Best Truck Batteries: Strong Choices for Top Performance
A reliable battery is essential to keep your truck starting and running properly
Trucks, just like any other vehicle, require batteries to operate properly. But the right battery can give you the extra power you need to survive a harsh winter, or keep you driving further for longer distances if you’re a bit of a road warrior. In this buying guide, we’re breaking down the most important features you need to consider when shopping for a truck battery, and through our research have highlighted some of the best options that should be at the top of your list.
Benefits of Truck Batteries
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- Improved performance. Trucks require more power when you start them up compared to traditional sedans. A quality truck battery is designed to effectively start-up larger vehicles with enough power to support the higher amps required.
- Recharge faster. A truck battery can recharge faster than a standard car battery, making it more powerful and reliable—especially with extended use.
- Longer battery life. The last thing you want is a battery in your truck that constantly needs to be replaced or jump-started before it will work. Truck batteries are designed for longer life spans than standard batteries.
Types of Truck Batteries
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
AGM batteries are popular because of their discharge and recharge efficiency. These are some of the best batteries and are designed with an electrolyte solution placed close to the metal plates. In contrast to other battery types, they offer a slower discharge rate. AGM technology is also more sustainable because most of the parts, such as the plastic shell, fiberglass and lead-acid, are recyclable.
Lead-acid batteries are a very common option for trucks. This type of battery features a lead and acid combination, which stores the electric charge. This battery category includes wet-cell batteries. Wet-cell batteries are also known as “flooded batteries” and are some of the most affordable options on the market.
Lithium-ion batteries are ideal high-performance batteries because they can store more energy than conventional batteries. Specifically, a quality lithium-ion truck battery can last for up to 10 years. While they are compact in size and have minimal weight, lithium-ion batteries aren’t compatible with all trucks. This type of battery is usually reserved for electric or hybrid cars. Also, this type of battery tends to be the most expensive to replace.
Optima Batteries is a popular battery brand that provides aftermarket batteries for consumer and racing customers. Founded in 1972, this Wisconsin-based company prides itself on making quality batteries with cutting-edge technology. In addition to the RedTop batteries that are our Best Overall (34 RedTop Starting Battery) and Best Value (35 RedTop Starting Battery) choices, Optima also creates other batteries such as YellowTops and chargers and maintainers to help you keep your batteries at peak performance.
ACDelco is known as an OEM and aftermarket auto parts provider for the automotive industry and most notably works with General Motors. This heritage brand was founded over 100 years ago and is best known for its attention to detail and high-quality products. Along with our Honorable Mention, the ACDelco Professional AGM 94R Battery, ACDelco produces a wide range of car parts, including brake pads, O2 sensors, and engine air filters.
Truck Battery Pricing Pricing
- Up to $200: Budget shoppers should be able to find quality lead-acid batteries in this price range.
- $200 and up: Beyond $200, shoppers focused on more specialized batteries such as AGM or Lithium-ion options can easily find quality options within the premium price spectrum.
Always confirm that the battery you’re planning to purchase is compatible with the year, make, and model of your truck. Ideally, any new battery should have identical dimensions as your current OEM battery. If the unit is not compatible, you will have to return it, which will cost you time and possibly money.
Cold Cranking Amps
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) references the total number of amps a battery releases at zero degrees for 30 seconds at a rate of 7.2 amps. In extreme temperatures, that’s when you need your truck battery to reliably start your engine. Shoppers that live in cold-weather regions where temperatures regularly dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit should prioritize batteries with a higher CCA rate. Specifically, look for batteries with over 500 Cold Cranking Amps.
Typically, batteries operate at their best when the ambient temperature is between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, there are going to be plenty of times (depending on where you live) that you’ll face weather conditions outside of this “goldilocks” range. To ensure that you have a quality truck battery designed to last, look for models with wider performance temperature ranges. A good battery can perform in temperatures as low as -40 degrees to as high as 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
The reserve capacity (RC) references a battery's running time with 2.5 amps of discharge. This is an important figure because it will determine how many electronics you can simultaneously run in your truck and what equipment you can charge before the battery dies. Typically, AGM batteries perform the best in this category because they feature the highest reserve capacity. AGM batteries are known to hold as much as 80 percent of their charge after a deep discharge.
- Cranking Amps: Always keep in mind the amount of cranking amps you’ll need to start your truck. Smaller trucks can be started with 400 amps, but larger trucks require 700 to 1,000 amps. Heavy-duty trucks should be paired with 1,000-amp batteries.
- Safety: An improperly-fitting truck battery that’s too close to the hood of your truck can pose a fire hazard. For the best performance and to avoid fires, confirm that there is at least 3.4 inches of clearance space between the hood and your battery.
- Compatibility: Always confirm that the battery you’re planning to purchase is compatible with the year, make, and model of your truck. Ideally, any new battery should have identical dimensions as your current OEM battery.
Best Truck Battery Reviews & Recommendations 2020
We’ve selected the Optima 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery as our Best Overall choice because it’s one of the most powerful options on the market at a reasonable price. You’ll like that this battery features a 100-minute reserve capacity, is 15 times more vibration-resistant than competitors, and offers faster recharging capabilities.
Best of all, the 800 Cold Cranking Amps rating makes it ideal for larger trucks. This maintenance-free truck battery is also ideal because it can be mounted in almost any position.
However, a common issue we found with this battery has to do with performance and customer service. Specifically, these batteries have a reputation for declining performance far earlier than the projected lifespan. And depending on where you buy this battery, the warranty might not always be honored.
We’ve selected the Optima 8020-164 35 RedTop Starting Battery because it’s a compact truck battery with a lot of power packed inside. The 720 cold cranking amp rating makes it ideal for small and some larger trucks. As you would expect from this brand, its 35 RedTop battery is also designed to be 15 times more vibration-resistant than the competition.
You’ll like that this is a smaller and lighter battery as compared to the competition—making it easy to install on your own. This battery also features a 90-minute reserve capacity, which is great for improved and consistent performance over time.
However, there are a few issues with this particular battery. Specifically, the battery life in real-world conditions doesn’t always meet the promoted lifespan. And again, customer service with this brand can be a little spotty, especially in getting the 36-month warranty to be honored, depending on where you purchase this battery.
Honorable MentionACDelco Professional AGM 94R Battery
ACDelco is a name you can trust thanks to its long history of supplying OEM parts to automotive industry heavyweights like General Motors. We’ve selected its AGM 94R Battery as our Honorable Mention because this battery features a high-density negative paste for improved performance. The calcium lead positive grid also improves connectivity, while an improved acid circulation helps to extend the battery life.
You’ll like that this battery offers enhanced structural features to improve functionality. For example, the 94R battery has a proprietary vent cap design that helps to extend the life of the battery by reducing the chance of acid leaks. And ACDelco’s batteries are backed with a 36-month free replacement period.
Still, we did note a few negative issues with this battery. First, customer service ranked highest as a pain point for many customers. Depending on where this battery is purchased, the 36-month warranty isn’t always honored. Inconsistent product performance is also a major issue. Depending on the point of purchase, these batteries can arrive less than 50 percent charged and sometimes don’t surpass that benchmark. In other cases, it was reported that these batteries occasionally died prematurely.
Honorable MentionDelphi MaxStart AGM Premium Automotive Battery
Delphi is a well-known brand within the automotive world, and this battery is as reliable as you would expect. It features extended cold cranking amps (CCA) delivery to power your largest electronics. It is a reverse terminal battery with 800 CCA, a 140 reverse capacity, and 12 volts. It is 20 times more vibration-resistant than other batteries on the market, ensuring that it lasts a long time no matter what roads you drive on.
This battery has a durable, fortified design and high corrosion resistance. It weighs just over 51 pounds and is on the lower end of the price range for these types of products.
However, there have been some reported issues of the battery not fitting as described. There also have been some incidents of it arriving dead or dying after a few months. It is worth noting that reaching out to customer service for these problems doesn’t seem to result in a resolution of the issue.
Honorable MentionACDelco Professional AGM Automotive BCI Group 65 Battery
Another excellent battery from ACDelco, this is made with maintenance-free Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology to ensure you can simply install it and leave it be. You won’t have to worry about tinkering with it, leaks, or spills. It weighs nearly 46 pounds, making it a bit lighter than you would expect. It is a 12-volt automotive battery with 775 CCA and a 150 reverse capacity. It also comes with a 36-month free replacement warranty; an added perk to purchasing from this brand.
However, there have been a few reports of the battery not fitting properly, not lasting long, or arriving nearly dead. The warranty appears to hold up to its standard, offering replacements so long as it falls within the 36-month period. However, this may depend upon the retailer you purchase it from, so ensure you look into that before buying this battery. It is also more expensive than others on the market.
Honorable MentionOdyssey Automotive and LTV Battery
While this large Odyssey battery is more expensive than competitor products, you definitely get what you pay for. This features 900 CCA, 12 volts, and the highest recharge efficiency of any sealed battery on the market today. It has an extremely long lifecycle, lasting up to 70 percent longer than other deep cycle batteries. It can also last up to 400 cycles with an 80 percent depth of discharge, saving you time and giving you added peace of mind.
This battery can recharge up to 100 percent in less than six hours, making it one of the most optimized batteries out there. It is also highly temperature- and vibration-resistant. This also comes with a limited three- or four-year replacement warranty.
Overall, there are next to zero negative reports concerning this truck battery. However, the cost is quite a bit higher than less-expensive batteries. For that, you get more power and a longer life, but it is a large investment to make.
Honorable MentionOptima YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery
Optima is known for excellent products, and their YellowTop battery is no exception for your truck’s needs. It is a 12-volt, 620 CCA battery with dual SAE and GM terminals. It is very lightweight, coming in at just shy of 38 pounds. It has a reserve capacity of 100 minutes, giving you added peace of mind when you are on the road. It is 15 times more resistant to vibration, making it an excellent choice if you take your truck over rough or gravelly roads.
These YellowTop batteries are also excellent for seasonal usage because they have a very low self-discharge rate. So if you possess a working truck that sees more action during certain times of the year as opposed to others, this is the battery for you. It has the flexibility to be mounted in nearly any position, making it one of the more versatile batteries.
However, there are some issues this battery faces. It has had recent reports of not holding a charge or lasting as long as promised. The warranty is also complicated to navigate, requiring much validation from you to prove it is faulty.
Honorable MentionOptima YellowTop D35 Battery
This is extremely similar to the prior Optima YellowTop battery, but at a cheaper price. It is 12 volts with 620 CCA. It weighs just over 36 pounds, making it lighter compared to others on the market. It is 15 times more vibration-resistant, making it a great option for a hard-working truck. It has 98 minutes of reserve capacity, so you can drive long distances while still feeling secure about your power. Just like the other Optima battery, this has an extremely low self-discharge rate, making it great for vehicles that have seasonal usage.
This battery, however, has a history of dependability concerns, as recent issues have been reported. There have been multiple reports of the battery not lasting or even blowing up during usage. The warranty for this is spotty, requiring a great deal of evidence that something is wrong with the battery and it is not something you did.
- Higher life cycles are important, but remember that the real-world conditions in your region and your typical usage can affect this figure.
- Confirm that your intended truck battery is compatible with the connection terminals in your truck.
- People who live in colder regions should focus on higher CCA ratings to prevent frigid temperatures from draining the battery.
Q: What’s the difference between a deep cycle and an AMG battery?
A: Deep cycle batteries tend to be very powerful and have a longer lifespan. Specifically, these types of batteries are usually reserved for electric or marine vehicles. In contrast, AMG batteries are very commonly used for trucks. Even though they are pricier than “standard” lead-acid batteries, AMGs usually outperform them because of their fuel-saving start-stop systems and ability to withstand vibrations.
Q: How long do lead-acid batteries typically last before they need to be replaced?
A: A quality lead-acid battery has a service life of up to two to three years of regular use before you should consider replacing it. One of the biggest benefits of picking a lead-acid battery is that these are some of the best low-maintenance types of batteries for people who don’t want to constantly work on their truck battery. However, if these batteries develop a problem, there’s no option to fix it — all you can do is replace it.
Q: Why should I get a truck battery instead of a regular automotive battery?
A: It might be tempting to opt for a car battery to replace your existing truck battery but in the long run this is a bad idea. Truck batteries are designed with higher CCA ratings — even when compared with top of the line car batteries. So, a car battery might not be strong enough to properly power your truck.
We recommend our Best Overall Optima Batteries 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery and Best Value Optima Batteries 8020-164 35 RedTop Starting Battery to keep you on the road.