Everything You Need to Know About Heavy Duty Truck Starters and Alternators


The average Class 1 pickup truck weighs around three tons or 6,000 pounds, and a Class 8 commercial truck can weigh up to 16,000 pounds. In contrast, the average American-made passenger car only weighs about 4,000 pounds. 

This weight differential means that trucks must rely upon starters that are larger and more powerful than those that are found in automobiles to crank their internal combustion engines.

Here’s everything you need to know about heavy duty truck starters and alternators, thanks to the pros at Find It Parts. 

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Heavy-Duty Truck Starters

Your truck’s ignition system consists of a battery, an alternator and a starter. The starter uses energy from the battery to crank the engine. This process generates an enormous amount of heat. Starter components include the frame, the nose gear housing, the lever housing and the solenoid. One of the best-known manufacturers of truck starters is Delco Remy.

The heat generated when a heavy-duty starter cranks up a truck engine can actually destroy the starter if you let the starter run for too long. That’s why 15 seconds is the longest you should ever rev up your truck starter at one time. After cranking your starter for 15 seconds, let it cool off for two to three minutes.

Your starter can also develop problems if your battery isn’t delivering enough voltage. When you attempt to crank a starter with a low-voltage battery, the solenoid can burn or melt so that it becomes welded to itself. How do you know when you’ve developed this issue? Even when key is no longer turning the ignition switch, the starter may continue to crank.

Heavy-Duty Truck Alternators

The alternator is part of your truck’s charging system. It regenerates your truck battery’s electrical charge so that your truck will start when you need it to start. Alternators are bolted on to the engine, and they’re driven by means of the same serpentine belt that also powers your water pump and your air conditioning equipment.

If you’re having a problem with your truck’s alternator, typically the battery-shaped warning light on your control panel will flash on. You may also notice that your dashboard lights and headlights seem unusually dim while you’re idling but brighten up when you step down on your gas pedal. If you notice either of these things, take your truck to a mechanic as soon as you can.

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