How to Test a Car Battery

Battery installed
Battery installed

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing your car’s battery every three to five years. How the battery is utilized during its life will determine its durability. Alternate components that may be failing can also affect the battery’s lifespan.

If your car’s alternator is failing, it will not be able to charge the battery properly, which will reduce the battery’s lifespan.

How to Test a Car Battery

What Is the Typical Battery Lifespan?

Most automotive batteries survive between four and five years before they must be changed. Some automotive batteries may live fewer than four years, however this is typically due to a faulty battery or other charging system components.

Because of how they are manufactured, the environment in which automobile batteries are used has an effect on them. Automobile batteries contain acid and water and are sensitive to heat and cold.

If it is consistently hot where you reside, the interior components of your automobile battery may degrade more quickly. Once a single battery cell is compromised, the entire battery must be replaced.

Suppose you live in a climate that is consistently cold or has extremely frigid winters. This can potentially negatively impact your car’s battery. In frigid circumstances, your vehicle must exert more effort to start.

This is due to the fact that automotive batteries perform less efficiently in extremely cold settings and lose some power. When it is extremely cold outside, it is more difficult to start your engine because the engine oil becomes more viscous and makes the engine more difficult to spin.

When To Replace a Car Battery – How Do I Know If My Battery Is Dying?

Your vehicle’s battery may not exhibit any warning signs prior to abruptly failing. Automobile batteries can also gradually deteriorate over time. When this occurs, it will take more and longer to start your automobile, until it will no longer start at all.

How Can You Tell When Your Car’s Battery Will Die?

Typically, car batteries will exhibit warning signals before they fail. When my auto battery was failing and it was chilly outdoors, it became increasingly difficult to start my vehicle. Eventually, on a particularly chilly day, my car would not start, and I needed a jump start.

When your automobile begins to have difficulty starting, you likely have an issue with your car’s battery or alternator. You can also test the voltage of your car’s battery to ensure it is properly charged.

How Can I Perform a Home Battery Test?

In order to test your automobile battery, you would first need a multimeter to determine how much voltage is stored in the battery. Your vehicle’s battery should be charged to 12.6 volts with the engine off. If your car’s battery voltage is below 12.6 volts, this indicates a problem with either the battery or alternator. To rule out this possibility, you can drive your vehicle to a nearby auto parts store to have the battery examined.

When the engine is running and the alternator is actively charging the battery, the voltage should be between 13.7 and 14.7 volts. If the result is below or over 13.7-14.7 volts, then your alternator is likely malfunctioning. Your alternator should be charging your vehicle’s battery within this range; otherwise, you will experience issues.

When my car’s alternator started failing, I could only measure 12.5 volts when the engine was running. My car eventually became unable to start because the battery was not being charged properly. A reading above 14.7 volts is also undesirable since it indicates that the alternator is overcharging the battery, which can be detrimental to the battery over time.

Date of Battery Manufacture

When selecting a car battery, it is important to consider the date of manufacturing. There are occasions when automobile batteries languish on the shelves for months or even a year prior to being purchased.

This implies that while the battery may be brand new to you and your vehicle, it may have sat on the shelves for a year, diminishing its useful life. The average lifespan of a car battery is between three and five years, regardless of whether the battery is utilized or not.