Learn how to check the status of your car battery
The battery is a key element for the operation of our vehicle. If the battery fails we will not be able to start and we will have to resort to a crane or a starter. Something that we can avoid if we know how to control the state of our car’s battery.
For our vehicle to start and work properly, it needs a few things: it needs gasoline in the tank, oil in the crankcase, coolant in its tank… and also electrical energy in the battery. And as happens with all the liquids that we have mentioned, if the battery of our car does not have enough energy it will be impossible for us to start the vehicle. Something that will force us to have to call a tow truck, find someone to let us connect their battery to that of our car or resort to a charger or battery starter.
Fortunately, as happens with the rest of the elements of our vehicle, the battery is also an element that we can assess and evaluate, in order to know its condition. The problem is that a battery does not show its status on the outside, as happens with tires or engine fluid levels. So to analyze the state of our battery it is essential to do it in another way.
What do we need
The first thing we need to know is that we need to assess the condition of our car’s battery. Fortunately, the shopping list is short. As much as to need a single element: the multimeter. This multimeter is a device that is used to measure electrical currents in their different parameters, so it is reasonable that this is the accessory chosen to carry out these checks.
Currently, the offer of multimeters is wide, existing both digital and analog models. If you have to look for the best multimeter for this process, because you don’t already have one at home, we recommend that you go for a digital one, since they make the process of reading the measurements much easier. Something especially important considering the little difference between the values that we will read about our battery, as we will see a little later.
Finding the battery
Once we have our multimeter, it is time to get down to work. The first thing we must do, obviously, is to stop our vehicle in a safe place, apply the parking brake and open the hood to access the engine compartment.
Once the hood of the car is open, we should have the battery in sight. There is no default location for said battery, although it is generally located either in the rear left or in the rear right, being closer to the passenger compartment area than to the part of the vehicle’s lights. There are vehicles, the least, that place the batteries in more strange places, such as the rear seats or in the trunk area, but it is not usually normal.
What can happen is that we do not see the battery because it is covered by a plastic protector or similar. In this case, the battery area is recognized by the particular rectangular shape that the cover will have and also by having the + and – signs engraved or silk-screened on its surface. In the rest of the vehicles, the usual thing is that there is a protector covering one of the battery poles, generally the positive one. In any case, it is worth checking with the battery itself which is the negative and which is the positive pole, in order to avoid problems during the measurement.
Taking the measurement
We have already found the battery, we have already located which is each pole and it is time to proceed to the measurement of the charge generated by the battery. It is essential that we always carry out this process with the engine stopped, since the idea is to verify the battery charge at rest. In other words, what we are going to measure is the energy capacity that the battery has stored and not what it generates when the vehicle has the engine running.
So, we will take our multimeter and place the selector in the measure voltage position. It is important that this position of voltage is direct current, since it is the one that we are going to measure. Next, we will place the tip of the black rod on the negative terminal of the battery and then place the tip of the red rod on the positive terminal, keeping both in their position. At this moment, the battery charge reading will be produced, which will be shown on the screen.
Interpreting the results
Depending on the results of the measurement, we can evaluate the state of charge of our battery, according to the voltage that it is capable of generating. Although there are several opinions about it, a battery is considered to be 100% charged and in excellent health if it has voltages close to or higher than approximately 13 volts.
If this voltage is approximately 12.5 volts, it is estimated that the battery would be charged at 75-80% of its capacity, while if the voltage is around 12.3 volts, then its charge level would be approximately 60%.. All of these levels indicate that the battery is in adequate health, which can be verified again by driving the vehicle around a bit and seeing if the battery maintains or increases that voltage.
In case the value of the reading is 12.1 volts then the problems begin. At this level new vehicles will probably be unable to start while older ones may be able to start, albeit with problems. This voltage is equivalent to 40% load. If the voltage is approximately 11.9, we would speak of a 20% charge, while measurements that result in 11.6 or less indicate that the battery is completely discharged.
It is important to know that in cases of a discharged battery or below what is recommended, it is not essential to change it. We can try charging it from external sources, or starting the vehicle with a jump starter, driving around and seeing if the charge increases. If that charge does not rise to healthy levels then it would be necessary to proceed to change the battery.
Learn about versatile ways to charge and maintain your car battery
The car battery is responsible for allowing the electrical operation of the vehicle, giving energy to the alternator. At the same time, it is one of the parts that suffers the most wear and sometimes tends to discharge unexpectedly. However, there are some methods by which it is possible to get a charge or maintain it, so that the battery does not go bad.
Although there are many people who ignore the mechanical operation of cars, they are familiar with the issue of batteries, which is the central piece that is responsible for providing the electrical energy that will allow, in principle, to start the car and run the entire electrical part of the vehicle.
In fact, car batteries can be recognized with the naked eye by opening the hood of the vehicle, because they are large and have ample space in the engine. In addition, many users are in contact with them, because after some time, it is necessary to change them for new ones or they have to be charged so that they have a little more life, this process being relatively simple and suitable for anyone.
Among all the faults that a car can present, the battery could be classified as one of the most basic and easy to solve, both in terms of monetary investment and a solution within reach of the hands.
For example, when the car battery has run out of power, it is possible to solve the problem with different mechanisms that will help to charge it. These change according to the needs. This of course, when it has not been completely damaged.
When a battery begins to fail, it is not always an indication that its useful life is over, as it may just be dead and require a little extra power to “come back to life”.
For example, if the objective is just to start the car to take it to a maintenance and repair center, there are ways to achieve this without a battery, but these are not recommended, because there are risks for the vehicle. In this case, the car cannot be stopped and it is a load that will last for only a few meters, with the risk that the car’s alternator will break down and the repair expense will be much higher.
Now, when you want to maintain the optimal state of the battery at home, you can use chargers or maintainers. Both kits are suitable for cars that have battery discharges due to lack of use. For these cases, it is convenient that the battery does not reach the lowest of its energy level, because it can be damaged and will end up being damaged, and its charge must be maintained.
Car battery chargers are useful and frequently used equipment that can be seen in workshops and that a few forward-thinking users carry with them. As with any product, the chargers available on the market are different from each other. They come in various sizes, power levels, and charging speeds. According to each of these specifications, the price varies.
In case you are looking for a device that allows you to start the car in just minutes, you will need a model with a high amperage capacity. In the same way, it is necessary that, when selecting, the options for professional use (workshops) can be distinguished from chargers for domestic use, which usually have lower amperage, but their connections are simpler.
In this case, a model that is usually recommended is the Einhell CC-BC 15 M, a suitable design for common use, but slow in relation to operation. To start the car, it will take between 30 and 60 minutes. The charging time or speed will depend on the amperage of the charger.
Therefore, when purchasing one of these, it is important that the technical specifications in relation to power are known. Similarly, there are other options available that may be more convenient than a low wattage charger.
Even if you have one of the best car batteries of 2022, at some point it will have to be charged and you need to be prepared. Also, whatever the alternative charging method, an appropriate voltage should be considered. The most common models of batteries are 12 volts. However, it does not hurt to review this specification.
Commonly confused with chargers, because they can be used for this purpose, maintainers were designed to maintain the charge of the car battery at an optimal level, when it will not be used for some time. Therefore, its use is aimed at maintaining a battery with a certain level of charge, not a discharged one, because its power level is low and its speed is slow. The maintainers are connected to the battery, like the rest of the related equipment, and their operation, in the case of wanting to use them as chargers, can be extended for days or weeks.
For this segment there are different options from brands such as Black+Decker, Dr.Auto or Suaoki. In general, each of these models functions appropriately as maintainers. However, their charging function is poor, because all of them have a low amperage between 2 and 8 amps.
Another interesting alternative to analyze are car battery starters. These devices are made up of a high amperage internal battery, between 600 and 2000 amps, being a power that provides speed in operation, since it is possible to start the car almost immediately. Like the maintainers, they are not an option for charging the car battery. But once the car is started, keeping it at two thousand revolutions per minute, it is possible that the battery reaches its maximum power.
When it comes to starters, there are different power and price options. You can get some models from brands like Vetomile or TackLife, which are convenient because they have an amperage of 800 and 600.
When selecting one of these teams, it is important that the option is consistent with the engine. Therefore, it is advisable to review the specifications of the equipment and read the manufacturer’s suggestions regarding its use.