You can check your vehicle's charging system yourself at home with an ohm meter. An ohm meter, also sometimes called a multimeter, is relatively affordable at hardware or auto parts stores. The appliance measures how much resistance there is in a wire compared to the charge going through the wire. The alternator and voltage regulator make up the charging system of your vehicle. The voltage regulator maintains the voltage from the battery while the vehicle is running. If you have dim headlights or other abnormal electrical issues with your vehicle, you should test the voltage regulator.
Things You'll Need
- Ohm meter
- Two people
Turn the dial on your ohm meter to 20 if it has an ohms scale or to the ohm symbol if it has different setting options on the dial. The ohm symbol looks similar to the symbol for the Greek Omega.
Start your vehicle. Make sure the car is in park and the parking brake is set.
Open the hood of your vehicle so you can access the battery.
Touch the black meter lead of your ohm meter to the negative battery terminal and the red meter lead to the positive terminal.
Check the display to see how many volts are running through. It should run between 13.8 and 14.5 volts.
Step on the gas to rev the engine and check the reading. It should go up and then settle back down to the previous reading. You will probably need another person to read the ohm meter or step on the gas.
Tips & Warnings
- If the ohm meter shows a reading much below 13.8 volts, your battery is probably dying and the alternator may not be working properly. If it shows a reading about 14.5 volts, your voltage regulator is probably faulty.
- Photo Credit dead battery image by Katrina Miller from Fotolia.com
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