Best Battery for Diesel Trucks: Top Picks for a Powerful Charge
Ensure that your diesel truck has full power with these high-performance batteries
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A diesel truck battery will provide the necessary power to crank the starter and start your truck. You will appreciate the importance of a great battery after you’ve parked your truck for a long time or when you try to start it in cold weather. However, it can be a bit complex to find the best battery that’s compatible with your diesel truck. A mismatch can damage the electrical system. We have come up with some of the best batteries for diesel engines in our buying guide below:
- Best OverallOptima Batteries RedTopSummarySummary
A 12-volt starting battery that offers continuous performance even in bad weather conditions.ProsPros
Can be mounted in any position. Has a huge reserve capacity. Excellent performance in all weather conditions. Spill-proof. Vibration-resistant. Maintenance-free performance.ConsCons
Expensive. No manufacturing date on the product. Not long lasting.
- Best ValueOdyssey Automotive and LTV BatterySummarySummary
An innovative 12-volt battery that’s ideal for emergency and everyday use.ProsPros
Affordable price. Charges fast. Resistant to vibrations and shocks. Longer service life than regular cycle batteries. Offers a high stable voltage supply. Mounting flexibility.ConsCons
May not work if left discharged for too long. May not last as long as advertised. May not fit in some trucks.
- Honorable MentionACDelco AGM BatterySummarySummary
A 12-volt battery that’s ideal for diesel trucks with start and stop technology.ProsPros
Long battery life. Protected from shorts. High cycling capabilities. 100 percent leak proof. Very charge receptive. Easy and fast installation.ConsCons
Heavy. Expensive. May not fit in all diesel vehicles. Discharges quickly.
Why Buy A Battery for a Diesel Truck?
- Maintain performance. Pairing your diesel truck with the wrong battery can limit the performance of your truck. It may not start after you leave it idle for a while, and gradually, your truck’s electrical system may get damaged. This means when you’re stuck in traffic, your truck may completely fail to start and leave you stranded.
- Prepare for winter. Your battery is often pushed to its limits during a cold winter. The battery can also die if left inactive in freezing conditions. It’s no surprise that most batteries fail during the winter. Diesel truck batteries are designed to thrive in freezing temperatures thanks to their cold-cranking amps, which can power even the most stubborn trucks.
- Replace your old battery. If you have a lead-acid battery, you need to replace it every seven years. However, that doesn’t mean that the battery won’t fail at any point even at its five-year mark. Replace your battery with one of the top truck batteries on the market since you don’t know when your battery may fail.
Types of Diesel Batteries
Absorbable Gas Mat (AGM)
AGM batteries have an electrolyte solution close to the metal plates for better discharge and recharge efficiency. They discharge at a slower rate than the other battery types. AGM batteries are considered a sustainable option since most of its parts are recyclable. The plastic shell, absorbent fiberglass, and lead-acid can be recycled. The only waste products are divider linings.
Most diesel batteries are lead-acid batteries. They include a mixture of acid and lead that stores an electric charge. There are wet cell and gel cell lead acid batteries. Wet cell batteries include a sealed option where the battery loses power when the electrolyte level drops. It also has a serviceable option that allows you to add distilled water to prolong the battery life. Gel cell batteries have an electrolyte suspended on a gel and are designed for hot environments.
Optima is a subsidiary brand of Johnson Controls, a leading manufacturer of automotive batteries. Optima is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., and has been in existence since the early 1970s. The brand has produced some of the best marine, automotive, and heavy-duty AGM batteries. Some of its best-selling batteries for diesel engines are the Optima Batteries RedTop and the Optima Batteries YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery.
Odyssey has more than 100 years of experience in providing energy solutions for the military and automotive industries. The batteries are manufactured by EnerSys Energy Products Inc. in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in the United States as well as France and the United Kingdom. Odyssey makes some of the best light truck batteries, including the Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery.
ACDelco is a leading automotive parts manufacturer in America that was founded in 1916. The brand is owned by General Motors and is headquartered in Grand Blanc, Mich. Some of its products include AC units for cars, brakes, spark plugs, filters, chassis, windshield wipers, and batteries. One of its best batteries for a Dodge Cummins diesel engine is the ACDelco AGM Battery.
Diesel Truck Battery Pricing
- Under $200: Expect to find mostly lead-acid starter batteries within this price range. Most units will deliver sufficient cranking power to start your truck in wintry conditions but may not be suitable for powering extra accessories.
- Over $200: This price range is mostly for batteries with higher cold-cranking amps. They are mostly deep cycle batteries that can maintain consistent voltage even after discharging for long periods. The high-end versions can have a life cycle that extends to more than eight years.
Cold Cranking Amps
The CCA is the number of amps put out by a battery at zero degrees for 30 seconds at a rate of 7.2 amps. A battery with a higher CCA is important for people living in regions where temperatures dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit. That's when it gets difficult to start an engine. Choose batteries with over 500 cold-cranking amps for such conditions.
The reserve capacity (RC) is a measure of the battery's running time with 2.5 amps of discharge. It helps you determine how many electronics you can run in your truck or what type of equipment you can charge before your battery runs out. AGM batteries have the best reserve capacity since they can maintain 80 percent of their charge even after deep discharge.
Shop for new batteries with respect to the year, make, and model of your vehicle. The new battery should ideally be the same size as your OEM battery. Also, the battery should never come in contact with the hood of your vehicle. It should leave a hood clearance of at least 3.4 inches to prevent fire hazards.
- Life Cycle: This is the number of charges and discharges the battery can take before it loses its power (dies). Manufacturers often indicate the life cycle of their batteries, but it really depends on the conditions and rate of discharge.
- Compatibility: Be sure to select a battery that's compatible with your truck's engine and connection terminals. The connection terminals ensure that the battery is secured firmly in place to minimize vibrations when your truck is in motion.
Best Battery for Diesel Truck Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Battery for Diesel Truck Overall: Optima Batteries RedTop
The Optima Redtop battery is one of the best heavy-duty truck batteries with a reserve capacity of 100 minutes. It features two (negative and positive) pure lead plates with a lead oxide designed with SpiralCell Technology, which offers better performance than AGM batteries. It offers consistent performance and incredible starting power even in extreme temperature conditions. It also holds up to extreme G forces, hard launches, and extreme corners.
The battery offers a staggering 800 cold-cranking amps and is more resistant to vibrations and damage than most starting batteries. It’s designed to be spillproof and can be mounted in any position. The battery only weighs 38.8 pounds and comes with a convenient carrying handle for easy transportation and placement. It’s recommended for SUVs, streetcars, hot rods, and trucks.
What you may not like about this model is its short service life. It may not make it past five years as with most high-end diesel truck batteries. You may also receive a product with no manufacturing date, and that will make it difficult to estimate the service life of the unit. Moreover, all the incredible features don’t come with a cheap price tag.
Best Value Battery for Diesel Truck: Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery
This Odyssey model delivers massive starting power and rapid recovery in emergencies. It also has great deep cycling capabilities and can run about 400 cycles at only 80 percent of the typical rate of discharge. The battery will offer a high stable voltage for much longer than conventional batteries. The unit also has a 70 percent longer battery life than traditional batteries and takes about four to six hours to attain a full charge.
It offers 330 cold-cranking amps to protect your battery from battery-damaging heat and vibrations generated by the engine. Moreover, it has a reserve capacity of 52 minutes, and the manufacturer boasts it has from three up to 10 years of service life. Its innovative design offers mounting flexibility, and it can be installed in any position without risk of spillage. The design is also vibration resistant and protects the battery from mechanical damage and impact shock.
However, this battery shouldn’t be left to discharge for too long. The battery may die or take too long to attain a full charge after that. It also may not last through the 10 years as advertised. You may only get a year of service depending on how you use it. Also, ensure that it’s a perfect fit for your truck before you buy it. It’s not a guaranteed universal fit for all diesel trucks.
Best Battery for Diesel Truck Honorable Mention: ACDelco AGM Battery
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 with 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. It weighs 51.6 pounds, which is heavier than other AGM batteries and may not fit in all diesel vehicles. Moreover, this is not the battery to leave discharged in your truck throughout winter. It discharges at a faster rate than other AGM rated batteries and may die if left discharged for too long. It’s also expensive.
- You can test the health of a battery by hooking it to a battery tester. It will show you the health of the battery based on the readout and load test. You can also use a multimeter checker to read the voltage of the battery when the truck is off or when it’s running. The readings should be 12 and 13 volts, respectively, for a healthy battery.
- Maintain your battery at full charge to keep the electrolyte from freezing in cold temperatures. The electrolyte may freeze when temperatures dip below -16 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you don’t plan on using your truck during the winter, consider purchasing a trickle charger. It will top off the battery every time it goes low and keep your battery from fully discharging and dying.
- When jump-starting your diesel battery, turn on the heater to protect your truck’s electrical system from surges in voltage. Also, disable the lights and other electrical accessories that may drain your battery and make your work more difficult.
Q: What are the signs of a bad battery?
A: 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: 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?
A: 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.
Our top pick is the Optima Batteries RedTop. It’s super resistant to shocks and is one of the best batteries to help with a cold start. Moreover, it’s protected from acid spills that may destroy the battery and surrounding components.
Our value pick is the Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery. It’s more affordable than most cold start diesel batteries and is designed to hold the electrolyte even when moved constantly.
Share your experience with diesel truck batteries in the comment section below.