Reviews

Best Batteries 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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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON June 7, 2021

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
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Summary
Summary

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

Pros
Pros
  • Mounts well with any truck setup
  • Impressive reserve power
  • Works in cold and warm weather
  • Resistant to vibrations from engine
Cons
Cons
  • Comes at a higher price point 
  • High power system means faster wear and tear
Best Overall
Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery
Best Value
Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery
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Summary
Summary

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

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

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

Pros
Pros
  • Impressive battery life
  • Circuitry prevents issues with shorts
  • Resistant to leaks and impact
  • Charges quickly
Cons
Cons
  • Battery itself is heavier than most other models
  • Won’t be compatible with all diesel trucks or mounting schemes
Honorable Mention
ACDelco AGM Battery

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Batteries for Diesel Trucks

  • Necessary for truck function. The clearest benefit of diesel truck batteries is powering your truck. Diesel vehicles let you choose between one large or two medium batteries; but, no matter what you select, you need a battery for the truck to work. 
  • Improve truck’s performance. Not all batteries are made the same, and picking an incompatible battery can impact the circuitry in your vehicle. Eventually, it can lead to stalls and diminished electrical performance in the whole truck. A proper battery has the benefit of helping your truck work better overall. 
  • Better handle all seasons. Even if you experience mild winters in your area, the chance of a cold snap remains. These can wreak havoc on older, weaker batteries. Picking a new model with high cold cranking amps and ample reserves keeps you working in icy temperatures. 
  • Long performance life. All batteries eventually lose their effectiveness. The chemicals inside of them lose potency and the structure itself wears down. Depending on how you treat it, your truck can stick with the same battery for up to five years. Even in harsher conditions, you should get at least four years of use. 
  • Lets you plan ahead. If your truck starts showing signs of battery damage, it’s all downhill from there. Sure, you can use it for a bit with the help of boosts, but it’s time to swap it out. Having a spare battery ensures that your truck has no downtime since you can switch out your batteries right away.  

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, it 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 suitable for environments with cold weather, since the cold cranking power makes it more likely to hold a charge at freezing temperatures. 

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 sealed compartment to hold the electrolytes. You can add distilled water to it in order to get an extra kick out of the battery. 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.  

Top Brands

Optima

Opening its doors in ‘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

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. 
  • $200 and up: 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. 

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 batteries’ 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. 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. 

Other Considerations

  • Shelf Life. The shelf life of your battery refers to how long it will retain its full efficiency when unused. Depending on manufacturing demand over time, there can be huge stores of batteries that continue to be sold beyond their prime. Look for reputable vendors with popular batteries. Since the supply and demand is steeper with these batteries, the turnover increases, as does your likelihood of finding a truly brand new battery.
  • Lifespan. This refers to the number of times you can fully discharge and fully recharge your battery. While the battery specifications will indicate a rough number of cycles the battery can handle, it isn’t a fixed metric. The lifespan of your battery depends on factors like weather, the truck’s electrical system, and even the road conditions. 
  • Compatibility. In order to attach to the electrical terminals, the battery needs to be a proper fit. It might seem like a box-style battery with similar dimensions will be a sure fit, but the terminal placement plays a big role in its fit. By choosing something that’s right for your vehicle, you can reduce ambient vibrations and prevent overheating. 
  • Sturdiness. The battery you see is really just the case that contains all the chemicals used to carry that charge. As such, if it leaks or spills, you’re in for trouble. Aim for batteries with a sturdy exterior and a design meant to limit the shaking while you’re on the road. A quality battery will stay firmly in place even on the roughest dirt roads. 

Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Optima Batteries RedTop

With impressive cold cranking amps, Optima Batteries RedTop is a quality choice for diesel trucks. Everything from the structure to the AGM features 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.

Best Value
Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery

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 a 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.

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 leak proof 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.

Honorable Mention
XS Power D3400 XS Series AGM High Output Battery

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. 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. 

Honorable Mention
Odyssey Battery 31-PC2150T

If you’ve got a truck that chews through batteries, it might be time to try something stronger. The Odyssey Battery 31-P2150T is a great candidate for those seeking raw power. Using lead-acid technology and an AGM structure, it takes the best features of both types and integrates them. This results in a lifespan increase of roughly 70 percent. It’s able to run 400 cycles at a discharge depth of 80 percent. Charging to full in no more than four hours, this battery is extremely reliable. It really showcases value through the 1150 cold cranking amps, enabling you to use this battery in any climate. Mounting flexibly, it is compatible with most diesel trucks on the market. Plus, regardless of where you position it, this battery is designed to resist vibration and shock. With a lifespan of at least three (and up to 10) years, this battery truly earns this honorable mention. 


While this battery definitely has all the traits you could ask for, it also has a proportionately higher price tag. That said, this battery is one of the longer-lasting models and is much less likely to die in cold weather. So long as you will benefit from its enhanced abilities, this battery is a solid investment. 

Honorable Mention
Deka 9A34 AGM Intimidator Battery

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. Built to withstand high impact situations, it’s a safe battery to take off road. The glass mats built into the system are structured to absorb extra electrolytes, streamlining the electrical connections. As a result, the power flow is less encumbered. This leads the brand to tout this battery’s ability to work for twice as long as most other AGM batteries. Its heavy-duty performance and ability to maintain its connection while travelling over difficult terrain makes 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. 

Honorable Mention
Tower Top Smart Battery Charger 

You could have the best battery in the world, but if the temperature drops or you leave it unattended, it can still die. That’s where the Tower Top Smart Battery Charger comes into play. It works in conjunction with your diesel truck’s battery, zapping it with up to 15 amps when it requires a boost. Equipped with a winter mode, this high-frequency charger is designed to work with all main battery groups. The smart chip system automatically detects the amount of charge required. Complete with a clear LCD screen to update you on the charging status and current, this battery charger helps your truck start running efficiently.It’s equipped with safeguards to prevent overheating and overcharging, as well as reverse polarity issues. Meant to work in extreme conditions, this battery charger earns a shoutout on this list. 


Keep in mind that this won’t replace your battery for your diesel truck—rather it’s meant as a safeguard against dead batteries. You can store it in your truck with ease so the charger is always there when needed.

Honorable Mention
VMaxtanks AGM Chevy Group Diesel Replacement Battery

The VMaxtanks AGM Chevy Group Diesel Replacement Battery might come with a higher price tag, but its impressive features make it worth the investment. Using lead-based thin plate tech, it offers substantial cranking abilities that ring in at roughly 50 percent more than average. Sturdy and resistant to spills and vibrations, this non-hazardous battery has optimal internal resistance. Working at any temperature from minus 40 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, this battery charges quickly (within four hours on a strong charger). You can use it for marine vessels, large trucks, and other heavy-duty equipment. Running off 12 volts and with a 20 hour capacity, this battery has a strong design and well-placed terminals. If you’re looking for something tough, lasting, and easy to use, this battery is a good choice. 


Bear in mind that this battery won’t work in all mounting positions. Make sure that it is compatible with your truck. So long as it fits, you can get a lot of use out of this battery. 

Tips

  • Park your vehicle indoors whenever possible to limit the battery’s exposure to cold weather or opt for a block heater to keep it at a good base temperature. 
  • 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 booster pack never hurts, even with a high-grade, new battery. It’s a good part of your truck’s emergency kit. In a pinch, it can restore enough charge to a damaged battery to get you home. 
  • 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.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know exactly what to expect from the best battery for diesel trucks, you can make your pick. It could be the Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery, our top pick for sturdiness and compatibility. If you’re looking to save, consider the Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery for its affordability and strong design.