Special Report: 2011 Battery Buyer’s Guide
Re-Thinking Battery Choices
When it’s time for a new work truck battery, should you go with an OEM replacement — or shoot for something bigger and better?
Here’s the answer.
But when you turn the key on the company’s five-year-old diesel pickup, the engine barely turns over.
Dead battery. Time wasted. Money lost.
But it shouldn’t have come as a big suprise because plenty of little warning signs showed that this truck’s batteries were nearing the end of their lifecycle.
Hint number one of impending battery demise was the engine turning over more slowly than usual during cold starts. Hint number two was a noticeable dimming of the headlights when you turned the engine off. Hint number three was the batteries were at the end of their life as indicated by the labels on their tops.
Sealed AGM batteries in nonstandard sizes often let you store more battery power in the space you have available.
Unfortunately, some sneaky batteries keep their failing health a secret right up until you turn the ignition key and nothing happens. But this wasn’t the case this morning.
Choosing the Right Battery
The average OEM battery lasts at least four or five years with proper maintenance, unless you ask more from it than it was designed to give. Maybe you roll down the windows and listen to an amped-up stereo while you work, or leave the headlights on to light up a job when you run out of daylight.
Perhaps you need to run extra lights or a winch, and with the cost of gas and diesel these days you don’t want to leave the engine running.
An occasional dead battery can happen to anyone, but if you need regular jump starts because of the way you normally use your truck’s electrical system, you need more battery power than your truck came with, so it’s time to step up to a better battery system.
If you need only a little more power, the first and easiest solution is to see if a cranking battery with more capacity is available to fit your truck.
When your truck was designed, engineers selected its OEM battery to start its engine and run its factory equipment at the coldest winter temperatures it was likely to encounter. An OEM battery is expected to just start the truck and then serve as a sort of surge buffer while the truck’s alternator carries the electrical system’s load.
Installing anything beyond a standard replacement battery can be tricky.
Your truck’s battery cables may only be long enough to reach positive and negative posts located where they are on the OEM battery and installing a non-OEM model may call for modifying the cable connections.
Speaking as an former fireman, never install a battery tall enough for its positive post’s terminal hardware to touch the underside of the hood when you close it. And, tie all batteries down securely so they can’t bounce up and touch the hood.
MORE FROM In the Magazine
- Rand Paul introduces bill to fund emergency transportation projects472 Views
- Sydney uses water curtains to alert drivers to stop (VIDEO)466 Views
- Tesla Model S earns top ratings from Consumer Reports435 Views
- Big four cellphone companies jointly launch anti-texting campaign260 Views
- Acceptance of connected vehicles depends on cost, LaHood says252 Views