How do you test a car battery?

Testing a car battery is a useful and important step in determining if a new battery is required.

Here, we take you through the best way to test a car battery – including home testing without a multimeter, the different types of testing you can undertake or arrange, and how often your battery should be tested.

What is the best way to test a car battery?

Empower Battery Co Car Battery Testing With Yellow Multimeter Device

The best and simplest way to test a car battery is using a multimeter, which is set to the DC voltage setting.

The Engineering Mindset provides a simple overview to testing a car battery in its video, How to test a car battery. The following voltage readings are reported as being significant:

  • When the car isn’t running: 12.6 volts is normal, below 12 volts means the battery is not functioning properly.
  • When the car is switched on: 11 volts is normal, below 10 volts means the battery is not functioning properly.
  • When the car is running: 14 volts is normal, below 10 volts means the battery is not functioning properly.

How often should I test my car battery?

You should test your car battery regularly – at least biannually – even when all seems okay. The best and most accurate way to do this by yourself is using a multimeter.

Even if you just sense something isn’t right, we recommend you call an expert, who will be able to delve deeper, using their professional skills and extensive knowledge, to identify the issue/s and provide a solid solution, including replacement, at a great rate!

What should I do with old batteries?

Old lead-acid car or vehicle batteries should be recycled. If you have such a battery at your home or in your garage, waiting to be thrown out, please drop it off at a place that accepts and collects these batteries for recycling.

There will hopefully be plenty of places in your area or one of our technicians can recycle for you when you get a battery replacement service.

Please do NOT discard of old lead-acid batteries in general or other waste.

These batteries are hazardous and can become a potential threat, not just to humans, but also to the environment. If lead-acid batteries end up in landfill, their toxic waste would be left to seep into the ground water below.

How can I test my car battery at home?

Some auto repair and maintenance providers offer virtual battery testers online, based on criteria such as your car’s year, model, and engine, as well as the region in which you do most of your driving. Through this information, they can predict how long your battery should last.

Of course, these virtual testers can’t see, smell, or hear what’s going on. It is still better to perform a practical test, where possible.

The most commonly used home car battery test involves the car headlights – if they are dim when the engine is running, this is a good indication of a flat car battery.

The general recommendation is that, if you think something may be wrong with your car battery, you appoint an expert to undertake a battery test and provide real advice based on real data – and human senses! Our experts have years of background knowledge and experience combined with all the right tools to do the job.

In the meantime, here are some useful signs for which to look out regarding your car battery’s health: dim headlights; a clicking sound and/or a slow crank when you turn the key; having to press on the accelerator to start the car; backfiring.

If you notice any or all of these ‘symptoms’, it is recommended that you stop driving the car and contact an expert, who can help with the battery testing, as well as providing a thorough check of all connected equipment to source the cause and offer a tangible, real solution – at a great price!

Car Headlight dimmed - testing a car battery
Headlights appear dim? It’s likely little or no charge is being produced.

How do you check a car battery without a multimeter?

The best way to check a car battery without a multimeter is by starting the car and turning on the headlights.

If they appear dim, this indicates the lights are running off the battery and that little or no charge is being produced by the alternator.

There are other types of testing you can undertake.

However, we recommend speaking with an expert if you have a real concern.

Are there different types of car battery testing?

The most efficient way to test a car battery is using a multimeter, which measures the battery’s voltage.

There are other tests that can be undertaken regarding the health of a car battery, such as the following test process that should be undertaken in consecutive stages:

  • visual inspections (for obvious issues);
  • recharging the battery to 100% state of charge; removing surface charge – the build-up of sulfuric acid and water along the surface of the plates (can take up to 12 hours, followed by 20 minutes of testing using headlights and a battery load tester);
  • measuring the state of charge (ensuring the battery is at the required temperature/s);
  • undertaking a load test (providing the battery is at least 75% charged);
  • undertaking a bounce back test, to measure the state of charge; and finally,
  • recharging the battery as soon as possible.

If everything seems ok after this process, it is likely your car battery is healthy.

If you believe there may be an issue with your car battery, then it is best, and safest, to bring in the experts who will guarantee the best value-for-money quality solution for you, for your car battery, and for the car itself.

Need an expert to help test your car battery?

We will undertake a thorough check of your car battery and the connected equipment, and help you find the safest most appropriate solution, all at a great price! Get a quote today!

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