What car battery voltage is too low?

I just bought a multimeter so I can test the voltage in my car battery to see if it needs replacing. What’s considered too low for car battery voltage?

Pat Roache · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
car battery
voltage is too low if your multimeter measures anything less than 12.45 volts. If your multimeter measures anything less than 11.6 volts, your car battery should be replaced.
Consider the following voltages to determine the health of a standard 12.0-volt car battery:
  • 12.65 volts or higher: Your battery is healthy and fully charged.
  • 12.5 volts: Consider recharging your battery with a battery charger.
  • 12.2 to 12.45 volts: Your battery is operating at 40% to 75% charge and should be replaced before it fails.
  • 11.9 volts or lower: Your battery is considered dead and needs replacing.
Note: Replacing a car battery is a fairly easy
car repair
, but you can expect it to cost around $200.
Pro tip: Always try recharging a car battery with low voltage before replacing it. Consider the following after recharging:
  • Your
    car still isn’t starting
    : Have your car load-tested at a mechanic.
  • The battery doesn’t hold its charge for more than 12 to 24 hours: You may be facing a mechanical problem—like a faulty alternator, starter, or engine.
  • There’s a bad
    smell in the car
    : Your catalytic converter may be malfunctioning or your battery is overcharged.
Take your car to a mechanic
if you suspect any problems that are more serious than a dying car battery.
View full answer 
Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.

Join 4M+ members in lowering their car insurance

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings