Semi Truck Batteries Care Guide

September 9, 2019

The Rolling Rig

Keep a worry-free truck with these maintenance tips!

When it comes to semi truck maintenance, battery care is a crucial component. Whether you’re in familiar or unfamiliar territory, the last thing you want to have to worry about is getting a jump start or using a semi truck battery charger. Battery problems can cause detrimental downtime and additional costs, so a little care goes a long way. To learn more about how to care for semi truck batteries, red flags to look for, and when to change truck batteries, read International Used Truck Centers’ guide below!

What Causes Battery Failure?

There are a number of reasons why a battery can fail, causing you to rely on your semi truck battery charge or the kindness of strangers more than you should. Here’s a quick look at the most common causes and preventative actions you can take:

  • Improperly Secured Cables: Your truck will more than likely have trouble starting if the battery cables aren’t secured to the terminals. Make checking the battery connections part of your pre-trip inspection.
  • Battery Corrosion: When the battery terminals are exposed to hydrogen gas, which is an ingredient of battery acid, they’ll begin to corrode. This can prevent the battery from charging fully. Small amounts of corrosion are normal and should be cleaned routinely. However, if you notice an excessive amount of corrosion, have the terminals checked for any additional problems.
  • Parasitic Loads: When a device like a radio draws on the battery’s charge but doesn’t replace it, it’s considered a parasitic load. To a certain degree, these are unavoidable, but it’s important to control the frequency of parasitic loads and they’re impact on your truck’s battery. If left unchecked, they’ll continue to reduce the battery’s charge, leaving it undercharged or dead.
  • Alternator Problems: Alternator troubles can cause battery charging issues. Incorrect voltage from the alternator is often the culprit. For this reason, it’s important to check the alternator during regular battery service.
  • Battery Vibration: To avoid vibration, make sure your truck’s battery is in the proper place. If the battery isn’t secured, it’s likely that it won’t function as it should and its components can easily become damaged.

When to Replace Semi Truck Batteries

In many cases, especially when fleets are involved, semi truck batteries are replaced too soon. This typically happens when the battery won’t stay charged. The problem with simply replacing the battery without looking into the problem further is that there could be an underlying issue, such as a parasitic load or alternator voltage malfunction, that will continue to leech battery power until it’s resolved. Voltage drop tests, load tests, and general circuit inspections are all good ways to keep tabs on battery health.

Testing your semi truck’s battery frequently will help reveal the source of any charging issues, so you can hopefully resolve the problem and save the battery. If the battery is the problem, then it’s time for a battery replacement. It’s important to note that using testing equipment requires training. The devices need to properly calibrated to get correct readings. If you’re unsure of how to test your truck’s battery, take it to a professional who can perform the right tests and get the most accurate results possible.

Choosing the Right Semi Truck Battery Type

The average semi truck battery voltage is 24 volts, but there’s much more to choosing a battery than voltage. When it comes time to replace a semi truck battery, there are two main ratings to consider: cold cranking amps (CCA) and reserve capacity (RC). CCA batteries are best for trucks that require a lot of power to start up. When fully charged, reserve capacity batteries hold more power for long-lasting operation.

Another possible option for your truck is an AGM battery. Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries have become popular choices for fleet managers, because they offer a variety of benefits over flooded cell, including a longer shelf life, better performance under stress, reduced maintenance, and greater safety. While not all fleets are sold on AGM, they generally have a reputation for cycling better than flooded cell.

If you’re unsure of the correct battery for your truck, check your owner’s manual or consult a technician who can help. If you choose the wrong semi truck battery, chances are you’ll notice the following problems:

  • The battery isn’t recharging, even when you’re traveling a familiar route
  • The battery requires jump starts often or you need to use a semi truck battery charger
  • You have trouble starting your truck in cold weather, even when temperatures aren’t extreme

Get More Semi Truck Maintenance Tips from International Used Truck Centers!

Do you have additional questions about replacing semi truck batteries? The team at International Used Truck Centers can answer! From semi truck battery care to truck summer maintenance to DEF tips and tricks, we’re always happy to share our knowledge of semi trucks and semi truck service. Contact us for more information about our inventory or visit one of our locations near you.

And More

International Used Truck Centers 41.776180, -88.200918.