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.
A simple, easy-to-use car battery tester with a large display for testing the battery power of any car battery.
- 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
- 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
One of the best budget car battery testers that packs a lot of functionality in a simple and basic screen setup.
- Quality feel and construction for a low price
- The operation is straightforward, especially when using the basic instructions
- Affordable price
- Reading a vehicle's alternator can be difficult
It quickly and accurately tests 12V or 24V regular flooded, AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, gel, and deep cycle batteries.
- 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
- May read a 12V battery as a 36V battery
- The printing option is finicky
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Car Battery Testers Reviews & Recommendations
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.