'99 Camry won't start (battery is charged)

I have a 1999 Camry (~56K) which seemed to be running fine until I ran to the store for about 15 min and it wouldn’t start back up. When I turned the key, the lights would dim and go out and the engine wouldn’t turn over at all. Over time (~1 min), the lights came back on and the radio worked until I tried to turn the key again when everything just cut out once more. We were able to jump it and I drove for 15-20 minutes without problem. I got home turned it off and immediately tried to start it again with the same result. I’ve check the battery with a multimeter and its reading 12.6 V which I take as it being fully charged. When I try to start the car, the charge drops to ~4 V and then slowly climbs again. Any suggestions for what I can try before I take it to a mechanic? Thanks

Your battery is dead. It may be making the voltage, but it no longer has the capacity. the drop in voltage is the key. When starting, the voltage should not drop even close to the 4 volt range. I don’t think it should even get below 10V. If that’s your original battery, it’s lasted quite a while. Regardless, you need a new one.

There is also the possiblity of corrosion at the battery terminals as well as to chassis ground. You could easily measure 12.6v between the posts themselves but have considerably less voltage at the starter motor. Clean all connections and try again.

I agree - your battery might be no good - if it is original you got well over it’s expected lifespan. But you should also check the battery terminals - take them off and make sure they are shiny and don’t have any corrosion or black oxidation which will keep it from charging correctly or drawing power to the starter.

JSYK, a battery is supposed to have 13.8V

Thanks for all of your help. I appreciate your responses and the time you put in. I checked all the connections and they all looked pretty good so tomorrow I’m going to get a new battery to install. I’ll let you know what happens.

Thanks again.

As your battery gets old this will happen, they just die without any previous noticeable indications. Some times you can hear your altinator stressing when you have battery about to go.

The battery should show about 12.6 at rest and with the starter motor engaged should not drop below 10.2.
The 12.6 is a normal, full charged battery voltage but from the sound of it, that is only a light surface charge since it drops so quickly. Sounds like a bad battery and if it’s the original then you got your moneys worth.

Just wanted to follow up. I changed the battery and now everything runs just fine, just as you all predicted. I appreciate all of your help in diagnosing the problem. Clearly I had thought that the 12.6 V charge meant that the battery was still good and though I knew that the drop in voltage was telling me what, I didn’t know enough to diagnose it myself. Thanks for lending a hand to myself and all the others on the board.