You get a call that your sister is stuck in a snowdrift on the side of the road and needs a tow. You say you’ll be there in 10 minutes.
As you rush out to start your truck, you are met with no response. It’s dead.
And the tow trucks are an hour away.
Here is the best car battery I recommend for truck use. Get a truck battery with enough power for -40 degree winters and that you and your family can count on when it matters the most.
Here we break down the different material types, longevity, and dependability.
What is the right battery size for your vehicle? You can add your car to Amazon and then search for the correct size. Here are some of the top batteries for trucks to help speed up your research.
Best Truck Batteries
Odyssey PC680 Battery
If you want a lot of power, let me introduce you to the Odyssey battery.
The Odyssey battery is an absorbed glass mat battery with some key innovation differences that make it ideal for high-performance use. By adding an electrolyte valve, they can increase the performance of the battery.
This battery features a very low impedance, which lets the battery discharge easily. This makes it easy to get the power you need from the battery without dealing with flickering lights or other power problems.
It also makes starting easier. Not only does this battery use 99% lead plates, but it uses thinner plates, allowing them to put more plates inside the battery. This means that the battery can deliver up to 2,700 amps in 5-second bursts. If you feel like your car starts sluggishly on cold mornings, I would go with the Odyssey battery.
Because this battery performs so well, many folks have mistaken it for a Nickel-Cadmium battery (which would be quite expensive to make for a car.) These batteries offer a similar performance profile but ins a more affordable design. They can get a full recharge in 4-6 hours, making them one of the best-charging batteries.
They also have high cycling capabilities and are rated for 400 charges after being drained to 80%.
The Extreme series Odyssey batteries are expected to have a 3 to 10 years service life, and they stand behind it with a 3 to 4-year full replacement warranty. The longer life makes it worth the investment.
Finally, if you are one of those truck owners with a lot of accessories, the reserve time of 135 minutes puts this in the same performance category of some deep cycle batteries (like the yellowtop Optima).
If you want the best battery for your truck, this is the one I would go with.
A lot of folks prefer the Optima car battery for its coiled cell shape.
Personally, I like the Deka. It’s one of the last car Batteries that is mostly made in the United States and is seems to offer that battery life that we all want.
As with all absorbable glass mat batteries, this one uses an electrolytic solution that allows for 99.9% lead anodes. This improves the battery discharging and recharging and extends the life of the battery.
Practically speaking, this means you can run that lightbar and sound system simultaneously without putting as much load on your Alternator.
The AGM design also makes It good for off-road use where vibrations are a problem.
Starting at 760 Cold cranking amps, this battery offers way more starting power than most of you will ever need.
Optima YellowTopDual Purpose Battery
If you want a battery with bragging rights, this is the one to get.
The redtops are more of your standard car battery with good starting power.
The yellowtops offer that strong starting power and do “double-duty” as a deep cycle battery. This lets these batteries offer 140 minutes of discharge time before you run through the reserve.
Both use a spiral cell internal plating that promises better performance.
Suppose you are the type who likes to run accessories off their truck. This battery helps to unlock their full potential. Kill the truck’s engine and listen to the radio on your amazing sound system for a couple of hours without killing the battery.
This battery also helps when you have a lot of factory accessories like power doors.
Researching this battery in car forums, it seems to have a better service life than the Redtop batteries. It performs well in extreme temperatures and brings that strong vibration resistance and spill-proof AGM design.
Delphi MaxStart AGM
The rating of this battery is very similar to the YellowTop Optima.
With 800 CCA rating, this is an extremely powerful battery that is ready for those cold starts.
Delphi ups the ante with this battery, claiming that it is 20x more vibration resistant than standard lead-acid batteries.
Weighing in at 51 pounds, this is a heavy battery but delivers the power you are looking for.
Optima 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery
Optima offers an easy to understand color-coding system for their batteries, with the Redtop batteries signifying their batteries with the greatest starting capacity.
With 800 cold cranking amps, this is going to be a beast of a battery designed to start your pickup truck.
The AGM is designed to last longer, especially when you do a lot of gravel driving where vibrations will shorten normal batteries’ lives. In fact, they are touted for having 15x better vibration resistance and are a favorite of hot rodders.
The reserve life of 100 minutes means that you can leave the keys on for 90+ minutes before you run into starting problems.
The downside with this battery is that some users complain about it not lasting as long as the earlier version of the Interstate Optima line. The old batteries seemed to last ten years without any issues. Now that manufacturing is in Mexico, I’m running across more people in forums complaining about these batteries lasting less than two years.
You never know what folks are putting their batteries through. Optima has a 12-month Commercial Warranty and a 36-month consumer warranty that is facilitated through the company that sells you the battery.
Since it is an AGM battery, the Optima offers the ultimate maintenance-free experience. With the strong staring burst of power and faster recharge time, this is an excellent choice.
ACDelco AGM Automotive BCI Group 94RAGM
This AGM battery by AC Delco offers an affordable way to get into the AGM playing field. Their batteries cost quite a bit less than many of the aftermarket products and give you a chance to get a top-quality battery — especially if you are driving a GMC vehicle.
This battery uses a calcium lead positive grid. It would be better if this was a 99% lead grid, but then the price would go up as well. The proprietary vent cap design is supposed to help decrease accidental venting of electrolyte and expand the battery life.
Further supporting this battery is AC Delco’s 36-month battery replacement period should the battery fail.
The best thing about this battery is that you can generally get an extra 130 or so cranking amps over the stock battery. If you live in a cold climate, this is an excellent option for easier starting.
Truck Battery Buying Guide
Types of Truck Batteries
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
The absorbed glass mat battery is a higher-end battery. This system offers a better discharge and recharge efficiency. Within the plates is a glass mat material that absorbs the acid in the battery and prevents leaking. It uses a fiberglass separator that allows for higher cold-cranking amps. It also has a recombinant vent battery that keeps acid from leaking and prolongs the battery’s life. They are a little heavier, and they last longer. (Some studies argue that they last 3x as long). These batteries tend to have a lower discharge rate, which is one reason why the Odyssey battery design is so attractive.
This battery is the easiest to ship since the acid will not leak.
Flooded Lead Acid
This is the most common type of battery and probably the one that came with your car. Inside the battery is positive and negative plates, slightly separated, and soaking in a sulfuric-acid and water mixture. These wet-cell batteries are the most affordable. Vibration can ruin them over time. Older versions had a port for adding water. Newer batteries tend to die over time as the electrolytic solution evaporates. These batteries are difficult to ship due to the possibility of leaking electrolytic fluid.
Our small electronics use lithium batteries, and we’re starting to see this technology enter the automotive world. These batteries tend to be smaller and lighter. They can store more energy, and because they are so resilient to hundreds of charges, they can last 10+ years. You generally only see these batteries on hybrid cars, and not for starting. We’re starting to see more of these offered as starting batteries.
How Much Do Truck Batteries Cost
- Under $200: For less than $200, you can generally find an entry-level battery that will last a couple of years without problems. Our cheap GMS Yukon battery costs about $160 when purchased locally.
- Over $200: If you are running a lot of lights and accessories, want a greater power reserve, or need a battery that offers the best cold cranking performance, these high-end batteries will likely cost more than $200.
Top Battery Brands
If you are shopping online, you have undoubtedly run across the Optima brand. They are doing a good job of promoting their performance batteries with educational videos. Founded in 1972, this is a USA-based company in Wisconsin that delivers some of the most sought-after batteries by performance-focused car owners. Most of these batteries are made by Johnson Controls, who also manufactures the Delphi battery line.
This is considered the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) replacement battery. They do a lot of work with GM, but their products are considered the “gold standard” for replacing parts when you want the “original” components. These batteries are made by Middle East Battery Company, a Saudi company that is partially owned by Johnson Controls. GM generally has a high standard for their products, and I’ve had good luck with AC Delco parts.
We’re beginning to see more of the Odyssey products, especially for their lithium-ion batteries. Owned by Enersys, they are a major global battery maker with manufacturing facilities in Missouri, France, and the United Kingdom. Enersys makes many of the top brands, including the high-end DieHard Platinum line.
This is one of the most American-made products you can buy. East Penn was founded in 1964 and has a huge, 2 million square foot factory in the United States, which makes all of their products. They make the Deka line and the MK Battery line. We see a lot of their batteries in marine applications and for mobility scooters. It looks like most of their batteries have 12-18 month warranties, depending on the use type.
Delphi sold their battery, making it Johnson Controls. Johnson Controls also makes many of the common brands such as Exide and the more middle-class DieHard series. Johnson Controls also bought out Optima batteries in November of 2000.
In 2019, Advanced Auto Parts purchased the Diehard brand for $200 million. Best I can discover, Johnson Controls continues to manufacture the bulk of their batteries, with a few of the high-end models being made by Enersys.
This was the original battery company and created one of the first automotive batteries for powering the electric starter. Their batteries powered the vehicles and radios used in World War 1, and they have a long and proud American heritage. For a long time, they were the chief manufacturer of DieHard. Unfortunately, in 2001, it was discovered that they were selling used batteries as new through Sears. This fraud resulted in a $27 million judgment. Since then, they have filed for Bankruptcy in 2002, 2013, and 2020. In my opinion, a company that can allow this level of fraud likely has deeper quality issues, and I avoid their batteries.
Basically, three manufacturers make all of the batteries in America: Exide, Johnson Controls, and East Penn. Exide is the only one I try to avoid.
Things To Look For When Shopping Truck Batteries
Load Test Your Batteries Yearly
Your batteries charging power can decay until the point that is suddenly doesn’t start. Loading testing your battery at an O’Reilly’s or Advanced Auto Parts or Pep Boy’s is free and makes it easy to detect a failing battery. I recommend getting your battery tested every October before it starts getting cold out. Just set up a yearly reminder in Google Calendar.
Look For Corrosion
Terminal Corrosion makes it difficult for the “juice” to reach your starter. Lightly wiggle your connections to make sure they are tight. If there is corrosion, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to gently rinse off the corrosion and improve the connectivity. Be careful not to allow the water to touch both poles at the same time as that can discharge and even ruin the battery.
You want to make sure it offers enough cold cranking amps, that the positive and negative terminals are on the correct side of the battery and that it is the properly-sized battery to fit into your vehicle. While just about any 12-volt battery will start a vehicle in the summertime, using an underpowered battery will eventually ruin your starter.
Cold Cranking Amps
This refers to how many amps are available to your car when trying to start at 0 degrees for 30 seconds. The recommendation is to have one Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) for every cubic inch of engine displacement (CID), and 2 CCA’s for each CID in diesel trucks.
A Chrysler 5.7 Liter Hemi has a 345 cubic inch displacement (CID). The minimum CCA the battery should supply is 345 CCA.
In practice, most folks will use a 500 CCA minimum for gasoline-powered trucks and 850 CCA for diesel trucks. Heavy Duty trucks need at least 1,000 CCA.
If you live where it is extremely cold, you might even talk to your mechanic about wiring in a second, “backup” battery for more reserve.
Batteries are going to work best in temperatures from 68 degrees up to 86 degrees. However, as most truck owners know, you are going to be running your truck in weather conditions well outside of that range.
Accordingly, most companies rate their batteries for temperatures from -40 degrees up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
This refers to how long a battery can discharge as 2.5 amps of discharge. This is handy when you are running a lot of accessories with the car turned off. This is the number of minutes your battery can sustain the load loss before it drops to 10 volts, or a level too low to start your car.
If the battery fails, will the company stand behind them? I prefer to go with a well-established battery brand that has a good warranty. Generally, they offer a 100% replacement warranty of 12 to 24 months. And then they’ll have a prorated warranty for a longer period, say 84 months. So you might see the warranty highlighted with two numbers, such as 12/84.
What is the difference between Deep Cycle And AGM Batteries?
The deep cycle batteries are made for deep discharge and recharge. They are great for use in RVs and campers where they can run fans and lights over a long period of time. While they can be used to start a vehicle, they don’t generally have the high cold cranking amps needed for year-round use.
Marine vehicles often use deep cycle batteries since their motors need very little power to get started, and the all-day reserve power provided by these bigger batteries makes it easier to power your accessories while fishing.
AGM batteries can serve both purposes but tend to cost more.
How Long Do Lead-Acid Batteries Last?
Lead-Acid batteries tend to last about 2-5 years, depending on how well your charging system works and how hot of a climate they are operated in. They are low-maintenance and affordable. AGM batteries work on the same lead-acid principal but have a 400-600 cycle life that works out to be 3+ years. Ideally, well made AGM’s can last 5+ years.
What is the difference between a truck battery vs. SUV battery vs. heavy-duty truck battery?
A lot of it comes down to the CCA rating. Light-duty trucks and SUVs can work well with around 700 cold-cranking amps. Bigger engines and diesel engines need a larger battery for more startup power.
How should I dispose of my car battery?
Batteries are full of toxic material such as sulphuric acid and lead. The lead can be harvested and reused in other batteries (in fact, most batteries now use recycled lead.). They should be dropped off at an approved recycling site. Some automotive shops will give you a core charge credit if you return your dead battery to them after buying a new battery with them.