I bought my 2014 Corolla new a little over 3 years ago. Yesterday, when I was leaving work to head home I went to start my car and I was just met with my starter making a loud buzzing noise. My lights in my car, car fob, and etune radio were all working properly, but the car was just not able to start! My coworker told me that he heard of a trick where if you knock on the starter with something while trying to start it, it might give it enough of a kick to get going. Whether or not it was coincidence, it did work.
I was able to drive home, about 15 minutes (still daylight, did not need car lights), with no trouble. When I got home I turned my car off and waited for a few seconds and tried to start again. It worked, but it sounded like it struggled. I did it one more time and it failed with that same noise again. I resolved that I would just go get a new battery in the morning.
In the morning, my car was able to start, albeit with some struggle again. I made it all the way to work, and over lunch I was able to start it again and drive it to AutoZone to have them test the battery\starter\alternator. They told me the battery was too depleted to test it, so I went across the street to Walmart and bought a new battery. After replacing it, the car started like a champ as expected, and I drove back to Autozone to have them test my alternator and starter. The starter came back good, but they said that there was a fault in the test with the alternator. I gave them my old battery and asked them to trickle charge and test it just to see if it happened to still be a good battery that was just losing charge, or if it really was just a dying battery.
I called Toyota to schedule an appointment for the alternator, but the service technician told me that if my battery light was not on in my dashboard then it most certainly was not the alternator and likely just a bad battery. He said that he had been there for over 5 years and he’s only ever seen a dozen of alternators replaced in Toyotas, all of them in much older models than my 2014. He told me that it’s possible the equipment at Autozone may not be reliable, and to drive my car over the next few days and see if the problem arises again.
What does the community here think it may be? Is it likely it was just a bad battery and the Toyota tech is right in that readings from Autozone’s equipment could be incorrect? It just seems to me like the readings they are testing for in their equipment are not that complicated and I don’t understand why Autozone’s equipment would just give a faulty reading just because, unless the equipment itself was faulty. On the other hand, when my car was started it was driving just fine. If the alternator was not working properly, and my battery was dead\dying, I would have expected my car to eventually lose power to the electrical components which it did not.