5th Gen Mods, Off-Road, Reviews

Battery Basics & Upgrade Options

Updated 12/26/20 / Read Time: 6 mins

Battery Upgrade & Replacement 5th Gen 4Runner

Battery Basics Overview & Upgrade Options for 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

While most batteries have a lifespan of about 5 years, we are getting close for an upgrade on our 2014 4Runner. If you are looking for a battery upgrade on your 4Runner because you are running some aftermarket accessories, then this post should serve you as well. Whether you are looking to replace an old battery or looking to increase the performance of your current battery, we’re going to talk about a few options.

There are a few things to consider before replacing your battery. The most important is the size and location of the terminals. If you buy the wrong size battery or a battery with terminals in an awkward location, you’re going to be pretty upset. Weight is also a pretty big consideration as some car batteries push close to 100lbs. If you buy a battery that weighs too much, you risk having a lean, and at that point, you better hope you have adjustable coilovers to make up for the difference.

After installing a few aftermarket accessories, the 4Runner was starting to struggle when starting. We also have a Smittybuilt Winch, a Baja 30″ lightbar, and a few other accessories going on the 4Runner soon. So, it is about time we swap out the OEM battery with a fresh battery that can handle all these additional power-consuming accessories.

There have also been multiple occasions of the battery dying on me with just the headlights and foglights running. If we leave the keys in the ignition with the headlights on, and the engine not running, it drains the battery incredibly fast. And by fast, I mean under 10 minutes.

I always carry a set of jumper cables and I can’t count how many times I have used them. This was also what led me to buy a new battery and an upgraded jump starter just in case I was alone somewhere. Even in a parking lot, it’s hard to find someone to give you a hand these days.

Battery Basics: Terminals, Battery Size, Weight, CCAs, Amps, Tray and J Hooks

Buying a Battery (what to consider before buying):

  1. Different Brands
  2. Size
  3. Freshness
  4. Reserve Capacity
  5. CCAs (Cold Cranking Amps), and CAs (Cranking Amps)
  6. Ampere Hour (Ah)
  7. Type and Position of Terminals
  8. Weight

1. 5th Gen Battery Options

Battery Upgrade & Replacement 5th Gen 4Runner

There are many more options out there, do your research. We are using these three batteries as they are commonly installed. There is no “best” battery option out there for everyone. It really comes down to how you plan on using your truck, where you live and how many accessories you plan on running to your battery.

A Few Options

NorthStar Ultra-High-Performance Group 31 AGM 

  • CCAs (Cold Cranking Amps): 1150
  • RC (Reserve Capacity): 220
  • Ah (Ampere Hours): 103
  • Weight: 76lbs

Odyssey 31-PC2150S Heavy Duty Commercial

  • CCAs (Cold Cranking Amps): 1150
  • RC (Reserve Capacity): 205
  • Ah (Ampere Hours): 102
  • Weight: 77lbs

Odyssey 34R-PC1500T Truck and Van

  • CCAs (Cold Cranking Amps): 850
  • RC (Reserve Capacity): 135
  • Ah (Ampere Hours): 67.5
  • Weight: 51.5lbs

There are quite a few more options than these selections, but these are the most popular in terms of many people have these installed.

2. Battery Size

The stock battery on our 5th gen 4Runners is a Panasonic. The stock battery is rated at 530 CCA, and a reserve capacity of 20hrs at 65ah, BCI Group 24F, and comes in at about 60lbs. For an upgraded solution, there are a wide variety of options out there. No battery is going to be your “best” option because best is all relative in this world. Depending on how many accessories you have and will need to power will determine the size of the battery you choose.

3. Battery Freshness

Batteries are marked with a letter and number to indicate freshness. Batteries are marked with a letter and number to determine age. If a battery is marked A8, that would stand for January 2018. B7 would stand for February 2017. The letter correlates to the month and the number correlates to the year. A8 could also stand for January of 1998 but you would be able to tell if a battery was over 10 years old just by looking at it. Hopefully, that makes sense.

4. Reserve Capacity

Reserve Capacity (RC), not to be confused with Ampere Hours (Ah). RC is the amount of time a battery can run on its own power without the engine and before discharge. High RC batteries are great for our 4Runners considering most of power multiple accessories.

Higher RC batteries help in situations like accidentally leaving your headlights on among other things. We will take the Odyssey 34R for example. The Odyssey 34R has an RC of 135 minutes. To get your Amp Hours (Ah), you divide your Reserve Capacity (RC) in by 2.

The Odyssey 34R is rated at 135 minutes divided by two = 67.5 Amp Hours (Ah). I have also heard that you can do this division and then add 16 to get your Ah. I am not a battery expert by any means, so if you know the best method, please comment below. There are many accessories that give you specs based on Amps, so it is important to know the amount of Amps your battery has.

5. Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Cranking Amps (CA) – Starting Power

Every battery has a CCA rating. CCA rating is used to determine a batteries ability to start your 4Runner in cold temperature (hence, cold cranking). It is generally harder for a battery to start under extreme cold as opposed to warmer-moderate weather climates. If you reside in northern Canada as opposed to sunny San Diego, that should come into consideration when buying a battery. If you live in a colder climate or go on frequent trips to cold weather climates, you want a battery with a higher CCA rating.

CCA is measured by the number of amps a 12-volt battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts. Cranking Amps (CA) is used to determine the number of amps a 12-volt battery can deliver at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (normal to moderate temperatures). 

For example, the Odyssey 34R is rated at 850 CCAs. So, the Odyssey 34R is rated to deliver 850 CCAs at 0°F for 30 seconds (give or take).

Your cold cranking amps (CCAs) is the initial jolt of power it takes to start your 4Runner. The Amp Hours (Ah) is the power that runs your 4Runner and powers your accessories. Your cold cranking amps CCAs is kinda like your 4Runner climbing a short steep hill very fast (fast and aggressive) and your Amp Hours (Ah) is like your 4Runner racing in the Baja 1000 (consistency for distance).

6. Ampere Hour (Ah)

Ampere Hour (Ah) is how much electricity your 4Runners battery can store. The higher the Ampere Hour (Ah) capacity, the longer your battery can power accessories while your 4Runner is not running.

We mentioned the equation above to find out what your Ampere Hour (Ah) is if your battery does not have an Ampere Hour (Ah) rating on the label. Again, to get your Amp Hours (Ah), you divide your Reserve Capacity (RC) in by 2. The Odyssey 34R is rated at 135 minutes divided by two = 67.5 Amp Hours (Ah).

7. Type and Position of Terminals

One of the reasons why we went with an Odyssey 34 over the Odyssey 31 was the terminal location. The terminal location on the Odyssey 31 is towards the middle of the battery which requires terminal extensions.

This is great until you need a battery replacement on your 4Runner. When you need a spur of the moment replacement and the terminals are in a different location, you are screwed, unless that place has a specific battery for your set-up.

I like that there are no modifications that need to be done to the stock battery terminal cables, like the terminal extensions needed on the NorthStar Group 31 AGM Battery or the Odyssey 31. There are certain benefits about these batteries that outperform the group 34 as well, though so that’s something to consider.

When you buy a battery for your 5th Gen, just make sure the terminals are in the right location and depending on what you are looking for (easy install option), make sure they do not require additional terminal extensions.

8. Weight

Weight was also a consideration for me when buying a battery. As we start adding more and more stuff to the 4Runner, it starts to set a little lower. There is a big difference between the group 31 batteries at 77 pounds and the group 34 battery at 50 pounds.

I personally decided to go with a group 34 battery for a few reasons and weight was one of the determining factors. It was also cheaper and that was nice.

If you are really looking for a light-weight option, you can go with a LiFePO4 battery, which is typically about one-fifth the weight and two to four times the service life of a traditional battery. These batteries are more expensive compared to a traditional battery, though.

But instead of 50-80lbs, you can have a battery that weighs 20-30lbs. If I had $800-$1000 to spend on a battery, I would absolutely buy a LiFePO4 battery.

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July 7, 2020 11:43 am

I upgraded to the Northstar AGM battery, and also have a similar AGM in my trailer which charges through the 7-Pin connector while driving. To avoid installing two DC-to-DC chargers, would you recommend an upgraded alternator that outputs more like 14V to charge both the AGM starter and trailer/accessory battery?

July 6, 2020 10:32 am

Do you need an upgraded alternator when you change out your battery to one of these new ones?

June 23, 2020 9:15 am

Just a heads up the LifePO4 battery can only be used for auxiliary purposes. It cannot be used to start your 4runner or as a replacement for the main battery.

Carroll Voss
Carroll Voss
May 28, 2020 2:53 pm

Excellent article, I researched batteries and found the Odyssey 34R PC-1500 you’ve pictured in your piece above as one that would fit and work in my ’16 5th gen 4runner. I’ve measured my EOM panasonic, and looked at the dimensions on the 34R, they seem to match…closely. Odyssey website says the 34R is no match just a quick opinion from you will help.


Chris Padavana
Chris Padavana
April 20, 2020 10:40 pm

Great article. I’ve heard that this upgrade might require an upgraded alternator. Any thoughts?

G Money
G Money
December 24, 2019 10:58 pm

I have a 2014 sr5 straight stock, no extra accessories. after sitting for 5-7 days it sometimes will not start. I got a noco gb70 and it started just fine; however after 8-10 days even the noco gb70 wouldn’t start it, I got the fault light. the tow truck driver had a jump and carry 66 (jnc66) which started it right up. the battery is a stock battery installed by the dealer 6 months ago. what do I do?

April 24, 2019 9:28 am

How about the new Duralast platinum
750 cca
about 200 at autozone

March 19, 2019 1:09 pm

I would like to have 2 batteries with a battery isolator. Any suggestions? 2018 4runner limited

January 4, 2019 11:55 pm

Hey there Brenan, I have a 2002 4runner that needs a battery replacement. I live in Portland, or. advice? Ursula

October 14, 2018 4:19 pm

Thanks for the great write-up. Loving the site too! I have a 2008 T4R Limited V8, and I’m at the end of my rope with replacing the battery. I get about 4-5 years out of my batteries that are supposedly rated for 7-10. I’ve done a few mods and gear additions to the car, but I’m almost convinced at this point that these are just not very solid batteries. (They’re whatever the prevailing reasonably priced brand was at the Napa Auto Parts stores at which I bought them…one in the middle of the highway out to Lake Tahoe when my… Read more »

October 14, 2018 5:50 pm

@Brenan, thanks for the quick reply. I’ll be powering a lightbar being installed on Monday (Baja), a winch I’ll be putting in a few weeks (I haven’t decided which), and hopefully by December I’ll have Baja fogs and new headlights. I have no plans for a fridge or any heavy duty appliances. Quite the contrary, I’d rather have cargo space. But I do have several AC sockets going in the car on Thursday next week — one by the front passenger, two in the back seat, and two in the cargo area. And also USB ports at every seat. The… Read more »

Ross Slayton
Ross Slayton
September 22, 2018 10:39 pm

Just wondering where Gus put his 2nd battery?

April 5, 2018 7:39 pm

These LifePo batteries – are these just a straight swap? Or is there any other modifications necessary to the charging systems so you don’t damage the cells?

Neil Walker
Neil Walker
May 31, 2019 5:56 am

FYI the LiFePO4 batteries are * not * a straight swap. I contacted the manufacturer of the the one you linked to (BattleBorn) and they do not recommend using their 12v deep-cycle as a starter battery. It won’t charge below 25F. There may be other reasons that they didn’t mention. They did mention that they are working on a LiFePO4 that can be used as a starter but it isn’t out yet.

Jarod Clark
Jarod Clark
April 21, 2020 3:47 pm

I just installed a Battleborn battery and they are not a straight swap in the 4Runner 2016.

The positive terminals are oriented opposite of the OEM battery and the cables did not reach once fitted and required extension.

The battleborn battery is a bit taller so the stock hold down strap does not work and the J hold down bolts are a bit too short.

I am going to run it as my only battery in Colorado. Ill share feedback in a few months.

We will see how it goes.

The weight savings over stock is impressive.

jarod clark
jarod clark
January 6, 2021 9:56 am
Reply to  Jarod Clark

The Battleborn ended up not working after a few months in the 4 Runner.

I ended up removing the Battleborn. It did not charge correctly, I think due to the voltage difference where the LiFePO4 batteries run at 14+ volts until it is dead, the car does not charge it. I could charge it at home and it would work for a week or so, but not what I was going for.

I ended up pulling it and using it in my RV.

March 11, 2018 6:34 am

Has anyone had any experience with Optima YellowTop battery?

February 24, 2018 11:37 am

Thanks Brenan. I understand the battery should be above 12.65 to drop in. But my question is does the Stock 4Runner alternator fully charge the AGM battery under normal driving conditions from your experience? Or do you have to top it off with a wall charger? I have the ctek installed to charge my 2nd battery which is a group 34 Odyssey and it just works as advertised. The ctek isolates the batteries until it’s safe to charge the house side and then it stages the charge through various cycles. I installed dual voltmeters and cut off switches to manage… Read more »

February 26, 2018 12:17 am

sorry about the extra reply – for some reason my reply didn’t appear. and thanks for your reply too!

February 23, 2018 2:56 am

Great post and thanks for the information! I set up a 2nd battery in my 2015 4Runner and went with the Odyssey. Great battery!!

Did you do anything special to charge the AGM battery? I ask because on my setup I added a Ctek Dual 2505 DC-to-DC charger to isolate the batteries and get a higher charging voltage that I thought was required for the battery. Is the standard alternator enough?

thanks again for your details.

February 26, 2018 12:16 am

Thanks! I understand the drop in voltage required. I thought AGM batteries need 14.7v to get fully charged so I wanted to know if you had any issues with just the T4R alternator< Do you use a separate wall charger ? I have an Odyssey installed as my house battery in my dual set up and I use a cute Dual to charge it. as for your question, the Ctek has been doing exactly what it advertised to do. It isolates the batteries and pumps out 14.7 volts until I turn off the motor. So far, I've had no issues… Read more »

July 7, 2020 12:02 pm
Reply to  Gus

Gus, I’ve been asking myself (and others) the same question. What I’ve found is that the stock 4Runner Alternator is “sufficient” to get enough charge to start the vehicle. However, it sounds like the stock alternator may not actually charge an AGM battery to 100%, given the less-than 14.7V alternator output. I’ve got a trailer with a dedicated AGM battery, and have considered upgrading my alternator to one with a >14V output to charge both starter and accessory battery, in attempt to avoid buying a DC to DC Charger. Have you found any non-smart upgraded alternators that might charge both… Read more »

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