99 Camry makes clicking noise, won't start

I drive a 99 Toyota Camry, 4-cylinder, 90,000 miles. This morning instead of starting, it made a rapid clicking noise for as long as I turned the key. The lights and radio all still worked. Bizarrely, the radio presets all changed and the CD played ejected.

This has happened once before, about a month ago, but after several attempts I was able to start the car.

I took it in for a winter check-up about three months ago. I was told that there was some minor corrosion on the battery terminals, but I haven’t had it taken care of yet. Could that have something to do with it?

Besides some body work, I’ve never had any maintenance problems with this car in the past.

Any ideas what it could be or how much this is going to cost me to fix? Thanks.

That rapid clicking can be caused from poor battery connections. Remove the battery terminals and clean both the terminals and the battery posts.


Yup, the “minor corrosion” might be less minor now. Corrosion is funny like that.

Perhaps when you get your battery and charging system checked (hint hint) you’ll have that cleaned up.

As the others mentioned also, this is a classic case of poor battery connections. When the starter is turned on it draws a lot of current from the battery. Since the current has to pass through the resistance that is created from the poor contact connections on the battery it causes a voltage drop across that resistance. That voltage drop robs the starter from getting enough power to run it and the solenoid drops out due to the low voltage now getting to it. Now the battery doesn’t have a big load on it and the voltage goes back up enough for the solenoid to work again and connects the starter again. Then the process repeats all over. The other things like the radio will work since they don’t need much current to allow them to work so little voltage is lost across the bad connection.

Use a battery post cleaning brush to clean the battery connections. Reconnect the battery cables so they are snug and don’t over tighten them so they are stretched (a common mistake that is done). Applying a sealer over the connections can help keep the corrosion from coming back.

The battery may also be low on charge so putting it on a battery charger for a while would be good. The ultimate thing to do would be to have a shop do a load test on the charging system and see how things look. It may save you from a problem later down the road.

Make sure they check rubber or plastic batt cables covers close to clamps.
You can have clean clamps and still have corrosion.