When to replace car battery

Question: Have 2014 Toyota Corolla LE that was manufactured March 2014 and has the original size 35 battery. I live in cold climate where it is anywhere from 10 below to 25 above in winter.

I had the battery checked (temp was 55 outside when checked) and they said it was 356 I assume CCA’s and that was okay. Does that mean the battery should get through the winter? When should a person replace battery if they don’t want to wait for it to fail?

If you want to be proactive, I recommend replacing batteries at the 5 year mark

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Our 2007 Corolla has its original battery and it reads just a little higher than yours. We’ve had no problems with starting so far. If you drive 15,000 miles per years, maybe 5 years is a good interval, but Toyota batteries are good quality and I would replace it with the first very sluggish start on a cold morning.

Check for corrosion around the terminal posts. On my 2011 Sienna the battery was outgassing around the posts. I was cleaning the terminals every month. I tried the red and green felt pads under the battery clamps as well as an anti corrosion spray. I finally gave up and bought a new battery. On the other hand, the battery in our 4Runner was 7 years old, but a test showed it was getting weaker. This is the vehicle my wife drives, so I installed a new battery.

If that test was cold cranking amps, that reading is very very low. It should be closer to 600 minimum at 55 degrees and more likely 700. My lawn mower battery tested at 315 CCA. That battery really is not very old and I like to replace at about 4 years when they are still good but I think maybe it should be tested again just to make sure. My Acura battery went out at 3 1/2 years so you never know.

Batteries last longer in a cold climate, I usually get 7-8 years out of mine.

If you suspect that it is weak, you change it. It’s not getting weak now so don’t worry about it until it seems to be lagging.

Its been my personal experience that batteries fail one of 2 ways. 1) Weaker and weaker cranking giving you some warning the battery is going away so you can replace it. Or 2) All of a sudden it no longer starts the car, won’t even turn on the interior lights and can’t be jumped. I learned which of my cars did 1) and which did 2) - the hard way. Unfortunately I’ve had both 1) and 2) occur at 2 years and at 5-7 years.

I carry a cell phone with the phone number of a reliable towing company as well as my friends that can give me a ride to the parts store for exactly this reason.

Don’t ignore signs of a dying battery. I had a Ford Aerostar that had its original battery. Occasionally, when I would crank the engine, the clock would reset itself to 12:00. I surmised that the voltage was dropping too much when the starter was cranking the engine. Yet, the starter seemed to crank the engine at a normal speed. Mrs. Triedaq noticed the clock issue and asked me what caused the problem. I said that I thought it might be the battery. “You had better have it checked”, she advised. Since it was the vehicle I drove, I did my usual procrastination. Unfortunately, we were both in the Aerostar on a Sunday afternoon when I pulled into a gas station. After I bought gas and tried to start the engine there was nothing. Even the interior lights wouldn"t come on. I pushed the van away from the pumps and called my AAA for road service. The battery was so bad it couldn’t even be jumped. The van was towed to our house and I took the other car and went to Walmart and bought a battery.

Since the whole thing is so different on a (Toyota) hybrid, I wonder how you would know when the (12V) battery is going bad? And will the battery life be much different there? I believe they call for deep discharge batteries.

My '98 Civic has actually done both, usually the first way, but my latest battery died the second way. Maybe it’s because I didn’t notice it was cranking slower, and maybe it’s because I’ve been letting the car sit without using a trickle charger.

I just bought a solar trickle charger (solar since since the car is sitting outside a warehouse where I work, not at home). I’m hoping it will make a difference.

Does anyone think plugging the battery into a smart trickle charger (like a Battery Tender) would benefit someone who lives in a cold climate?

If you live in a cold climate and you NEED a trickle charger on a regular basis, you really need a new battery.

Make sure it has a high enough CCA rating for that climate. I used to work in the North and often had to park outside. I put a 1000 CCA battery in my V8 Chevy, as well as 0W30 oil ,and it was sufficient to get the car started on the coldest days.


356 cold cranking amps is a little low. I imagine the factory battery in your car is rated at 500-550 cca, meaning your battery is at about 70% of it’s capacity. I recommend replacement at 70%, because my experience has been that the downhill slide goes pretty quickly once they get below 70%.

Batteries can also fail immediately without warning once they get older, whether they test good or not. I recommend replacement if a battery is over 6 years old without bothering to test them. Here’s a case in point:

2 months ago I serviced my wife’s car. The battery was about 6 years old, but it tested at 85% capacity and started the car fine. Since we plan to trade the car in the spring, I decided to wait it out and not proactively replace it. A couple of weeks ago she went to a friend’s house on a Sunday morning for a few hours. Came out, dead. Battery hardly had enough juice to light the warning lights.

If a test shows that your battery is down to 356 cold cranking amps, I would replace it now. The goal is not to see how long a battery lasts, the goal is have a car that starts every single time.

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Shouldn’t that depend on how often you start/drive the vehicle? Wouldn’t a battery that gets plugged into a smart charger last longer than one that doesn’t?

I’m not asking to be argumentative. I live in a warm climate, and I’ve noticed my motorcycle batteries last longer when I use a trickle charger.

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@Whitey I think you’ve got the right idea. If you short trip the car in the winter at lower speeds (35 mph) a trickle charger or a solar charger to top-up the battery is probably a good idea. Lights, heater fan, wipers, heated seats, satellite radio, ect, add up to a lot of drain plus recovery after starting. Cars with marginal alternators will not fully charge the battery. Cars with marginal batteries may be helped, too. My Merkur was like that. The Euro-spec Bosch alternator was a tad small and those heated seats were well used! The first battery only lasted 18 months on that car. It gave plenty of warning when it was done. Once used on a longer commute, batteries lasted 36+ months.

Good point! If you live in a cold climate and only make short trips, you not only need a good battery (high capacity), but you should invest in an engine block heater. All my cars since 1965 have had block heaters.

If you practice the above, you should not need a trickle charger but keep one handy in case you accidentally leave the dome light on overnight. I’ve always kept one in the garage.
My wife used to work at a medical clinic where she had to park outside and was unable to plug in the block heater. We put an extra large battery in her car and she carried jumpers, just in case. Temperatures ranged down to -35F and synthetic oil was a great help.

Car manufacturers design the system to accommodate short trips, that’s why we have alternators rather than the old generators,.
Again, if you regularly need a trickle charger, your electrical system is not up to par; it could be the battery, alternator or parasitic leaks draining the battery.

Me, I’d replace it with a CCA in the 300’s and in that type of a climate. You could ask the shop to do another test, this time remove the battery from the engine compartment, charge it overnight with a battery charger fully, then do the load test again. If it turns up ok in that test, there’s something else causing the lower than expected CCA reading. It’s a little unusual for a battery to fail in 2 years. But it can happen.

Wrong. Most web sites recommend 500 or more for the OP’s vehicle. For just a few dollars more they could get a longer replacement rather than 1 year.

Like I said my little lawn mower battery (motorcycle battery) tested at 315 CCA for a 16 horse engine. My cars are 600 and 700 rated. I don’t know where you would get a car battery with only 300 CCA.

The spec for my 2010 Insight is 335 CCA:


Of course, it only has been used once to actually start the car (when it was below 0F).