All car batteries will eventually die due to the inevitable buildup of by-product chemicals in the cell.
Every car owner needs to monitor the battery health and status as part of routine maintenance so that you can replace it just before it dies out on you.
You don’t need to wait until the battery dies before you can replace it, Otherwise, it will fail you on a very important day or in an isolated place with no one nearby to assist you. A battery unexpectedly dying can really spoil your day, losing precious time and hammering your wallet thin with car toll costs. If you don’t have good mechanical knowledge about cars you won’t even know it’s the battery until you call a mechanic which will cost you a lot of money.
All this stress can be avoided by getting yourself an affordable car battery tester so that you can act early. It’s much cheaper to buy a battery tester than to deal with the inconvenience costs of sudden battery failures in the middle of nowhere.
In this article we will guide you on everything you need to know about battery testers, closing off with our recommended list of products in this category that is certain to give you excellent and reliable results.
What is a car battery tester?
A battery tester is an electronic device that is used to measure your battery status. In particular, it measures the charge of your battery, usually displayed on an LCD screen. Car battery testers can be used to measure both your car battery and alternator charging functionality. For a standard lead-acid car battery, a reading above 12.6 volts indicates a healthy battery. If it is below 10V then your battery is dead and needs to be replaced. And for the alternator, a reading of 14V or higher is required to pass the healthy status check. A lower alternator voltage eventually drains the charge of your battery and your car won’t be able to crack.
How does car battery testers work?
A car battery tester works by applying a load of current to the battery for a few seconds and then measuring the response in current and voltage of the car the battery.
There is a relationship between the resulting voltage output after a tester applies some current load on a battery and the overall health of the battery in comparison to how a fresh battery output in current and voltage.
A battery tester normally has an internal resistor to cancel out the effects of its own current on the gauge. Otherwise, it would measure both the current from the battery and the battery tester giving a slightly higher wrong reading.
An ordinary battery tester will not work very well for rechargeable batteries as it will only give you information about the charge potential of the cells. It won’t say anything about whether the battery can be charged again. You will need a more advanced tester to test the health of rechargeable batteries. Generally, car battery testers are more advanced than ordinary battery tester and can tell you the overall health of your battery easily.
Types of car battery testers
There are two main types of car battery testers available for you to check your battery.
Car chargers are classified according to whether they are analog or digital devices.
Analog car battery testers are simpler and have a scale pointer gauge to display the charge level of your battery. The pointer moves in proportion to the level of charge that is applied across the terminal of the tester from the battery. The main principle is used is that of a galvanometer. The tester scale pointer is linked to the galvanometer inside the device. The galvanometer is made of a coil of copper wire that is placed inside permanent magnets that interact with the magnet field produced when current flows through the wire. The greater the current in a car battery the stronger the magnetic field produced when the current runs through the coil. And the stronger the magnetic field the more the deflection on the scale. Analog testers are not as accurate as digital testers and are not widely used nowadays.
Read also: Best Solar Battery Chargers for Cars
Digital car battery testers are the more popular and accurate option. They are built on the same principles of physics as the analog counterparts. They also depend on basic electromagnetism to measure voltage and current across the terminals of the battery. Digital car battery testers have an analog to digital converting system that uses electronic circuits to refine and give far more accurate readings. The voltage and charge will be displayed by the numeric output on an LCD up to two decimal places. They may also feature a quick health LED notification system.
How to connect a battery tester to your car battery?
There is two way to connect your battery tester to check the status of your battery.
It is essentially the two ways to access the charge in your battery. The design of your battery tester is what determines what methods are available for you. There are two basic points to access your battery, through your cigarette lighter or directly connecting the testers on your battery terminals.
The cigarette lighter is the less cumbersome and quickest way to check your battery and alternator functionality. It doesn’t involve the hustle of opening the hood of your car. Both the battery and alternator can be checked through the lighter.
If your car or battery tester does not have a lighting port then you need to pop the hood and use alligator clips from the battery tester to clap both the positive and negative terminals to get a reading.
How to use a car battery tester to check your battery health
Before you do anything with your tester you need to make sure you have read through the manual of your model to understand the basics.
To check the status of your battery place your tester either on the lighting port of your car or use alligator clips to clamp the positive and negative terminals of your battery.
If you are connecting your tester directly on your battery terminals with clips please make sure you are protected from electrocution and battery acid. Get yourself a pair of gloves and goggles. The gloves will insulate your hands from electrical shocks and the goggles will save your eyes from accidental acid spills.
You must read your model manual carefully so you are aware of settings and reading procedures. However, the process for most testers is the same, and once plugin it will give your four digits reading on an LCD screen for the voltage output of your battery.
If you are just testing the battery and not the alternator your car engine must not be running and your car lights must be switch off together with any other electronics that may be loading your battery.
Connect the positive clip to the positive terminal of your battery and your negative clip to the negative terminal.
A reading at or above 12.6 V indicates an excellent battery with near 100 % health. If the reading is 12 V it means your life is at 50%. A battery that needs replacement will show you reading less than 11 Volts.
How to test your alternator health with a battery tester
You need to follow the above-laid guide for testing your battery but with the exception that this time your car engine needs to be running.
The alternator produces a much higher charge than your battery by converting the kinetic of the flywheel in a combustion engine to electrical energy. Hence it’s able to charge your battery and power other loads such as headlights. If an alternator is working properly it can register a voltage much higher than 12 V on your tester, typically a voltage of 14V indicates you have a healthy alternator that won’t drain your battery but rather charge it.
Tips for buying a car battery tester
You need to look at the following when choosing which car battery testers best suits you.
Your budget will determine the models you can get. Most battery testers are generally affordable so if you looking for a basic unit to get the job done then you won’t have much of a problem.
2. Battery access
You need to make sure you get a tester that will be able to access your battery charge. Some cars don’t come with a cigarette lighter so if you get a tester that only measures your battery health via a lighting port you will be stuck.
The type of vehicle is very important. The design of your car has predetermined load requirements and alternators produce power according to your car model. Some testers may not work for more heavy-duty vehicles that need testers able to handle the higher voltage.
4. Compatible battery
Battery and vehicle compatibility are similar factors to consider. You need to make sure your tester is compatible with your battery specifications. A smaller capacity tester may short circuit and malfunction when exposed to excess loads so be very attentive to battery compatibility.
Best Car Battery Testers of 2021 Reviewed and Compared
Here is a list of some of the best battery testers available for you to try.
Clore Automotive BA427 Solar Electronic Battery and System Tester
- Has a four-digit display.
- Features overload protection
- short circuit protection
- 12 months warranty
The Clore Automotive BA427 Solar Electronic Battery and System Tester is a device that will assist you to test a variety of batteries of many different kinds. You can easily test lead, acid, gel, AGM batteries without any difficulties. It is easy to handle and use because of its compact design. It’s made in a shape that is nice to tuck in well in your pocket. Seven volts to fifteen volts is its working range. And it tests ratings of 40 CCA to 3000 CCA of any battery.
The 12V batteries that range from 40 up to 3000 can be tested by this car battery tester. This is because it has an operating range of 7V even as high as 15V. Even those different types of batteries which come with a Starting Rating can be tested by this battery tester. The SOLAR BA7 40 – 3000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester is equipped with an LED that shows the status of the battery. It also shows the reading from the tested battery of any type.
Most people want this device for themselves, the fact that this particular device is so handy and can fit inside your pocket. Who would want to miss out on a battery tester that can be carried anywhere with? This battery tester includes a guide on how to use it. And it has features like overload, polarity, and high voltage for protective measures. This is to avoid the easy breaking of the device. The Solar BA7 is a 1-year warranted device. And weighing only about 0.6 pounds, this product is very lightweight.
It is a very efficient device. And because of its superior efficiency, this model makes it on our list for the best car battery testers. It’s a 12V battery tester. And its optimum testing power has an operating range of up to 15-volts. With its powerful CCA, The SOLAR BA7 40-3000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester is capable of testing batteries that are rated up to 1,200 CCA.
It also has a good compatibility feature. Its good compatibility is one of the best features of this tester. With it, you can test different types of batteries, including conventional car batteries made with lead-acid, deep-cycle, and AGM batteries. The operating range of the SOLAR BA7 40-3000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester is between 7V-15V. Meaning you can perform testing on different types of batteries with ratings even as high as 3000 CCA.
Throughout the testing process, it offers guidance. It’s user-friendly. Over-voltage protection and reverse polarity to keep your equipment safe are some of its safety features.
SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester with Printer
- 2000 CCA
- Easy to connect
We recommend this model because it has an operating range starting from 1.5V up to 30V. Both 6V and 12V batteries can use it to test. With several types of batteries, the SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester with Printer has good compatibility. You can even print service documentation on thermal paper because it has a printer built into the device.
It is also multi-functional. The SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery Testers with Printer can solve all your testing needs and wants. You can use it for the 12V and 24V charging systems. On the other hand, you can also use it for 6V and 12V batteries. And if you need to take down the results of the tests, it provides convenience. This is because it comes with a built-in printer.
With a fast and accurate assessment of the condition of your battery’s condition, this model features intuitive and easy operation. You can also use it for testing both the start and charging performance of your battery. And while giving you significant information and guides for each of the steps in the testing process, this tester will walk you through the sequence of testing.
It is easy to use as well. , Even when you’re wearing gloves this model features large buttons to make it easier for you to work. The last values you’ve acquired in the previous test can be recalled by the SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester with Printer. Therefore, repetitive testing becomes a quicker task, if you use it to test similar batteries.
The integrated printer is one of the handy features of this tester. With this feature, you are provided with easy and quick service documentation. Printing on the SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester is very quick and clear. In a matter of seconds, you would have the whole printout. Cable leads which are 10-feet in length to help with the different testing task are included in the SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery Tester with Printer.
OTC 3181 130 Amp Battery Load Tester
These days it is difficult to find reliable, solid, and robust car equipment that lives up to its high claims. But in this matter, you rest assured that OTC won’t let you down. Many overpriced battery testers in the market don’t really deliver much. Not just that but OTC has a good reputation in the market. It is one of the leading manufacturers of this battery tester.
With reliable and accurate results in a matter of seconds, this device is ergonomically-designed. With clamps that have a unique design, the OTC 3181 130 Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Load Tester allows for positive grips. This is done on the side and top-post batteries. For easier reading after testing, it even comes with an extra-large display.
To output the highest accuracy in terms of battery diagnostics, OTC has made this device heavy duty. So amongst the people, that is what gives it a good name in the market. To comply with more heavy use, OTC has upgraded this device. It’s also easy to use and convenient to carry due to its ergonomic design. In just about 10 seconds, the 3181 heavy-duty battery load tester will give you the results. This makes this device a quick one.
An industry-leading load of 130-Amps was used by the manufacturers of this model. It has a heavy-duty production and an ergonomic design. Each time you use it; this tester will provide you with reliable and accurate results. The OTC 3181 130 Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Load Tester works on six-volt and twelve-volt batteries because it comes with special clamps.
The materials of the OTC 3181 Tester make it a sturdy and heavy machine. It’s built like a tank in construction terms. And to ensure longevity and efficiency, it’s made of high-quality materials. So whether it’s used by amateurs or professional mechanics, it will still last long.
With a bare load of 130 amps, this unit can be used with batteries of six volts to 12-volts max. For car battery use and other domestic batteries, this is more than enough. And Versatility is one of the best features of the OTC 3181 130 Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Load Tester. Except for those on trucks, you can use it on virtually any type of car batteries. And with high amperage and a thick wire for enhanced durability, it even includes alligator-type connector leads.
The color-coded analog display makes this device easy to read. Whether your battery is in good condition or requires replacement will be indicated by these colors. To check the functionality of your car’s alternator is one of the functions of this car battery tester.
SOLAR Digital 12V Battery and System Tester
- Easy to use
- Ergonomic device.
- 7-15 volt variation
- 40-1200 CCA testing
- Compatible with AGM, Winded, and gel batteries.
- A clear and vibrant LCD
Solar knows what the people are looking for since it has been in the industry for a very long time. It’s aimed towards to do-it-yourself kind of people and car enthusiasts which makes this unit close to perfection. On 12-volt electrical equipment, this unit works at its best.
This unit works perfectly with various types of a battery of different brands out there that’s why it has great features. This device covers, AGM, gel, and winded batteries. Batteries ranging from 7V to 15V and 40 CCA to 1200 CCA can be checked and diagnosed by the Solar BA9. It clearly shows you accurate results because it is equipped with a convenient and clear LCD. Overload protection, reverse polarity, and high voltage protection are some of the safety features that come with this unit.
Motopower MP0514A 12V Car Battery Tester
- Indicates high or low range.
- High accuracy of up to four digits
- Multi-colored LED.
- Safety features such as overload protection
- Reverse polarity protection.
- Sits in rubber housing.
Many enthusiastic and professionals are familiar with Motopower even though it may not be known by those who normally don’t like to diagnose their vehicles themselves. It’s a much-known battery tester brand. They get the job done just right and their device is of high-quality.
The Motopower MP051A is digital testing equipment that is well designed to give out accurate answers. This tool perfectly works with 4 volts to 20 volts and it is equipped with a digital display. There will be a display of a Hi or Low if the volts are below or higher than the stated range. The status and health of the battery will be determined by an LED technology that changes colors.
To get you the most accurate results without any sparking, clamps are equipped. These clamps can hold the terminals of the battery tightly. To remove the hazard of handling it barehanded, the cable is heavily insulted. And to see the battery results with the added function of zero, this unit has a big display for you to easily ensure maximum accuracy.
Clore Automotive Solar 1852 100 Amp Battery Load
- Test 12 volt batteries
- 100-1200 CCA
- Operating range from 7-15V
- Able to tests many battery types
- LED indicator
When it comes to a car battery tester, this is a great pick. It gets its operating voltage from the battery of a battery. The device simultaneously allows you to test the CCA and the 12-volt battery. To get a reading of the actual CCA, you simply enter the battery’s CCA rating into the device. and via a conductive test. To determine the health of your battery, The Solar BA7 will give you an Ok or Fail reading when you test the battery. This automotive battery tester will enable you to analyze your vehicle’s charging and starting system because it is quick and easy to use the device. It is durable and accurate that’s why it costs a little more than some other battery testers.
For those of you who are on the road and need to get their readings quickly, this heavy-duty automotive battery tester is a great choice. An accurate reading of your battery’s condition is easily done by this reliable tester. Test results will be out in just 10 seconds. This is a brilliant addition to any automotive toolbox because it is quick and accurate.
Performance Tool W2989 Battery Alternator Tester
- Alternator tester
- 12V cigarette lighter
- LED indicators
- Compact size
This is an absolute bargain for a compact battery and alternator tester. And is an easily portable device that you can carry within your car. The LED indicators reveal the status of your car battery and alternator voltage when you simply plug it into your cigarette lighter. For example, a yellow light will indicate that the voltage is too low when the alternator is running. On the other hand, a green light will highlight that volts are normal. When it shows a red light then it means that they are too high. If you want to run a system test, this is a quick and easy way. It is also easy and quick to check the overall status of your alternator. It is a handy device to keep in your glove compartment the fact that this item is so compact.
Its ability of testing system starting and charging is what makes this model convenient. And it provides a numerical and LED result, which makes it a fast assessment device. While acquiring all of the results you need on the 4-digit display, you can tests batteries and systems with ease with this tester.
The fact that you hold it in one hand while testing, the device has a great compact size. Because of this feature, you can bring it along with you whenever you travel. The size of this battery tester makes it easy to carry. Also, you don’t have to make replacements now and then because it doesn’t need batteries to work.
Clore Automotive SOLAR BA9 Digital Battery Tester
- 12 Volt battery testing
- 40-1200 CCA
- 7-15V range of operation
To check the health of your battery, then the Clore Automotive SOLAR BA9 Digital Battery Tester CCA Digital Battery Tester is a good way to go. Not only does it check the CCA (cold cranking amps) to read how your battery is truly operating, but it also checks the voltage reading. Its rated CCA indicates whether the battery is about to fail or healthy. Any CCA reading below 20 percent then the Solar technology report notes will show that the battery is failing.
So, it’s a sure sign that a battery not going to last very long if a battery is rated at 1000 CCA but is only producing 700 CCA. Thus, a comprehensive analysis of your battery’s lifespan is given by this device. The state of your battery’s health, the state of its charge, and its internal resistance is told by this great automotive battery tester.
When testing your car’s batteries, the FOXWELL Battery Tester will provide you with an accurate reading. The health status of the batteries is checked. It also calculates the aging and cold-cranking capability of the batteries. So to make sure that everything in your vehicle works well, this tester will give you quick results.
It is an ergonomic and accurate device. Its accuracy and its ergonomic design are some of the excellent features of the FOXWELL Battery Tester. So if you are a private car owner then this device perfect for you and also for everyone who owns a mechanic shop. You can even check your car’s battery from inside the vehicle because it comes with a cable that’s more than 7-feet in length.
You can conveniently carry it around with you wherever you go because of the design and the size of this tester. The result about the health of your battery is precise if you use the Foxwell battery tester. And to maintain the stability of the connection while you’re testing, it is equipped with a clip and wire made of a premium quality material.
It’s a heavy-duty and long-lasting device because it’s made from sturdy materials. It’s a perfect choice for mechanics and technicians because of its overall construction. This structure makes it resistant to damage. It is easy to use, the fact that it fits in the palm of your hand. English, Dutch, Italian, and more other languages are also offered on its menu.
Those tools which come with handy extras are some of the best tools on the market. For one, the length of a test cable is more than seven feet. And it is also equipped with a pair of advanced clamps. And to provide spark-proof and short circuit protection, these clamps are all-metal spray gold. On the other hand, to prevent any damage to the device while in storage, the FOXWELL Battery Tester comes with a durable packaging case.
Wrapping it Up
I believe you are now confident enough to make the right car battery tester purchase decision. Our list has featured some of the best products on the market and you sure won’t get disappointed.
Please be make sure the tester is compatible with your battery and car specifications to get the best results. Everyone needs to be looking out for the health of their battery and alternator as part of your routine of maintenance.
Why Do I Need a Car Battery Tester?
You need to keep an eye on the heath of both your car battery and alternator.
All car batteries eventually need a replacement because the buildup of byproducts reduces their efficiency until they no longer work. A Car battery tester is the cheapest and easiest way to continually monitor the health of your battery. The battery testers are so easy to use. Sometimes a battery can fail because your alternator is working. A battery tester can test whether your alternator is functioning properly and not draining your battery.
How accurate are car battery testers?
Car battery testers are very reliable and accurate in monitoring battery and alternator health. Digital car battery testers are even more accurate as they integrate fine electronics based control and amplification features in the units. If used properly and regularly you will never have a battery fail on you before you can replace it yourself.