Yesterday I purchased a brand new, maintenance-free, 12 volt lead acid car battery. Specs: 47Ah and 450CCA.

Before I install it in my car, I measured the voltage with a catIII digital multimeter. It read only 12.33v. With the engine running, the reading is 14.2v (so the alternator works fine). After a 30min drive, the voltage was 12.72v right after I shut off the engine. After 8 hours sitting, the voltage was 12.38v.

Could this brand new battery be defective? The manufacturing date is OCT 2019 so for sure it must have been sitting on the shelf for quite a while. I also know that my car's drain is about 39mA-40mA.

What is the minimum voltage reading for a typical brand new battery?

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Jun 9 '20 at 22:33

If the battery will start the car and is over (or in the neighborhood of) 12.5vdc, I doubt you have anything to worry about. The great thing about most battery manufacturers is, their warranty usually covers for at least three years. This means, if the battery does fail you, you shouldn't have a problem getting it replaced.

Really, what I'd do with it is, put it on a charger overnight and let it COMPLETELY charge. Then test the voltage again. A 30 minute drive may not have been enough to get it fully up to a nominal charge.

  • Well, that was my first thought too. The store warranty is 2 years (14 day D.O.A) and the manufacturer warranty is 3 years. I have already ordered a slow 5A charger so I'll definitely try to charge it overnight when I get it. The point is though: if I manually charge it to 100% S.O.C. (around 12.75v) will the voltage stay above 12.6v, even after 20min-30min drives? Jun 9 '20 at 22:46
  • But I'm still skeptical about that initial open-circuit voltage of 12.33v. In the past, most of my new batteries were charged to at least 12.6v. Jun 9 '20 at 22:49
  • If the battery will start the car without issue, and the car will run without the electronics going crazy (which is what happens a lot of the time when the battery has low voltage), it should be just fine. Realistically, these are called a "12 volt battery" for a reason. Anything over the 12vdc is bonus. You may be used to a battery having 12.5+vdc, but really just because it's a little lower than that is nothing to worry about. If it had a bad cell in it, the voltage would be down around 10.5vdc which would make the electronics go batty. Jun 9 '20 at 22:54
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    When was this "brand new" battery manufactured? Given the effect of Covid on the motor trade, it might have been sitting in the store you bought it from for 6 months without being charged. Give it long enough to recharge itself fully before you decide it is faulty.
    – alephzero
    Jun 9 '20 at 23:38
  • Exide code: 9AC10E1. If I'm not mistaken, it should mean that my battery is manufactured in 2019, month 10. So October 2019. I know for sure that it was sitting for many months, I'm still not sure if it's accepting the charge as it should. I will retest it tomorrow and see. Jun 10 '20 at 0:11

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