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While most people are familiar with batteries for traditional cars and SUVs, they might not be familiar with heavy-duty truck batteries. If you drive a diesel truck, eventually the time will come when you’ll either need to replace a battery because the current one is dead, or you decide to upgrade your existing one to an option that’s more powerful or efficient. Our guide will help you determine which diesel truck batteries are best and what factors you need to prioritize when shopping for this product.
The Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks
The Optima battery brand is well-respected and for good reason. It’s known for rugged batteries that can work in the worst conditions—like our Best Choice selection, the 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery. While it can work with a range of vehicles, it’s ideal for diesel trucks. It’s rated for 800 Cold Cranking Amps and even has a reserve capacity for 100 minutes. Other core features like the spiral cell technology, enhanced vibration resistance, and the fact that it’s ideal for cold weather vehicle starting help to round out the major benefits.
However, a major issue with this product centers around its warranty. Depending on where this battery is purchased, the manufacturer may not support the warranty. Additionally, there are issues with battery life inconsistency and the battery dying within a year of purchase. In other cases, the voltage levels can shift drastically between the current emitted when starting a vehicle versus when it’s running.
800 Cold Cranking Amps
100 minute reserve capacity
Ideal for harsh weather conditions
Spiral cell technology
- Weight38.8 pounds
Ideal for cold weather car starting capabilities
15 times more vibration-resistant than competition
Preferred AGM battery
Battery life can be inconsistent
Warranty support can be inconsistent
Voltage can drop from starting to operating vehicle
Delphi is another great brand that’s known for creating OEM parts that are ideal if you need to replace a part and want to be confident that it can be installed in your vehicle and work as expected. The Delphi MaxStart AGM Premium Automotive Battery comes with core features you need, such as an 800 Cold Cranking Amps rating and a 140 minute reserve capacity rating. You’ll also like that this battery is 20 times more vibration-resistant than competitive models and that the housing is designed to be corrosion-resistant.
However, compatibility can be a major issue with this specific Delphi battery. So, it’s always important to confirm that the battery will work with the year, make, and model of your specific vehicle. Another major issue we found is that this battery is known to die prematurely and not be able to hold a charge.
800 Cold Cranking Amps rating
140 minute reserve capacity rating
20 times more vibration-resistant
Corrosion-resistant sealed housing
- Weight51.6 pounds
Exact OEM AGM fit replacement
Better cycle life
May be incompatible with select vehicle models
Battery may die prematurely
Some people opt to upgrade their existing battery because they’ve chosen to install aftermarket features like an enhanced sound system and require a stronger battery to provide the necessary power. The XS Power XS Series 12-Volt High Output battery is designed to do exactly that. With 3,300 amps and a 1,000 Cold Cranking Amps rating, struggling to start your vehicle or to provide steady power to all of its electronics won’t be an issue. Plus, the M6 terminal bolt makes installation a breeze, while the sealed battery design makes venting an unnecessary step.
Common issues we found with this specific battery center around customer service and performance. In particular, some issues like leaks may not be honored under the warranty if the problem can’t be reproduced in an auto body shop. Also, after ordering this battery, you may have to wait an extended period of time for it to arrive. Finally, you may find that the battery may short out unexpectedly, causing it to die prematurely.
1,000 Cold Cranking Amps rating
Valve regulated and vibration-resistant
- BrandXS Power
- Weight48 pounds
Sealed battery doesn’t require venting
Ideal for powering aftermarket sound systems
Comes with M6 terminal bolt
Not all product issues covered by warranty
Some batteries may short out prematurely
If ordered online, can take an extended period of time to arrive
ACDelco is one of the few well-known battery manufacturers that also has a reputation as an OEM supplier for General Motors. Because of this, it is trusted in the car world as a reliable brand when it comes to aftermarket or even OEM replacements. The AGM 94R Battery is perfect for performance and endurance. High-density negative paste helps to improve performance, while additional features like improved acid circulation and a proprietary vent cap design help to extend battery life and prevent the chance of acid leaks.
Yet, with all these positives, customer service and an inconsistent product (depending on the point of purchase) are common issues with this product. Specifically, some people may find that their batteries arrive less than 50 percent charged and may never surpass that benchmark. In other cases, batteries can die prematurely. And in terms of customer service, depending on the point of purchase, ACDelco’s 36-month warranty may not be honored.
High-density negative paste for improved performance
Calcium lead positive grid for improved connectivity
Improved acid circulation extends battery life
Vent cap prevents acid leakage
- Weight51.6 pounds
OEM for General Motors parts
36-month free replacement period
100 percent spill and leak proof AGM design
Can come less than 50 percent charged, depending on the point of purchase
Some batteries may die prematurely
36-month warranty not always supported
Optima Batteries makes it onto our list again with a commendable option, the 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery. As you would expect from this brand, you’ll enjoy key features such as an 800 Cold Cranking Amps rating. This is perfect for starting vehicles in freezing temperatures. But you’ll also like that there’s a 100 minute reserve capacity and that this battery offers faster recharging. Additionally, you can mount it in almost any position, and you’ll enjoy very low maintenance requirements.
With that being said, common issues with this battery center around performance and customer service issues. In particular, some car owners may find that the batteries lose performance well ahead of the expected lifespan. Also, depending on the point of purchase, the included warranty may not always be honored.
800 Cold Cranking Amps rating
100 minute reserve capacity
15 times more vibration-resistant
Faster recharging capabilities
- Weight37.9 pounds
Ideal for starting cars in freezing weather
Can be mounted in almost any position
Some batteries may die prematurely
Warranty not always supported
We’re rounding out our list with a solid entry from Odyssey. This popular aftermarket automotive brand offers a solid battery solution that has impressive features. A 950 Cold Cranking Amps rating and a reserve capacity of 145 minutes mean you’ll never be without power, and you can rely on this battery to start your vehicle in frigid temperatures. You’ll also like that this battery can completely recharge within four to six hours. The vibration-resistant design and flexible non-spilling mounting feature also help you to easily install this battery.
However, a common theme with aftermarket batteries centers around issues with performance and customer service, and the Odyssey entry on our list is no different. In some cases, the batteries struggle prematurely to maintain their charges. But more importantly, depending on where you purchase the battery, you may struggle to have the warranty upheld by the Odyssey brand if an issue should arise.
950 Cold Cranking Amps rating
145 minute reserve capacity
70 percent longer life cycle as compared to other batteries
100 percent recharge in 4 to 6 hours
- Weight58 pounds
Non-spilling flexible mounting feature
Three to 10 years of service life
Getting the warranty honored can be difficult
Battery may die prematurely
Batteries can lose voltage prematurely
Best Battery for Diesel Truck Buying Guide & FAQ
A battery for a diesel truck is not the same as one designed for use in a gasoline-powered car. Diesel truck batteries come in a wide range of styles that can address a variety of issues. The type of battery that you select is going to be directly dependent on your truck and overall performance goals.
Typically, these aren’t questions that you need to ask yourself until it’s time to replace the existing battery in your diesel truck. But if you feel like your current battery is limiting performance, this is also a great reason to consider upgrading to a new truck battery.
Why You Need Batteries for Diesel Trucks
One of the biggest issues you can address with a battery for a diesel truck is to maintain performance. Opting for the wrong battery can negatively impact your truck’s performance. Common issues you might face include stalling, a complete shutdown if you leave a truck idling for too long, or even damage to your truck’s electrical system. In a worst-case scenario, whether you’re at a red light or in a parking lot, you could be stranded.
Proper winterization and preparation is another reason to pick the right battery for your diesel truck. The winter can be hard on all vehicles, including trucks. Freezing weather can prematurely drain batteries, leaving you with a truck that won’t start. In contrast to traditional batteries, diesel truck batteries are optimized to withstand extreme weather because of their cold cranking amps.
Of course, one of the most common reasons is to replace an existing battery. Lead-acid batteries are common, but they come with a shelf life of roughly seven years. But in some cases, they can age prematurely, and that means that within five years you might need to upgrade and replace your existing battery. When the time comes, opt for a premium truck battery that’s rated for performance, so you’re less likely to be stranded or find yourself replacing it as frequently.
- Improves truck performance.
- Helps to winterize your truck.
- Lasts longer than traditional lead-acid batteries.
Types of Batteries for Diesel Trucks
Just like anything else, there’s more than one type of battery you can choose when shopping for your diesel truck. Typically, there are two main types of diesel truck batteries—AGM and lead-acid. However, lead-acid batteries can be further divided into additional categories. Below, we outline the most common options, as well as their benefits, and a few details on their construction.
Absorbable Gas Mat (AGM)
AGM batteries are best known for their discharge and recharge efficiency. This is because they feature an electrolyte solution that’s close to the metal plates. As compared to other battery types, they feature a slower discharge rate. AGM batteries are also more sustainable since most of the parts can be recycled. This includes plastic shell, fiberglass, and lead-acid. Compared to traditional batteries, the only waste is divider linings.
Lead-acid batteries are the most common option for diesel trucks. As the name implies, they feature a combination of lead and acid to store an electric charge. This category can be further divided into wet-cell and gel-cell lead-acid batteries. Wet-cell batteries have a sealed option that causes the battery to lose power as the electrolyte level decreases. But you can also choose to add distilled water to extend the battery life. Gel-cell batteries feature electrolytes that are suspended on a gel and are best suited for hot environments.
What to Look for When Buying Batteries for Diesel Trucks
Now that you know the most common types of batteries that you’ll find when shopping for an upgrade or replacement, what are the core features you need to keep in mind? Top features you should prioritize include those that improve performance for routine use or in more extreme conditions like freezing or extremely hot weather.
- Cold Cranking Amps
The term Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) refers to the total number of amps a battery emits at zero degrees for 30 seconds at a rate of 7.2 amps. Extreme cold is one of the key times when it can be hard to start an engine. If you live in a region where the temperature routinely drops below zero degrees Fahrenheit, look for batteries with a higher CCA rate. In this scenario, opt for batteries with over 500 Cold Cranking Amps.
- Reserve Capacity
The reserve capacity (RC) measures a battery's running time with 2.5 amps of discharge. This figure will directly impact how many electronics you can simultaneously run through your truck or what equipment you can charge before your battery dies. With this feature, AGM batteries are the best option because they have the highest reserve capacity. AGM batteries can hold as much as 80 percent of their charge even after a deep discharge.
Unsurprisingly, the type of battery you select is going to be directly impacted by the year, make, and model of your current truck. For the best fit, your new battery should be identical in size to your current OEM battery. As a matter of safety, your battery should never touch the hood of your truck. For added precaution and to prevent fires, ensure that there’s a hood clearance of at least 3.4 inches.
Tips for Buying and Using Batteries for Diesel Trucks
What are the best ways to buy a battery for a diesel truck? Are there things you can prioritize to improve installation or performance? Two major issues you need to consider are life cycle and compatibility. The life cycle refers to the total number of charges and discharges that a battery can complete before it completely loses power (dies). Even though manufacturers list the life cycle of their batteries, it’s important to note that real-world conditions and the rate of discharge can impact the true life cycle.
Compatibility is a fairly straight-forward consideration. Always check that the battery you’re planning to purchase is designed to fit with your truck's engine and connection terminals. This is important because a proper fit between the connection terminals means that your battery is securely in place and less likely to be knocked loose through vibrations while your truck is in motion.
- Prioritize higher life cycles, but remember that real-world conditions and usage can impact this figure.
- Always check for compatibility between the battery and your truck’s connection terminals.
- If you live in colder regions, prioritize a higher CCA rating as cold weather can prematurely drain a battery.
Best Batteries for Diesel Trucks FAQ:
It’s understandable that you might have questions about signs that it’s time to replace a battery or how to properly install or calibrate a new battery for your diesel truck. For example, a bad battery may take longer to start your truck’s engine or may struggle to distribute power to other areas of your vehicle. A great example is if your headlights look dimmer than usual. Also, if you’re focused on optimizing power to your diesel truck, consider installing two batteries instead of just one. While it’s possible to find an oversized battery for a diesel truck, they aren’t as common.
If you’re not a mechanic or a gearhead, it’s easy to assume that you could use a battery from a gasoline-powered car to help jump start a diesel truck. Although it’s possible to do this, it’s usually not ideal since it can take longer to power the truck this way. And for the curious, there are deep cycle and starting batteries that are additional options you might encounter. Both of these options feature lower cranking volume and are more ideal for use with a truck that features multiple aftermarket accessories like sound systems. While these types of batteries are fine to use, you can also opt for an AGM battery for your diesel truck instead.
Q: How do I know I have a bad battery?
A: Telltale signs that it’s time to replace your battery begin with a vehicle that won’t start. Additionally, you may notice that other electric-powered accessories like your headlights are dimmer.
Q: Do I need to find an oversized battery for my diesel truck?
A: Oversized batteries are an option, but these are typically an aftermarket replacement and can be harder to find. Instead, opt for two batteries that are hooked up with a parallel connection to maintain a constant voltage and improve the current rating.
Q: Can I use a gasoline-powered vehicle to jumpstart a diesel battery?
A: Yes you can, but this is not a quick fix or a long-term solution. You may find that it takes longer to accomplish if the battery level on your diesel truck is very low or dead. If you find that the diesel truck’s battery is consistently low or needs a jumpstart, it’s time to replace your battery.
Q: Should I get a deep cycle or starting battery?
A: Deep cycle and starting batteries have lower cranking volume. They reserve most of their energy to power aftermarket accessories and electronics, like sound systems and televisions. Although an oversized deep cycle battery can support this, you can also pick an AGM with a solid reserve capacity.
Our Top Pick
If you’re looking for a quality aftermarket battery for a diesel truck that will provide superior and consistent performance, opt for our Top Pick, the Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery. In addition to being rated for use with a range of vehicles, it’s perfect for diesel trucks. With a Cold Cranking Amps rating of 800, you can rely on this for starting your vehicle in the worst cold weather. You’ll also like the 100 minute reserve capacity. Additional features such as the spiral cell technology and enhanced vibration resistance also help to make our Top Pick an attractive option.