Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks (Review & Buying Guide) in 2023
Ensure that your diesel truck has full power with these high-performance batteries.
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You buy a diesel truck for the monstrous torque and decent fuel efficiency. The reliability is just a massive bonus. But no matter how burly your rig is, it's counting on a battery to fire up. If the weather's cold or you've parked the truck for too long, this might not be such an easy task. Batteries wear down with time, and if yours is getting up there in years, you'll want to invest in a new one. Now, it can be a bit tricky to identify the best battery for diesel trucks, and that's exactly why we wrote this article. By tracking down the top options, we've streamlined the search so you can find the perfect fit for your diesel truck. Let's take a look at the leading contenders, broken down alongside everything you need to know to make your pick.
Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery
- Versatile line covers most applications
- Impressive reserve power
- Works in cold and warm weather
- Resistant to vibrations from engine
- Quality control issues are common
Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery
- Tough against ambient vibrations
- Battery charges rapidly
- Impressive service life
- Issues arise if left without charge for long periods
- Extreme weather shortens its lifespan drastically
ACDelco AGM Battery
- Impressive battery life
- Circuitry prevents issues with shorts
- Resistant to leaks and impact
- Charges quickly
- Battery itself is heavier than most other models
- Limited compatibility
Best Overall: Optima Batteries Red Top
Best Value: Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery
Honorable Mention: ACDelco AGM Battery
Best Premium: XS Power D3400 XS Series AGM High Output Battery
Best Overall Runner-Up: Deka 9A34 AGM Intimidator Battery
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Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Getting a new battery doesn’t have to be a choice between effectiveness and cost. The Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery comes at an affordable price and doesn’t forego quality. It offers substantial power and if the battery ever drains, it quickly returns to charge. The deep cycling ability is where it stands out most, working at high efficiency to promote its lifespan. A spill-proof AGM model, this battery is crafted specifically for intense road conditions. The technology used to partition the cells and encase the battery formula was inspired by military designs. Thanks to its tough exterior and internal components to buffer vibration, this battery can handle even the roughest of roads. With a highly compatible design, this battery fits in the majority of diesel trucks..
It warrants a note that, though this battery is usually reliable, leaving it without a proper charge for long periods of time will likely lead to failure. This is a particular concern for those in cold areas as exceptionally low temperatures are a proven issue for many.
The ACDelco AGM Battery is designed for long life and maximum performance. The battery has a calcium-lead positive grid that increases the level of conductivity and provides low resistance for energy transfer. It also increases the battery’s power holding and distribution capabilities when in use. In addition, the battery is filled with a highly viscous, negatively-charged paste that prolongs the life of the battery and promotes optimal performance. A notable feature of this battery is its durable envelope separator, including a puncture-proof back panel, which increases acid flow circulation while minimizing shorting and damage risk. The panel keeps the battery cool and generally extends the lifespan of the unit. The unit is 100 percent leakproof thanks to its vent cup design that greatly reduces the risk of acid spillage.
A major drawback of the battery is its weight and size. On average, it is heavier than other AGM batteries. It's also limited in terms of compatibility, pushing many truck owners to look elsewhere.
This AGM battery from XS Power uses an electrolyte solution suspended in fiberglass. It has a cold cranking power of 1,000 and a maximum output of 3,300 amps. The discharge capacity is 65 amp-hours. The entire unit is spill-proof, thanks to its sealed design. The valves are regulated, and it has vibration resistance. This battery has an ultra-low internal resistance, which facilitates its long-term operation. You can also mount it in almost any direction and maintain optimal performance. This is due to the reinforced ABS plastic case. The M6 terminal bolt also comes with the battery, which makes installation a breeze.
One of the primary drawbacks of this battery is its weight. This battery is usually significantly heavier than other battery options. This battery also experiences a noticeable drop in performance when temperatures drop, resulting in a decline in cold cranking power and voltage.
Standing out through its suspended electrolyte system, the Deka 9A34 AGM Intimidator Battery is a powerful option. With an impressive 750 cold-cranking amps, this is a rugged battery that’s built to withstand extreme driving conditions. The external case is crafted to limit vibrations and prevent the risk of spills, despite intense road conditions. High impact situations are also no threat, meaning it’s a safe battery to take off-road. The glass mats built into the system are structured to absorb extra electrolytes, ensuring optimal performance in any situation. Its heavy-duty performance and ability to remain reliable while traveling over difficult terrain make it a fantastic pick for off-roading enthusiasts.
One thing to keep in mind is that this battery seems to struggle with quality control issues with some folks reporting faulty units arriving. Also, while it's a reliable battery, it isn't the best choice for cold climates.
Our Verdict on Car Batteries
The Optima Batteries RedTop is our pick for Best Overall. This is a tried and tested model from a trusted brand, built to last, and competent in all but the most extreme situations. But, if you need a reliable replacement that won’t break the bank, then check out our value pick, the Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery.
What to Consider When Buying a Truck Battery
Unless you’re an automotive expert, you would be forgiven for not knowing what battery best suits your vehicle and needs. This guide will explain what key features and battery types to consider before purchasing. If you still have any questions, check out the FAQs section.
Types of Diesel Batteries
AGM: Absorbable Gas Mat Batteries
This type of battery performs two key roles: offering high cold cranking amps and running your truck’s electrical system for a long time. Using an electrolyte formula proximal to metal plates improves the battery’s efficiency. The conductivity is improved by the close placement of the battery formula and metal connection. Discharging more slowly than other batteries, AGM models are made to be long-lasting. An eco-friendly solution, these batteries are almost entirely recyclable. These are also suitable for environments with cold weather as they are more capable of retaining a charge in frigid conditions.
Easily the most common in diesel trucks, these batteries look identical on the outside but function very differently than AGM models. An acid formula blends with lead to store electricity. Depending on your preference, you can opt for wet or gel cell lead batteries. Wet cell models have a compartment to hold the electrolytes. You can add distilled water to it in order to get an extra kick out of the battery so long as it's not sealed. Conversely, gel-type batteries use a viscous formula to suspend the electrolytes. These are better for warm climates since the gel accounts for the thinning of fluids in heat. However, this same trait makes the gel an issue in cold temperatures. Base the type you choose on your climate.
Cold-Cranking Amps (CCA)
This refers to the amperage output of your battery, measured at zero degrees Fahrenheit or minus 18 degrees Celsius. It’s a metric of the amps put out within 30 seconds. Taking this amount and dividing it by 7.25 in order to calculate the amperage hours, telling you how much it will last at standard power usage. The higher the cold-cranking amps, the better the battery will perform in cold environments or if left unused for long periods. Since CCA is measured at zero degrees, if your area is prone to cold snaps, aim for the highest number possible. 500 CCA is a good starting threshold.
Your batterys’ reserve capacity (RC) determines how long your battery can run while outputting 2.5 amps. If you’ve ever left your radio on while the truck’s off, only to realize the battery died, you can blame the low RC. Higher reserve capacity means that you can run more equipment on the battery before it loses power. While lead-based batteries have a basic level of reserve, AGM models are far superior in this regard. These batteries hold onto almost 80 percent of residual energy after discharge. With that, you can run tech off of your 12-volt adapter and the truck will keep working.
Size and Terminal Type
If the battery isn’t compatible with your truck, you’ve hit a stopping point. Instead of running the risk, look at compatibility first. Using the make and model of your truck, you can pinpoint compatible batteries based on the structure of the OEM model. More often than not, you can match the group size of the batteries and end the search there. In order to fit into place, the battery must be the same size (or smaller) than the battery you’re replacing and the terminal connections must also be a match. If you’re off-booking it, be sure to leave clearance between the battery and the hood. Aim for 4 inches, though 3.5 is usually sufficient. Also, the battery should never come in contact with the hood of your vehicle.
- Park your vehicle indoors whenever possible to limit the battery’s exposure to cold weather when it's out of service.
- Use a battery tester or multimeter to assess your battery’s health once it reaches four years. These let you check the voltage and overall well-being of the battery and tell you if it’s time for a replacement.
- If your vehicle starts showing signs of battery damage, get a new battery as soon as possible. Unless it’s a wet cell that needs replenishment, the battery won’t improve. Waiting too long can damage your truck’s electrical system.
- Keep the battery at full charge to slow the process of wear and tear. This usually means driving the truck for a while to cycle the power through the battery.
- Account for the climate when choosing your battery. Gel-style batteries are better for warmer weather while AGM models are suitable for cold environments.
- Trickle chargers are a handy way to keep your battery strong if you are parking the truck for an extended amount of time. They flow a small charge through the battery, preventing it from dying outright.
- Always shut off electronics immediately after use to avoid draining the battery unnecessarily. Models with larger reserves will last for longer, but using too many electronics at once can cause a strain on even the best batteries.
Q: How long should diesel truck batteries last?
The lifespan of your battery depends on everything from driving habits to truck health to climate. You can get five years out of a good battery and a well-kept truck. Expect closer to four years if your truck is frequently exposed to cold.
Q: How many CCAs do I need for a diesel?
Short for cold-cranking amps, CCA is a good metric to assess a battery’s ability. Look for 800 CCAs at a minimum if you have two batteries. If you’re relying on a single battery for your diesel truck, make sure it has a minimum of 1,000 CCAs.
Q: Is higher cranking amps better?
Cold-cranking amps refers to the performance ability of your battery right when you start it up (cold crank it). The higher the cranking amps, the better, since it reflects the overall strength of the battery. Keep in mind that CCAs are assessed at 32 degrees, so temperature changes can impact the battery’s ability.
Q: What are the signs of a bad battery?
The first obvious sign of a bad or dying battery is a vehicle that won’t start. Also, your vehicle may crank slower, and there may be sporadic sparks in the battery cylinders that may cause your truck to backfire. Moreover, you may notice that your headlights are dimmer since the failing battery can’t power your car’s electrical components.
Q: How many batteries does a diesel truck run on?
A diesel truck can run on one oversized battery, but since it’s a bit challenging to find an oversized aftermarket replacement, most people use two batteries. A diesel engine requires more cranking amps to start than a gas-powered engine. It, therefore, needs two batteries hooked up in a parallel connection to keep the voltage constant and to increase the current rating that delivers sufficient power to turn a diesel engine over.
Q: Can a gasoline-powered vehicle jumpstart a diesel battery?
It is possible for a gasoline-powered vehicle to jump start the diesel battery and the other way around. The process may take longer if the battery level is really low or dead. If you manage to get a full charge but experience the same problem the next time you try to start your truck, then you may have a defective battery and need to buy a new one.