3 Ways to Test/Check a Car Battery: Car Ownership Tips from Carlsen Subaru

Things You Can Check on Your Vehicle's Battery from Carlsen Subaru

The battery under the hood of your car is a small part that has a big job: giving your car the electrical impulse it needs to start the engine. However, there's no good way to tell if your battery is in good condition without checking and testing it yourself. After all, there's a fuel gauge in the dashboard, but not a battery gauge...

However, with the right tools and a little help from our factory-trained service team, you can check key components of your car's battery yourself! Checking your car's battery a few times each year is a great way to get ahead of any battery problems, so you can get it replaced before your car refuses to start. We'll tell you three important things to check about your car's battery on this page.

Learn how to quickly check your battery from the service professionals at Carlsen Subaru.

3. Battery Fluid Level

Not all batteries are the same, and many modern car batteries are completely sealed units. When they stop holding a charge, you'll simply need to replace them.

However, some older car batteries are equipped with small ports to the inside. Car batteries are filled with an electrolyte fluid that covers the battery plates inside, which lets it discharge and recharge. Over time, that electrolyte fluid will slowly evaporate. If your car's battery has a plastic cover, you can remove the cover and peer inside. The plates should be covered entirely with liquid. If they're not, you might consider adding distilled water to the battery, just enough to completely submerge the plates inside.

Remember that the fluid in a car battery is acidic. If you have any concerns about safely maintaining these type of old batteries, we strongly recommend trusting a certified expert at an authorized service center like ours in the California Bay Area at Carlsen Subaru.

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2. Battery Terminal Corrosion

Over time, corrosion can build up on the positive and negative terminals of your battery. The charging and recharging cycle can cause sulfates to build up on the battery terminals, which is a problem because sulfates don't conduct electricity terribly well. If enough corrosion builds up on the battery, your car won't get a strong electrical connection, meaning it might not start!

It's a good idea to pop the hood on your car periodically to check the battery terminals for corrosion. If you notice a white or light-blue powder on the battery terminals, you might want to disconnect the battery cables from the terminals and scrub the contacts clean with a wire brush. Or, visit Carlsen Subaru for a thorough battery check and cleaning.

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1. Battery Charge Multimeter Test

A device called a multimeter can be used to measure the strength of a particular electrical connection. In the case of your car battery, a multimeter can be used to test the charge of your battery.

You might not realize that the battery really only has one job: to start the car. When you're sitting parked and listening to the radio with the engine off, the car battery lends a little electricity to the system -- but once the engine fires up, the alternator starts to recharge the battery and provides all the electricity your car's electrical components need.

At the Carlsen Subaru service center, or battery diagnosis is a bit more involved than measuring the voltage from the battery and alternator with a multimeter. We'll test the battery under a load and through its duty cycles. If you've had difficulty starting the car or other electrical problems, a multimeter is a good start. However, more advanced equipment is needed to determine whether you've got a battery that's gone bad and needs replacing or an alternator that's not charging the battery properly. Either way, we've got the parts, tools and know-how to fix your vehicle quickly and correctly at Carlsen Subaru.

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  1. Carlsen Subaru

    480 Veterans Blvd
    Redwood City, CA 94063

    • Sales: (888) 520-5916

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Carlsen Subaru

480 Veterans Blvd
Directions Redwood City, CA 94063

  • Sales: 650-365-6390
  • Service : 650-365-6390
  • Parts: 650-365-6390
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