What could possibly be worse than the Monday morning commute to work?
How about when you go to start your truck in preparation for your drive and all you get from the truck is endless cranking or a dull click from the starter?
This scenario is all to familiar to me, as it happened not too long ago to my own truck. Being that it was a Monday morning, dead batteries were about the last thing in the world that I wanted to deal with.
Did I mention that this was in January? It was a nice and tropical 12 degrees (F) that morning, which made the whole thing just a lot more fun.
Of course, batteries are pushed the hardest in the winter and in our freezing conditions it was really no surprise that they failed that day. I hadn’t driven the truck at all that weekend, so my batteries were just done with life after sitting inactive that long in the cold.
I learned a couple of important lessons that day, number 1 being that jumper cables do you no good at all if no one is around to give you a jump, number 2 being that when 5 year rated lead acid batteries haven’t been replaced in 7 years, they’re pretty darn prone to fail at any point.
So, after calling the boss and apologizing for being late, I plugged in my lithium-ion battery pack to get her started. BTW that little guy is a lifesaver. This was the first time that I have had to use it on the Ford, and I couldn’t believe it actually had enough oomph to kick it over. The wife gave me one like this one for Christmas a year or two ago and it saved my butt big time.
What is the best truck battery?
If you shop around in stores and online these days, you’ll find that there are more than a dozen different main battery brands. What you probably didn’t know (and neither did I) but there’s really only a few of the main manufacturers that are actually producing the batteries for all of these different brands.
In case you were wondering, the breakdown of the manufacturers of the different mainstream brands are as follows:
Johnson Controls makes Duralast (for Autozone,) EverStart, AutoCraft (Advanced Auto’s brand) as well as Diehard and Interstate.
Exide is another of the big guys, they put out batteries under their own Exide brand, as well as under Orbital, Bosch and Marathon.
EnerSys Energy Products is the company behind the Odyssey brand batteries.
And last but not least, East Penn Manufacturing is well known for producing the Deka brand automotive batteries.
Top 4 Battery Review
All of these different options when searching for the best place to buy new batteries for my truck has led me to create a review, or comparison of the best group 65 batteries for my 6.0 powerstroke. Of course, if you are in the market for a new truck battery, you would want verify that your truck uses this size group also before buying one (most diesels do).
Take note: If your truck uses two batteries, it is best to have a matching set, as it will extend the overall life of your truck’s electrical system. Always replace in pairs for a dual battery setup.
- Cold Crank Amp (CCA)- 950
- Better warranty: Limited 3 and 4 year full replacement warranty - not pro rata
- Longer service life: With 3-10 years of service life, ODYSSEY batteries save consumers time, money, and aggravation^Longer cycle life: 70 percentage longer cycle life compared to conventional deep cycle batteries, up to 400 cycles at 80 percentage depth of discharge- high stable voltage for longer periods of time^Faster recharge: The highest recharge efficiency of any sealed lead battery on the market, capable of 100 percentage recharge in 4 - 6 hours
- Mounting flexibility: Non-spillable design^Vibration resistance- design protects against high impact shock and mechanical vibration
- Extreme temperature tolerant- Operating temperatures from -40 degree Celsius (-40 degree Fahrenheit) to 45 degree Celsius (113 degree Fahrenheit).^This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
In my opinion, Odyssey has been making the best batteries around for quite awhile now, and while they are definitely not the cheapest option, they are virtually unbeatable in terms of quality. This monster in particular provides 950 CCA (cold cranking amps) which would be enough power to start the most stubborn of trucks, even in extreme weather conditions. The sealed AGM (absorbed glass mat) design of the battery will hold up to almost all conditions that you can throw its way, from vibration to very cold and very hot temperatures, it can handle it all.
- 850 CCA, BCI Group: 49/H8/L5
- Up to 2x longer life vs. conventional batteries via Energy Life technology
- Maintenance free and spill proof battery construction with 4 year free replacement warranty included
- Backed by Bosch Roadside Assistance program provided via Auto Road Services
This is a relatively new offering from Bosch, this state of the art AGM group 65 battery boasts a 2x longer than regular lead acid battery life, and delivers 750 CCA to start your truck in the most demanding conditions. Bosch are pioneers of the AGM technology that is prevalent in todays best batteries, so it is no surprise that theirs is one of the highest quality battery options for your diesel.
- 760 CCA; 140 MIN RC at 25A
- Non-spillable AGM construction
- Greater capacity to better handle the heavy loads placed on today's batteries
- Outperforms conventional batteries across life test including heavy use stop and go traffic with high electrical demands
- Excels in one of the toughest automotive stress tests proving sustained performance
This option from Exide is a little bit more budget friendly, costing about half as much as the Odyssey Extreme AGM. Providing 750 CCA, this battery should have more than enough power for most daily-driven trucks. Exide uses a proprietary process to extend the life of their batteries, called SureLife Graphite Technology, which maximizes available energy capacity. They say that this will help the battery to perform at higher level and for much longer than a conventional battery.
- High density negative paste, improves performance and increases battery life
- Enhanced life alloy/Silver Calcium stamped alloy increases cycle life and improves performance
- Calcium Lead positive grid, maximizes conductivity and allows for low resistance
- Robust Envelope Separator with puncture-resistant back, allows for increased acid circulation and prevents shorts. Improved acid circulation, helps the battery to remain cool, and extend battery life.
- Vent cap design that resists acid leakage
Coming in at middle of the pack pricing, but with a trusted name brand behind it, is this AGM battery from AC Delco. Many folks swear by this battery, it is a very popular option with many many diesel owners. Boasting high cycling capabilities and being very charge receptive, as well as 100% leak proof, it’s no wonder this is a popular option. I know of a couple of guys who went with this battery and had nothing but good experiences.
Hard start issues caused by low batteries
On a diesel truck, the amperage of your batteries is of even more importance than on a gas powered vehicle. When you turn your key and engage the ecm, glow plugs, ficm, fuel pump and starter, a huge draw is put onto the batteries, and they really need to be healthy for everything to work as it should.
I’ve seen trucks before that sounded really healthy and fine when cranking over, but just seemed to not want to start. I later found that this was because the batteries were not supplying enough amperage for all of the ancillaries to do their jobs.
With this in mind, if your truck starts having issues with starting, the first thing to test would be the batteries, if they are older than their rated lifespan.
FICM Damage caused by bad batteries
Another big thing to watch out for, especially with the 6.0 powerstroke, is bad batteries taking out your FICM (Fuel Injection Control Module). A defective FICM can easily keep your truck from running correctly, or even at all, often throwing codes for all of the injectors, which is a dead giveaway.
It’s a good idea to always periodically check you batteries to make sure that they are not putting excessive load onto the charging system, which is what ends up damaging the FICM.
Read more about how to trouble shoot and repair your control module in our FICM repair guide.