Battery know how!! Tricks for the trade!

Discussion in 'Ask An Owner Operator' started by Soonermark, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. Soonermark

    Soonermark Bobtail Member

    Mar 22, 2019
    It’s winter, batteries get old, it’s an easy fix but expensive if you don’t stay on top of it.

    Let’s discuss best practices of taking care of batteries. And answer questions from those of us newbies out there...

    I will kick it off...

    How long should a battery last? Years or mileage?

    when one goes bad, replace all or just the one?

    how to give them the most life possible?

    what should your gauges read? Is that just alternator mgmt?

    Is a 2ga jumper cable needed to turnover a big rig with multiple batteries? will the power pack jumpers work?

    how long does it take for a truck to recharge its own batteries once started? From completely dead...

    do you keep big rig running during winter or extreme cold areas?

    any other advice would be great!

    (full disclosure - I have 4 brand new batteries and I sat my truck a week with something on in the cab and they were dead when I got ready to roll) Lol
    86scotty, FlaSwampRat and Johny41 Thank this.
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  3. baha

    baha Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2013
    Be sure the refrige is turned off if it has one?
    PE_T, flood and BoxCarKidd Thank this.
  4. RockinChair

    RockinChair Road Train Member

    I don't know anything specific to truck batteries other than check and make sure the terminals are tight; mine rattled loose the other day and made it to where the starter wouldn't turn.

    As far as the batteries in my diesel pickup, car, and motorcycle, when I buy new ones I check the fluid levels, top off with distilled water if necessary, and then charge them to 100% before I install them. I recheck the fluid level every month and top off with distilled water when needed. If one of them won't be run for awhile (my bike in wintertime), I put it on the trickle charger. I also keep the terminals clean and use that red Noco spray to help prevent corrosion.
  5. starmac

    starmac Road Train Member

    Apr 11, 2019
    Fairbanks Ak
    I have found that some batteries will last 5 years and some may may only last a couple of years, even the same brand. I generally get around 4 years though.

    I never replace one battery, or two. I replace all of them every time.

    I do not do anything special to make them last longer, except I have battery switches, so that there is no draw when sitting parked.

    Volt meter gauge should be pushing the 14 volt mark, when charged. Ammeter should show a charge when you start one then work back to 0 before long.

    The better the cables the faster you can jump one, cheap cables will get the job done, but it takes longer.
    I am sure power packs are available that will start one, but the standard one like I have never would, especially in winter.

    It does not take long for an alternator to charge them enough to start the truck, but am not sure they will ever fully charge them.
    An alternator is really designed to maintain the charge, not charge batteries.

    This depends on where I am at and how long I will be there, but I hate starting a cold engine once the temps get close to 0.

    It doesn't matter what kind or how new, but any draw will drain any batteries, the amount of draw determines the time.
    FlaSwampRat, HopeOverMope and bzinger Thank this.
  6. BoxCarKidd

    BoxCarKidd Road Train Member

    Aug 26, 2014
    Well just dump a bag of snakes out and stand on a stool.
    My 2001 Dodge batteries lasted 7 years. So they should last 7 years and we should buy Dodge batteries. Many years ago my battery supplier said if a battery is defective it will normally fail the first year. If it makes the first year expect it to last at least 3-5 years.
    For best life keep them clean and constant use.
    If you are running the road replace them all. A single service call cost more than that. Then I charge and test the left overs. We seldom buy batteries for stuff around the farm.
    Gauges tend to lie. Worry about it when it does not run in its normal range.
    randomname and bzinger Thank this.
  7. bonder45

    bonder45 Heavy Load Member

    Oct 2, 2011
    Williston, ND
    I have a built in trickle charger on my truck, always plug her in when I leave for extended periods.

    Even when I’m working I plug her in nightly to give a small charge.
    bzinger Thanks this.
  8. bzinger

    bzinger Road Train Member

    Dec 10, 2014
    omaha , ne
    My Big Truck or 4 wheeler I keep the terminals tight and clean , coated with terminal protector every few months .
    On off time I set my apu on battery monitor mode or start /stop heat mode if cold out.

    When they are 3 years old they all go away .
    Batterys never fail at a good time and junk batteries kill alternators.
  9. Brandt

    Brandt Road Train Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    12.2 v is about the lowest you want the batteries to get because that like 70% of the power is used in the batteries.

    Freightliner has cut off switch for batteries are on the floor because 1 computer is always going and draining the power. It's looking to see when the key is turned on. That will wake all the computers to start the truck. So their is always a small drain unless you turn the switch on the floor off.

    How long they last depends on lot of thing like is road rough. How thick the plates are inside the batteries. If you discharge them below 12.2.that not so good.

    It probably take like 3 days recharge them. I hear the truck alternators are not really designed to recharge batteries they are more for keeping a charge. If you had bigger alternator put on that more designed to recharge but they are not cheap
    bzinger Thanks this.
  10. Soonermark

    Soonermark Bobtail Member

    Mar 22, 2019
    Fabulous info. Keep it coming.

    what’s the terminal protector stuff?

    great to know about time I stop, I’ll put on charger.

    so do they make trickle chargers for trucks just like boats? Multiple banks? Or you just charging them one at a time?

    checking fluid often? Can you do it without taking them off? What is the correct level?
  11. bzinger

    bzinger Road Train Member

    Dec 10, 2014
    omaha , ne
    I pulled my apu alternator a few weeks ago at 10000 hours ( not bad yet) and got 782k on the truck alternator...its going away at xmas .
    I hate road shops ! And starting / charging problems on the road .
    86scotty and Dave_in_AZ Thank this.
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