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Best Car Battery Testers: Check Your Cranking Power

If you’re wondering what’s going on with your battery, these top car battery testers will give you answers

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON October 13, 2021

Can’t remember the last time you replaced your car battery? Or maybe you’re encountering new issues like rough starts or sudden battery failures. Either way, it’s time to stop wondering and get answers and you don’t have to bring your car into the shop. With a car battery tester in your toolkit, you can find out exactly what’s going on under the hood. Designed to test your car’s battery and reveal its charge, its functionality, and any potential issues, one of these testers can help you pinpoint problems the first time they occur. Compact, reasonably priced, and able to test for anywhere from one to a whole host of common battery issues, a quality car battery tester can deliver results when you need them most. And we’ve rounded up some of the best car battery testers you can buy right here.

Best Overall
TT Topdon Car Battery Tester
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Summary
Summary

A simple, easy-to-use car battery tester with a large display for testing the battery power of any car battery.

Pros
Pros
  • Detailed readout presents a lot of information
  • Can be connected with a computer to transfer the data for more detailed analysis
  • Expansive testing capability for many batteries
Cons
Cons
  • The interior battery of the tester has been known to arrive nearly dead 
  • The included data on the display can be confusing the first time you use it
Best Overall
TT Topdon Car Battery Tester
Best Value
AUTDER Car Battery Tester
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Summary
Summary

One of the best budget car battery testers that packs a lot of functionality in a simple and basic screen setup.

Pros
Pros
  • Quality feel and construction for a low price
  • The operation is straightforward, especially when using the basic instructions
  • Affordable price
Cons
Cons
  • Reading a vehicle's alternator can be difficult
Best Value
AUTDER Car Battery Tester
Honorable Mention
FOXWELL Automotive 100-2000 CCA Battery Load Tester
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Summary
Summary

It quickly and accurately tests 12V or 24V regular flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, gel, and deep cycle batteries.

Pros
Pros
  • Works on batteries that are both in and out of the vehicle
  • Easy to use
  • Screen provides all the info you need about the battery, starter, and alternator
Cons
Cons
  • May read a 12V battery as a 36V battery
  • The printing option is finicky
  • Expensive
Honorable Mention
FOXWELL Automotive 100-2000 CCA Battery Load Tester
Car Battery Tester Close Up
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Best Car Battery Testers Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
TT Topdon Car Battery Tester

If you’re looking for a car battery tester that’s able to be used on just about any battery, you’ll want to get your hands on the TT Topdon Car Battery Tester. This lightweight handheld tool offers a wealth of information on your vehicle’s battery, and it’s so simple to use. Connect the tester, and you’ll be able to get information on all kinds of 12-volt batteries including flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, and gel. It’ll perform state of health, state of charge, voltage, current, and rating readouts for you to fully assess your battery’s health. 


Plus, you’ll have no trouble seeing those results on the backlit, easy-to-read display screen. However, do keep in mind that some testers may encounter issues; for example, some can suddenly stop performing certain tests. Fortunately, it’s backed by a one-year warranty, just in case. And the data can be confusing for some first-time users, so make sure you read the directions carefully.

Specs:
  • Works with most 12-volt batteries
  • Displays cranking voltage and cranking time
  • Conducts integrated test on 12-volt charging system
  • Backlit screen
  • Gives complete results in three seconds

Pros:

  • Performs a wealth of tests in just seconds
  • Rubberized exterior housing offers durability and protection
  • Works with all types of 12-volt batteries

Cons:

  • Data may be confusing to understand for first-time users
  • Some testers may malfunction
Best Value
AUTDER Car Battery Tester

The Autder Car Battery Tester is a great option if you’re on a budget and don’t really need an overly fancy or high-tech tool. It’s simple, straightforward, and you can use this battery tester with most 12-volt batteries. The tester will take a reading on the battery’s health and condition, in fact, it’ll check both the battery and the alternator for you. The eight LED lights on the device illuminate to tell you how healthy or unhealthy your car battery is, and it’s accurate within 0.1 volts. 


Built with pure copper wire and clips, it offers great conductivity, and the internal microprocessor delivers results ASAP. While this budget-friendly device won’t deliver in-depth details, it’s great for quick checkups. However, if your battery is completely dead, this battery tester won’t be able to check your alternator at all and the instructions are lacking; some say they’re among the worst they’ve ever read.

Specs:
  • Works with 12-volt batteries
  • Eight LED light indicators show battery condition
  • Controlled by a microprocessor
  • Also tests alternator
  • Accurate within 0.1 volts

Pros:

  • Affordably priced
  • Quick and efficient
  • Simple readings aren’t overly complicated with extra information

Cons:

  • Cannot check your alternator if your battery is completely dead
  • Instructions are terrible
Honorable Mention
Foxwell Automotive 100-2000 CCA Battery Load Tester

The Foxwell Automotive 100-2000 CCA Battery Load Tester is a device that’s worth investing in especially if you want a car battery tester that can work beyond your vehicle’s battery. This product will work on both 12-volt and 24-volt batteries, and it’s capable of assessing battery health on most battery types (including flooded, AGM flat plate and spiral, gel, and deep cycle). Accurate and speedy, once you clip this onto the battery terminal, you’ll be able to get readings on the CCAs, starting capability, and health status within just 2.5 seconds. 


Constructed with a large and backlit LCD display, you can diagnose battery problems easily. And whether you need to test a battery that’s been in storage or under the hood, this car battery tester can handle it. The biggest drawback of this battery tester is its expensive price but it’s well-built and does feature a rubberized sleeve for a bit of added durability. However, you may run into small disadvantages like difficulty printing your test results (the Bluetooth only works with a Foxwell printer) and test result storage.

Specs:
  • Tests 12-volt or 24-volt batteries
  • Works on most battery types
  • Measures cold-cranking amps, vehicle starting capability, and battery health
  • Delivers readings in 2.5 seconds
  • Backlit LCD display
  • Can be used on batteries in or out of vehicles

Pros:

  • Durable exterior housing and sleeve
  • Backlit LCD display makes reading results easy to see
  • Works for 12-volt and 24-volt batteries of many different types

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only stores your last test’s results
  • Bluetooth printing feature only works with a Foxwell printer
Most User-Friendly
ANCEL BST200 Car Battery Tester

Save room in your toolbox and opt for the Ancel BST200 Car Battery Tester. It’s compact, but it definitely doesn’t skimp on data. You’ll get a wealth of information and insight into your battery’s state, as this tester will provide the CCA value and rating, voltage, internal resistance, health status, and state of charge for most 12-volt automotive batteries. It works with most lead-acid batteries, including flooded, AGM flat plate and spiral, and gel for cars, trucks, and even RVs. You’ll get results in seconds, and there are two test modes so you can test whether your battery is in or out of your vehicle. 


It’s small and compact in your hand, but the large backlit LCD display and easy-to-use keypad give you great control and you don’t even need battery power to operate this device; it’ll use your battery itself. Just keep in mind that this tester tool won’t work on lithium batteries. Its directions are also difficult to follow and might be confusing for first-time battery testers, but it’s otherwise a trustworthy and reliable device.

Specs:
  • Works on automotive 12-volt, 100 to 1,100 CCA lead-acid batteries
  • Offers two test modes: in vehicle or out of vehicle
  • Delivers results in seconds
  • Checks CCA value and rating, voltage, internal resistance, health status, and state of charge
  • Large backlit LCD screen
  • Keypad for menu navigation

Pros:

  • Compact enough to carry or store anywhere
  • Display plus keypad make the device easy to navigate
  • Offers plenty of information and two testing modes

Cons:

  • Instructions are difficult to understand
  • Will not work on lithium batteries
Best Analog
Schumacher Battery Load Tester and Voltmeter

The Schumacher Battery Load Tester and Voltmeter might be pretty simple at first glance, but don’t let this car battery tester’s analog design turn you away. Sure, it’s not digital, however, when it comes to reliability, it can perform better than some digital alternatives. Accurate and able to take readings on both 12-volt and 6-volt batteries, it displays its analog readings on clearly visible meters, including those for load, condition, and starter draw on your car’s battery. 


It may look simple, but delivers a complete charging system diagnosis and its heavy-duty, color-coded battery clamps are as durable as the steel exterior of the device itself, which features a rubber-insulated carrying handle for easy portability. It’s worth noting that there’s a heating element inside this car battery tester. It will heat up when you’re using it, and it can create a strange smell, however, it isn’t a sign of any issues as it could be residual plastic from the construction process.

Specs:
  • Tests battery load, condition, and starter draw
  • Works for 12-volt and 6-volt batteries up to 1,000 cold cranking amps
  • Top-mounted rocker switch
  • Easy-to-read meter
  • Heavy-duty color-coded clamps
  • Steel case with baked enamel shell 

Pros:

  • Simple design always works and delivers good accuracy
  • Offers a complete charging system diagnosis
  • Durable steel exterior is built to last

Cons:

  • Does heat up thanks to the internal heating element
  • Can create an odd smell if dust or dirt gets onto the heating element and burns off
Best Feature-Filled
Motopower 12V Car Battery Tester

Want a car battery tester that can give you a wealth of information? The Motopower 12V Car Battery Tester just might be the right pick as this handy device is great for those who want to have it all, from battery and alternator information to the ability to store, record, and print that data. Able to check the state of health, charge, internal resistance, and more on your various types of 12-volt vehicle batteries (including flooded, AGM flat plate and spiral, gel, and EFB), this digital device offers a 3-inch full-color LCD screen to see all your data on. 


You’ll also be able to store the information for later review or print it out if you’d like. Backed by a two-year warranty and 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, it’s also a product you can trust to perform. Easy and self-explanatory, this tester doesn’t require much instruction, even for first-time users. However, do keep in mind that it doesn’t have its own power source as it uses your car battery to turn on, so completely dead batteries will pose a problem.

Specs:
  • Works on all types of 12-volt batteries up to 2,000 CCA
  • Tests state of health, charge, internal resistance, and more
  • Tests alternator’s starting voltage
  • Real-time wave view for output
  • Data can be printed from a computer

Pros:

  • Digital with an easy-to-read LCD display
  • Offers more than your basic battery quality tests
  • Allows you to store readings and print from any computer

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have its own separate power source
  • Cannot work if your battery is completely dead

How We Selected Car Battery Testers

There are many different car battery testers available out there, and we set out to find those made with great accuracy, lasting quality, and solid reliability. So, when we started our search for the best battery testers, we sought out those that worked easily and delivered readings in just a couple of seconds. We compared different devices based on their ease of use, their accuracy at taking battery readings, and their ability to work on batteries both at full charge capacity and significantly low. We also looked for testers that could work with all types of 12-volt batteries for extra versatility.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

How do you choose a car battery tester and know it’s one of quality? We’ve got your guide. Here, you’ll find all of the information you need to separate the best testers from the rest, with tips, shopping advice, and all of the hallmarks of a good product.

What to Consider When Buying Car Battery Testers

Types 

Digital Battery Tester

A digital car battery tester can test discharged batteries and assess a variety of different types of batteries, such as AGM and gel cell batteries, which are increasingly more common. In addition, these units feature functions not included on traditional load testers. You’ll be able to test a wide range of different battery aspects with a digital device, including your alternator’s starting output, and many can also store readings or print that data if you’d like.

Traditional Load Tester

A traditional load tester requires some state of charge to assess a battery’s condition as that's the only way to get an accurate assessment of the battery's capacity and condition. Specifically, a discharged battery needs to be charged in advance for 30 or 60 minutes for the load tester to work properly. These car battery testers are simpler and more straightforward, but they do lack the ability to test a wide range of different battery metrics.

Key Features

Battery Type

Different types of vehicles have different types of batteries. Some car battery testers and chargers work on many types of batteries, such as conventional, AGM, gel cell, spiral wound, and deep cycle. The more versatile the device is, the more useful it is. Just make sure it will work on your particular vehicle's battery before you make a purchase.

Ease of Use

For the most part, a car battery load tester is fairly simple to operate. If you're not mechanically inclined, choose a device that's easy to use right out of the box that doesn't require a complex setup. It should also provide test results that are simple to decipher. Smaller and ergonomically designed devices are great if you plan on transporting the device, and some have a compact design, so they can fit in a pocket.

Display

You check the voltage of your battery on the car battery tester's display. Are you getting a traditional battery tester with a single metric display or an LCD display that details a host of functions? Pick the one that lines up with your budget and your required needs.

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and car battery testers. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • You can use an automotive load battery tester to diagnose potential issues with the battery and its performance.
  • Some battery analyzers offer advanced readouts that present more information about the battery's health and overall performance.

FAQs

Q. Is a battery tester simple to read?

After a quick scroll through your tester’s user manual, it's pretty simple to use in order to read the power level of any battery. Some testers, however, do offer more advanced readouts and functions that may have a steeper learning curve.

Q. How do I connect a battery tester?

Most testers are designed to connect directly to the battery terminals where it can complete the circuit with the battery itself.

Q. Can you load test a dead battery?

Nope, there has to be at least some state of charge to accurately test the condition of a battery. You’ll have to attempt to charge it via a battery charger or jump the car, motorcycle, or RV in question.  

Final Thoughts

When you need a lot of accuracy and information related to your car battery, the TT Topdon Car Battery Tester is hard to beat. The AUTDER Car Battery Tester is also an excellent option when you can live with a smaller screen and basic functionality.