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Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and O'Reilly's auto part stores will test your alternator and battery for free in their parking lot. Best to go when they are not particularly busy.
 

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Remove negative battery cable while running. If it shuts off, alternator is no good.
Don't actually do this. Hopefully it's just a joke but that will put severe stress on the regulator and other electronics in the car. Poorly designed electronics (think aftermarket accessories) are more likely to me destroyed, but everything would be at risk. I've seen this kill the ECM.
 

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Don't actually do this. Hopefully it's just a joke but that will put severe stress on the regulator and other electronics in the car. Poorly designed electronics (think aftermarket accessories) are more likely to me destroyed, but everything would be at risk. I've seen this kill the ECM.
Yes, Steve. I was joking. Obviously the best way to test it is removed from the vehicle and on a bench. Hell, autozone and the like offer free testing.
 

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The best way to test it is to use a voltmeter. On a healthy battery, you should have about ~12.9v with both probes pointed to the battery poles, with the car shut off. Once you fire up the car, you should get about 14.3-14.7v. Anything less than 14.3 and you might be dealing with a failing alternator.
 
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