What does voltage mean on a battery?

My granddad gave me some of his old car tools, including a voltmeter. I know how to use it, but honestly, I have no idea what any of the numbers are telling me. What does the voltage on a car battery mean?

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Answer provided by
Laura Salvas
Answered on Apr 28, 2022
How nice of your grandfather to pass his car tools down to you! When we check our car battery voltage, we might know what the reading should say but aren’t always sure what the reading means. The amount of electric energy available is what voltage means on a battery.
Your car’s 12-volt battery is split into six cells, each holding 2.1 volts when fully charged. Therefore, your car battery is fully charged at 12.6 volts or higher.
If your voltmeter shows a number lower than 12.6, this means your battery has fewer volts—or energy—available to power your car. Your car’s battery requires a certain amount of voltage to start and function properly. Less than 11.9 volts often isn’t enough power to start your car.
Without getting too scientific, the voltage of a battery depends on the levels of sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid and water react within the battery to create the battery’s energy. As the battery’s charge goes down, the levels of sulfuric acid decrease as well, reducing your battery’s voltage.
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