How Often Should I Replace My Truck Battery?
- Do I know the voltage of my truck battery?
- When was the last time I tried to charge my truck battery with a battery charger?
- Have you had your truck battery load-tested?
If you don't know the answer to those questions, then you should get them before you spend money on a new battery for your truck. The good news is, you can probably get those answers for free, even if you don't have a voltmeter, battery charger or load tester. Most professional battery retailers will offer to charge & check your battery for free (especially if they think the results might lead to a battery sale) and you can find a professional battery retailer near you here.
If you have the equipment needed to check your battery yourself (or you just want to know the information), when fully-charged, your truck battery should measure at least 12.6 volts (at least ~13.0 volts, if you are using an OPTIMA YELLOWTOP). If you have a battery charger, measure the voltage before and after you attempt to charge your battery, to ensure your charger is delivering current to your battery. We mention this, because some chargers actually won't deliver current, if batteries have been too deeply-discharged (in some cases, 10.5 volts is the cut-off).
Discharged batteries can't be properly load-tested, so it's important that you first attempt to fully-charge your truck battery before performing a load test on it. If you take your battery to a retailer, know that this process might take several hours or overnight, depending on the state of charge in the battery. All batteries have specific ratings for Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). While you may live somewhere warm, where you'll never have to worry about starting your truck in sub-zero temperatures, load tests give you an indication of how your battery is performing, relative to it's rated specifications.
For instance, our Group 48/H6 YELLOWTOP truck battery, which is a direct-fit replacement for many late-model GM trucks, is rated at 800 cold cranking amps. If your battery is rated at 800 CCA and it tests at 750 CCA, that doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be replaced immediately, but you should know that it is no longer performing at it's rated specifications and it may need to be replaced in the near future. When that time comes depends on where you live and how you drive your truck.
If the six-cylinder gas engine in your truck only needs 500 CCA to start and you live in a moderate climate, then your replacement window is probably larger, than if you are using that battery to start a 7.3-liter diesel in Minnesota in February. If you depend on your truck to get you to work on time every day, then you might not want to play it safe and replace your battery sooner, rather than later. If you only use your truck for weekend chores, then you might be able to stretch out the replacement a little bit longer.
Regardless of what truck you have, where you live or how you use it, if you keep your battery topped off with a quality battery maintenance device whenever possible, it will maximize the performance and lifespan of your truck battery.