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Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Ensure that your diesel truck has full power with these high-performance batteries.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON January 26, 2022

Diesel trucks are favored for their impressive power and overall fuel efficiency. These engines offer lower carbon output and are more cost-effective when it comes to filling the tank. To achieve this high performance value, the trucks have detailed electrical systems — including the batteries. The battery must offer sufficient power to crank the starter and kick the truck into gear. 


Of course, 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.

Best Overall

Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery

Summary

This battery performs well in any weather conditions. Using a 12-volt system, it is highly compatible and easy to install.

Pros
  • Mounts well with any truck setup
  • Impressive reserve power
  • Works in cold and warm weather
  • Resistant to vibrations from engine
Cons
  • Comes at a higher price point 
  • High power system means faster wear and tear
Best Value

Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery

Summary

Crafted to crank powerfully, this 12-volt model works as both a backup and regular battery for diesel trucks.

Pros
  • Comes at a friendly price point
  • Tough against ambient vibrations
  • Battery charges rapidly
  • Impressive service life
Cons
  • Issues arise if left without charge for long periods
  • Extreme weather shortens its lifespan drastically
  • Not universally compatible
Honorable Mention

ACDelco AGM Battery

Summary

Compatible with start-stop tech, this battery makes starting your diesel engine easy through its overall power.

Pros
  • Impressive battery life
  • Circuitry prevents issues with shorts
  • Resistant to leaks and impact
  • Charges quickly
Cons
  • Battery itself is heavier than most other models
  • Won’t be compatible with all diesel trucks or mounting schemes
Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Our Methodology

We can’t put our own hands on every item available. In these instances, we put our collective experience in journalism, research, and prior product testing to use to make our product picks. Items that are used by our own staff may get earnest endorsements as well, but we’ll never accept fees or bonuses to sell you stuff we’re not actually excited about. Affiliate revenue is always disclosed.

The Drive aggregates reviews and research from all over the internet to figure out which products are worth buying. We also put out shopping guides to help you understand how to assess the value of these things on your own. As our editorial cousins at Car Bibles say, “Knowledge is horsepower!”

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks Reviews & Recommendations 2021

With impressive cold cranking amps, Optima Batteries RedTop is a quality choice for diesel trucks. Everything is made to extend its lifespan, boasting triple the durability versus other models. It uses absorbent glass mat technology to ensure a stable, efficient charge. Through the use of the patented SpiralCell tech, this battery has individual cells, wound in a spiral pattern. These pair with the lead-oxide coating on the pure lead plates to facilitate reliable battery performance. Not prone to degradation or spills, this battery is tough against vibration, neither losing effectiveness or getting cracked. With 720 cold cranking amps and the standard SAE post type, it is compatible with a wide range of vehicles. Durable and powerful, this Optima battery is a quality pick overall. 


It’s worth noting, however, that the cold cranking is read at standard temperatures. As with other diesel batteries, the CCA will vary based on the ambient temperature when you start the truck.

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’s cost-effective and easy to install, making this an ideal value pick. 


It warrants a note that, though this battery is usually compatible, it isn’t a sure thing. At 6.64 x 7.05 x 5.04 inches, you are likely to get a good fit, but it is definitely worth double-checking.

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. 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 batteries and may die if left discharged for too long. It’s also expensive.

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 spillproof, 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. At a hefty 48 pounds, this battery is significantly heavier than other battery options. This battery also experiences a noticeable drop in performance when temperatures drop. This results 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 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 is physically large, at 12 x 7.4 x 7.6 inches. As a result, it might be a bit too bulky for some setups. Make sure that it fits in your truck before pulling the trigger on this battery. 

Our Verdict on Car Batteries

The Optima Batteries RedTop is our best overall car battery. 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. 

Lead-Based Batteries 

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.

Key Features

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. 

Battery Reserves 

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 Structure

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. 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.

Top Brands

Optima

Opening its doors in the ‘70s, this brand is under the umbrella of Johnson Controls after its buyout in 2000. Since that time, it has continued to innovate battery technology, retaining a large market share in the machinery industry. It creates reliable, high-powered batteries for all types of vehicles, ranging from golf carts to water vessels. Among its best batteries for diesel trucks is the Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery

Odyssey

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

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

Tips

  • 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. 
  • Having a portable jump starter never hurts, even with a high-grade, new battery. It’s a good part of your truck’s emergency kit as there's always a chance of a battery failing prematurely.
  • 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.
  • Take your time when installing the battery. To make sure that it is firmly in position and won’t incur excess vibrations, check that it is tightly fitted. Be sure there is sufficient clearance from the hood of the car to prevent overheating and fire risks. 

FAQs

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 quality 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 truck, make sure it has a minimum of 1,000 CCAs. 

Q: Is it okay to jump start a diesel? 

Yes, it is okay to jump start a diesel truck (even if you’re pulling from a gas-powered vehicle). If you live in an environment where the temperature drops frequently, it’s easier to keep a booster on hand so you can jump start it yourself. Be sure it has reserve capacity, too, especially if you’re only using one battery. 

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.

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