how to check car battery health without multimeter

March 4, 2023
how to check car battery health without multimeter

How to Check Car Battery Health Without a Multimeter

Carrying out preventative maintenance on your car’s battery can not only extend its life but can give you peace of mind that you won’t be stranded with a flat battery. Knowing the health of your vehicle’s battery is critical and a multimeter can help give you the information you need – but what if you don’t own one? Read on to find out how you can check your car’s battery health without a multimeter.

Inspect the Terminals for Corrosion

The first step in checking the health of your car’s battery is to inspect the terminals for any corrosion. If the terminals are corroded, you’ll need to clean them immediately to ensure optimal functioning.

  • Wear safety gloves and eyewear for protection
  • Mix baking soda with water until it has a paste-like consistency
  • Rub the paste around the terminals and into any corrosion
  • Rinse the terminals with water and dry them with a cloth

Check the Battery Fluid Level

If your car is fitted with a maintenance-free battery, you won’t need to check the fluid level. However, older car batteries have caps with an electrolyte fluid inside. In order to check a battery like this, you’ll need to:

  • Remove the caps from the top of the battery
  • Check the fluid level – it should sit slightly above the battery’s plates
  • If it is below the plates, add distilled water until the level is restored
  • Replace the caps and ensure they are tightened securely

Test the Battery with a Voltmeter

If you have access to a voltmeter, use it to measure the charges in your battery. To do this, you’ll need to switch the car off and remove any gadgets that are plugged in to its charging system. Then, take a voltage reading on each of the terminals. Readings around 12.2 to 12.4 volts indicates that the battery is functioning correctly. Anything lower indicates wear and tear or damage.

Visual Checks

If you can’t access a voltmeter, you may still be able to make a visual estimate of the battery’s health. Batteries that are functioning correctly will usually appear full with no visible signs of sagging around the sides. Wear and tear, however, often results in a battery appearing either swollen or sunken. If you notice either of these signs, you may need to replace your battery.

Running an Alternator Test

Finally, you can carry out an alternator test to ensure that your car’s charging system is working correctly. To run an alternator test, you’ll need to start the car and measure the voltage on the battery terminals – they should indicate higher than 13.5 volts. If they’re lower, your alternator may need to be checked.


Using the steps above, you now know how to check your car’s battery health without a multimeter. However, bear in mind that this is only a guide and, if in doubt, it’s safer to consult a professional for help.

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