How Do You Check Your Car Battery Voltage?

Checking the car voltage

For an everyday driver or a car owner, keeping the vehicle’s battery in top shape is a priority to reduce the risk of suffering from a dead car battery. A very frustrating issue that may leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. And one way of making sure that car battery is in a condition is by conducting voltage checks.

There are two ways on how you can check the auto battery voltage and both of them will provide you the accurate results that you need to see if your automotive battery still has charge left in it.

This useful and simple guide will teach you how to conduct both methods of checking the voltage of a car battery. It will also provide you a simple guide on how to check the battery if it still has charge without the materials that you need to conduct the two traditional methods used for checking the battery if it still has charge.

With the information on this article, you will have the proper knowledge and the means to make sure that your car battery is in top shape and if the battery needs to be reconditioned or be replaced.

Before we go to the steps how to conduct the tests, we first have to be familiar with the two traditional methods on how to check the voltage of the car battery.

And to do this, you can check the information below!

The Two Traditional Methods On Checking The Battery Voltage

There are two ways on how to test the condition of a car battery and see if it still has a charge left in it. These two methods use different instruments, but they are both proven to deliver accurate results.

The first method of checking the battery voltage by using a voltmeter or multimeter and the second method is by using a hydrometer.

Both of these methods are used by auto mechanics and car experts, and you can also use them keep a check on your automotive batteries.

Allowing you to keep track of their conditions and make sure to keep them in top shape to consistently provide you with the optimum performance that you need.

The Simple Way Of Knowing If Your Battery Still Charged

If you don’t have a voltmeter, a multimeter or a hydrometer, don’t lose hope because there is still a way on how to check your battery if it still has charge. This is by doing a simple light check which can be done by simply starting your engine and turning your headlights on.

Once you’ve done this, you will observe the brightness of your lights and check your observation. If the headlight is dim, that means that they are not running through the car’s battery and the alternator is not producing enough power to charge the battery.

If the brightness of the light is normal and it gets brighter if the engine is revved up, it means that the alternator is producing power but still not enough to charge the battery.
And if the headlight has normal brightness and does not change while revving up the engine, then that means that it runs through your battery which is a good sign.

Using A Voltmeter Or Multimeter

tools to check the car voltageNow that you are familiar with the methods that you can use to check the car battery voltage, you are now ready to learn how to do them. Let’s start with the method that uses the multimeter or voltmeter.

But first, you have to keep in mind that if you are going to use a multimeter, you have to configure it read the voltage.

Step 1 – Setting Up Your Instrument

To conduct this process, the first step that you have to take is to make the necessary adjustments to your instrument. Set it up to read up to 20 DC or direct current voltage to make sure that you will find an accurate reading.

Step 2 – Connecting The Negative And Positive Probes To The Battery

Once you configured the instrument that you will use for conducting the test, you can now proceed to this step. The step where you are going to connect the probes of your instrument to the respective terminals of the battery. In this step, you have to make sure that you are to link the positive probe to the positive port of the power cell as well as the other, another probe to the negative battery port.

Step 3 – Providing The Car Battery A Light Load To Get A Reading

The following is to provide a light load on the battery to get a reading on your voltmeter or multimeter. You can do this by asking an assistant to turn on the headlights of the car. That way the battery will have a light load and will be required to produce power.

Step 4 – Get The Reading And Compare The Results Listed Below

Finally, you can get the reading on your instrument and then compare it to the results listed below. This is where you will determine if the battery still has charge left and see if it needs to be reconditioned or replaced.

You can compare the reading you got to the ones listed below:

● 12.5 V or Higher – The battery has a good charge which is 76% or higher
● 11.9 V – 12.3 V – The battery still has a charge of 26% – 75%
● 11.8 V or Lower – The battery has 25%, or less charge or it can be dead

Related Article: How To Use A Multimeter To Test A Car Battery?

Checking The Battery Voltage With A Hydrometer

You already learned how to conduct the battery test using a multimeter or voltmeter. Now you will learn how to conduct the test using a hydrometer which is the second traditional method that car experts and auto mechanics use. This test is also called Electrolyte Gravity Test so that you can be familiar with it, by the way.

So let’s get started!

Step 1 – Preparing The Battery For The Test To Be Conducted

To conduct the electrolyte gravity test on your car power cell, the first thing you have to do is to prepare it. To this, you have to remove the plastic caps of the battery cells. It will allow you to get it ready for the following step. Be sure to wear goggles and protective gloves for safety.

Step 2 – Submerging The Tip Of The Hydrometer To The Cells Of The Battery

After the plastic caps of each battery cells are removed, you can now do the next step which is to submerge the tip of the instrument (hydrometer) to the cells. Of course, you have to do it one by one, and you will start on the first cell. After submerging the tip, you have to squeeze the bulb of the hydrometer. Remember, you have to this step to every cell of the battery.

Step 3 – Releasing The Bulb Of The Instrument To Get The Reading Needed

To get a reading on your hydrometer, you will have to release the bulb of the device. It will allow the electrolyte to enter the needle of the device where you can get the reading. This is the third step of the process where it will allow you to get the accurate reading that you need for comparing the results.

Step 4 – Getting The Reading For Each And Take Notes Of Every Reading

Finally, you have to check your instrument and then take note of the specific gravity reading on every cell of the battery. Then take these readings and compare the results you will get on the instructions of the device manual of your hydrometer.

To make it easier for you, you can compare your result below:

● 1.265 – 1.299 – The battery has a good charge
● 1.264 and below – The battery has less charge, but it can be fixed by a trickle charge
● If the reading has 25 – 50 difference – The battery can be sulfated and needs to be reconditioned or replaced


There you go! That is how to check the car battery voltage. Both of the methods above will help you check if your car battery is still charged. It will also help you keep it in top shape to allow you to get the optimum performance that you need. So if you plan to check the voltage of the car battery yourself, make sure to keep this information in mind, and it will save you a lot of money in the future.