Recharging battery (2001 Camry)

Helping a lady in the neighborhood. Her battery went dead (for the second time in many months) after several weeks of non-use. First time, she jump started OK. This time, her mechanic suggested better to recharge the battery. I took my little 6-amp charger over to her house and hooked it up.

I’m used to seeing the charger’s ammeter jump up to 6a, then sl-o-o-w-ly come back to about 2a as the battery charges. This time, there was zero current at first (I thought I had a bad connection), then the current crept up to 4a after a few minutes. Does this indicate bigger problem?

Battery is Interstate, about 550CCA. Punch-outs on the label look like “2” and “FE”. I infer that the battery was installed in Feb 2012, though the lady thinks it was longer ago (she does not have the receipts). Fluid level in the cells looks OK; mostly full to the ring, no exposed plates. Lady says it was tested before the Winter.

(BTW, she was able to unlock the car with her mechanical key. I’ve seen posted here – and seen personally – cases where with cars that vintage and newer, a dead battery means you can’t unlock it. Maybe she was lucky.)

I think she may have a parasitic drain that is killing the battery. For the charger to start at zero amps and slowly climb to 4 amps means the battery was as flat as can be. I’ve seen this behavior a few times. The battery can be recovered like this, but is not long for life. It will need to be replaced soon.

Also, those pop-out tabs are generally used to show the sale date, but a sticker on top or the side should have the manufacturing date. It is sometimes a round sticker.

And, the key should be able to unlock that door at a minimum, even if the battery were removed. Many cars will also use the power locks to unlock the other doors when the driver’s side is unlocked. My Toyota does that.

Chances are the battery has been fried often enough to make it toast.

(I had a reply typed, then I fat-fingered something, and the reply disappeared. I hope this is not a duplicate posting.)

After 6.5 hours the battery was still taking 4 amps; decided to leave it charging overnight. It might well be toast, but if it gets her to the mechanic Tuesday she’ll be satisfied.

Based on battery’s dying after “over a month” idle, I had discounted parasitic drain. New story: it was dead after a couple of weeks; the car’s just been sitting since then. OK, probably parasitic drain. I checked the easy stuff – no alarm system (she says); lights under hood, in trunk, and in glove box not staying on. I told the owner to have a professional look at it.

Door locks – I believe I was part of a thread here a few years ago about this. A friend’s 2000-ish Camry had a dead battery, resulting in the door locks being stuck closed. (Hence, you could not get to the hood release to charge the battery. You had to reach up behind the grille with a tool, or maybe take apart some bodywork, to release the hood.) I recall thinking that my 2000 Camry had the same design “feature”: the door key only moves a switch to signal the body control computer; the key does not mechanically open the lock. My current 2004 Camry feels like the key is not mechanically operating the lock. If this generates any more comments, we should start a new thread.

Thanks for the advice. Replying separately on the “Radio Codes” posting.