96 Toyota won't start on its own

My 96 Toyota Corolla just stopped starting. I drove it up to school. Then when I got out of class that afternoon, I got in my car, turned the ignition and nothing happened. No clicking or anything. I did not leave my lights on; it was the middle of the day. I checked the light switch just in case. When I turned the lights on, they did not go on, and there was a buzzing sound coming from the dash. I got a jump start and the car started right up, no delay at all. I’ve had a dead battery before and this experience was not like that at all.

Then, when I got home (about 15 miles of highway driving), I turned off the car. I immediately tried to start it again and the same thing happened. Absolutely nothing. Not even a clicking sound from the starter.

I am baffled. Any ideas what I should expect when I have it towed to the mechanic? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

You should clean the connections at your battery cables. Undo the Negative (-) first, clean the inside where it clamps to the battery post, then clean the post. I use steel wool or fine sandpaper. Don’t put it back yet. Then undo the positive cable (+) and do the same cleaning. When you are done, put the positive cable back on and tighten the nut nice and snug. You don’t have to tighten it really, really tight, but it should be firmly tight. Then put back the negative cable. Chances are the car will start OK.

If the battery is over five years old it could be completely dead.

I once arrived home from work, shut my Camry off, went inside to change clothes and when I went to leave I turned the key and nothing. Checked the battery and it read zero volts.

So batteries can suddenly die.

Find someone with a volt meter to test your battery to see if that’s what happened to yours.


Thanks, Tester. The battery is less than a year old. Also, the way it started right up with a jump would suggest that the battery had not been completely depleted. I’ve had a completely depleted battery in this car before and it took a while to juice up, and the engine sort of wound a few times before “engaging”, so to speak.

This time (and with a fairly new battery), after about ten seconds, I turned the ignition and it turned over immediately with no “winding up”. This is why I am thinking it is something besides the battery. However, I certainly will have the battery checked. Thanks!

It could be several things, but the battery connections as mentioned above is where to start.

One time* I drove into a gas station for some gas. Fairly late at night, in the winter. Car had been working fine for months, no issues at all. When I had filled up w/gas, and ready to go, I turn the key to “on” and all the normal dashboard lights come on, I turn the key to “start”, nothing, and all the dashboard lights slowly go dim and out. Not even the radio would work. Needless to say, this happened during a cold downpour. I thought I was done for, looked for my cell phone, I needed a tow. But first I opened the hood, inspected the battery connectors, and discovered I could turn one of them by twisting it. Turned so easy, like it was on a bearing! I had a wrench in the trunk, tightened the battery connection, and the car started like a champ. Saved me a very unpleasant cold and wet evening. Hopefully for OP it is something simple like that.

  • I should mention that I told my gf about this the next day, and she wasn’t concerned or interested in how I avoided the problem at all. Found a new gf.

Thanks to all who replied. Turned out it was a crusty negative battery post. Glad it was an easy fix! Thanks again!