How to Check Your Car Battery Voltage

You don’t need to be a mechanic to test your car battery in Slidell, Picayune, or St. Tammany Parish. You just need to read this quick guide from your friends at Honda of Slidell.

Following these steps on a regular basis can help you discover battery problems before you end up stranded somewhere. Read on to learn how to check your car battery voltage both with and without a multimeter and contact us with any questions!

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Using a Car Battery Tester

You’ll need a car battery testing tool called a multimeter in order to check your car battery voltage. This tool is an inexpensive and helpful addition to your garage. Once you have this tool, checking your car battery is pretty simple.

  1. Turn the car off. Make sure both the ignition and headlights are off. Then, pop the hood and locate your car battery.
  2. Set up your multimeter. Each tool is slightly different, but many test different types of current. To test a car battery, you’ll want to set your multimeter to DC or DCV for Direct Current Voltage. If there’s a voltage range, set it to 20 volts.
  3. Connect the probes. First, connect the red/positive cable to the red/positive battery terminal. Then, touch the black/negative probe to the black/negative battery terminal. If you connect each probe to the wrong terminal, you’ll get a negative reading.
  4. Check the voltage. A good car battery should read 12.4-12.9 volts when the car is off. Anything lower doesn’t necessarily mean the battery is bad. Your car’s electrical system may have drained it, or there may be an issue with your alternator. Recharge the battery and test it again later to see if it’s holding a charge.
  5. Do a load test. The next step in determining whether your battery is bad is performing a load test. Have a friend start the car while you watch the voltage on the multimeter. It should drop no more than two volts while the engine cranks. If it drops any more or dips below 9.5 volts, you need a new battery.

Additionally, once the engine is running, the battery should be receiving a charge from the alternator. Because of this, the multimeter should read between 13.8 and 14.5 volts when the engine is at idle. If it falls outside of this range, get your alternator checked.

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Testing Car Battery Without Multimeter

If you don’t have a multimeter, you won’t be able to accurately check your car battery’s voltage. However, there are still steps you can take to check the battery condition.

With the car turned off, turn your headlights on. Then, have a friend start the car-making sure it’s in park and the brake is on. Watch the headlights as the engine turns over. If they lose brightness while the engine is starting, there may not be enough charge in your battery. Take it to a service center for further testing.

Need Battery Service? Let Us Help

If your battery tests return less-than-ideal results, contact Honda of Slidell for further investigation. We can provide more specific tests and help you determine where the issue lies-whether it’s the battery, the alternator, or a parasitic draw.

If you need battery service in Slidell, Picayune, or St. Tammany Parish, schedule your appointment now!

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