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New battery same dead car, 97 toyota camry

My 97 Camry doesnt get much drive time. Its been through 2 dead batteries in 1 year ( I assume from just sitting) and when I went to replace this last one, I get in, see the dash lights are on, put the key in the ignition and then everything goes dead. No clicking, no lights just silence. As soon as that happens there is nothing until I get back out, wait a couple of minutes get back in and then the very same thing happens again. I have waited hours and it is still the same problem. Any ideas?

How often do you drive your car and how far do you typically drive it then?

Possible problems:

  • Charging system
  • Insufficient driving time**
  • Dark drain (high current levels with car turned off)
  • Bad connections (check both ends of all wires connected to battery
  • Bad battery

** may be solved with a battery tender. A battery tender is a special battery charger designed to keep a seldom used battery charged.

I didnt drive it very far or very often. The issue was when it died the previous two times, replacing the battery worked fine. This time after putting in the new battery, I get silence when I attempt to start it. I get in, see the dash lights are on, put the key in the ignition and then everything goes dead. No clicking, no lights just silence.

One uncommon, but aggravating, problem occurs when battery acid somehow gets into the battery cable and converts the Copper wire into Copper Sulfate which is very pretty (it’s blue) but is a lousy electrical conductor. What results is that low current devices like the radio and dash lights work, but when you hit the starter, all the power is dropped across the damaged part of the cable and not enough gets to the starter.

Similar difficulties can occur if the battery or ground cable connections at the starter/engine/frame are corroded. If you are comfortable with electrical stuff, this is easy to test with an old fashioned multimeter – preferably the kind with an analog meter rather than a digital readout. Simply measure the voltage between the negative battery terminal and the engine block, chassis, starter terminals and the positive battery terminal when the car is standing, and again during starting. Almost all the voltage should drop across the battery, not across the wires. Just be sure to keep the multimeter test leads away from moving parts, and don’t accidentally short things that aren’t at ground potential to ground.

Your battery is not dead, it is discharged. The fact that the battery comes back a bit when you wait a hour confirms the battery is OK. You don’t need another new battery.

You need to get the car running and then drive it long enough to fully charge the battery. That means a 1 to 2 hour drive in the country. It will be good for you and your car. You can get it jump started or have someone put a battery charger on the battery.

If you use the charger method you can leave the charger on long enough (this depends on the type of charger used) to fully charge the battery. Then you don’t need to take that drive in the country. But you miss the scenery!

To keep this from happening, check to be sure none of the small interior lights is staying on when you park the car. Just a small light will run down the battery in a few days. Remember there are lights in the trunk and the glove box so these all need to be shut tight so the lights are off.

When you drive the car if you only go a few miles and shut if off then you are not charging the battery enough. When the car is idling it is not charging very much either, when you are traveling at 25-30 mph and up the battery is getting good current because the motor is running at higher speed. A one hour trip once a month would be good for your battery and keep it fresh for dependable use.

Repace the battery cables, or clean them, and recharge the battery. You will be fine

I get in, see the dash lights are on, put the key in the ignition and then everything goes dead.
Is your battery connected to the proper terminals?
It sounds like when you put the key in (and thinking you mean try to start the engine) you are somehow shorting out and killing the battery. They will come back by themselves a few times, a bad starter, or cable shorting to ground would be a possibility.

thanks all. This is a great forum. I posted the question and got answers in minutes instead of days!! I cleaned the battery cables with baking soda and water (they were a little corroded) and then scrubbed them down with a wire brush and the car starts with no problems. Thanks again.