How to Use a Battery Tester

A battery tester is an inexpensive alternative to a multimeter for testing the battery and charging system. It can tell you if the alternator is not charging the battery or if the battery is failing, and it can read measurements like volts (V), state of health (SoH), state of charge (SoC), cranking amps (CA), and more. This post reviews how to use a battery tester to test the battery and the charging system yourself.

How to Use a Battery Tester in 14 Steps

A battery tester works on conductance. It will send a flow of alternating current (AC) through the battery and measure the return signal.

The battery tester has two leads—one for the positive battery terminal and one for the negative battery terminal, and it does not have a power button but turns on once it’s connected.

Steps for Using a Battery Tester

  1. Connect the Positive (red) Lead to the Positive Battery Terminal

    Clamp the positive or red lead to the positive battery terminal

  2. Connect the Negative (black) Lead to the Negative Battery Terminal

    Clamp the negative or black lead to the negative battery terminal

  3. Read the Battery Voltage

    The battery tester should report the battery voltage.

    In this example, the battery voltage reads at 11.9 volts, which is low. Batteries should typically read between 12.4 and 12.8 volts

  4. Press Enter to Put in Info and Access More

    Push the enter button to enter info about the battery and access different tests and readings

  5. Press enter for REGULAR LIQUID under BATTERY TYPE

    Press enter for REGULAR LIQUID under BATTERY TYPE, which means the tool is asking for the battery type. For a typical car battery, this setting will be “REGULAR LIQUID”



    Learn more about car batteries and how to test them for battery health

  6. Select CA under RATING STANDARD

    Select the rating standard for your battery, which in the US is usually cranking amps (CA)

  7. Input the CA number on the Battery and Press Enter

    Adjust the RATING CAPACITY number to reflect the cranking amp (CA) number on the battery, which is not to be confused with cold cranking amps (CCA). Then press Enter

  8. Read the Battery Analyzer’s Battery Health Report

    The battery analyzer will test the battery and will report GOOD RECHARGE with the battery’s CA if the battery is good and needs to be recharged.

    .

    Press the arrow to see state of health (SoH) and state of charge (SoC) measurements, which measure a battery health and charge levels on a 100-point percentage scale

  9. Press Enter and Select between a Battery Charge Test or a System Charge Test

    Push enter to select between a battery charge test and a system charge test

  10. Press the Next Arrow to Select the System Charge Test

    Select the system charge test by pressing the next arrow

  11. Press Enter, Shut off all Electrical Loads, and Start the Vehicle

    Press enter to start the test. You have 1 minute to start the vehicle. The tool will remind you to shut off all “loads” such as the headlights and radio

  12. Read the Cranking Volts

    The analyzer will read the cranking volts and report if the reading is normal

  13. Push Enter and Read the Idle Volts

    Press enter to access the charging test and press enter when commanded. The tool will remind you to shut off all “loads” such as the headlights and radio

    The analyzer will read the idle volts and report if the reading is normal, which means there is normal charging and that the alternator is working

  14. Press Enter, Turn on Electrical Loads, and Press Enter to Read the Load Volts

    Press enter. The tool will command remind you to turn on “loads” such as the headlights and radio. Press enter.

    The analyzer will read the load volts, which will tell you if the alternator is able to keep up with the load and keep the battery charged, and tell you if the reading is normal.

Since we know the charging system is working and the battery is good and just needs to be recharged, we can drive the vehicle to recharge it or recharge it with a portable charger.

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How to Use a Battery Tester to Test Your Car Battery - 1A Auto
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How to Use a Battery Tester to Test Your Car Battery - 1A Auto
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Learn how to use a battery tester to test your car battery with these expert tips from professional mechanics in this article and video.
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1A Auto
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