7 tips for keeping your truck battery in top condition

As a CDL driver, it’s important to be aware of the potential issues you could be faced with on the job. One of the more unfortunate ones is being faced with a dead battery. Unfortunately, due to some newer models of trucks not having adequate warning systems, this can put you at a greater risk of being stuck away from home.

Lead acid automotive batteries, like any battery found in other electronics, have a limited life expectancy and will eventually lose the essential charge needed to start your truck’s engine. On average, a lead-acid battery can last around 42 months, with this timeline greatly affected by a number of factors. These can range from the length or regularity of your trips, the temperature around you and the performance of your truck’s charging circuit. To maximize the lifespan of your truck battery and make sure you don’t run onto any unfortunate issues, here are some helpful recommendations for you as a driver. 

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1. Don’t take short trips too often

Every time you start your truck’s engine, the battery strain is immediately noticeable and the engine will start to recharge and restore the battery’s power throughout the remainder of your journey. But if you are going on short trips, the battery will not have enough time to fully recover its lost energy. If you continue this pattern of short journeys, the battery’s voltage will gradually reduce until it isn’t strong enough to start the car.

To ensure that your battery remains sufficiently charged, take longer trips on a regular basis. If, however, you don’t frequently drive your truck, consider investing in a battery charger to keep the voltage at its optimum level.

2. Check that your battery is securely fastened

The continuous shaking that your truck may be exposed to can seriously reduce the lifespan of your vehicle’s battery. Therefore, it’s best to use an authorized clamp that has been specially designed to secure the battery in place. It’s important not to overtighten the nuts on the clamp though, as that can cause irreparable damage to the battery. Aim to only fasten the nuts until you feel some resistance, at which point you should turn them another half turn so that they are slightly secured.

3. Reduce electricity consumption when the engine is off 

Remember to switch off the headlights and interior lights of your truck when the engine’s not running. All vehicles will run more effectively with a near full battery charge, so be sure to switch off all appliances and turn off the headlights completely before you step out of your truck.

4. Keep the battery in proper condition 

The battery should remain dry and it’s important to keep it clean. If the case is dirty, corrosion can build up on the surface, resulting in a slight short circuit and draining the battery. This is why taking care of the terminals is so essential; it helps keep the battery functioning efficiently. An old toothbrush with a mixture of baking soda and water does the trick in removing corrosion. Make sure to use a spray bottle filled with cold water to wash off the solution and use a clean cloth to wipe off any remaining solution and moisture. Taking these steps will help to increase the lifespan of the battery.

5. Try to minimize heat exposure 

Cold weather is often thought to be harsh on truck batteries and cause them to fail, but that is not necessarily the case. Statistically speaking, most batteries fail during the summer due to extreme heat. The heat can cause water to evaporate from the cells inside the battery, leading to a rapid decline in power. Additionally, when trying to start an engine with thick oil in the cold, it reveals existing damage to the battery as the lower temperatures further diminish the remaining starting power.

In order to prevent these temperature related issues and increase the life of your truck battery, it is important to take the necessary precautions. This may involve keeping the truck out of direct sunlight, or placing a cover on the battery in the case of extreme summer heat. Researching methods of insulation in the engine compartment can also come in handy if the heat is consistently causing problems with your battery.

6. Check the battery voltage monthly

Keeping a close eye on the condition of your battery is an important factor in ensuring its longevity. This can be done by regularly using a voltmeter to measure the voltage, which should come out to 12.7 volts or higher when the battery is charged. However, the longer this voltage is kept partially charged, the shorter its life expectancy becomes. Therefore, it is crucial to act as soon as the voltage drops below 12.5 volts, so as to ensure that the battery is recharged. On the flip side, be aware that a truck lead acid battery is only half charged when it drops to 12.4 volts and fully discharged when it drops to 12.0 volts.

7. Don’t leave your truck idle for long periods of time 

When it comes to lead-acid truck batteries, it’s essential to keep them well-charged in order to avoid harm. All lead-acid batteries from manufacturers naturally discharge over time – a process known as ‘self-discharge’. According to the temperature, this varies from 1% a day at room temperature, 0.25% at 50°F and 1.5% at 86°F. Parasitic loads of a truck can worsen this process, so if a vehicle isn’t in use for more than a week then it is recommended to connect a battery charger to maintain the battery in ideal condition.


Now you’re aware of a few handy tricks to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly with a healthy battery. Make sure you stick to the advice provided here, as replacing the battery can be costly. Take the necessary precautionary steps to care for your battery so you can keep on driving your pickup without hiccups.