Maxwell Technologies


Start Strong
Truck Starting Newsletter
2016 Fall Issue
The Three Things Every Driver Should Check to Prepare for Winter
By Jeff Brakley, Sr. Marketing & Business Development Manager
Truck, Heavy Transportation, Military & Aerospace
Prepare for winter
Summer is officially over. September is a good time to perform electrical system preventive maintenance (PM) to ensure your truck can withstand colder winter temperatures. Maxwell’s trucking team scouted out industry publications for the top things drivers and maintenance personnel should check in their heavy duty commercial vehicle’s electrical system to get ready for winter and here is what we found.

Did you know that high temperatures experienced over the summer months can cause batteries to sulfate? This limits the ability of a battery to receive a full charge, leading to ultimate failure. Battery failure typically happens during the first winter cold snap (in accordance with Murphy’s Law) and most likely you will be calling for a jump-start. Keep in mind that the Maxwell ESM will be able to crank your engine, but only if the batteries have more than 10 volts available to keep the truck engine control unit (ECU) and the ESM alive and operating. Before winter arrives, most experts recommend having each battery individually tested, reconditioned or replaced. The chart below shows how batteries lose capacity as temperature drops, while the ultracapacitor-based ESM is able to provide more cranking power at low temperatures. Note that the Maxwell ESM has a much wider operating temperature range (–40°F to +149°F) than batteries.

Ultracapacitor vs. Lead-Acid Battery Performance at Variance Temperature
Source: Maxwell Technologies, Inc.

Starting and charging system cabling
Cabling and interconnections between the batteries, Maxwell ESM, starter and alternator should be checked during PM. Most qualified shops have specialized equipment to conduct voltage drop tests under load to find cabling and interconnection issues. Refer to the American Trucking Associations Technology and Maintenance Council recommended practice RP 129A, which describes how to conduct these tests and the expected results to ensure good performance over the winter. The cabling from the ESM to the starter may be a smaller gauge cable if it was factory-installed, so pay attention to the cable size recommendations in the Maxwell ESM User Manual and the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation.

Winter road treatments use harsh chemicals such as magnesium chloride to quickly melt away snow and ice. The downside is that magnesium chloride is corrosive, especially to your vehicle’s electrical connections. All electrical connections should be clean and tight to ensure proper year-round operation. A large number of customer calls received on our Technical Support Line are diagnosed as loose or corroded connections. Cleaning all battery, Maxwell ESM, starter and alternator connections—and the cable lugs that connect these systems together—usually resolves the starting problem.

Maxwell recommends tightening the terminal nuts on the Maxwell ESM to 18 ft.-lbs. of torque. Some commercial vehicle manufacturers further protect these interconnections by covering them with a white or black grease material to prevent corrosion. While we do not provide a recommendation on grease, we do suggest that all the previous grease is removed when servicing connections. All connections should be clean, dry and torqued to the manufacturer’s recommendations before applying protective grease.

Charging system
Is your alternator up to the task of recharging batteries? Industry experts recommend testing your alternator as part of your winter PM. They also advise to check if your alternator is properly sized to recharge your batteries efficiently. There is much discussion in the industry about aftermarket add-on equipment drawing sufficiently more current than what the vehicle alternator was originally specified to handle. An undersized alternator may not fully recharge your batteries to 100% state of charge while the engine is running. This can lead to the battery issues described above.

This fall, be sure to conduct a thorough PM. If you check your batteries, cabling, and charging system and ensure everything is up to speed, the Maxwell ESM will have the optimal environment in which to perform its job and will provide you with reliable engine starts through the winter season.
Trucker Defeats Cold Starts with Maxwell Engine Start Module
Bill In this story, professional trucker Bill Harlow shares how switching to the Maxwell ESM’s ultracapacitor starting technology has been an advantage for his one-man business.

Tech Tip: How to Select the Right Battery Type for Your Maxwell ESM Installation
By Jeff Brakley, Sr. Marketing & Business Development Manager
Truck, Heavy Transportation, Military & Aerospace
Tech TipCustomers often ask, “What type of battery works best with the Maxwell Engine Start Module (ESM)?” Since the Maxwell ESM handles the engine cranking, the number and type of batteries you need can be determined by these factors.

Consider CCA ratings and RC minute ratings.
To begin with, once you install the Maxwell ESM, you no longer need batteries with a high cold cranking amp (CCA) rating since the batteries are no longer connected to the starter motor (only the Maxwell ESM connects directly to the starter motor). Industry experts familiar with the ultracapacitor-based ESM recommend batteries with a high reserve capacity (RC) minutes rating. If you take a look at battery manufacturing datasheets, you’ll see that high RC minutes rating batteries provide longer run times for onboard electronics when the engine is off.

The battery choices available today include standard flooded lead-acid, deep cycle or high cycle batteries, and absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries. Several battery manufacturers offer these types in a standard Battery Council International (BCI) Group 31 form factor for heavy duty commercial vehicles. The specifications of several battery manufacturers reveal that standard flooded lead-acid batteries typically have higher CCA ratings and lower RC minute ratings. The deep cycle or high cycle batteries and AGM batteries will typically have a higher RC minute rating. Several customers install the Maxwell ESM with high cycling or AGM batteries with great results.

Take into account your type of commercial vehicle operation.
Are you operating a sleeper with a lot of hotel loads that need extended battery run time when the engine is off? Are you operating a day cab with minimal electrical loads? In either case, experts typically recommend high RC minute rated batteries. The number of batteries required in parallel with the Maxwell ESM depends on your engine off and parasitic loads.1 We have several vocational fleet customers operating day cabs with only one battery and the Maxwell ESM. These fleets have found that deep cycling, high cycling or AGM batteries meet their requirements.

Electronic hours of service logging equipment, GPS units, telematics communication systems and camera systems are prevalent today as well. Sometimes drivers or fleet personnel connect these loads directly to the vehicle batteries without thinking about how the power requirements will affect battery life. Be sure to consider all of your loads and then determine the type of battery that best fits your vehicle’s needs.

Owner operators and fleet maintenance personnel should fully understand their overall power requirements and select batteries based upon their hotel, parasitic load and add-on aftermarket equipment current requirements. It is also important to make sure the alternator is appropriately sized to recharge the batteries based upon your vehicle loads.

1Engine off loads or hotel loads include battery powered refrigerators, microwave ovens, DVD players, and coffee makers. Parasitic loads include onboard computers, also known as engine control units (ECUs), and are active 24 hours a day.
Join Our Customers in the StartStrongTM Experience!
Join us
Owner operators across North America have gained peace-of-mind when it comes to reliable starts on the road. Visit our Maxwell ESM webpage for testimonials, a product payback calculator, and free white paper to learn more about the benefits of ultracapacitor starting technology.

We’re Going to Vegas, Are You?
Meet with Maxwell’s trucking team in Vegas this October 1 – 4 for the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition. We’re offering a free pass for the show! Just email us at to get your pass.

ATA MC&E is the most prestigious trucking show of the year, bringing together industry counterparts from across the nation to talk about everything in trucking and trucking technology. Visit us in booth #634 to check out our engine start demo and learn how the ultracapacitors inside the Maxwell ESM can contribute to uptime and cost savings for your truck or entire fleet.

Tech TipSave the date for the Trucking & Maintenance Council in Nashville, February 27 – March 2. More than just a trade show, TMC is home to trucking’s leading fleet professionals, vehicle manufacturers, and component suppliers. Visit Maxwell Technologies at booth 2908!
Where Do I Buy the ESM?
To locate a Maxwell ESM distributor near you, visit our “Where to Buy” page and enter your city or zip code. Or, you can give us a call or shoot us an email at (877) 511- 4324 or We look forward to serving you.

Where to buy
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