When you want to make your car run, what's the first thing that comes to mind? You guessed it! A healthy battery.
The best way for your car to have a long life is by taking care of its battery, that’s why it’s a crucial step to routinely check your battery’s voltage.
Checking the state of charge of a car battery is vital to avoid problems in your vehicle. Because of this, regular battery maintenance should always be on your priority list especially if you use it on a daily basis. However, some people ignore it for a long time — not until they notice an issue with their cars.
But even if you're not experiencing any issues, it's smart to take readings and make sure that everything is in order. A high or low voltage can mean serious problems with your engine and electrical system. In this article, you will learn how to properly check your car battery voltage with or without using a multimeter. By following the instructions below, it will help you determine your battery’s problems ahead of time.
But First, How Many Volts Should a Well-Conditioned Car Battery Have?
The voltage of a well-conditioned car battery will vary depending on the temperature, the number of days it has been in storage, and even its design.
A healthy and perfectly working car battery should have at least 12.6 to 12.9 volts. But to get a really accurate reading, the car battery must be in a “resting voltage”. To achieve this, it’s best to leave the car overnight and check the battery health before using the car in the morning.
However, if you can’t wait overnight and need to test the battery after a drive, let it sit for at least an hour before doing so. It may not be as perfectly accurate but it will still reach the resting voltage phase.
In addition, the voltage of a well-conditioned car battery will vary depending on the temperature, the number of days it has been in storage, and even its design.
Utilizing a Multimeter to Check the Battery Voltage
A multimeter or a battery tester is needed to check the precise voltage of your car battery. This item is relatively cheap and is a very useful tool for car owners and enthusiasts. Listed below are the steps to check your car battery's voltage using a multimeter:
- Make sure to let the car battery attain its resting voltage or has been on "idle mode" by letting the car rest for a minimum of one hour.
- To be able to check your car battery voltage, set the multimeter’s voltage range to 20 volts. Otherwise, if there’s no voltage range in your multimeter you need to set it to Direct Current Voltage (DCV) or DC.
- This step should be done properly because connecting it to the wrong terminal will lead to a negative reading (ex. -12.6 instead of 12.6). First, connect the red cable to the positive (+) battery terminal and the black cable to the negative (-) battery terminal.
- The car battery should have a reading of 12.6 to 12.9 volts. Ideally, it should not be lower than 12.6 but that doesn’t automatically mean that the battery has gone bad. However, please keep in mind that if it’s below 12 volts then it’s completely discharged and 12.2 volts when it’s only 50%.
- The final step is the load test. The battery’s performance in this test will determine whether it needs to be replaced. Start the car and examine the voltage reading that will appear on the multimeter. If you happen to see it drop below the 9.5-volt mark, you need to get a new car battery.
Testing the Car Battery Voltage Without Using Multimeter
It is actually not possible to get an accurate result without using a multimeter to check your car battery’s voltage. However, there’s still a way to check it without using the tool. This tip will come in handy when you’re about to head out for a trip or if you need to do a quick check to see if it’s still performing well.
First, turn the car off and turn on your headlights. Start the car while making sure that the brake is on. Second, watch the headlights’ brightness attentively and if they don’t reach a stable brightness while you start the engine, your car battery might not have enough charge to function well. If this happens, it’s best to find the nearest service centre to get the car battery checked thoroughly.