Choosing the correct battery for your truck is all about expectations, like choosing the right jacket to wear on a particular day. If the weather is cool and you’ll be doing something active outside, such as throwing a ball around, you won’t need a very warm jacket because you’ll be generating body heat. But if you’re going to the stadium instead to watch a ball game, you’ll need a heavier jacket, because you won’t be generating as much body heat just sitting in the stands.
Likewise, the best battery for your truck depends on the temperature where you live, as well as whether you’ll be driving the truck often or letting it sit for long periods. Here’s a guide:
If you live in a cold climate, choose a battery that has a high cold cranking amp (CCA) rating, not just a high cranking amp (CA) rating. A battery’s CCA rating is determined at 0 degrees, while the CA rating is determined at 32 degrees. Very cold temperatures thicken oil and other lubricants, making the engine harder to turn over, which makes the CCA rating crucial.
If the vehicle will be sitting for long periods between uses, choose a battery that has a high reserve capacity. Reserve capacity refers to how long a battery can hold enough power to start an engine as the battery slowly discharges over time. Modern vehicles have a lot of small computers that draw power when the vehicle is not running, so if your truck will be parked for long periods, get a battery with a high reserve capacity. It won’t lose power as fast as one with a lower capacity, and you can count on it to start the truck when you get back in it.
If you live in a region with a moderate climate and drive the truck fairly often, choose a balance between good CCA and good reserve capacity. Because running the vehicle allows the alternator to recharge the battery, you don’t need a high reserve capacity if you drive the vehicle daily, and you don’t need a high CCA to turn over the engine when it’s not cold out. But winters happen, as do unanticipated trips, so don’t skimp.