How to choose a battery for a truck?
Trucks work with a heavy load, often excessive. In hot climates, in northern latitudes, and on long hauls, the battery ensures a stable engine start. The different operating conditions have determined the variety of batteries produced. To understand the wide range presented in the automotive market, this article is intended.
A battery for diesel trucks is not necessarily the same battery you would choose for a gasoline pickup truck. While trucks typically use higher capacity batteries because of their task-oriented design and frequent commercial use, there are still differences to consider when comparing diesel truck batteries to those for standard pickup trucks.
The specifics of the diesel engine directly affect battery requirements. If you choose the wrong battery, there is a high probability of starting problems. Let’s take a closer look at what battery is better to buy for diesel and why.
What battery is necessary for diesel and why?
In comparison with the gasoline engine, the diesel engine has a number of features that determine the requirements for the battery. Let us briefly consider them.
- Firstly, a higher degree of compression in the cylinders: in the gasoline engine the ignition occurs from the spark plug, while in the diesel engine the combustion chamber is heated before fuel injection due to the compression of the air in it. This requires a high pressure in the cylinder to overcome the resistance of the compressed air. Therefore, more force is required to rotate the diesel engine crankshaft.
- Secondly, the need to heat the air in the cylinders with glow plugs (in winter). Glow plugs have a fairly high power, which determines the significant consumption of energy from the battery even before the starter is turned on.
- Third, thick oil. Diesel lubricants tend to be more viscous. The difference with gasoline oils becomes especially noticeable at low temperatures. Because of the thicker lubricant, viscous friction increases at the contact points, which the starter will need additional power to overcome.
These factors have the greatest influence on which battery to choose for the diesel engine. Obviously, for the same volume, a diesel engine will need a more powerful battery than a gasoline engine for a guaranteed start.
What is the best battery for a diesel truck?
It depends on your truck and how you use it. We’ve heard a lot of people take the advice: buy the best starter battery you can find, but that’s not always good advice. But that’s not always good advice.
The most important factor to consider when evaluating the best diesel truck batteries is the amount of cold start current (CCA) they can offer. A battery’s CCA rating refers to the amount of energy needed to start an engine, even at low temperatures.
Given that diesel engines often need more energy to start than gasoline engines, and that cold weather is unfavorable for high-compression diesel trying to find the heat needed to ignite the fuel, they need more CCA in the battery so they can start longer and stronger on a cold day.
Of course, this is not true for all diesel engines. Smaller designs, such as four-cylinders or small six-cylinders, don’t require the same level of cold-start power as the more powerful V-8s. However, be careful when evaluating the battery CCA for your diesel truck. The recommended CCA depends on how harsh your winters are, but for most climates in the continental United States, you will need at least 800 CCA.
What if the battery with the highest cold start current isn’t right for your diesel truck?
Do you live in a climate where it’s never cold enough (0°F/-18°C) for cold start amps to be a factor?
What if you overcharge your battery a lot and your 2.8-liter diesel doesn’t need that much starting power? You could end up spending too much money on a battery designed for starting that won’t stand up to long-term use.
Regardless of which battery you choose, know that keeping your battery fully charged will maximize its performance and service life.
To recommend a particular battery for diesel, you need to consider the class of your vehicle.
It can be ordinary cars, SUVs, or trucks.
- For diesel cars and SUVs, choose a battery with a starting current of 500-700 А.
- For trucks, choose a more powerful battery with a starting current of 800-1000 A.
Batteries for SUVs and Trucks
How do I choose a battery for my diesel vehicle?
There are 5 key criteria for selecting a battery for a diesel car.
Battery starting current
This is one of the main parameters that determine the battery’s ability to crank the crankshaft with the starter. The starting current shows how much electricity the battery is able to give in a unit of time. The higher this figure, the more active the starter turns the crankshaft. Recommended starting current for diesel engines, we have summarized in the table below.
|Engine displacement, l||Recommended battery starting current, A|
These are approximate, recommended values. The fact is that in terms of choosing the battery for a diesel car on the starting current, much depends on the technology of the engine, the degree of compression in its cylinders, the type of transmission, the presence of additional attachments and other factors.
This parameter indicates how long the battery is able to power the starter with sufficient power to rotate the crankshaft. New cars with new engines, serviceable power system and minimal wear of the piston group may be limited to a small battery capacity. If there are problems with starting, it is better to select a battery of higher capacity than recommended by the car manufacturer. Recommended values are given in the table below.
|Engine displacement, l||Recommended battery capacity, mAh|
For diesel engines, Optima, XS Power and VMAX batteries have proven themselves under normal operating conditions. They have high starting currents and capacities, tolerate frosts well and have a long service life.
Type of battery terminals
A distinction is made between Thin (Asian) terminals and Thick (European) terminals.
Conventionally, all batteries for cars are divided into 3 types according to shape and size: European, Asian and American. Asian batteries are narrow and tall. American and European batteries have a more squat shape, with horizontal linear dimensions often exceeding the height.
Pay attention to the size of the battery mounting area. In modern cars this space is often limited, and even a small deviation from the recommended dimensions may eventually lead to the inability to install the battery.
Polarity of the terminals
This determines the position of the positive and negative terminals on the battery. A distinction is made between forward and reverse battery polarity.
Forward polarity is where the positive terminal is on the left when looking at the front of the battery; correspondingly, reverse polarity is where the positive terminal is on the right.
If you want a new battery for your diesel truck, you should know the difference between your engine and a regular gasoline engine. Diesels run at a higher compression ratio and are a little harder to start, so the batteries you use must be heavy duty to ensure a smooth start.
Even more than a little extra power is needed, those of us with diesel trucks tend to use them as trucks. This usually means using a lot of extra accessories, from pumps to lights, which drain the battery much more than the car would in normal use.
As mentioned above, you need to make sure that the engine can start. You can easily find the CCA values needed for your engine from the manufacturer. Some large model diesel engines may need about 650 to start reliably, so this is definitely something to keep in mind as the difference in rating can be huge.
You also need to know if you’ll be using standard electronics or if you have high power amplifiers, huge lamps, or anything else that might increase your battery’s power consumption. If so, you’ll need to build a system with multiple batteries or make sure you use a dual-purpose battery, like the Yellow Top Optima series.
Some great batteries will require extra effort on your part to make them work properly, this may mean lengthening your truck’s cables or installing new brackets, as many really great batteries just won’t fit in your truck. When using a dual-purpose battery, you should also pay attention to AH (ampere hours) and RC (reserve capacity), which will give you a good idea of how long you can run all the extras you plan to use. In the end, to get the best diesel battery for your truck, just start the engine and turn on the headlights to make sure they have the best of the best, invest in something that has a high enough CCA rating to run the engine and call it good. If you want to replace the battery in your diesel truck, try doing it, there is nothing difficult about it.
All the best!