I never had this problem before, I drove the car for 3 miles and shut it off. When I returned to the car 15 minutes later nothing, only the chime when you insert key in ignition.
by Visitor in New Castle, PA on June 13, 2010
Sounds like your battery or it's connections might be the problem. Even a small amount of built up corrosion on the connectors can cause the problem you described. One other issue is that older Tercels had a unique engine ground bracket on the firewall. The negative battery cable runs through this bracket and relies on it for good ground. Over time, the bracket will rust and create a bad ground. I had a car like this once and simply made my own bracket out of a piece of sheet metal. I crimped the sheet metal around the bare negative cable with heavy pliers, just like the original set up, then bolted the new home-made bracket back on the firewall. Voila, all the car's elusive electrical problems disappeared.
Anyway, try this simple test. Turn on the headlights. If they are really dim, or don't come on, you probably have a bad battery or corroded/loose battery connection or ground.
It is possible the battery is not connected well enough to recharge itself while driving. Clean the connections and recharge or replace the battery.
If the headlights come on, leave them on and try starting the car.
If the headlights dim greatly or nearly go out, again, the battery is very weak or the connections are bad. Check the connections (both positive and the ground) and charge the battery or replace it.
If the headlights stay bright or don't change at all when you turn the key, then I suspect a loose connection at the starter.