CCA Rating: 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Car Battery

Has your car ever failed to start on a cold morning?

The CCA rating of your car’s battery may have been to blame. This measurement determines how easily your car will start when the temperature is at or below freezing. Especially in colder climates, you should keep an eye on the CCA when comparing and choosing a car battery.

What Does CCA Stand For?

CCA stands for ‘Cold Cranking Amps’. This is a way of rating car batteries based on the power they produce at freezing temperatures. Batteries go through rigorous factory tests in cold temperatures to achieve this rating.

The CCA represents the amperage that a battery produces for 30 seconds while maintaining 7.2 standard voltage. Tests are performed at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or -18 degrees Celsius. Generally, the higher the CCA rating, the better the battery is for your car.

What Should You Consider about CCA Rating When Buying a Car Battery?

How much CCA Do We Need to Start a Car?

The CCA that a car needs to start depends on the size of the engine. A general recommendation is to choose a battery with one CCA for each cubic inch of engine displacement. This is the lowest CCA rating that the battery for your car would need.

For example, if your car’s engine displaces 300 cubic inches, you will need a battery with a CCA of above 300. This is doubled if the car uses a diesel engine.

It is a good idea to choose a car battery that meets or exceeds the specifications of the original battery. The OE (original equipment) battery is the standard to meet in this situation.

The CCA of the OE battery can be found in your car’s user manual or the factory sticker. This sticker can be found on the battery in some cases. It may also be positioned under the hood of your car.

Should I Compare CCA When Choosing a Battery?

In most cases, comparing CCA is one of the best ways to rate a new car battery. However, it is not the only way to choose a battery. Using the CCA rating alone can lead to multiple issues. Other factors to consider include:

  • Maintenance requirements
  • Battery terminal position
  • Ah (Ampere Hour)
  • Reserve capacity
  • Cranking amps
  • Battery size
  • Battery life

All of these factors can determine if a battery is best for your car.

Additionally, most locations do not have subzero temperatures all the time. Since the CCA rating only really applies in colder temperatures, it should not be the only factor you consider. CCA is one of the areas where you can compare batteries, but it should not be the only one.

Can a Car Use a Battery with Lower CCA?

It is generally not recommended to use a battery with a lower CCA than is recommended. Especially in very cold climates, using a lower CCA battery can lead to performance issues. Your car might not always start when you need it to.

Consider your devices and accessories as well. Technological advancements require a lot of systems to start when the engine does. For example, interior lights, heated seats, headlights, brake system, and ignition all require starting amps. For this reason, batteries with higher CCA ratings have become increasingly popular (and sometimes required).

Technically a car can use a battery with a lower CCA, but it can damage your engine. Your ignition system may also suffer. In some cases, using a lower CCA battery can lead to starters or ignition coils failing.

It can be tempting to purchase a lower CCA battery for the lower weight or because of financial restrictions. Just know that it can lead to damage and that the battery will not last as long. In warmer climates, a lower CCA battery may perform better. However, it will not always start the car in colder temperatures.

In short, it is generally not recommended to purchase a battery with a lower CCA than the original equipment. The factory battery should be the standard. It’s a good idea to meet or exceed the factory or OE battery CCA rating.

Can I Put a Higher CCA Battery in my Car?

A car battery must only fit the minimum CCA requirements to work well. This means that if you have met or exceeded the CCA of the original battery, there is nothing to worry about.

Many would agree that the higher the CCA rating, the better the battery is for your car. This is true, but only in colder climates. In the heat of summer, a higher CCA battery can leak and cause failures in some instances. Keep in mind that this is a possibility when choosing a car battery.

Batteries with Higher CCA ratings also tend to be larger. They will still work in your car but may not fit in the battery tray.

Overall, a higher CCA battery can be more reliable and last longer. CCA decreases over time due to charge loss and other factors. Choosing a higher CCA battery can mean you have to replace it less often. It also means that your car will start reliably in colder temperatures.

Find purchasing options for High CCA Starter Batteries online:

XS Power D3400 1000 CCA Battery

XS Power D3400 1000 CCA

ODYSSEY 65-PC1750T 950 CCA Battery

ODYSSEY 65-PC1750T 950 CCA

Solimo Epsom Salt Soak 8 lb

Deka 9A34R 750 CCA

When Should I Replace the Car Battery According To Its CCA Value?

The CCA value of your battery must stay above the OE or factory CCA recommendation.

If you have your battery tested and the CCA value is lower than the recommended rating, the battery may need to be replaced. The ambient air temperature when the battery is tested must also be considered. If it is above freezing when the battery is tested, the CCA value should be closer to the original rating.

However, if the CCA value is much lower even if warmer temperatures, it is time to replace the battery. How often you need to replace it depends on the CCA requirement for your car. A higher CCA battery will also need to be replaced less often.

Generally, a battery needs to be replaced when it is putting out less than 50% of its CCA rating.

The Final Thoughts

The CCA rating, or Cold Cranking Amp rating, can make starting your car in freezing temperatures that much easier. Comparing CCA can help you choose a car battery, but it should not be the only factor that you consider.

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