Have an issue with starting your vehicle? This could be due to a bad battery. That's why you likely want to know how you can test your vehicle's battery and prevent problems from happening. Here are a few tips that can help you do it on your own.
Testing A Car Battery
The best way to test a car battery is with a multimeter. It is a very inexpensive tool that has multiple purposes, and it's incredibly simple to use.
Start by putting your multimeter into DC voltage mode, which will give you the proper reading you are looking for. Touch the black probe to the negative terminal, then touch the red probe to the positive terminal. If the battery is holding a proper charge, it should show a reading of around 12.6 volts when it is resting. If you are getting a reading of zero volts, it may be from touching the incorrect terminals.
It's also important to test the voltage while the vehicle is running. Do this by starting the vehicle and then testing the battery in the same manner, touching the negative terminal first followed by the positive terminal. The battery voltage should increase to around 13.5—14.5 volts, as the battery is now being charged by your vehicle's alternator.
Preventing Car Battery Problems
You may not be aware that having dirty battery terminals can lead to problems with other aspects of your vehicle. Those dirty terminals can cause the alternator to work harder than necessary to recharge your battery, which can actually cause the alternator to fail prematurely. That's why you want to inspect the corrosion on the battery terminals and clean off the corrosion when you see it. There are battery terminal cleaning kits that you can buy that give you all the tools and directions you need to clean those battery terminals.
Have a vehicle that you do not drive often at all, such as a vehicle at a second home that only gets used on vacation? You'll want to disconnect that battery when you're not using the vehicle, and move the battery to a place where there is a consistent temperature. This will prolong the life of the battery due to not exposing it to different temperatures. The alternative to disconnecting the battery is to use a battery blanket. You'll just need to remember to remove it before you next start up your vehicle.
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