Reliable starts, minimal maintenance and long life. That’s what you expect from your truck’s battery. You can achieve all three goals—and stay safe as you work with this potentially dangerous component—by following these simple tips for battery selection, installation, charging, service and storage.
- Choose a battery with enough cranking power, reserve capacity and vibration resistance to get the job done.
- Consider the manufacturer’s recommendation a minimum guideline. A truck with a lot of electrical accessories needs a more powerful battery for optimum performance.
- Remember that temperature affects performance. If you operate in extremely hot or cold climates, you may need a battery with a higher cold cranking amp (CCA) rating.
- Before removing the old battery, mark the positive and negative cables for proper connection to the new battery.
- Disconnect the ground cable first to avoid dangerous sparking around the battery. Then disconnect the positive cable and carefully remove the old battery.
- Clean and inspect the battery tray. Replace the tray, hold-down assembly and battery cables if needed—cable ends must be clean and corrosion-free.
- Put corrosion protection washers on the battery terminals. Install the new battery in the same position as the old one and tighten the hold-down.
- Connect the positive cable first and the ground cable last. Use a special side terminal torque tool to tighten the side terminal cables. NEVER over-tighten or hammer cables onto terminals.
- Coat terminals and cable connection with a corrosion protection spray.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions for charger hook-up and use before you start.
- Turn off the charger and disconnect the battery before hook-up to avoid dangerous sparks.
- Reduce or stop charging temporarily if the battery case feels hot to the touch or if violent gassing or spewing of electrolyte occurs.
- Replace the battery if it hasn’t begun to accept the minimum charging current (1/2 of recommended) within 15 minutes at the highest charger setting (or voltage).
- NEVER try to charge a frozen battery. Let it warm up to room temperature first.
- NEVER overcharge your battery. Excessive charging shortens battery life.
- Visually inspect your battery before testing. Look for a cracked or broken case or cover, leaking case-to-cover seal, damaged or leaking terminals, loose cable connections and corrosion.
- Neutralize any corrosion with a baking soda/water paste or battery cleaner spray. Scrape or brush off the residue and wash the area with clean water.
- After your visual inspection, use a voltmeter to check the battery’s state of charge.
- Keep batteries in a cool (but above freezing), dry area in an upright position.
- NEVER stack batteries directly on top of each other unless they’re in cartons or on shipping pallets protected by corrugated packaging. Even then, only stack them two or three high.
- Test non-maintenance-free wet batteries every four to six months (maintenance-free every 12 months) and recharge if needed.
- ALWAYS wear safety glasses and a face shield. Batteries contain acid that can destroy clothing and burn the skin, and they can generate explosive hydrogen gas.
- Keep sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries. To avoid creating sparks, ALWAYS turn off charging and testing equipment before attaching or removing clamps.
- Perform all work in a well-ventilated area. NEVER lean directly over a battery while boosting, testing or charging it.