Batteries and Maintenance

A battery failure is never a good thing; the last thing you want is for your battery to fail at starting you on a cold winter morning. Battery failure is a common issue during the colder parts of the year, as the often freezing weather can negatively affect your battery’s ability to hold a charge.

Picking a Battery

When choosing your battery, it is important to verify that it provides the performance level your semi needs. Two performance figures of note are the cycling ability and reserve capacity. When your battery is fully charged and the weather is mild, any underlying issues may not be detectable. Cold weather can quickly impact a battery that does not charge as well as it used to or is aging. Battery ages can vary, with some lasting only a few months, with others lasting several years. Broadly speaking, the average fleet battery will last 24 months. Usage, environment, and semi-type can impact how long your batteries last.

The Value of Maintenance

Regular preventative battery maintenance checks can help prevent failure in the worst conditions. In general, you should have your battery checked twice yearly: in Fall before Winter and the increased cold in Spring before summer and the hot weather. A full inspection should check the charging circuit and test to ensure your battery can hold a charge. Also, cleaning should be performed to prevent damage to your battery and provide a secure connection to your electrical system. A build-up of debris on your battery and along its terminals is essential because it can negatively impact performance and cause your battery to discharge.

A specific issue to check during regular maintenance is checking for a voltage drop. This test will verify the functionality of your battery and associated components, including the alternator. Checking for such issues allows you to detect them before they lead to more severe issues, such as a vehicle not starting, leaving you on the roadside, and needing assistance.

Signs You Need a New Battery

Even with regular upkeep and care, batteries do need to be replaced. If you see any signs of degraded performance, you should not ignore them. A failing battery is unreadable and may work until it suddenly doesn’t. Signs of charging issues such as dimmed displays, weak headlights, weak starts when cranking the engine, and problems with electrical issues are signs your battery may need replacing or that you are encountering other electrical issues. Proper testing will detect the best course of action.