Starter or battery? Toyota Corolla 2002

After a 4-week vacation, I could not start my 2002 Toyota Corolla.
I initially was convinced it was the battery, but radio was working and when trying to start, the engine did the clic-clic-clic noise, so I figured the starter needed replacement.

To bring the car to a repaired, I jump-started the car (stick shift) and after driving a bit, I realized I could start it again. So now, I am confused: is it the battery, the starter, or both?

Thanks for your tips!


The starter draws more electrical energy than any of the accessories on the car.
In fact, the radio draws only a trivial amount of power.

So–a badly-depleted battery can frequently have enough energy left to power the radio–and even the headlights–for a limited amount of time. Based on your description, it does sound like the battery has reached the end of its life, and that there is nothing wrong with the starter.

While a battery can last as long as 7 or 8 years, most are getting pretty weak after 5 years or so. And, in case you are not aware of it, you can kill your expensive alternator by forcing it to “work overtime” in order to keep a failing battery charged. Thus, trying to wring the last little bit of service out of an old battery can wind up being much more costly than replacing the battery at the first sign of weakness.

But–rather than replacing a battery that may actually be in decent condition, I would suggest that you have a load test performed on it, in order to determine its actual condition.

Also, you should clean and tighten the battery terminal connections.

You have given a good description of trying to start a car with a battery in a low state of charge. There is apparently nothing wrong with the starter, and your experience could occur with a battery in any condition, even a fresh one.

Normal driving will restore and maintain the charge. Your car should now behave normally. There is no need to take further action.