Photo 136519377 Charles Knowles |

Simple ways to extend battery life

Feb. 8, 2024
Getting the most out of a vehicle's battery life means considering battery type, mounting location, and the proper maintenance practices.

Fleets today have an advantage over fleets of the past when it comes to battery life. The AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries of today have a lower self-discharge rate, which means they last longer than the flooded lead-acid batteries of the past. There have even been advancements of the AGM battery with the Thin Plate Pure Lead battery, which uses thinner plates and allows for more plates in the battery.

Even though today’s batteries are superior to older versions, they still need to be taken care of to ensure fleets get maximum life from them.  Ensuring long battery life starts with choosing the right kind and right number of batteries.

Consider things like:

  • cold cranking amps rating
  • reserve capacity
  • rated voltage.

Also think about adding additional batteries for powering hotel loads so as not to burden the starting batteries with additional power demand.

Next, choose the best mounting location. The goal is to protect the battery from as much vibration as possible; inside the frame rails is the best location for that. As a side note, consider adding a jump start port on the frame to make it easier to jump-start the battery if needed. Heat is the enemy of batteries, so try to isolate the battery from heat as much as possible.

Read more: What cold weather means for CEV batteries

As simple as it sounds, proper maintenance is the best way to ensure long battery life. Every time a truck is in the shop for a preventive maintenance service or inspection, inspect and clean the battery to remove dirt, grease, and debris. A wire brush can be used to remove any corrosion. Check all electrical connections to make sure the terminals are tight and that cables are not frayed or worn.  

The best way to assess the health of a battery is to perform a load test to determine the battery’s ability to support loads. You need to test every battery because if one battery is underperforming, it will put a strain on the remaining batteries and cause them to fail prematurely. It’s also a good idea to check the entire electrical system to make sure there is not a malfunction with another electrical system component that is draining battery power.

Also consider adding a battery kill switch that the driver can activate if they will not be driving their truck for several days in a row. Just remind drivers to de-activate the switch when they return to work.

With these simple steps, fleets can ensure longer battery life.

Bruce Stockton, chief operating officer, Wilson Logistics, contributed to this article.

About the Author

Denise Rondini | Director of Communications

Denise Rondini is NACFE’s director of Communications. Her responsibilities include handling NACFE’s internal and external communications efforts as well as media relations. She also is on the teams that develop confidence and guidance reports. Denise has 40 years of experience in the trucking industry as editor of several industry publications. She is also president of Rondini Communications, a full-service communications firm specializing in the trucking industry. She is the recipient of SAE International’s 2019 Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award.