How Do You Test Car Battery with Multimeter?

Digital Multimeter, Crenova MS8233D Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeters Electronic Measuring Instrument AC Voltage Detector Portable Amp / Ohm / Volt Test Meter Multi Tester w/ Diode and Continuity Test Scanners Home Use Electronic DIY Hand Tools with Backlight LCD Display
by Crenova

How to test a battery with a multimeter is a common question if you hare concerned about the viability of the battery. Is the battery still functional and strong or is it time to replace it? If you are having car starting problems, you need to check the battery. How long do car batteries last? Probably four to five years, then it should be replaced. Automobile batteries are funny things: they will continue to work and function well, then one day they stop…and at the worst possible time!

How to check car battery? Test your car battery to see what type of condition it is in by using a multimeter, a volt-meter or a power probe. If you use a multimeter or volt meter, remove the covering from the positive terminal, which is covered in a red cover and the terminal is marked with a + sign.

Touch the positive (red) wire probe of the volt meter or multimeter to the positive terminal and the black negative probe to the negative terminal. All things being equal, the healthy battery will give a reading of over 12 volts, typically 12.4 to 12.7 volts. At this point, you might conclude that the car wont start but the battery is good. You need to look elsewhere for the problem.

If you get a reading of less than 12 volts, the battery is weak. It could be a temporary problem, such as the lights were left on in the car and the healthy  battery was nevertheless drained of its power, or an indication of a failing battery. If the battery is four to five years old and you are testing it after a half-hour drive and the voltage  reading is still low, you probably need a new battery. Don’t wait. Even if it performs for a bit longer, remember Murphy’s Law and realize that it will fail on you and at the worst possible time. This can be avoided by taking action now. How much is a new car battery? You can get Walmart car batteries for around $100.

Here are a couple of best selling multimeters to consider with strong recommendations from users.

The Neoteck Pocket Digital Multimeter 8233d pro 2000 counts auto ranging digital multimeters digital multi tester-dc current resistance diodes transistor audible continuity tester with backlit LED.

RAGU 81D Auto Ranging Digital Multimeter, AC/DC voltage/current resistance temperature diode continuity measurement tool, electronic test meter / measuring instrument.

Use a Power Probe to Test Car’s Battery

You can also use a power probe to check the battery. This is similar to the multimeter or volt meter, except that you attach red and black clamps to your battery. Once you connect red to red and black to black, you “touch” the positive terminal with the power probe’s probe.

Once again, you need a reading of 12.3 to 12.7 volts on the battery to be assured that the battery is still functional.

You can do a further check by keeping the power probe in place and have someone start your car. As the engine turns over, the battery’s power should not drop below 9.6 volts when it is being cranked. It if is lower than 9.6, your battery could be on its way out. Gauge the age of the battery to decide what to do next.

Here is a selection of power probes starting at around $70 on up to $159. If you are just a once in awhile tester of car batteries, check out the multimeters above. They are a lot cheaper and get the same result.

Power Probe III in a Clamshell (Red) supplies power & ground; digital voltmeter with min/max voltage capturing; 4mm banana jack; 20 foot power lead; tests for bad grounds and continuity; and 8 amp circuit breaker protection.


The Power Probe III–Black offers foot jumper lead; continuity tester; relay and component tester; works on 12-24v sources; 20 feet jumper lead set; and bad ground indicator and short circuit indicator.

The Power Probe IV supplies power and ground for functional component testing; digital volt and ohmeter for circuit testing; large color lcd screen with easy to navigate user menu; ac-rms, ac peak to peak, frequency and pulse width for signal testing; fuel injector tester for easy circuit diagnosis; pcm/ecm driver supplies safe voltage for testing computer driver circuits.

The Power Probe PPKITO3 Master Test Kit includes: power probe iii, ect2000 & gold series lead set; contains gold series 4mm leads and connectors; continuity tester; relay and component tester; works on 12-24v sources; easy to read backlit voltmeter reads voltage in 1/10th volt; makes locating shorts and open circuits easier; and gold series lead set.


Power Probe PP3CSGREEN Green Regular Power Probe supplies power and ground; digital voltmeter with min/max voltage capturing 4mm banana jack; 20 foot power lead; and tests for bad grounds and continuity.

Comments are closed.