Like other automotive consumables, batteries have a limited lifespan. So how long do factory truck batteries last? We've done the research for your convenience.
Although some factory truck batteries last longer than others, most of them have a lifespan from three to five years. Of course, truck battery life can vary greatly depending on several factors like climate, bad charging and discharging cycles, dirt, and faulty electrical parts.
Would you like to know more about your truck's battery and how to take care of it? Do read on, because we've prepared some helpful tips on how to test as well as maintain your battery to maximize its useful life.
How Long Do Factory Truck Batteries Last?
Truck manufacturers often install a house brand or affiliate brand of car batteries in their new trucks. For instance, Toyota uses TrueStart, Ford uses Motorcraft, and GM (Chevrolet and GMC) uses ACDelco. These brands offer car batteries with different warranties typically ranging from two to seven years.
Because of their large engines, pickup trucks generally need a higher cold cranking amps (CCA) battery rating compared to smaller sedans and crossovers. In this regard, truck manufacturers usually install mid-spec to high-spec batteries as these usually have the required CCA ratings.
Moreover, most dealerships sell their trucks with three-year bumper-to-bumper warranties. This warranty period compels dealerships to install batteries that should last for at least three years. Putting in relatively cheap batteries will hurt the manufacturer's brand image.
Combining all these technical and legal requirements with answers from battery manufacturers and some car care experts, we can confidently say those factory truck batteries typically last between three to five years.
However, we also know that a truck's battery life varies greatly depending on the following factors.
Extremely hot or cold weather can have negative effects on your truck's battery lifespan. High ambient temperatures can cause the water in your battery to evaporate and cause corrosion. On the other hand, biting cold weather causes engines to start with difficulty.
In both cases, your truck's battery lifespan can shorten. However, scientific research shows that hot climates have greater negative effects than chilling climates do.
In the USA, some of the southernmost states near the equator can expect battery lifespans to be 41 months or less. On the other hand, truck batteries can last for 58 months or more in the northernmost U.S. states.
Frequent jarring impacts, especially on rough roads and trails, can physically damage your truck's battery. Extreme vibration can dislodge the battery plates and also cause the battery fluid to spill out. These damages will decrease the battery's performance as well as its lifespan significantly.
Bad Charging And Discharging Cycles
Your truck's battery is happiest when its state of charge (SOC) is 75% or higher. If you allow your truck to sit for weeks without starting the engine, you run the risk of discharging your battery. Leaving your battery discharged for extended periods of time can lead to a significantly shortened battery lifespan.
As in-vehicle technology progresses, so does the strain on your truck's battery. Large infotainment screens, multiple speakers, phone chargers, and even in-vehicle wi-fi all act as loads in your truck's electrical circuit.
Apart from these electronic accessories and peripherals, your battery still has to fulfill its function in starting your engine and accumulating charge for future start-ups. Batteries have finite charge and discharge cycles, and all the extra accessories use these cycles up faster than ever.
When Should I Replace My Truck Battery?
Your battery and your truck will exhibit some symptoms to let you know that your battery needs replacement. Some of these symptoms are:
- Bluish-white powder on your battery terminals
- Bulging or warped battery housing
- Scent of sulfur in the engine bay
- Hard-starting engine
- Dimming headlights
- Check engine light
- Electricals going crazy
On some occasions, you may only need to recharge your battery to keep it usable for a few more months or even years.
However, if you know that your battery is already three years old or more, you might want to call up or visit your dealership or your local battery shop. The best way to know is to test your battery.
How Can I Test My Truck Battery?
You can ask your dealership, an independent auto service center, or a car battery shop to help you test your battery. However, if you have the right tools, you can do the testing yourself. Two helpful pieces of equipment are the multimeter and a car battery tester.
Can You Use A Multimeter To Test A Car Battery?
You can use an analog or a digital multimeter to test your truck's battery. If you want to try your hand at some small electrical or electronic DIY jobs, then you should consider investing in a user-friendly multimeter.
Once you have your multimeter, here are the first steps to test your truck's battery.
- Turn the multimeter's dial to DC voltage, 20 volts.
- Attach the red probe to your truck battery's positive terminal.
- Attach the black probe to your truck battery's negative terminal.
What Is A Healthy Car Battery Voltage?
A healthy car battery's voltage should be between 12.6 volts and12.9 volts while the engine is off. The resting voltage is your battery's charge level when your car is off. Here is a simple guide for your reference.
- 12.6V volts or above - Full charge
- 12.5 volts - Healthy charge
- 12.1 - 12.4 volts- Partially discharged
- 12.0 volts or below - Discharged
How Many CCA Do I Need For My Car?
A CCA rating (or cold crank amps)refers to the number of amperes a 12V battery can deliver for 30 seconds at 0° Fahrenheit without falling below 7.2 volts in charge. Alternatively, your CCA rating refers to its ability to start an engine, especially in cold weather.
Batteries with 400 to 600 CCA may be enough for small crossovers and compact pick-up trucks. However, full-size and bigger trucks may need batteries with 800 to 1,000 CCA.
A multimeter does not measure a battery's CCA, but you will know if still have enough CCA by checking your voltage reading while cranking your engine up. A healthy battery's voltage should stay above 10 volts during the cranking process.
Can I Check My Alternator With A Multimeter?
Did you know that you can also check your alternator's charging capability using a multimeter? While the engine is running, your truck's battery voltage should be somewhere between 13.7 to 14.7 volts. This increased voltage reading is due to the additional charge coming in from your truck's alternator.
How Do You Read A Car Battery Tester?
Car battery testers, or battery analyzers, provide more specialized readings than your standard multimeter. Aside from giving the basic voltage reading also shows your truck battery's, charge percentage, CCA, and state of health.
If you've never used a car battery tester before, here are the steps to help you get started.
- Attach the tester's red probe to the truck battery's positive terminal.
- Attach the tester's black probe to the truck battery's negative terminal.
- Select your battery type using the appropriate buttons.
- Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Flat Plate
- AGM Spiral
- Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB)
- Gel Type
- Regular Flooded
- Choose the CCA rating from the tester menu (check your battery's labels for the CCA rating)
- Click on "start" for your battery tester to diagnose your battery.
Check out this video on how to use a car battery tester.
How Do You Know If Your Alternator Has A Problem?
Sometimes, a discharged battery can be due to a failing alternator. When the engine is running, your truck's alternator should be efficient enough to keep your battery charged even with all the truck's electrical equipment turned on.
You can test your alternator's charging capacity either with a multimeter or a car battery tester.
First, you need to start your truck's engine and turn on all the car's electrical features and accessories. These include your headlights, auxiliary lights, air conditioning, and infotainment system. You may also plug in a phone charger or two to simulate the actual electrical load with a few passengers.
Using a car battery tester, the "Charging Test" will show if you have good, normal, or low charging levels.
Using a multimeter, your reading should stay above 13.5 volts. A lower reading means that the alternator may not be charging the battery fast enough.
Factory truck batteries may vary in quality, lifespan, and sticker price. However, most of these batteries should last from 3 to 5 years, barring extreme weather and improper usage.
Thank you very much for reading. We hope we were able to help you understand more about your truck battery's lifespan as well as its testing and maintenance procedures.
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