How Many Volts is a Car Battery Supposed to Be?

how many volts is a car battery

Apart from starting your car, the car battery runs all the electrical systems in your car. A car's battery is at the center of the nervous system of your car. If the car battery voltage is low, the car will neither start nor power the critical systems that need to be powered for proper functioning.

Therefore, how many volts is a car battery supposed to have? A car battery has 12.6 volts and between 13 and 14 volts when running. The battery voltage drops sometimes, and the battery may need to be charged to keep the car up and run efficiently. You need to take the battery's voltage reading as often as possible to avoid getting stuck when you need the car most.

How to Take a Voltage Reading of a Car Battery

How many volts is a car battery supposed to have and how many can a car battery give at a given point? You have to take the readings of the car battery's voltage to find out. Car batteries tend to lose their power with time due to many issues that we will talk about. While the battery's voltage is subject to different things, you need to be sure how many volts the battery has.

Checking the battery voltage reading regularly ensures the car has a healthy battery. Battery power goes into many things on the car, and it needs to be at an optimal level to function properly. You can get the battery tested using the following steps;

  1. Ensure the car is turned off before taking the battery voltage reading.
  2. Once you have ensured the car is off, you need to remove the cap over the positive terminal.
  3. Check the positive terminal for any signs of corrosion and wipe the terminal off before you test your battery voltage.
  4. Attach the positive end of the voltmeter to the positive on the car battery. Touching positive to positive terminal is the same as connecting the red lead to the positive terminal. Do not connect opposite terminals at all costs.
  5. Connect the negative end of the voltmeter to the negative terminal on the car battery. The negative terminal can also be the black lead.
  6. You are ready to check for the car battery voltage readings. How many volts is a car battery required to have? The minimum voltage needs to be around 12.6 volts. Any above 12.9 is an overload, and any below 12.6 is below average. A low voltage battery is not good for your car. You need to be familiar with a car battery voltage chart to avoid mistakes. A negative reading means you have switched the terminals and connected them the wrong way.
  7. Having a high voltage does not necessarily mean that the car battery's health is perfect. Sometimes the high voltage means that the alternator recharges the battery more than it should. In such a case, you can turn high beams to try and reduce the charge to a normal level.
  8. When the car battery is slightly lower than the required voltage, you can recharge it using the trickle method. You want to avoid spoiling your battery through an explosion or gassing.

Another test you need to run on the car battery is the load test. Again, you can use a load tester to run the test. This test gives you the car battery voltage reading when the car has a load. The load test is an important aspect of checking the battery's voltage and health. The load test is not difficult to carry out as long as you have the load tester.

How to Know the Car Battery Voltage is Low

1) Engine Lights

If the engine lights are on with the engine running, the battery voltage should be one of the things you need to check on. The ideal voltage should be 12.6, and anything below that means that the battery needs to be recharged. You need to test the battery voltage using the method outlined above, and you need to be sure about what is happening to your battery.

Vehicles need both electrical and mechanical systems to run hand in hand. Therefore, if you have done all the maintenance you need, and the battery's voltage is still not good enough, it might be time to replace the whole battery. Testing only gives you a diagnosis.

2) Headlights

Another way of checking if the battery power is low is by turning on the headlights and seeing how they respond. Cars have electrical systems that respond relative to the battery's condition. If the headlights are dim, the car battery voltage is low. Note how the headlights react when you rev the engine. You need the headlights on the vehicle to work properly because it is much safer that way.

The lights inside the car can be one way of knowing if the battery is working properly. If the vehicle's electrical system is down, the lights inside the car will be dim compared to how they normally should be. So take note of these signs.

Using the headlights as a test can come in handy when you do not have a multimeter, and you need to test your car battery.

3) Engine

The one question whose answer you must always have is how many volts is a car battery supposed to have. Once you have this answer, you will realize that the engine running can be subject to the car battery having enough voltage. A fully charged battery is the best thing for your engine. However, if the engine is starting slowly, it might mean that the car battery has a low voltage. Measure the voltage to be sure.

When you start the car, and the engine is acting up, one of the main things you have to do is test the battery. Avoid situations like leaving the lights on for a long period after using your car. Leaving the lights for several hours might reduce the charge and leave you wondering where the problem is.

Sometimes all you need to do is jump-start the car battery. Just be sure the battery is the problem, especially for faulty engines. Regular maintenance will keep a lot of problems away.

4) Slow Crank

You are used to your car enough to know when the cranking is slow. The functioning capacity of your battery should crank the car efficiently every day. If you notice that the engine takes longer to start and starts sluggishly, it might be time to check the engine. The charging system should function properly to ensure your battery is always charged and has enough power.

5) Having to Press the Gas Pedal when Starting

A car with a good battery will start without you having to press the gas pedal. However, the battery voltage is probably lower than average if you have to press the gas pedal when starting the car. Car batteries have a primary function which is to start the car.

If you have to give the battery an assist, then it is just a matter of time before replacing the whole battery. The battery's condition is one of the most vital things you have to check in your car. Battery maintenance is one thing you have to do religiously.

What things Does the Car Battery Power in the Car?

The car battery not only starts the engine but has more functions to get the car going. The battery runs the car's electrical system. Here are some functions of the car battery in the car.

a) Running Devices

Devices like the radio, the GPS and other electrical devices in your car are run by the car battery. The things powered by the battery can range among several things. However, if it is an electrical device, it is run by the car battery. For example, the battery takes care of the security systems and the automatic lock.

b) Ignition System

The car battery powers the ignition system. Have you seen people connecting two wires to start the car without the car keys in movies? This is because a battery powers the car's ignition system.

c) Regulating Surges

Like any other electrical device in settings like homes, the car has to protect the devices within it. The battery prevents power surges that could damage the devices in the car. Sudden spikes of power can not go through the battery and cause potential damage to the computer system in the car.

Together with the alternator, the battery generates power to power all the electronics in the car. The system is somewhat self-regulatory and sustaining.

Final Words

The amount of voltage a car battery has meant a lot to the proper functioning of the car. Too much voltage is just as dangerous as a very low voltage count on the vehicle. Therefore, you need to know how to check the voltage and have the proper tools with you. Proper maintenance on the battery is your best shot if you want to wake up to a functioning car every morning.