Installing a new battery? *Charge* it, first


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(Mods: If you deem this FAQ-worthy, feel applies to just about any 'vehicle' section, of course...)

Some of you have probably seen me advise that it was a good idea to charge a new battery before installing it, as one with a low state of charge (SoC) can kill your alternator charging it back up. This is just reinforcement - with 'actual data'. No pics, because I haven't seen many people who can't swap out a 12v starting :dunce:

Went to get a new battery for the Sierra today, as the one that came with the truck failed a load test when I had the truck in to have an eval of all the things I was going to have to correct on it. The printout from the Interstate testing machine that the shop uses showed me the evidence, and I knew that battery was between 4-5 years old, so I really wasn't too doubtful of the diagnosis. Just FYI / for reference...the old battery hadn't been exhibiting problems in the two weeks I had the truck, and it sat idle most of that time.

Went and got my new battery today (from a different place). I'll refrain from listing the brand / model here, other than to say it was a standard group 78. Why? Because I don't want to invite criticism that it was where I got the battery from. And as some of you know, Johnson Controls has a near death grip on the flooded (lead-acid) battery market - they make batteries for just about everyone, these days. They even now make the beloved (& pricey) Optima batteries (which are AGM, not flooded, but that's another post for another time.) So -- it really doesn't matter *where* I got it from, right? :dielaugh:

(And before you answer "different specs" - yes, I know that. My choice has a 5 year warranty, the first three being non-prorated. I'm not saying mine is a great (or even 'good') spec battery. I have my reasons for why I picked the one I bought, and I have prior experience with them. This isn't a "buy brand X" thread. )

The battery showed a manufactured date of 5/18 - two months prior. Generally, guidelines state that a battery is still considered 'fresh', up to 6 months past that date ('fresh' meaning that it should have enough SoC to not have to worry about charging / desulfating it beforehand - just throw it in the vehicle and go.)

BTW, when I went to the store, I did pull the freshest one I could find off the shelf, and I'd advise you to do this as well. If someone tries to sell you a battery over 6mos older than its listed date code (and especially if they're installing it for you), ask for a fresher one. Why? Sulfation. I'll let you do some GoogleFu, if you're interested about what that is / how to counter it. Suffice to say - a sulfated battery (even one that has lost so much of its SoC that it can't start a vehicle), *can* be recovered. But it has to be done correctly (the 'smart' chargers, and even the itty-bitty Battery Tenders have the logic to do this).

Anyway, when I hooked up the charger for this new battery, the SoC % came up at.... 16% :yikes: On an ostensibly 2 month old battery. Meaning either:
- The battery lost a significant portion of its charge sitting on the shelf for two months
And / Or...
- The manufacturer deliberately shipped it that way (don't ask; I don't know the reason(s) why - might be a safety issue, might be a 'too cheap to spend some $ on charging their batteries, post-manufacturing'. Could be one or more reasons 'why'.)

The important part is - Check your 'new' batteries before turning your truck / alternator loose on one, and charge / desulfate, as needed. A 6 amp charge / desulfation cycle will put it right as rain in no time at all. If your charger has a desulfation mode (most newer ones do, nowadays), read the instructions on that mode (how to engage, if not 'automagically'; how it will indicate to you that it has completed that stage, etc.)

I know some of us have only one vehicle, and don't have the luxury of going through this beforehand. But if you can do it, I highly recommend it.

Finally, one last little tidbit, as we're in high summer right now... more batteries fail outright in the summer months, than they do in the winter. So some of you may be needing batteries soon - ? Hopefully, you'll find the above info helpful, when you need one for your truck.


Well-Known Member
Interesting. Thanks for info. Don't know that I've ever had a battery fail in summer. Maybe the snow belt winter is harder on them, but it often seems that the fail to start always comes in cold temps for me.


Silver Supporter
You got a Walmart Everstart battery I'm guessing...nothing wrong with them. I've been using them for 10 years or so now but next time I'll probably get a Duracell AGM.


+1 on the Walmart batteries, my last 2 prior to the current one gave me a good 4 years before needing to be replaced.


Lifetime VIP Supporter
Got the 'maxx' version, actually. The reason I went with them is that they're in every town on the road, just like McD's. And a lot of them are 24hr, too.

If I ever have a problem, just jump it w/ my trailer batteries, make sure I've got 8 & 13mm with me, and off i go. Then the warranty starts again. Rinse, lather,

BTW, it took about 90min or so to complete the charge / desulfation on the new battery yesterday. A little longer than 'no time at all.' Full disclosure :wink:


I would take a Maxx over a new optima these days. The optima are crap these days since production is in Mexico.

High temperature will shorten a batteries life more than cold temps.

Good info on prepping the battery before install. If my Duracell AGM(East Penn made) ever fails me, I will remember this. Thanks

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