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Discussion Starter #1
I bought my first diesel recently and learned the hard way that the key comes out even when it's on accessory. Didn't have the radio on so my fiance didn't notice that it was on accessory til several hours later when he looked out the window and saw a light on from the radio. You probably already guessed it the battery is dead. Both of us being first time Diesel owners we got a few possibly "stupid/simple" questions.

What's the best way to charge the battery?
It has 2 batteries hooked up so do both need to be charged?
Any tips for a newbie?


:help:
 

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Welcome to the Forum!

To charge batteries, remove them from the truck.

Both batteries need to be charged. It takes a lot of amps to turn the starter on these trucks.

While you have the batteries out and charging, thoroughly clean the battery connectors and the ground. See these two threads:

http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/2755252-post5.html

http://www.dieselplace.com/forum/63-gm-diesel-engines/21-6-5l-diesel-engine/163087-grounds-grounds-grounds-importance-good-grounds.html

Read this thread. It has a lot of good basic info about the 6.5L engine for "newbies" :)

Don't hesitate to post any questions or issues you have. Lots of good folks on the Forum willing to help!
 

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One at a time. Disconnect both battery's from their cables. Go low and slow like BBQ.

You will burn up the alternator if you just get the truck running with out getting both batteries fully charged.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm headed out to take them out now. Will post back shortly. Thanks y'all are very helpful. :) Also thanks for the posts to read, been reading everything I can about my truck.
 

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After they are charged, you need to do a load test to determine the health of the batteries.

At any rate, if you have another car, just took them off and bring it to the part store.
They will be happy to charge and test them for you.
They can usually charge 1 battery for 1 hour and they may have multiple chargers.

In reality, a "on" radio should not drain within a few hours, may be in excess of 8 hours and the radio usually are off when the key is out.
At least that is what happened on mine.

When you leave the headlight on, that is a different story.
 

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JM - the key is able to be taken out in the accessory position so who knows what else is drawing on the battery.

OP - make sure you do the battery terminal mod while you are messing around there. It will be one of the best $2 and half hour you can spend on your rig.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thanks again everyone. Didn't get to take them out yesterday because I had to shovel my roof off instead.

The headlights weren't on it was just turned back to accessory. My fiance thought the truck was off cause he brought the key back in the house so I'm not sure what else would have been drawing off the battery. After looking at the batteries though I'm thinking of just buying to brand new ones cause one of the ones in it looks fairly new but the other looks old.
I was looking at Optima Batteries but curious what you all would run for batteries?

I bought this truck for $1,000 was told it needed the return fuel line and body work. Rockers, Front Fenders and Driver side door pins. So it could have some gremlins that we didn't get told about.
 

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Welcome to the forum!

Most folks here strongly advocate having a matched pair of batteries. To start these trucks when it is cold, it takes a lot of juice, and having a mismatched set of batteries may lead to a no-start situation when you least need it to happen.

I bought mine with two mismatched (CCA- and age-wise) batteries, and ended up stranded within two weeks of buying it. Luckily it happened near an O'reilly, which was good. Carrying those two barreries half a mile to that O'Reilly, however, was not. Luckily they let be borrow a buggy to get them back to the truck. :)

I'd check for a date code on the "newer" battery, and if it is relatively new and a high enough CCA, try to match it. If not, get a new matched pair with a warranty. That way, if they do die, you can try to get them replaced as a matched set :)

I used to hear a lot of good about the Optimas, before the company was bought by Johnson Controls. Since then, my off-road buddies don't rave about them anymore. I'm a fan of Interstate batteries, even if I ended up with O'Reilly Super Starts due to the breakdown. I've seen them last in the Vegas heat for 6+ years where other batteries are dead in 2-3.

Good Luck!
Matt
 
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For batteries just get the highest CCA like 775 or so. I think they are only made by about 3 different companies. I have had about the same luck with 'generic' batteries as I have with overpriced name brands. Some last a long time some don't.

As far as the fuel line, I have had similar issues. What I would do if had to do it all over again is just replace the metal line with rubber line from up around the manifold all the way back to the tank. You can cut the metal line off near the tank and slip the metal line over and hose clamp it. The return is 5/16" line. The supply is 3/8" line. Just make sure you get diesel rated line and get about 5 feet more than you think you will need. Check around for the fuel line price. I have seen prices from about $.50 to $4 a foot.
 
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I was really in to the Optimas several years ago. Only killed one and I seriously abused it. I think at one time I had 6 now I am down to 3. Some left when I sold the cars they were in. About the time the were bought out by Johnson (previously were an independent company) the price went way up and I noticed they got lighter.

When the diesel needed batteries I just could not bring myself to spend the almost $500 so I ended up with regular super premium batteries which have been fine so far. When I picked up my most recent diesel it needed batteries and again just didn't want to spend a lot of money so I looked at what I already owned and found the closest matching set I had was the optimas so made some swaps and put em in.

This winter I had some starting problems with both trucks. On the one with the super premiums it didn't take a lot of cranking before I could hear it slowing down. The truck with the optimas still sounded like it was cranking at full speed when I gave up. That truck does have a 2/0 cable down to the starter so that could have helped a bit also.

A plus to Optimas is I have never had a corrosion problem at the terminals. Batteries made by Excide seem to by far the worst for corrosion.

A downside to Optima besides the cost is if you do fully drain one there are special things you need to do to bring them back. With normal-ish use you don't have to do anything special for charging.

If you do drain them they will suck all the power they can get which can be very hard on charger/alternator and cables. The proper way to recover one is to attach it (parallel + + and - -) to a fully charged battery ideally of similar capacity (does not have to be a optima) with heavy cables and then to attach your charger to both batteries. I have done it and it is the fastest way to charge one.

If you don't have another battery to connect to you can do it if you have a fairly versatile charger. I found that if you set the charger on the minimum setting 1 or 2 amp and let it charge most of a day you can then kick it up to high 10-50 amps and it will hold and finish charging. If you try to charge on high initially it will just keep overloading / tripping the charger.
 
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I was looking at Optima Batteries but curious what you all would run for batteries?.
Tons of opinions on battery brand here over the years ,I,m guessing based pretty much on personal experiences

At the moment ,I,m a proponent of East penn . I,m not sure why .Maybe its because they are family owned as opposed to the conglomerates like Johnson Controls, or Exide .If you have time do a google search on them .
 

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I'm all for East Penn too. It can be difficult to figure out all the brands they make but they seem to be the best out there the last few years. Excide is the only one that seems to say Excide on them somewhere. The others you have to do some research to figure out who makes em.
 

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My experience with batteries.....

Optimas
Well, when they first came out in our area (say the mid 1990's), I tried them. Needless to say, with in a few years, just about everything I owned had an Optima in it. My old 83 F150 got one and that battery lasted over 10 years. I still have the old battery and it's being used as a starting battery on a welder/generator now.

I installed two Optima's in a John Deere farm tractor and they lasted 8-10 years also (and these were two smaller ones I bought from Costco when they stocked them...at the time they were $99.99 US). A third got another, also lasting at least 8 years. The reason I bought Optima's was the location of the battery box....right behind the engine and difficult to remove the battery w/out taking the side panels off. The standard wet cell type batteries were getting too corroded and were not lasting more then 5 years. Granted, I was running OEM batteries.....two...while the Optima, I ran single.

As stated, Optima was a stand alone company, but it has been bought out. Warranty has gone from 3 years free replacement to just 1 year w/ the current owners. And I too have noticed the later models are getting lighter.... (edit- looks like the warranty is 3 years, I just checked, but it has this before 2009 and after 2009 thing....)

Two of the JD tractors still have Optima's in them, but I switched from a red top battery to a yellow top (deep cycle/starting) and I'm using the group 31 (higher CCA rating). I don't like the price, but the "install it and forget it" saves me a lot of time of taking the side panels off to replace batteries or to clean the corrosion off. Think about it, ag tractors are not 'easy' on batteries. Some are started multiple times a day, it's hot and lots of vibration. Older tractors, the charging system was no more then 30-35amps and if you are running lights, the batteries get drained (night work). The red tops that they had originally in them were over 8+ years old when we started getting issues (forgot how old they were to tell you the truth when issues came up).

In my 91 car, the OEM battery lasted about 8 years. After that, I put an Optima in and it lasted 8-9 years. My 3rd Optima, I got a "blem" no warranty Blue top dated 9/09, still in vehicle. I've had to slow charge it a few times, but no issues. Not sure why it went down, but it might have been because I didn't drive it that often.

Would I buy an Optima now? Answer, it depends. If it's a hard to reach service location, hot or lots of vibration, yes, I would. The group 31 I purchased was $220 range and if it last 10 years, that's $22 a year. A standard group 31 semi truck battery (would have worked), I can get between $70-$140. Most last 4-7 years. As you can see, the cost per year is much less....but the question is, your time.....

I have a JD charger that's set up for AGM batteries. I can tell you, charging a dry cell (Optima) with it sucks. Even on the AGM setting. Sometimes you need a dumb charger (non computerized) and set it on the low setting (under 5amps) and just let it sit 12-24 hrs to get it to the 11V range to USE the smart charger. I've tried the hook two battery's together to charge the weak one.....didn't work for me.

Motorcraft
Yes, they are Ford's branded battery. But I must mention them. As I said, the battery in my 91 car was OEM (Mercury Sable). It lasted till 1998, but most of the time, sat parked it's early life (before going to college). My 99 7.3L Power Stroke van, it had Motorcraft in them when I bought it in 2008. Date code on batteries said they were replaced in 04. And now it's 2015, same batteries. I've had to charge they up a few times, clean the connections etc. Our winters here are mild....only dips to 25F a few times. I'm sure if it was 0F for endind weeks, I would have replaced the batteries by now.....

Costco batteries
Well, I'm assuming US/Canada..... A friend purchased two Costco group 65(?) batteries for his F250 (92/93) w/ a 7.3L IDI. I'm thinking this was back in 2007 and he just replaced them fall 2014.

The service people in Costco recently went to Interstate batteries (has sticker on it). But they told me it was Interstate who supplied the prior ones also.

He doesn't drive his truck daily, maybe weekends only and during fall harvest. At the time, those were about $70-80 each.

Batteries in general
Clean tight terminals. Color of the lead has to be bright & shiny, not dull grey. If your standard battery clamps don't work or are loose, go get spacers, don't replace the end w/ those universals. They sell soft lead caps that you put on the CLEAN/SHINY bettery post and clamp the clamp on. I know this since I've done it two two of my diesel Ford vans. Saved me from getting a different battery or replacing a LONG expensive cable. Kept terminals nice and tight.

Using a battery terminal cleaner tool sometimes isn't enough. Those w/ the brissels....you have to scrape the hardened lead off (so sometimes those lead spacers are needed) to get good lead to contact. I've learned the hard way over the years..... usually use a flat file and round file to clean posts and clamps now (if lead clamp).

My 6.5 diesel is my first GM style connection system. I recommend the battery mod method vs the OEM. I went one step further and used set screws vs bolts. You could use threaded rod, but the set screws have the hex for the allen wrench to snug up before putting the "naked" cable (ie strip off the plastic covering) and then lock it down w/ a nut/washer (or lock washer)-all stainless.

I've learned the bigger the cables, the better. Have a Ford truck w/ a 361V8 gas. The battery to Ford starter solenoid was 6 gauge. Cable was old, a bit short for the battery I got, so I put a longer 4 gauge. HOLLY cow, it was a difference.

Most of the batteries I have, be it dry cell or wet cell, last over 7 years...average is near 9-10. I remember when I was young, some of the batteries would only last 3-4 years tops. Was a pain to change, as I watched my dad when I was a kid. So, I'm a snob when it comes to charging, starting and batteries.
 

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Thanks for the heads up on East Penn. I knew the Deka battery name from forklifts at a place I worked, but didn't know anything about the company.

I found this list for who manufactures what battery, and East Penn makes a LOT of common brands out there, including the Super Starts in my 6.5.

Happy reading!
Matt
 

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Thanks for the heads up on East Penn. I knew the Deka battery name from forklifts at a place I worked, but didn't know anything about the company.

I found this list for who manufactures what battery, and East Penn makes a LOT of common brands out there, including the Super Starts in my 6.5.

Happy reading!
Matt
Added to FAQs
 

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On the note of Bats I just watched power nation on the tv and they had shown glue a copper penny to the top will help attract corrosion to the penny and not the terminals. is there any truth to this? I just thought it was interesting although finding a copper penny around here is rare now...lol
 

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That is a wacky list. Some stuff I looked at seemed complete but other brands I looked for could not find.

Maybe the magic with the penny is that its a modern alloy penny? I think if you have a battery that leaks it does not matter what you put on the terminal its just gonna corrode. Also seems like if you had a nasty battery that got the terminals nasty they will never be the same again.
 
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