The evolution of the battery, starting system and diagnostic tools

When we talk about battery, charging and starting system diagnostics, while it is true that some aspects have always been the same due to fundamental electronic principles, in the field of tools, however, everything has changed. Electronics, as well as the technology of charging and starting systems, have evolved so much over the past 20 years that you need modern equipment to keep up.

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One of the most common diagnostic tools is a digital battery tester, and they have become affordable, so many technicians are choosing to purchase their own. They work by measuring battery conductance, which is ultimately a determination of the available plate area inside a battery.

The reason digital battery testers are so important is that they’re quick and easy, and they’re accurate even on a battery that isn’t fully charged. A weak battery can cause a lot of problems on a modern vehicle with multiple electronic control units. It is important to identify battery problems long before a vehicle starts or begins to set low voltage trouble codes.

Anytime a car is in your bay, a digital battery tester makes it easy to check the battery. Not only is this important to your customer, but it’s also a good upsell for you. If you don’t catch it, someone else will. Don’t let battery sales soar.

That being said, a traditional battery load tester is still very important. I never doubt the results of my digital battery tester, but if there is a problem starting or charging and it indicates anything less than a perfect battery, remember that these tools assess in function of logic, and it’s been known sometimes in this area that you can throw logic out the window. If you have questions about battery health, a traditional load tester will give you absolute results. A weak battery has no way of hiding from a load tester.

Modern load testers are a far cry from what they were years ago (think VAT-28 for those who like a trip down memory lane). Today’s testers are easy to hook up and feature digital readouts, inductive amplification clamps, and a higher degree of accuracy.

For more tips on which battery and starting system diagnostic tools you should have in your shop, read this full article by Eric Garbe, Senior Automotive Technical Writer for Tire Review’s sister publication, TechShop, here.


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