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Troubleshooting a Battery

Trouble Shooting a Battery

General Battery Testing

One of the facts of life is that batteries fail. Some take years, but eventually they will all bite the dust. However, there are so many factors in electrical systems that can go wrong, that often times the battery takes the blame for other component's problems. The easiest and fastest thing to check for problems is the battery. Here is a simple test that can tell you a lot about what is going on inside a battery, and whether it is good or not. This is not meant to test anything other than the battery, but it is a great place to start if you are having electrical problems.

Digital Multi-MeterThe first thing to do is to get a pen, a notebook, a voltmeter, and a charger. For this test we will asume that the batteries in question are 12v.

Step # 1

Disconnect the battery from the system, remove cables and connectors, and clean off the terminals. Take a voltage reading for reference and make sure to write it down.

Step # 2

Charge Tek Battery ChargerTry to charge the battery with the 12 volt charger. Hook it up to the charger and let it charge for a full cycle.

Note: If you are using a smart or automatic charger and your Step # 1 voltage reading is below about 6.5 volts, then you will need to hook up the battery in parallel with another battery in order to charge it. You can do this with any other 12 volt battery, including a car battery, using jumper cables, but DO NOT start the engine of the car if you are using one. You don't need the charger complete its full cycle hooked up to the battery in testing, just give it enough time to add some voltage, usually 10-20 minutes. Then disconnect the second battery, and let the charger charge the battery in question

Step # 3

After the charger indicates that the battery is fully charged, or if it has charged for more than 8 hours, disconnect the charger from the battery. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then take another voltage reading.

Step # 4

Let the battery sit for 12 hours with no load, DO NOT load test at this time. After the 12 hours take another volt reading. You should be recording the results of each of these readings as you go.

Step # 5

Battery Load TesterHook the battery back up to the bike, or RV, or whatever you took it out of. If you are testing a starting battery, hold the volt meter on the battery while you attempt to start the motor. Record what the voltage drops to. If you are testing a RV battery, turn on as many electrical devices as you can while the voltmeter is on the battery.

After you have gathered all of this data, email us the results at

Include in the email:

  • Description of symtoms
  • All 4 voltage readings labeled at what stage they were recorded
  • Your return Contact information
  • Order information if it is a battery that you bought from us.

Our technical department will analyze the data within 1-2 buisness days and respond to you with a conclusion. If the information is conclusive, they will be able to tell you what the problem is, and how best to proceed.

The following is a video demonstration of this prodecure.

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3 Responses,   3.3 Rating

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  • Hi

    Glad I found this site :)

    I would like to ask for your advice. I have come across a set of forklift batteries (680AH), brand new, which however have been left sitting idle for some time. I don’t know for how long however the cell voltage was 1.65v. SG was 0!

    I’ve charged one cell, voltage reached 2.11v and SG=1.28.

    I discharged this cell with a small load. Discharged for 85hours at 3.3 amps. At the end of the discharge test, the voltage came down to 2.01 and SG=1.19.
    During discharge, the voltage read 1.95v. Is this OK since I’m finding it a bit low?

    Is this a good battery? Has it been sulphated by sitting around in a discharged state? I would like to know the actual capacity of this cell.


    Brian Ellul
    March 14, 2014 a 3:42 am
    • Hi Brian. Electrolyte can never have an SG of ‘0’. Even clean water, without any acid, will have an SG of 1.0 kg/L.

      November 12, 2014 a 3:18 am
    • This article has been very helpful in learning how to test the battery. I will make sure the terminals are cleaned off and take the voltage reading. Hopefully, my battery is working good and doesn’t need to be replaced. car batteries wollongong

      Jeffrey Goodman
      March 24, 2016 a 9:37 am
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