Mechanic checking car battery voltage with digital multimeter

Steps to Test Car Battery With or Without Multimeter

In humans, the heart circulates the blood all over the body, just like that battery circulates electrical power to drive your car. On the average, the car battery lasts up to 3 to 5 years. Your driving habits can affect a lot of your car battery. Several factors can affect the car battery’s life such as excessive cold, vibrations, the alternator etc. before starting a car it is better to test the battery first.

Testing a car battery is a valuable skill that one save their time and money. You can test it with or without the use of a multimeter- A simple battery tester that measures the Volts, Amps and resistance from an electrical source. It simply tests the strength of the car battery. Here are few steps on how to measure a car battery’s life with or without a multimeter:

How to test car battery without Multimeter

Test Car Battery Without Tester

Performing a car battery test with a multimeter is the best option but not the only method. If you don’t have a multimeter or any other testing device on hand then there are few things to help you decide if the battery is working or not.

  1. Visual inspection

A visual inspection is necessary to make sure that the battery is not leaking or swollen, your battery should be in a perfectly squared box shape. Be on the lookout for any corrosion around each battery and each battery cable is connected tightly.

  1. Testing the battery

Start your car by turning on and off and switch on the headlights and leave them on for like 15 minutes.

  1. Crank-up the engine

Waiting for like 15 minutes after leaving headlights on, crank the engine and see what happens next. You need to keep an eye on each headlight. Problems such as headlights getting dimmer or turns off entirely, the engine takes a while to turn over, clicking noise can be there in the charging system then it is time for service.

If your car turns on fine and the headlights aren’t dimming, that means the car battery is working just fine.

How to test a car battery with a Multimeter

Test Car Battery With Tester

A multimeter is one of the common ways that people test their car battery. There are many testers such as Voltmeter or power probe. However, a multimeter is best since a voltmeter or power probe has its limitations. Before testing your car battery with the multimeter here are few things to keep in mind:

  • Wearing rubber gloves and goggles when working on your battery will protect your skin and eyes from battery acid.
  • If your battery has plastic caps, then use a hydrometer to test the car battery instead of a multimeter.

The process of a testing car battery with a multimeter is simple just by following these steps:-

  1. Getting rid of surface charge from the battery

For the first step turn your headlights on for two minutes. Don’t turn your car on just headlights it needs to test the car battery’s resting voltage or else you can get the wrong reading as the battery is still holding a charge from the alternator.

  1. Quick visual inspection

A quick visual inspection is done while you are waiting with headlights on, look out for any corrosion in the battery. The corrosion can be a reason behind the problem in the battery, it looks like white or yellow.

If you identify the corrosion you need to clean that off with a battery cleaning solution such as sandpaper, baking soda and water etc. while you are checking the battery then double-check the battery cable are correctly fastened. If the whole battery is corroded, then it is better to replace the car battery.

  1. Set up multimeter

The next step is to set up the multimeter to test the car battery voltage, adjust about 20V of DC voltage. Setting up 20V isn’t but it should be above 15V to get a correct reading.

  1. Connect the multimeter

Touch the digital multimeter to the corresponding points of the battery. Connect the negative point on the multimeter to the negative terminal of the battery and just like that connect the positive point on the multimeter to the positive terminal of the battery.

  1. Check the display of the multimeter

The multimeter will highlight your car battery’s voltage as being between 12.5V to 12.6V, the outside temperature and the type of battery will affect the battery voltage.

For example, at 30◦F the battery voltage will be around 12.58V and 12.51V. Multimeter displays the battery’s voltage as anything between 12.3V to 12.5V, it could use a charge. Below 12.2V suggests the battery’s resting voltage is weak and you’ll need car battery replacement.

  1. Turn the car on

When you turn your car on the voltage reading should change, but it should go below 10V if it does that means the battery isn’t producing enough voltage energy. If there is a sudden drop in the voltage that means it is time to purchase a new battery.


Your car battery has a limited lifespan and it shows many signs of failure like a slow engine starting, dim lights, clicking noise and battery light on the dash which means it’s time to check your battery. Your car is indicating such problems then it is better to test out your car battery.

Is there a problem with your car battery? If yes, then we got your back. Swift Battery Specialist provides quick service of car battery replacement under 24 hours in Singapore, our experts will arrive at your location in 30 minutes and fix any battery problems within 10 minutes. Call us immediately on +6588589959.