Anyone who has driven a vehicle for any length of time knows that sinking feeling when you climb in to the driver’s seat, turn the key and get nothing. As you try to start your car one more time, and then another, your thoughts turn to how much is this going to cost, and is it just a dead battery or something more sinister?
Of course most major auto parts stores will offer to test your battery for free, but those stores aren’t performing house calls, and as previously stated your car isn’t going anywhere either. So how can you diagnose what might be wrong with your car’s charging system at home? It’s easy enough with a little elbow grease and a multimeter, also sometimes called a voltmeter.
A multimeter can be an intimidating piece of equipment to operate, especially if you have never used one before. Testing automotive batteries is pretty straightforward, however. These units will have a dial on the front that gives you a number of options. No matter what brand, or how many choices, you always want to find the “V.” Sometimes there will be more than one V, and in that case you want to find the one with a straight line over top of it. Can it also have a dashed line? Sure, as long as there is a solid line present above the V, it’s correct.
Before you start working under your car’s hood, there are a couple safety tips that should be followed for good measure. Always make sure you are working on your car in a well-ventilated area, and wear protective eyewear and clothing.
Once you have properly adjusted the dial, it is time to connect the probes. There should be a red (positive) and black (negative). Go color to color, with the red probe connecting to your battery’s positive terminal and the black probe on the negative terminal.
With the probes in contact with the terminals, refer to the multimeter’s gauge. Whether digital or analog, doesn’t matter. Batteries differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, and there are other factors at play like battery age, but a good battery should read in a certain range. As long as your battery is measuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 12.6 volts, the battery is good. Find a measurement less than that, and a battery replacement is probably in your future.
For help in diagnosing vehicle ignition problems and Ford service, bring your Ford car, truck or SUV to Cavalier Ford in Chesapeake, VA. We additionally do brake repair in Portsmouth to oil changes in Portsmouth as well. From a new battery that’s a perfect fit for your F-150 to more in-depth repairs for your Ford Explorer, our service department is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. We’ve got the quality replacement parts that are a perfect fit for your Ford, and the competent and professional staff to install them for you. Check out our specials page for Ford service specials!