I have a used 1999 Toyota Corolla and today for the first time, after 45 minutes parked, it did not turn on. Can the battery die just like that without warning or could it be another problem? Also if the battery died..does that mean that if I get a new one it will happen again? I will appreciate any input! Thanks!!!
Assuming no other obvious electrical problems and good battery terminal connections, you may have left some electric device turned on and that drained the battery. More likely you have a bad cell that's shorting the others. You can buy a simple tool for measuring the specific gravity of each cell at any autoparts store. Drive for a good while or have the battery fully charged. Then measure each cell. If there's a bad one, you should detect it. If so, you'll need a new battery of similar size both physical and electrical (cold cranking amps--CCA).
6 year old battery, yes they can just die like they were pole-axed, with no prior warning. If it developed an open cell, it'll be as flat as a pancake, no dome light or anything.
Then again, the car may have been cranking slower the last few weeks, or the crank speed starts to slow down after the first few seconds - but you didn't know to listen for the warning sounds. (I usually manage to catch them before getting stuck.)
Did you get anything at all? Dome light and horn, but no crank?
If the alternator is charging properly, installing a new battery and making sure you have clean battery terminals should cure it.
Check it with an accurate digital voltmeter to confirm that the alternator is getting 13.5 to 14 volts to the battery (13.8V nominal at 70 F) with the engine running at fast idle (1500 - 2000 RPM), and that it can keep it at that level with the normal accessories like the lights and heat/AC on. The alternator output dropping somewhat at curb idle (600 - 800 RPM) is normal.
--<< Bruce >>--
Precisely this happened to our '99 Tercel last summer.
Was working just fine since we bought it the previous September, then one day my wife went to a gas station and shut the car off. When she tried to start it after gassing up, nothing. Nada. Zilch.
We could not even push the car out of the gas station bay because there was not enough power to operate the shifter lockout solenoid.
One new Eveready from Wal-Mart fixed that.
Its a '99, and this is '05. That means the battery is 6 years old, give or take a few months.
The battery shop will test it for free, but I don't think that I'd bother. I'd just get a new battery and get on with life.
Although this may not be the problem, I agree with you that after 6 years that battery doesn't owe you a thing...good advice...
Long ago, batteries would give warning. They'd crank slowly in cold weather. Modern batteries just die. I replace mine after 5 years as a maintenance item, to avoid the breakdown.
It could be another problem, like a bad alternator or dirty cables. But it's probably cheaper to replace the battery than pay a diagnostic fee. At 6 years, it's time anyway.
Thank you all for your input! I neglected to say that even though the toyota is a 99, I have only had it for a year so I don't know how old the battery was, but anyway I did follow the majority and brought a new battery. NO problem so far.
Car Batteries are perishable, just like a gallon of milk. No matter how nicely you treat it the battery has a limited shelf life, and when it's time is up it will die. Sometimes you get a warning from some slow cranking, but not always.
And any abuse (like the deep discharge from leaving the lights on overnight a time or two) shortens it's life more than normal.
The only thing a longer warranty term battery gets you is it's designed a bit better to last at least past the warranty term. A "5-year" battery only has to go 5 years and two days to be designed perfectly ;-) , but they'll usually go 6 to 24 months past the end date before they pack it in.
Now have someone check that the charging voltage is correct in the next few days, to confirm the alternator is charging the battery properly. Otherwise you can ruin the new battery by running it down to dead, too.
--<< Bruce >>--