Not charging

My 1996 Honda Passport is acting up. Voltameter indicates only 10 volts when the key is switched on and stays steady when started.Battery, brake and 4-wheel drive warning lights stay lit for about 10 seconds or so, then go out. The meter may or may not then go to 13 volts or so. Would this be an indication of a bad battery or a failing alternator? There had been a belt squealing with the start of cold weather but that stopped. Tension on the belts is ok. I live in the country and only have one vehicle so removing parts and taking them to town for testing would be tough. Any ideas?

Use a hand-held voltmeter / multimeter to check the true voltage at the battery. It should read 12.2-12.4 before you start the engine. Then start the engine. The meter should slowly climb to at least 13 volts and then continue to climb to 13.8-14.0 after a few minutes…measure this right at the battery.

As Caddyman says, use a multimeter to check the battery voltage at the terminals. The battery voltage should be between 11.9V (discharged) to 12.6V (100% charged). Less than 10-11 volts indicates a dead cell and the battery needs to be replaced before it damages the alternator. If the battery is just discharged, use a battery charger to recharge it rather than depending on the alternator. I have a 4/1 amp charger and a Battery Tender ( I use to top off my vehicle batteries occasionally.

Ed B.

Thanks. Finally made it home with some time and tested the battery. It was good. Now I have to replace the alternator.