How to Test a Car Battery with a Multimeter
Want to check your automobile battery but unsure of the way to do it? This guide shows you ways with
a multimeter. So, you’re unsure if your automobile battery is working? Well, there are few
things more frustrating than your battery dying within the middle of a road trip. Fortunately,
with a multimeter you’ll be ready to check its status and if it needs repair.
Your automobile battery is important to propel the starter and obtain the engine revved up. If
you propose on going somewhere, consider sparing a couple of minutes to see your automobile battery.
With a multimeter, you’ll be ready to do that quickly and accurately.
Step 1. Find the automobile battery
Lift the hood and appearance under the engine compartment. Most car batteries are stored
there, but in some cars the battery is within the trunk. Check your car manual for information.
Step 2. Check the battery terminals
Once you discover the battery, inspect the cables and terminals for signs of injury or
corrosion. One sure sign of corrosion may be a yellowish green crust. you’ve got to urge obviate this
first because it might affect the multimeter readings.
Step 3. Remove corrosion
If there’s corrosion, use a terminal brush and battery terminal cleaner to get rid of it.
Clean thoroughly before proceeding.
Step 4. Secure the cables
Check for any loose cables. Tighten any loose ones you see. Use a 5/16-inch nut or a
Philips screwdriver to tighten the cables. ask your car owner’s manual for any
specific tightening tools recommended.
Step 5. Ready the multimeter
Insert the test leads within the proper multimeter jacks. Insert the graphite within the COM
connector. The red test lead goes into the connector with the label amps, ohms and
volts. don’t use the 10A jack / connector if your multimeter comes with one.
Step 6. Set the multimeter to volts DC
When the test leads are in situ , adjust the multimeter dial so it’s at 20 VDC. An
alternative is to seek out the closest current option above 14 V. If you can’t find the direct
current, search for a line with a solid line above it. that’s the symbol for DC.
don’t choose an AC or AC . The symbol for the AC on multimeters may be a
squiggly line with variety over it.
Step 7. Read the multimeter
check out the multimeter display. it’ll say 0.00.
Step 8. Test your automobile battery
Now that your multimeter is prepared , it’s time to check your automobile battery .
- If you haven’t done so already, turn your car’s engine off. Testing together with your car running will affect the reading because the alternator interferes with the multimeter.
- Put the minimum on the battery terminal marked red or positive.
- Put the graphite on the battery terminal marked black or negative.
- Check your multimeter reading.
- If the display states 12.4 VDC, it means the battery is charged fully.
- If the display reads 12.2. VDC, the battery is charged at 50%.
- Any reading under 12 VDC indicates the battery is dead.
- A traditional automobile battery usually features a 12.6 VDC because it is that the sum of half a dozen 2.1-volt internal cells.
Step 9. Start your car’s engine
Ask someone to start out the car’s engine while you retain an eye fixed on the multimeter. The V
reading shouldn’t go under 10.0 as long because the key remains within the starting position.
If the multimeter states anything below 10.0 VDC, it means your automobile battery is unable to
generate sufficient current to deal with the motor’s present draw.
Step 10. Turn the car engine off
If you turned the car on, turn the engine off now. Find the battery cable terminal end
and put the multimeter test lead there.
Read the multimeter display. It should be around 0.1 volt of the very best reading listed in
Use a Multimeter to see for A battery Leak
A leak is one of the leading causes of batteries suddenly suffering damage. Sometimes
visual inspection isn’t sufficient and you’ll need the best multimeter to assist you out.
As acid and dirt accumulates across and over the terminal, the charge starts to leak. You
can use a multimeter to see if there’s a leak on your automobile battery .
- Turn your multimeter on.
- Activate your multimeter and set it to voltage.
- Let the meter black probe make contact with the battery negative terminal.
- Let the red probe make contact with the battery cover.
- If there’s even the lightest voltage registered, there’s a leak.
Check the Status of Your battery terminals
Loose, corroded and otherwise dirty battery makes it difficult for a car to start out , if not
impossible. this is often also one among the foremost common reasons why batteries suddenly go
dead. However, this is often a drag that’s easy to identify if you’ve got a voltmeter or better yet,
within the following steps you’ll take a glance at the battery terminals and check for signs of
Step 1. Turn the ignition off
There are two ways to try to to this. the primary is to get rid of or relay the fuel pump fuse. The
second is to disconnect the induction coil . Either of the 2 methods will prevent the
engine from running.
Step 2. Connect the probes with the battery terminals
almost like the steps earlier, touch the red probe of your multimeter to the positive
battery post. Touch the black probe onto the battery post’s cable terminal.
Step 3. Start the engine
Turn the engine on and skim the multimeter display. If the meter reads 0.5 V it means
the battery terminals and post got to be checked and possibly cleaned.
Step 4. Check the opposite battery terminal
Get your multimeter black probe and make contact with the battery post’s negative part.
Now get the red probe and let that make contact with the cable terminal linked to the
same battery post. this is often an equivalent as within the previous step, only the probes are
Step 5. Turn the car engine on
Turn the car engine on and skim the multimeter display. If it reads 0.5 volts, clean the
battery and appearance for signs of injury .
Keep a automobile battery in fine condition
A multimeter may be a handy tool in determining if there’s something wrong together with your car
battery. However, you’ll also d your part by performing regular maintenance on your
automobile battery . this could only take 10 minutes.
- Things You’ll Need
- Set of wrenches
- Cable puller
- Multimeter side terminal or post cleaner.
- These are all available in-car part shops.
Step 1. pack up the cable corrosion
Start from the highest of the battery and go around to the cables. Use a post cleaner for this.
you’ll use a automobile battery corrosion cleaning kit or mix a non-metallic finish, a cup of
water and a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda . fail down with water, preferably cool.
Loose the clamp bolts on the cable and twist it a touch . If it won’t come off, use a cable
puller. Or if you bought a side post terminal, a 5/16” wrench will do. Use a post cleaner to
remove any longer corrosion you see.
Step 2. Assess the electrolyte level
If the battery requires water, confirm to use only distilled, clean water. Don’t allow the
cells to spill over.
Carefully remove battery cell covers. You’ll see the mixture and water is about half an
inch deep. Again, confirm the water doesn’t overflow if you add more.
Replace the battery if there’s a crack as that can’t and will be repaired. Allow the
water and electrolyte mixture to accept a couple of hours.
Step 3. Check the battery condition and charge
Test the electrolyte cell by squeezing the hydrometer ball, pulling the answer on the brink of
the tester. Grab the test level, note of the reading and send the answer back in
When testing cell electrolytes, confirm you hold the tester level carefully and take
note of the reading. make sure the answer is squirted within the same cell. Testers have
been calibrated with the idea the battery is 80 F.
Add .04 for every reading per 10 degrees that it’s above 80 F. Deduct .04 for each 10
degrees below 80 F. If the cell reading deviates by .05 or greater, you would like a replacement car
a totally charged battery should read 1.265 a minimum of . Any reading of 1.200 or lower means
the battery should get replaced .
Do these on a daily basis and you’ll never be caught unaware if there’s a drag
together with your automobile battery .
Automobile battery Electrical Faults
tons of cars today have alarms or computers which will detect if there’s an electrical
problem with the automobile battery . If your car doesn’t have one and you’re concerned
a few power drain, buy a DC amp meter. These are easy to use as you only got to put
the sensor clips On the battery cable and check the results.
Additional automobile battery Maintenance Tips
Check the water level of the battery every 2 or 3 months, but as long as it’s a voltaic cell
battery that’s not maintenance free. If you’ve got an AGM battery, they rarely if ever need
water and will not be opened. you’ll check the mixture level by pulling up the fill
- Clean the battery terminals every 6 to eight months with a wire brush. To clean:
- Take the connectors off. Move the side of the connector to the side and provides it with a soft pull.
- Dip the wire brush during a paste made from water and bicarbonate of soda.
- Brush the terminal until the acid build-up has disappeared.
Tips and Warnings
- confirm the multimeter leads have firmly assailed the battery.
- Search for signs of loose connections and other problems before employing a multimeter. That could be causing the matter with the battery.
- Keep your clothing and body far away from the engine compartment fan shroud. Sometimes
they automatically activate and should cause injury.
- Never use your multimeter 10A connector to see voltage. Doing so might damage the
fuse and other components.
- Only use terminal spreaders to expand the terminal connectors.
- Check the cell voltage together with your multimeter whenever you’ve got car care. As
mentioned earlier, the perfect reading is 12.6 volts, but it can change by counting on the
status of your car.
- Some cars have A battery insulator et al. don’t. If your car has one, check it on a
- don’t start your car if it’s connected to a charging cable. Doing so increases the danger of a
power surge or the battery shorting out.
- don’t use a multimeter if it’s raining and there’s lightning. The lightning could strike the
battery and cause serious injury.
- Never use an automobile battery if it’s heavily corroded and shows signs of heavy damage.
- don’t plan to open the battery or tinker with the opposite settings under the hood if
you’re conversant in them.
- Wear gloves and safety goggles whenever you employ your multimeter.
Inspecting your automobile battery isn’t as complicated as some think. All you would like is that the right
tool and you’ll find out if the battery is prepared or not. The time you spend inspecting
your automobile battery with a multimeter can make the difference between a frustrating and
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