How Many Volts Does It Take To Start A Car?

The motor vehicle industry is one area that I find interesting. Over the past few decades, this industry has been experiencing tremendous changes. Every year, new vehicle models with a sleek design hit the industry intending to quench people’s thirst for beautiful cars. Today, owning a car is less of a hustle. You don’t have to experience the struggles that were in the past when starting the vehicle, for example.

Today’s vehicle models come fitted with a ‘push to start button’ which means the owner doesn’t have to move around with keys in the pocket. Such advancements have made owning the ride an easy undertaking. Whether it’s the sleek and latest vehicle models or the old rides, you will need a battery to get it started. When it comes to the world of cells, many people are yet to understand the basic functionality.

For instance many people are always asking, how many volts does it take to start a car? You will need about 9.6 to 10 volts to get a car started. However, this rating is dependent on many factors, such as the temperature. The 10 volts is the electromotive force your alternator needs to get the car moving.

How Do I Check the Car’s Battery Voltage?

Now that you know the number of volts needed to start your fancy car, you are probably wondering how you can measure the battery’s voltage. To test the voltage, we perform a process famously known as ‘testing the load.’ There are several ways you can check the load of your battery. But, you must know that guessing isn’t among the many options.

The first and most commonly used testing method is using a voltmeter. You must have heard about a voltmeter in your science class. Well, this is where you can apply the gadget. A voltmeter is a device that you can connect to the connector ports of the car’s battery to give the potential difference of the attached battery.

Key points to remember when using a voltmeter to measure the battery’s voltage are;

• Always use the device even if you feel like you’re a battery expert
• Turn off the engine correctly before attaching the voltmeter
• Ensure that the alternator isn’t elevated or in a rising state

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Measure the Battery’s Voltage

1. Attach the voltmeter to the battery’s terminals
2. Crank up the engine
3. Check the voltmeter reading
4. Sustain the cranking time for about fifteen seconds

During this period, the voltage readings should be about 9.6 volts, or above. A voltage rating of about 9.6 volts is relatively good when it comes to the number of volts needed to start the car.

What if the Voltmeter Reading Goes below 9.6 Volts?

When it comes to batteries and the voltage ratings, 13.7 to 14.7 is the recommended rating. Battery experts often term it as the perfect rating and an indication that your battery is in a healthy condition. But, what happens if the voltmeter reading goes below the standard figure needed to start a car.

If the voltmeter records a voltage rating of less 9.6 volts, there are two common reasons, which are:

1. Cold Temperatures

Cases of low-voltage batteries are common during the cold seasons. From an expert’s point of view, the standard temperature for the cells is usually 70 degrees or anything above that. Any temperature reading below 70 degrees affects the battery’s voltage.

Cold temperatures interfere with a battery’s fundamental performance. The cold season makes the battery sluggish during ignition. The slow cranking is because the battery is known to have to too much internal buildup and as a result, the lower voltages.

If this is your scenario, don’t freak out because you can’t control the weather. The only thing you can do is to ensure that you take the necessary precautions needed to maintain your car’s battery during the cold weather.

2. Your Battery is Spoilt

Everything has a beginning and the end. Your car’s battery isn’t exceptional. Recording a lower voltage reading can be a good indication that your battery has a problem. The reading should act as a reminder that something needs to be done about your car’s battery. Unless you don’t mind disappointments, the lower readings should tell you that it’s time to replace your car’s battery.

Your car needs a battery to start. Besides, it does help with providing the power needed to run items such as radios, TVs, and dash cams, attached to the car. The fact that they are crucial means that they are expensive. Therefore, the decision to replace one isn’t a thing to do overnight.

What Does it Mean When Your Car Has Low Voltage?

You need to evaluate the component to ensure that replacement is the only option. Apart from the low voltage, there are signs you can check on the battery to tell you that its life is over.

The symptoms include:

1. A Swollen Battery Casing

In a lead-acid battery, the electrical power is derived from the chemical reactions taking place in the enclosed housing. At times, things can go south with the chemical reactions and thus the swelling. The swelling of your battery’s casing should be a sign that you need to replace the battery because it’s hard to recover.

2. Slow Engine Cranks or the Engine won’t Start

A slow start is the most common sign of a dying battery. As said earlier, the battery’s primary job is to ignite the engine. Therefore, a slow crank should be an indication that the battery is done with the service.

However, slow cranks may be associated with other mechanical problem. Hence, you can confirm with your mechanic to ensure that it’s the battery that has a problem.

3. Dim Headlights

Your car’s battery is also responsible for powering the headlights. Dim headlights, therefore, means that the lights aren’t getting sufficient power they need to shine bright as they should. If you notice that your headlights are going dim with time, you should consider a replacement.

4. Blinking of the Dashboard Warning Light

Most modern vehicles are advanced technologically. For example, these cars come fitted with a dashboard warning light to inform the driver of any complications. If you’re lucky to own a decent car, the battery’s warning sign may start to blink whenever a replacement is needed. You must never ignore the warning sign as it may cost you more when undermined.


According to many drivers, starting a car is as simple as inserting a key in the keyhole and turning. Well, that’s how technology has made work more comfortable. Today’s cars come fitted with a ‘push to start button’ which is even better.

Either way, your vehicle requires a certain amount of voltage to start the engine. By reading this article, you will learn that the car needs about 10 volts to bring the engine back to life. Besides, the article explains what may see the engine’s voltage move below the standard rating. Read through the entire piece to understand the concept from a professional’s point of view.

1. Dead Car Battery? Cold Weather, Electronics Could Be Your Problem – Patch
2. How does cold weather affect your car battery? – The NRMA
3. Beware These 6 Signs Your Car battery Is About To Die – Auto Junkyard Milwaukee