keep it longer I suggest you have it load tested to see what kind of shape it is in currently.

I have a Diehard battery in my truck that is over 12 years old and it still works fine. I just don’t use the truck very much at all.

There is no pressing need to replace the battery at this time. Some day it will show signs of weakening and you will take care of it then. For now, I hope you own a set of jumper cables merely as a sensible precaution.

A short time ago I replaced my battery on my 2002 car. It was still functioning, although it look like it may be beginning to show its age. At ten years your battery can’t be trusted. Every week it is getting closer to the end. The problem is you may not know it is close to the end until … No go. The extra cost of getting stuck somewhere will likely cost more than the battery. Consider this. You likely will need to replace that battery some day and if you do it not, you likely will never need to do it again.

Batteries don’t die due to being used. They die due to age, heat or abuse.

Get it changed now. Batteries lose capacity as they age, not just from use. This is cheap insurance against the chance, however small, that you will end up stranded in the worst possible time, in the worst possible place, in the worst possible weather.

Replace it NOW. An old battery slowly loses its ability to hold a charge. As a result the alternator has to work harder and harder to keep the battery charged. You are saving $50 to $75 and, as a result, killing your alternator (a part that usually runs two to four times the price of a battery). Additionally, the battery is all you have to get you started every day. Do you really want to take the chance that one day soon your battery will really be dead and you will be stranded?

I kept the OEM battery in my Camry for about 10 years. I am usually not far from homebase so I just kept an eye on it. It started to crank slower on first starts of the day but I didn’t decide to change it. Then start in a store parking lot, the battery would not crank the engine, just click, click, click. After a jumpstart by AAA, I got home; charged the battery; and measured the specific gravity. The hydrometer showed full charge on 5 of the cells and fully discharged on the last. The voltage reading was 10.5 VDC across the terminals open and 5 VDC under 20 amp load.

A replacement battery, charged up before installation, has worked like a champ since.

Several replies in this thread mention alternator damage occurring from a weak/dead battery. While I’ve never experienced it myself, it’s easy to see how it can happen.

Aside from sulfation, one of the ways a battery goes dead is the material on the plates breaks down and falls off. Batteries compensate for this by having some reserve space below the plates for this material to collect. If, however, the material that has fallen off the plates builds up high enough to short out the plates, it can create a direct short - which alternators don’t like at all.

Years ago, the more expensive batteries provided a taller amount of space below the plates than the cheaper batteries did. I don’t know if this is still true today.

So while it’s not common, you can damage your alternator by keeping your battery till it’s reached its end of life.

You could replace the battery, or you could have it “load tested,” to see how good it really is. The indicator on the battery is not the best “indicator.” A load test will tell you a battery’s true condition.

If you decide to keep the battery, be prepared to replace it THE SAME DAY you notice a slight hesitation in starting the engine. You may not get another warning. A ten-year-old battery can become a dead battery very quickly, and it could leave you stranded somewhere.