How To Check Your Car Battery Is In Good Condition

Posted on September 11th, 2012 in Random Thoughts by Stephanie

This weekend I’m finally getting to take a much needed break and will drive up to Newcastle to pay a visit to my old university and the city where I spent 4 fantastic years. It’s been nearly 10 years since I was last there so I’m excited to see how much it’s changed but not so excited about the 5 hour drive ahead! :S

So I’ve got my music and snacks sorted for the journey, nearly finished packing, checked my car tyres and last but not least I’ve inspected my car battery to check that it is in good condition for the road. Most people probably don’t pay too much attention to their car battery as long as everything seems to be working fine but it’s really important to check car batteries before going on a long journey because you don’t want to find yourself stranded along the way!

For those of you who are not familiar with how to check your car battery, what you need to do is first check the battery for any corrosion or stains as this may mean that you have a leak and should probably replace your battery. You should also have a look at the battery case and the terminals to see if there are any cracks or damage to the terminals in which case you should also replace the battery. Corrosion on your car battery terminals can prevent your car from starting so if you see any corrosion stains, they can be cleaned by using a brush dipped in baking soda mixed with water. The battery cables and clamps need to be examined as well, to see whether they are frayed or corroded. If so, the cables and clamps need to be replaced.

To check the battery performance you will need a voltmeter to measure the voltage. First turn the engine off, attach the voltmeter to the battery terminals and the reading on the voltmeter should be around 12 volts. Next get someone to start the car whilst you measure the voltage of the battery. If the reading drops below 10 volts then the battery doesn’t really have sufficient current to start the car and will probably not last much longer.

The charging voltage of the battery should also be measured to test to see if the charging system is working correctly. To do this, run the car for around 20 minutes so that the battery is suffiently charged and then use the voltmeter to measure the voltage at the battery terminals. This should be around 14 volts. If it is less than 14 volts this may show that your charging system is not working properly and there may be a problem with the alternator which is what keeps the battery continually charged. Anything over 14 volts means you should get someone to check that the voltage regulator in your alternator is working as this is what shuts off the flow of juice to your battery if the voltage goes above a certain level and therefore keeps your battery from getting overcharged and damaged.

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27 Comments »

Comment by otomoto
2012-09-11 14:24:56

I think yours sugesttions are quite good, thank you, I must check it in the practise :-)

 
Comment by Ted Hall
2012-09-13 07:26:09

thank you for this information. we are having issues with a car right now and I have never used a voltmeter before. I will have to try this out!

 
Comment by Willy Lopez
2012-09-14 06:28:58

Nice tips Stephanie,very helpfull.I personally don’t know nothing about cars but is always good to know basic things like check the batery or the oil.Have a good trip, by the way.

 
Comment by Domenic De Giorgio
2012-09-15 06:54:08

Thanks for your great tips on this. I usually don’t pay attention to these small things. But you have a lot of ‘do-it-yourself’ tips in this post. I’m sure that I’ll give it a try at least once. Most of us don’t know how to maintain the car. We depend a little too much on the garage. This will let me know at least the basics of maintaining my car battery.

 
Comment by Jeff
2012-09-15 21:56:56

I bought 3 new batteries for my car before one worked!

 
Comment by Kevin
2012-09-16 00:31:35

Thanks for this, I have a gut feeling that my battery is going to give me issues with fall coming up so this is helpful to be prepared! Car knowledge isn’t my strong point, sadly.

 
Comment by CiCi
2012-09-16 12:03:39

Thank you, neither me or my man is any good at cars and so we need all the help we can get. The battery is pretty old and we have problems with it and by what you say it must be replaced. Gah, technology..

 
Comment by Peter
2012-09-18 04:21:23

Checking your car batteries is not a difficult task. It needs some basic knowledge. First of all you must see if the battery has any corrosion or leak , if present you need to replace it. Then check the battery case and terminals, if there are cracks and damages then it must be changed. The performance of the battery can also be measured using a voltmeter. The blog also tells you how you can check the charging voltage of the battery. You must know all this as if your car batteries give way when you are on your way to a vacation, you can at least help yourself.

 
Comment by Lina
2012-09-18 08:42:47

Great tips. Usually we end up spending so much money only because we did not check our car engine or battery on time. With these tips, it will be easier to do a small check and determine if your car needs to go to the service station or not. Thanks for sharing.

 
Comment by Jack
2012-09-20 03:52:20

Thank you for sharing this. One can never be too confident about their car. These tips that you gave will go a long way in enabling people to check their vehicles. Now, you also know what signs you are supposed to look for which will tell you that something is wrong with your battery.

 
Comment by Ben
2012-09-23 23:21:54

Just had to get my car battery replaced, it’s a pain! Good to keep an eye on, good tips.

 
Comment by Sam
2012-09-26 13:58:17

Awesome! I agree that you really have to check not only your battery but even your engine and the whole condition of your car from time to time to make sure that it won’t break down while you’re on the road.

 
Comment by vet in Tampa
2012-09-28 13:59:29

A lot of people do not pay enough attention to good battery care in their car. Thanks for here giving a very good and easy to understand overview of what needs to be checked to be sure the car battery and associated parts are working well.

 
Comment by Lux Limo
2012-10-01 10:48:28

Great post – very useful information to have – sharing :)

 
Comment by Apple Mac Specs
2012-10-01 17:06:43

A great post. Wasn’t aware that you could check to voltage for such a fluctuation while starting the engine. A great way to see if the battery’s nearly drained.

 
Comment by Soft Kiss
2012-10-03 09:43:30

I wonder how long does a car battery last? I think mine is approaching 7 years in December.

 
Comment by pcos diet plan
2012-10-08 03:29:05

I didn’t know this. Thanks for sharing. Another thing I can check without paying someone else to do it. :)

 
Comment by Funny Tshirts
2012-10-08 05:59:29

You can normally tell when they’re on the way out, checking the fluid levels inside the battery is probably the major thing – if you let it drop too low you can permanently kill the battery.

 
Comment by Funny Tshirts
2012-10-08 06:00:18

Remember to check your fluid levels in the cells!

 
Comment by bendaniel
2012-10-08 12:26:33

Nice! on track, if all car owner are away of this, it will be of great relief to us.

 
2012-10-10 17:40:43

Good advice here. Already the nights are drawing in and the sheen of dew and condensation covers the car in the morning – it is the right time to get your batter checked. it’s no fun waiting for the AA to come to on a freezing morning when you car won’t start – and the look of contempt they give for being such an idiot as to let your battery run down!

 
Comment by Zvi
2012-10-12 06:44:53

When you are traveling long distance, it is important that your car is perfectly alright and can cover that much distance without having any problem in between. If you are traveling alone then it is even more important to make sure that your car is in good condition because you never can predict what will happen next, all you can do is be careful and hope everything will be alright.

 
Comment by Jack
2012-10-12 07:35:47

I think most car batteries last between 4 and 5 years. In hot climates, they may only last about 3 years. If you charge your battery and find that it won’t hold a charge while your car isn’t running, replace the battery. I will try your method, thanks for sharing this useful blog.

 
Comment by Paul
2012-10-16 04:40:42

Nice tips and this article has given me quite useful insights.I will have to try this out because this will be beneficial to me and I wont have to dependent on my car mechanic everytime whenever I decide to take a drive with my friends.I personally don’t know much about cars but it is always good to know about basic things like check the battery or the oil tank.

 
2012-10-17 12:51:17

This just happened to me a few days ago, the terminals got extremely corroded and blocked the connection to the battery. I went to the store and grabbed new connectors and a wire brush and a neutralizer spray to help knock off the corrosion. Everything is working fine now for the time being, thanks for the tips!

 
Comment by Info
2012-10-18 03:27:23

Thanks for sharing! i can definitely use that information for next time, and then i won’t have to get back home in someone else’s car next time my car stops starting.

 
Comment by Freya
2012-11-16 17:16:29

Thanks for the advise, I do not know anything about cars & am a total disaster on that topic but will definitely try it next time I have issues with my battery.

 
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