There are few things less frustrating in the world than a dead vehicle battery, and it always seems to happen at the very worst moments. While several components must work together to run your pickup, your battery is responsible for starting the vehicle and running all its electrical components.
A vehicle’s battery life span will depend on factors such as weather conditions, driving habits, battery load, and the type of battery installed. Ford F150 batteries typically last between 3 and 5 years.
Replacing your battery before it dies completely is the best way to ensure that you will not become stranded in a parking lot or in your driveway on a cold morning, which is why so many pickup owners ask, how long does an F150 battery last?
How Often Should I Change the Battery in My F150?
Generally, your battery should last upwards of five years, but depending on where you live, you may find yourself having to change your battery in as little as three years. This is especially true if you live in an area that experiences extremely high or low temperatures.
For example, people who live in Texas often replace their batteries much sooner because the elevated temperatures affect the chemicals inside of the battery. Additionally, people who live in areas like Maine, where the temperature can drop significantly, find themselves having to change their batteries more often as well.
Are Ford F150 Batteries Covered Under Warranty?
Whether your battery is covered under a warranty will depend on the type of battery it is and how long it has been since you bought/installed the battery.
According to Ford, original batteries are covered for recharging and replacement during the first three years or 36,000 miles (whichever one comes first). Additionally, the Hybrid High Voltage battery is covered for eight years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first).
However, Motorcraft batteries that are purchased outside of the Bumper-to-Bumper warranty are not covered under the original battery warranty and will usually have their own warranty, which may vary depending on the type of battery you buy.
How Do I Know If I Need a New Battery?
Most people find out the hard way that their battery is dead or dying when their vehicle no longer starts or stays running. However, this is not the only sign of a failing battery, and there are things you can look for that could help you avoid becoming stranded.
The following symptoms may indicate that it is time for you to visit your local mechanic:
- Leaks: if you notice any fluid leaking from your battery you should visit your mechanic as soon as possible. Do not touch the liquid or battery unless you are experienced and know how to handle the leak safely.
- Corrosion: leaks can often lead to corrosion on a battery, and although some corrosion is to be expected, if you notice a disproportionate amount of corrosion or buildup on your battery, it might be time to talk to your mechanic.
- Low Fluid: aside from signaling a leak, low fluid could be a sign that you need to have your battery and charging system tested as soon as possible.
- Delayed Start: if you notice that your vehicle is taking longer to turn over and start, it might be a sign that your battery is failing. However, it is worth noting that this is not always a sure sign of failure and could also be due to low temperatures.
- Check Engine Light: most vehicles have a warning system that will cause the check engine light to turn on when the battery is losing its power. Additionally, many of Ford’s newer vehicles have a battery indicator light on the dashboard that will turn on to indicate a system error.
- Electrical Signs: because your battery is responsible for powering the electrical components in your vehicle, you may notice several electrical signs when your battery begins to fail. Things like dimming headlights, slow wiper blades, and electrical windows that stop working can all indicate battery failure.
- Swelling: if you notice the sides of your battery are swollen, or the battery looks like it is expanding, do not touch the battery and visit your mechanic right away. Swollen batteries can explode if they are not handled properly.
- Smell: a rotten egg, sulfuric, or sewer smell radiating from the battery may signal a leak. This can be dangerous because the chemicals leaking out of the battery could cause irritation to your eyes, nose, throat, and even your respiratory system.
How Much Will It Cost to Replace the Battery in My F150?
There are many things that will factor into the price of replacing your battery. For example, the year of your vehicle, the location that you get your vehicle repaired, the type of replacement battery that you buy, and whether you install the battery yourself will all factor into the overall price.
And when we looked at the estimated price of a battery replacement service for a 2020 Ford F150 in Maine, that price rose to $377. Additionally, when we looked at the price of a battery replacement service for a 2020 Ford F150 in California, that price rose even further to $398.
Can I Replace My F150s Battery Myself?
With the advancement of technology and sites like YouTube, even people with zero mechanical experience can find DIY videos for all sorts of repairs. However, while some of those repairs can still be quite hard to accomplish, changing a battery is pretty easy, and so long as the battery is easily accessible, you should be able to change it yourself.
However, you should know two important points before disconnecting your battery.
1 – Your vehicle employs a ton of control modules (computers) that require voltage in order to retain stored vehicle settings. These stored settings or values help the modules manage various systems like engine, transmission, HVAC, etc.
Removing the battery causes the modules to lose track of these values and the modules must relearn them. The relearn process may take several drive cycles and some vehicles depending on spec may require a scan tool in order to recalibrate some systems.
What happens if I don’t use a KAM tool? You’ll likely notice warning lights illuminated like steering angle sensors, possible brake system warning lights too. Just driving the vehicle will solve many of these issues. Dropping windows and lifting again, operating sunroof, heater controls, etc will recalibrate them. You may notice erratic transmission shift issues and possible erratic idle, given time these will fix themselves also.
2 – Most modern trucks incorporate a battery control module whose job it is to manage battery health. The battery control module measures critical battery info like battery age, load, and temperature. It uses this info to optimize how the alternator charges the battery.
As a battery gets older it requires a higher charge rate in order to operate at its peak. The thing is, although a battery control module is clever it’s not clever enough to know that a new battery has been fitted. The result is, the battery control module continues to charge the new battery as though it was the old battery.
In order to fix this, the module needs to be told the vehicle has a new battery fitted. We call this coding the battery to the vehicle. It’s not a difficult task but it does require a scan tool that is capable. You’ll find one here on the Electrical repair tools page. Otherwise, you’ll need to visit a local shop.
So what happens if you don’t code it? Not much, except your new battery won’t last as long as it should. So if your vehicle is prematurely killing batteries, you now know why.
Battery fitting tips
Below you can find the general steps to follow while changing a battery. However, these steps may differ depending on the vehicle you own.
- Turn your vehicle off.
- Check your owner’s manual to find the exact location of your battery.
- Fit a KAM tool in order to maintain electrical power to onboard control modules.
- Loosen the bolt that holds the negative battery cable in place (the negative cable is typically black and is identifyed by the minus symbol).
- Use care and remove the cable from the battery. Do not pry the cable away from the battery because this could damage the cable.
- Repeat the previous two steps on the positive battery cable (this cable is typically red and is identifyed by the plus symbol).
- Find and remove the clamp holding the battery in place.
- You should now be able to pull the battery out of the vehicle. Batteries are often much heavier than one might expect, so use care while lifting it out.
- Clean the area around where the battery was previously installed with a battery cleaning solution. Make sure to clean the battery tray and battery cables.
- Place the new battery gently into the vehicle and repeat the previous steps in reverse order to install the new battery.
- Use a shop level scan tool to code the new battery to the battery control module.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.