When your car battery gives up the Ghost…

This morning, my 2019 Toyota Corolla SE, with just over 11k miles on it, and I’ve had it now for just over 2-years, talked back to me when I tried to start it this morning.

It said, “NO! NO! NO! No! No! no. no. Nuh-Uh, nuh-Uh, nuh…”

And then complete silence

If you just read it to yourself, it does not have the same impact. Read it aloud and it may bring back memories of a bitter, cold winter morning with frost on the windshield and a driveway still needing to shovel…

But today, it was a balmy 85 degrees with the sun shining and battery gave up the ghost. So I jump started it and drove it to the dealer. They fast charged the battery and tested the full system, battery amp output, charging system, "parasitic " electrical drains, and found nothing to explain the dead battery, they said I needed to drive it more…

Afterwards, the service writer gave me back my key-fob, and said, “It’s under warranty, no charge…”

And I replied, “That’s what the Alternator said…”


When was your 2019 Corolla built . . . ?

What kind of driving do you?

And how often do you drive the car?

You seem to think the alternator is defective . . . ?

Why is that?

A 2019 was likely manufactured and possibly sold in 2018. The battery would have been manufactured who knows how long before the car was built so car and battery could be 3 years old.

Only 11k miles in 2 or 3 years could easily weaken a battery if the sitting spells between usage is extended.
I wonder if they considered any scale developing on the battery cable ends and battery terminals.


I have three other vehicles that all yearn to be driven; I almost always take the Toyota out at least every other day. Yeah, I know, 11k in over two years in not much driving. And I know I really need to drive for at least 20 miles to fully warm up the engine and charge the battery.

So, If I told you I have a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500, 4x4, Diesel, with less than 50k on the odometer, would that drive you crazy? I keep track of all mileage and repairs in logbooks and back a few years ago, I filled up the truck in December 2015 and did not add fuel again until November 2016 and that was only because it was cheap and I could not pass up the deal. It still had over a half tank at the time…

I really was just surprised to have to jump it when the weather is so nice… The remark about the alternator was a “tongue in cheek” joke. The service writer said, “no charge” and I said, “that’s what the alternator said” as a joke…

I really wrote up this topic more like a “use it or lose it” warning.

And I wanted to share the sound effects of, “NO! NO! NO! No! No! no. no. Nuh-Uh, nuh-Uh, nuh…”

I heard this many years ago in a comedy club when a comedian talked about his old car never starting on cold mornings… Again, you have to say it aloud…

So I will take the mechanic’s advice and drive it more…

Heat damages batteries more than cold. Cold reduces the capacity which comes back when it warms up. Heat can drive off some of the water in the electrolyte and increases corrosion. A co worker had a part time job @ a McParts store. Based on warranty returns, their observation was that after 3 years, battery life was a warranty gamble and not any technical or manufacturing issue. Within 3 years they got a few batteries back, not a lot. After the 3 year mark they saw more and more come back. Most had a pro rated warranty that the manufacturers had factored into the pricing.


There is a sticker on top of the battery that tells you the date and year the battery was manufactured…what was it? My guess is that you need to drive the car more often to keep the battery alive.

Not sure where you live but batteries here in south Florida tend to die in 3 years from the heat. Add in the short trips and the life decreases. Add in a modern car’s plethora of electronic devices most of which don’t completely shut off and always draw just a little bit of current to the mix and it is a wonder batteries last as long as they do!

Our electronically laden Audi that doesn’t rack up a lot of miles gets put on the charger about once a month to top up the battery.

In addition, a friend suggested we lock the car doors even in our garage because, like a puppy watching for his owner with a leash, an unlocked Audi keeps more electronic devices awake anxiously awaiting its owner to go for a drive. It worked, the charge stays up better.

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Batteries located under the hood fail much faster than those located under the rear seat or in the trunk. We had 2009 and 2010 Cobalts for 11 years each, and never had to replace the trunk mounted batteries. All my under hood batteries get replaced after 3 to 4 years.

If the dealer believes there is a parasitic drain, did they located it and do anything about it?

I have always heard about the heat killing batterys I must have been lucky as most of my batterys have lasted 7 to 10 years with the exception of sears diehards when they were still around and auto zone. Maybe it was every vehicle I have owned did not have all the bells and whistles as the newer ones do.

some vehicles like the new c8 corvette have a lot of electronics and .over the air updates. they found out that the key fob is in constant communication with the car when kept to close. draining the battery. even when the car was in the garage and the key fob was in a bedroom on the other side of the garage wall. not sure about your vehicle though

Thank you for reminding me why my old cars without all these “high tech” features are vastly superior to anything sold new today! Even here in southern Arizona, I get 5+ years out of a battery. No invasive “Big Brother” riding around with me, either!

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If you have a DVM, do this test once in a while, always do it first thing in the morning after the car has sat unused overnight, and keep track of the results. Might provide the shop some clues about what’s going on.

Test 1. Before starting the engine, battery should measure about 12.6 volts.

Test 2. Immediately after starting the engine, battery should measure 13.5-15.5 volts.

The Service Department’s Suggestion: Drive the Car more… Here is a photo of the Battery, no obvious Date, do you read Japanese?

That is the easy answer, teaching the customer how to use a battery charger is more time consuming.

Factory batteries don’t have a date sticker, there is a date code stamped on the battery but the battery is as old as the car.

Read the build date on manufactures information label in the drivers door jam, the battery is 3 to 4 weeks older than that date.

That is an interesting looking battery, with removable vent caps and a translucent casing so you can monitor the level of electrolyte in the cells. I have not seen a battery like that in years. Are those batteries available for sale to the consumer?

That is a Panasonic battery, they supply the Toyota and Lexus batteries for vehicles assembled in Japan.

Dealer replacement batteries are manufactured by Johnson Controls, black case with removable caps.

From my experience of vehicles that sit years between fill-ups the fuel level sending units really don’t like being above the fuel level in the air. Depending on the type, the exposed copper contacts of the resistor track type corrode real fast.
Fill it or lose it.

Interestingly, my 09 Focus only had the battery changed once in 11 years in 215k miles! My wife’s 14 Escape hasn’t needed the battery changed yet either. (approx 93k miles), and that thing is loaded down with the electronic things that scare you silly even though we have not had a problem with any of them :man_shrugging:t2:

Last fall we pro-actively replaced the battery in my wife’s 2007 Corolla even though it would still start the car, but she goes out skiing and parks the car all day in the mountains. Best be safe!
When a battery fails to draw the new condition load, I replace it before the next winter.