Most people only pay attention to their car battery when they have difficulty starting their car or when it dies at the most inconvenient of times (of course).
There’s a simple way to keep you out of trouble though: you’re ahead of the game if you test your car battery every once in a while with a car battery tester. It’s simple and quick to use and the cheapest reliable ones cost less than 20$.That’s just a fraction of the cost of a new battery.
If the battery test indicates that your battery needs to be charged, simply hook it up to a battery charger for the night and that’s that. You should know that if you leave your battery neglected with a voltage that’s too low, it will degrade rapidly. This means you’ll have to replace it much sooner than normal.
Many testers will even warn you to ditch your battery before you notice there’s something wrong with it, before that deadweight gets you stranded!
In our opinion, every car owner should have a car battery tester.
Check out our favorite car battery testers:
Best Budget LED
Best Budget Digital
Why Buy a Car Battery Tester?
You should consider buying a car battery tester for 4 main reasons:
- To monitor your battery’s health so you can replace it in time.
If you test your car battery every once in a while, you’ll know when it’s on its way out and it’s time to replace it. That way, you won’t get caught by surprise with a dead battery on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere or miss that important appointment because your car won’t start.
To make your battery last much longer by knowing when you should charge or recondition it.
Especially in winter, people often unknowingly drive around with their car battery only partially charged all the time. This shortens battery life considerably. Often that’s the main reason why car batteries don’t last long.
If you test your battery regularly, you can charge it in time and make it last much longer, potentially saving hundreds of dollars in the long run.
To check if your car’s charging system works as it should.
Sometimes, people unknowingly invest in a new battery without testing anything, only to find that the new battery doesn’t last long either. Often, the problem turns out to be the charging system instead of the battery. That’s a lot of money down the drain… You can prevent this by running a simple test with a car battery tester.
To not have to solely rely on a battery salesman’s biased opinion.
If you have your own battery tester, you can decide for yourself when and if it’s time to replace your car battery according to your timing and budget. After all, it’s you who’ll have to pay the check, right?
What’s the Difference Between a Digital and an Analog Battery Tester?
Digital Battery Tester
A digital battery tester measures the car battery’s voltage and analyzes its condition mainly by using a technique called pulse load testing. This state-of-the-art technique tests the battery under a dummy load to provide a realistic measurement of the battery capacity. It does not put the battery under strain by applying a heavy load. That’s why it generates no heat during the testing process and only needs thin test leads. A digital battery tester measures many different parameters in mere milliseconds in order to calculate and analyze battery performance.
Despite the fact that it uses simulation and analysis to calculate the battery’s condition instead of applying heavy real-world loads, a quality digital battery tester is considered nearly 100% accurate. It’s the easiest, fastest, most precise way to test your car battery.
With your engine running, a digital battery tester can also check if your alternator is working as it should.
Analog Battery Tester
An analog battery tester applies “old school” electric technique without the use of electronic components, computing or calculation. It measures how much heat the battery is able to generate under load and how much its power drops during a continuous load of 10 seconds.
As the current from the battery passes through the tester, it passes a bi-metal that heats up and expands. This causes a needle that is attached to the bi-metal, to change position on a half-scale dial. The analog dial shows how much power is left in the battery (CCA). The scale is divided in green, yellow and red zones which makes it easy to interpret: green is OK/healthy, red is bad/replace and yellow is weak/on its way out. Again, there’s no electronics or computing involved. An analog battery tester provides a real-world physical simulation of how the battery (re)acts under load.
Just like a digital battery tester, an analog tester can also test your alternator. With a running engine, it should indicate a green center zone which means the charging system works as it should. There’s a red zone on either side meaning the alternator’s charging voltage is too low or too high and it needs to be checked.
Things to consider when buying a car battery tester
Depending on the type of car battery tester, you can not only test your car battery’s condition, but also your car’s charging system.That’s paramount to know if the fault lies with your car battery or your charging system, or both.
Advanced car battery testers, also called “analyzers” test a whole array of parameters to give a full analysis of your car battery and charging system. The test results automatically appear on the display telling you the condition your battery is in and if it should be replaced. Sometimes the test results can be printed on paper with a built-in thermal printer or sent by email.
Other basic ones only give you a general idea but you have to do the analysis yourself, based on limited information.
The easiest, most reliable way to know the state of your car battery is to test it with a car battery tester. Depending on the type of battery tester, it will analyze your battery mainly based on different parameters:
- Voltage test: measures the battery’s voltage output
- Load test: checks the condition of the battery by measuring the maximum Amps the battery delivers (CCA) under load (analog tester) or by analyzing (digital tester).
- Cranking Test: measures battery voltage drop when starting your engine
Charging System Test
The problem may also be your alternator or charging system though, which charges your car battery. It can malfunction too. This can also simply be tested with a car battery tester.
Depending on the type of battery tester, it will analyze your charging system mainly based on different parameters:
- Charging Test: checks charging voltage
- Ripple Analysis (digital tester only): tests for the amount of AC voltage fluctuation on the DC power supply
Most battery testers can test 12V batteries, but some can also test heavy duty 24V or 6V batteries. You want to make sure the battery charger supports your battery voltage.
Because not all testers work with all types of batteries, you want to make sure your battery type is supported. You can find your battery type on its label. The most common types of car batteries are: Regular Flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, EFB, Silver-Calcium, Deep Cycle and Lithium.
Check your car battery’s capacity (CCA) and make sure the tester is powerful enough to test it.
Some battery testers are powered by one or more disposable or rechargeable internal batteries, others work on the car battery’s power.
JIS, EN, DIN, SAE, CA, MCA, ANSI and IEC are some of the most well-known international quality standards. They can be a reference to the tester’s accuracy and safety.
However, car battery testers that don’t carry any of these quality labels aren’t necessarily bad. Because obtaining these quality labels involves very lengthy and expensive test procedures, many manufacturers opt to not have their testers tested by these bureaus and to market their new products much faster and much less expensive than their competitors who do.
Also, the added value of these standards is disputable, because these certificates can easily be forged or misused, making their authenticity hard to verify.
Analog car battery testers have an analog meter while digital battery testers have an LCD screen or a touchscreen. Generally their screens are backlit, analog meters aren’t.
Digital car battery tester displays are more accurate and easier to read because the decimal value on the screen can be read from any angle without the risk of misinterpretation. Because most are backlit, they are easy to read, even in the dark.
An analog display on the other hand, needs to be read at a straight 90° angle or the needle will be read incorrectly. An external light source is needed to be able to read the display in the dark.
However, both analog and digital displays work equally well once you get used to them.
The car battery testers we recommend are reverse-polarity protected and 100% safe to use. However, you want to read the owner’s manual thoroughly before first use and follow all the manufacturer’s safety precautions.
How we did our review
Over the years we’ve tried and tested a lot of different car battery testers, analog and digital ones alike, for our cars. This gave us a head start for our research.
For this review we also dove deep in the manufacturer specifications and looked at customer reviews to see what their experience was. In this review, we only recommend car battery testers that did an excellent job for us and the vast majority of other car enthusiasts. We’ve selected testers for different budgets and different goals. This will make it easy for you to choose the right tester for your car, depending on what you intend to use it for and how much you’re willing to spend.
These are the car battery testers we recommend:
The Foxwell BT705 car battery tester can test 12V or 24V regular flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, GEL and Deep Cycle batteries with a capacity from 100 to 2000 CCA. It also tests 12V & 24V starting and charging systems. The test results are based on JIS, EN, DIN, SAE, CCA, BCI, GB, CA, MCA and IEC Standards.
This car battery tester uses advanced conductance testing technology and premium quality copper clamps and wires to maintain a stable communication all throughout the testing process to provide you with reliable results. This allows you to accurately and quickly measure the actual cold cranking amps (CCA) and health of the car battery and charging system. The voltage and cranking time appear on the LCD display in milliseconds.
You can also check 12V or 24V charging systems to make sure the output voltage of the alternator is within normal range, the rectifier diode works fine and the charging current is within normal range.
To let you know how much life your car battery has left, the BT705 battery tester will accurately display battery health status in just 3 seconds on its large and easy-to-read backlit LCD display. Test results can be printed via Bluetooth.
This great tester will help you diagnose and resolve battery health problems timely without disconnecting the battery. It can be used to diagnose cars, suv’s, mini-vans, trucks, boats, tractors and other vehicles equipped with 12v or 24v batteries. This device needs no internal battery. The 7.8ft long cables allow you to do the test from inside or outside of the vehicle.
No matter if you’re a professional or DIY’er, you’ll love this battery analyzer! This product is well-built to resist impacts and intense use in a tough workshop environment.
Customers confirm that this tester is easy to use and say that it has helped them to diagnose exactly what was wrong with their battery or alternator.
- Easy-to-read backlit LCD display
- For 12V and 24V systems
- Comes with a protective hard case
- Device needs no internal battery
- For regular flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, GEL and Deep Cycle batteries with a capacity from 100 to 2000 CCA
- JIS, EN, DIN, SAE, CCA, BCI, GB, CA, MCA and IEC Standards
- Bluetooth printing capabilities
- Not wireless
- No built-in printer
- No touchscreen
- Who has a Bluetooth printer in his garage or workshop??
This compact device easily plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter to monitor battery and charging system voltage. No need to pop the hood. Its LCD screen displays voltage with four digits and a bar graph that indicates battery charge level. Color-coded LEDs also quickly show your battery’s charge status. The tool’s head pivots for easy viewing.
Customers say that it’s a great little tool to find a battery problem before it becomes a major problem. They love the fact that it’s so inexpensive and that it helps them to prevent their battery from dying prematurely from undercharging.
- As easy as it gets
- Very Affordable
- Does what it should
- Small size
- Device needs no internal battery
- Limited diagnostics
- Looks cheap
- No out-of-car measuring
The AUTDER AD-808 automotive battery tester works on all 12V and 24V batteries for cars, motorcycles, trucks, RVs, ATVs, SUVs, boats, yachts, mowers, and even golf carts. It’s powered by your car battery and needs no internal batteries. It comes with alligator clips as well as a handy cigarette lighter plug for even easier, faster testing.
The accuracy of this 4-digit car battery voltmeter is about 0.01V. The Digital Voltage test range is 4-30V DC. AUTDER AD-808’s led display shows if your car battery needs replacing in the blink of an eye. You can also check the alternator output to avoid battery damage because of overcharge or incomplete charge.
The three-way switch can be switched to the left for 24V battery testing or to the right for 12V battery testing. The middle position is for real-time alternator testing.
In case of reverse polarity, the ‘REVERSE’-led is lit and the built-in buzzer will sound. When the voltage is out of range, the screen will display ‘LO'(＜4V) or ‘HI’ (＞30V).
This simple, affordable car battery tester may be basic but it instantly gives a general idea of the state your battery and charging system is in.
Customers say that this inexpensive tool can save you a lot of money because it enables you to check your battery and charging system yourself.
- Battery and charging system instant testing
- Comes with alligator clips as well as cigarette lighter plug
- For 12V and 24V systems
- Accurate 4-digit led-display (+/- 0.01V)
- Test range is 4-30V DC
- Safety features: reverse polarity, high and low voltage
- Needs no internal batteries
- Looks and feels cheap
- Very basic
The KONNWEI KW208 car battery tester can test all 12V 100 – 2000 CCA batteries including regular flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral and gel batteries. This convenient, handheld tester analyzes your batteries’ health thoroughly.
The KW208 battery tester supports cranking, alternator, starter and charging system testing. Both in-vehicle and out-of-vehicle, the KONNWEI KW208 gives you accurate battery parameters such as a load test, voltage, internal resistance, Cold Cranking Amps (CCA), AH capacity, battery health and charge status.
Additionally, it will also indicate whether to charge or replace your battery. KONNWEI KW208’s powerful STM-32 chipset provides more than 99.5% precise testing reports within milliseconds (tested by US Midtronics). Test standards are CCA, BCI, CA, MCA, JIS, DIN, IEC, EN, SAE.
That sure is a lot of digital bang for your buck…
Customers using this device say that every DIY mechanic should have this little device in his toolbox and that it’s a great tester for the price.
- A lot of bang for your buck
- For Regular Flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral and gel batteries.
- 99.5% accuracy
- Fast chipset reports within milliseconds
- Convenient, versatile
- In-vehicle and out-of-vehicle load testing
- Needs no internal batteries
- Test standards: CCA, BCI, CA, MCA, JIS, DIN, IEC, EN, SAE
- Only 12V battery testing
- No touchscreen
- Tests: Battery and charging system
- Voltage: 6V / 12V batteries and 12V / 24V cranking systems
- Battery types: Flooded Lead-Acid, AGM, AGM Spiral, EFB and Gel batteries
- Battery capacity: 100 to 3000 CCA
- Internal battery: Yes
- Display: Touchscreen
- Safety features: Yes
The Autel car battery tester is no ordinary tester. It’s so much more than that! It’s loaded with great features that make testing so much easier and more accurate than most more expensive competitors.
With its big, very responsive touchscreen it’s dead-easy to scroll through the menus and select the large, easy-to-read icons. It’s a breeze to follow the clear instructions with their well-designed graphics and text.
In-vehicle as well as out-of-vehicle battery testing is possible with its built-in rechargeable lithium batteries.This Android-powered wireless device has Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity. Lifetime free Wifi updates are available.
It connects with a rechargeable wireless dongle that needs to be plugged into the OBD port for post 1995 vehicles or with alligator clamps for vehicles without OBD.
Below information will be automatically recognized when the OBD is connected:
- Vehicle information: make, model and year
- Battery information: tab will display on the bottom of the screen: battery type, standard and capacity
- Battery temperature: automatically measured by the battery tester
You can also scan your license plate to quickly obtain the vehicle’s information (not supported for all types of plates). You can manually enter the license plate numbers if it is not available.
The built-in printer enables you to print a professional-looking personalized test report for your own records or to show to a friend or customer.
Car batteries for 53+ vehicle brands can be registered automatically by scanning the battery’s barcode with the built-in scanner or by manual input.
It’s important to register your battery to let your engine control module (DME) know the type of newly installed battery, so the software can reset the old battery statistics, which help you avoid the following issues:
- Shortened battery life because of overcharging
- Energy management system malfunction
- Start-stop system malfunction
- Vehicle fails to start
- Alternator IGR malfunction / the energy recovery is invalid
- Electrical accessories may not work normally
After registration of the new battery, it can perform a vehicle system initialization to reset the components.
BT608E enables one-touch battery replacement & Battery Management System (BMS) reset. This Autel car battery tester also integrates existing battery tests, new battery registration and error code reading.
Following functions make it stand out:
- Auto battery registration: No need for another diagnostic tool
- Diagnostic functions: Code scanning enables reading and erasing codes
- Step-by-step battery replacement instructions: Skips unnecessary steps and saves time
If vehicle power is interrupted or lost during battery replacement, the position settings of some vehicle components could be lost and can fail to work properly.
BT608E battery test scanner can help DIY-ers as well as professionals with step-by-step instructions to reset the electric appliances and systems like:
- Sunroof reset
- Lane-departure warning system
- Pre-collision system
- Emission inspection and maintenance program
The BT608E is the most versatile, affordable professional-grade full-function wireless Bluetooth / Wifi OBDII battery and charging system tester / scanner / analyzer / printer on the market today. Probes and an Amp clamp can also be added optionally.
Yeah, we know you want it as badly as we do 😉
Customers love the fact that there are unlimited free updates unlike some competing brands. However, initial registering as well as updating this device may be a challenge if you’re not too tech-savvy, they say.
- Accurate, easy to use
- Tests 6V and 12V batteries from 100 to 3000 CCA
- Tests 12V and 24V cranking / charging systems
- Battery barcode scan function for battery specifications
- Handy on-screen instruction guides with illustrations
- Very responsive touchscreen
- Heavy-Duty casing, cables and clamps
- Protective hard case included
- In-vehicle and out-of-vehicle tests
- Rechargeable built-in lithium batteries
- Built-in printer for test reports
- Battery location function
- For Flooded Lead-Acid, AGM, AGM Spiral, EFB and Gel car batteries
- Built-in scanner / camera
- VIN-code scanner or auto-detect via OBD port
- Read and erase error codes
- Compatible with CCA, CA, SAE, EN, IEC, DIN, JIS and MCA
- Data management setting
- Automatic OBD vehicle and battery information
- Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity
- Free lifetime WIFI software updates, no subscription fees
- Amp clamp and probes are optional
- Screen protector is optional
The Schumacher BT-100 delivers a complete charging system diagnosis for batteries in cars, small trucks, RVs, motorcycles, ATVs, boats and lawn tractors.
This old-school trusted analogue device can test load, battery condition and starter motor draw. Unlike digital testers, this car battery tester puts your battery through its paces with a real hardware resistance load test, not a simulation. A 50 Amp load test for 6V batteries and a 100 Amp load test for 12V batteries can be performed up to 1000 CCA. This car battery tester is simple to operate with its top-mounted rocker switch for ease of use and it has highly visible meter readings.
The BT-100 is equipped with super-grip, heavy-duty, color-coded battery clamps. The durable steel casing with baked enamel shell and rubber-insulated carrying handle is well-ventilated to stay cool(er) under load.
No-nonsense, old-school reliable testing this is…
Customers confirm that although this battery tester looks a bit outdated, it does what it has to do and is very easy to use. It does a great job at telling if you can still rely on your battery or if it has to be replaced. They say that it’s also a fast way to check if your alternator is working correctly.
- Easy to use
- “Real” hardware resistance load testing
- Super-grip, heavy-duty, color-coded battery clamps
- Well-ventilated, durable steel casing with baked enamel shell and rubber-insulated carrying handle
- For 6V and 12V batteries up to 1000 CCA
- Needs no internal batteries
- No electronics or updates
- Gets hot under load testing (which is normal)
- Less accurate readings compared to digital testers
- Analogue display is sensitive to hard handling
The TOPDON bluetooth battery monitor can test all 12V car batteries from 100 to 2000 CCA.
The test results are based on JIS, EN, DIN, SAE, and IEC Standards.
Once connected with the car battery and wirelessly connected with your smartphone by Bluetooth, it can do a voltage test, a charging test, a cranking test and trip recording on all your vehicles:
- You can check the overall health of the battery
- The cranking test helps you test and analyze the starting motor to check if it works properly
- The charging test is to check the charging system status to avoid damaging the battery due to overcharging or incomplete charging
This car battery tester only uses very little power from your car battery and needs no internal battery. It’s very easy to perform a check in minutes. It’s reverse-polarity protected, fireproof, small and compact.
Works for in-vehicle as well as out-of-vehicle testing. It’s small enough to be stored in a glove box or center console. Fast and accurately, this battery load tester will help you determine if your car battery simply needs charging or needs to be replaced.
The bluetooth wireless connectivity up to 30 feet gives you freedom to move in and around your car, which is a big bonus.
It will tell you when to replace your car battery or if you have a charging issue before you get stranded. The TOPDON bluetooth car battery monitor is a great tool for DIY users, automobile workshops, garages and alike.
Overall, customers think it’s a great little device at an incredible price that works very well. Some customers would have preferred to be able to read the status on the device itself, but that’s not the concept of this kind of Bluetooth device, of course.
- Bluetooth wireless connection
- Great intuitive app with easy-to-follow instructions
- Tells you when to replace your car battery
- Analyses overall health of battery and does a cranking and charging test
- Works for in-vehicle as well as out-of-vehicle testing
- Device needs no internal battery
- For car batteries from 100 to 2000 CCA
- JIS, EN, DIN, SAE, and IEC Standards
- Smartphone needed
- No built-in printer
Comparison Table of the Best Car Battery Testers
|Best Overall||FOXWELL||BT705 Car Battery Tester|
|Best User-Friendly||Innova||3721 Battery and Charging System Monitor|
|Best Budget LED||AUTDER||12V/24V Car Battery Tester|
|Best Budget Digital||KONNWEI||KW208|
|Best Professional||Autel||Battery Tester MaxiBAS BT608(E)|
|Best Bluetooth||TOPDON||Bluetooth Car Battery Tester|
Like with all choices in life, budget and personal preference play a large role in choosing a car battery tester.
Let’s start with our two budget buys:
- While the AUTDER 12V/24V Car Battery Tester is the most affordable tester in our selection by far, it still gives you a rough idea of what shape your battery and charging system are in.
- If you’re looking for a more detailed digital analysis, the KONNWEI KW208 outperforms all competitors in the low price range. Awesome deal!
Don’t wanna pop the hood and stuff? Looking for a way to leisurely see what’s going on in the “batt” compartment? Easy-peasy: Innova 3721 Battery and Charging System Monitor
Next up and the less obvious choice maybe, is the analogue Schumacher BT-100. Although old tech, it does a pretty good job and is a “real” physical load tester, unlike digital ones.
Don’t like old tech? Wanna move freely without wires holding you down? There’s two awesome wireless battery testers we adore:
- The TOPDON Bluetooth Car Battery Tester because it’s just unbelievable how intuitive and user-friendly this Bluetooth device communicates with your smartphone-installed app, neatly sorting all data for you and handing them on a plate… Well, on a phone actually…
- If budget is no issue, you should definitely go for the Autel Battery Tester MaxiBAS BT608(E). It is more capable than most professional testers that cost several times its price. Respect!
Finally, our trophy of “Best Overall” goes to… (drumroll…): FOXWELL BT705 Car Battery Tester. This guy is just hard to beat: packed with yummy tech stuff, user-friendly, reliable and it won’t break the bank. This may be the perfect balancing act between affordability and capability…
OK, now that we’ve “tested” the market out there (pun intended), it’s for you to decide which tester to choose between all these goodies…
Can I Test my Car Battery Myself?
Of course, you can easily test your car battery yourself with a good car battery tester. For a fraction of the price your dealership will charge to find out what’s wrong, you can do this yourself in minutes if you buy your own tester. That way you don’t have to rely on tests performed by someone who benefits from a negative outcome, if you get my drift… You can decide for yourself if and when it is time for a new car battery and save a lot of money in the process…
What is a Good Voltage for a Car Battery?
A healthy, fully charged car battery should read 12.6V or above for a voltage test with the engine switched off.
Voltage should not drop under 10V when you crank the engine.
With the engine running and the alternator charging, voltage at idle should be between 13.7V and 14.7V.
What Voltage is a Bad Alternator? What is a Normal Alternator Reading?
If voltage is within the 13.7 to 14.7-14.8 volts range while idling, your alternator is working as it should.
If the battery voltage is below 13.6-13.7 volts, your alternator is charging insufficiently, which is bad for your battery life and performance. Even worse is a voltage above 15V, which leads to overcharging.
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