1998 Toyota Camry - Barely starting - battery, alternator, or something else


1998 Toyota Camry with 125K. After sitting for a while it barely wants to start like the battery is dead but the battery was just replaced 6 months ago. It’s the worst in the morning after sitting all night but worry’s me a little after a 8 hour work day also. When you try to start, all lights go dim, it clicks once or twice and finally starts. Once started it runs like a champion. What or why is it doing this?


It sounds like the battery is not being charged properly. Have the charging system tested. Many parts stores will test for free.

I’d also recommend checking the connections at BOTH ends of the battery cables. Loose, corroded, or dirty connections can cause starting difficulties.


It’s also possible that something is staying on and draining the battery. Does the trunk light go off when you close the trunk? Is there a light in the glove compartment that stays on when it shouldn’t? A small but constant drain on the battery will cause the symptoms you describe.


Although your problem sounds like electrical inadequacy, there are a couple of other things to consider on a high mileage vehicle. It is possible your starter is going bad and lacks the power to crank the engine. Have the starter draw checked. Yet another possibility is that you have a slight head gasket leak that is allowing a small amount of anti-freeze into one or more cylinders creating higher compression which, in turn, can cause the starter to sound weak. Starting the engine can blow or vaporize the liquid and result in “normal” running. Check for excess white smoke from the tailpipe on starting, and check that your anti-freeze level isn’t slowly creeping down.