The Best Car Battery Testers For 2020
Contrary to popular belief, car battery testers are not just for professional mechanics. If you do a lot of work in your car or if you’re interested to find out the charge status of the car battery, you should check out our choices for the best car battery testers.
Of course, you can always use a standard multimeter and hydrometer. That’s the old school way to check the charge status and general health of a car battery. However, these new devices can do more than just check the charge status. In this article, you’ll find out how the best car battery testers can help avoid bigger electrical problems later on.
7 Best Car Battery Testers Reviewed
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
First in our list of the best car battery testers is the Ancel BA101 Professional Load Battery Tester. This device comes in a small, handy, and compact design that makes it easy to store in your glove box or tool kit. This device is incredibly easy to use and can do so much more than check the charge status.
The Ancel BA101 can check the voltage, cranking power or cold cranking amps (CCA), and the level of Ohm resistance (the amount of life lest in the battery). All the information is displayed in a large and easy-to-view LCD backlit display. The Ancel BA101 is powered directly the car battery and does not require separate batteries to operate.
It even comes with a 3-feet cable and a pair of small alligator clamps. The Ancel BA101 can also check the charging status of the alternator and the cranking condition of the starter. Although the smallish clamps are a bit fiddly to use, this is a great all-in-one car battery tester that you should definitely consider.
If you like doing it the old-school way, the Schumacher BT-100 is the right tool for you. Although this car battery tester is not as handy as the Ancel BA101, it tests 6V and 12V batteries up to 1000 CCA. It works on cars, light trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, tractors, lawnmowers, etc.
As you can see, the Schumacher BT-100 may not be as modern as the other battery testers in this list. But the important thing is it works, and rather brilliantly at that. We also like the top-mounted rocker switch and the hefty super-grip battery clamps. Compared to the tinny battery clamps in the Ancel BA101, the clamps in this kit can grip the terminals much better and more securely.
The Schumacher BT-100 can test the battery load, battery condition, and starter motor draw. The analog meter takes some getting used to if you prefer the clarity of LCD screens, but it is shock-proof and capable of lasting longer than a digital screen.
Best of all, the Schumacher BT-100 is cheaper to boot! If you don’t mind the cumbersome form factor and analog gauge, this is the best car battery tester for the money.
If you’re looking for the most affordable car battery tester, it doesn’t get better than the CARTMAN. This kit is less than $8 but is super easy to use. In fact, you can do a basic battery check in seconds. With the engine turned off, simply connect the red and black clamps to the positive and negative terminals respectively. The CARTMAN battery tester will instantly display the state of charge.
This device does not come with an analog or digital LCD screen, but it does come with LED indicators. It can also detect the charging state of the alternator. After hooking up the clamps to the car battery, start the engine and press on the gas pedal to raise the engine speed. If the green LED light is lit as you do this, it means the charging circuit is performing well.
The CARTMAN 12V Car Battery & Alternator tester is handy, affordable, and easy to use. If you’re looking to stretch every dollar, this is the best car battery tester to buy.
The Solar BA9 is compatible with all battery types including flooded, AGM, spiral, and gel cell 12-volt car batteries! It comes with a small and backlit LCD display for easy viewing in both day and night. Similar to the Ancel BA101, this car battery tester does not need separate batteries. It is powered directly by the car battery courtesy of the small clamps.
Regarding the clamps, we’re noticing a trend here. We understand that small battery testers should be paired with small clamps. But most of the time, the clamps don’t offer much grip. In the case of the Solar BA9, the clamps work fine, but they don’t offer much grip. The slightest of tugs is enough to pull the clamps away from the terminals.
But with that being said, the Solar BA9 is still brilliant. It can accurately test both charged and discharged batteries down to 7 volts. It works on all 12 volt batteries large or small. Best of all, it is easy to use.
The Innova 3721 is not merely a car battery charger. It’s actually a nifty in-car gadget that displays the battery charge status and monitors the charging system. We like this device very much since you don’t need to get out of the vehicle, lift the hood, and get down and dirty to check the battery charge status.
However, there are some downsides to this. Since the device is designed to be powered via the cigarette lighter socket, it won’t work on motorcycles or 6-volt batteries. The display is also similar to the dated clock displays in pre-millennium OBD2 vehicles.
But those downsides mean nothing if all you need is a simple gadget to check the battery status and charging indicator. The LCD display may look outdated, but it displays the battery voltage along with a small bar graph to indicate the charge status. Under the display are color-coded LED lights so you can quickly identify the battery charge status.
It also has a pivoting head so you can adjust the viewing angle of the LCD display. Best of all, it costs less than $17! The Innova 3721 should be an essential gadget in every car.
Right off the bat, the Foxwell BT-705 Battery Tester is clearly designed for professional use. But we’ll give it to you straight: this is the most expensive car battery tester in this list. It starts at $128 but offers a wealth of features to budding car enthusiasts!
The Foxwell BT-705 comes with small copper clamps that offer superior grip. The clamps may be small, but the serrated edges were able to grip the terminals with tenacity. Even the wires are made of copper to offer stable communication from the battery to the tester.
This battery tester is good for both 12-volt and 24-volt batteries with capacities of 100 CCA up to 2000 CCA. It works in all types of batteries including AGM flat plate, AGM spiral, gel cell, deep-cycle, or regular flooded car batteries. It even comes with a larger 2.5-inch backlit LCD display for easier reading in low light conditions. The longer 8-foot cable also means you can test the battery from the inside of the vehicle, or you can move around as you’re testing the car battery.
As you can see, the Foxwell BT-705 may be the most expensive, but it offers a wealth of features along with better quality components and materials. If for some reason you need a professional-quality car battery tester, the Foxwell BT-705 is the one to get.
If not for the extra-short cables and the brittle plastic case, this DC Automotive Battery Tester would be on top of the list. Why? Because it only costs $11 and works with all 12-volt or 24-volt batteries. It also comes with extra-large and rounded clamps, which should have come with lengthier and thicker cables. But at this price range, it seems you can’t have it all.
But this also means it has a lightweight and portable design. However, there are no LCD displays or analog gauges to read. This car battery tester comes with a series of color-coded LED status indicators to instantly display the battery charge and alternator charging status.
This all depends on what you’re looking for in a car battery tester. But if the manufacturer was kind enough to fit longer and lengthier cables, it would have been for the better.
How To Clean Battery Terminals
When working with the car battery, you should take a moment to clean the battery terminals before testing. You can easily remove corrosion and acid build-up on the battery terminals using basic household items.
Step 1: Open the hood. Dislocate the negative cable followed by the positive cable. Wipe off excess grease and corrosion on the terminals and cables using a clean shop towel.
Step 2: Mix a tablespoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water. You can also add a teaspoon of vinegar if you prefer. This cleaning solution is the most effective and economical way to clean the battery terminals. With this cleaning solution, the gunk and acid deposits will literally sizzle and dissolve with little to no effort.
Step 3: Grab an old toothbrush and dip it in the cleaning solution. Gently brush away the corrosion build-up in the battery terminals until clean. You will notice the terminals fizzling as the cleaning solution dissolves the grease and acid. You can also pour the cleaning solution directly on the dirty terminals, but be careful not to spill the cleaner on other parts of the vehicle.
Step 4: Wipe all treated surfaces with a microfiber towel until dry. You won’t electrocute yourself if you connect the wet terminals to the battery cables, so don’t worry. However, it is best if the terminals are fully dry to lessen the risk of over-tightening the clamps.
Step 5: Reconnect the battery cables to the terminals. Start with the positive battery cable before attaching the negative cable. Make sure to tighten the cables sufficiently. Do not over-tighten!
Step 6: The final step is to smear petroleum jelly on the battery terminals. This is most applicable in the winter or when the weather is cold. The petroleum jelly will coat and protect the terminals from corrosion and will keep the battery cranking in the coldest weather. This is an old-school trick that will keep the terminals clean and corrosion-free.