What Causes A Battery To Lose Cold Cranking Amps?

Cold Cranking Amps, or CCA, refers to how much current a battery can deliver at low temperatures. However, a battery can lose its CCA over time. What causes a battery to lose cold cranking amps?

Acid stratification is the most prevalent cause of battery failure. Plate activation in a limited acid environment also encourages corrosion. This decreases the battery’s performance over time.

On the other hand, a high acid content on the bottom side boosts the open-circuit voltage artificially. The battery looks to be completely charged, however, it only has a low CCA.

In this article, I am going to give you in-depth knowledge about batteries and CCA, what happens if a battery doesn’t have enough CCA? Can it be charged? How to test a battery with CCA, etc.

What Happens If A Battery Doesn’t Have Enough CCA?

The battery must supply extremely high currents while starting the engine, that’s why the CCA number is critical in cars.

If the CCA value is low, it is more likely to fail while the engine is cold since the battery can give less energy and the engine is “harder” to start in this state.

Additonally, the motor will not receive the necessary current during the start-up procedure.

Also because the electric motor will be compulsive for current, it may produce additional stress and heat on the motor’s components.

How Do You Calculate Cold Cranking Amps of A Battery?

Cold Cranking Amps, or CCA, is a measurement of how much current, or amperes, your battery can deliver for thirty seconds when it is started at 0°F.

Furthermore, the battery is not permitted to fall below a specified voltage threshold during this period of current delivery. The majority of manufacturers estimate this voltage to be less than 10.5 volts.

Follow these steps to determine the CCA of a battery:

Tools you need to run this test:

  • Gloves
  • Multimeter
  • Screwdriver

Caution: Put on your work gloves, which are made of rubber. The acid in battery acid is extremely damaging to your skin.

Step 1

Place your multimeter near your engine on the ground. Check to see whether it’s in a well-ventilated area.

Step 2

Open the hood and look for the battery

Step 3

Using the socket set, loosen the two nuts on the positive and negative terminals of your battery.

Step 4

Connect the multimeter’s positive and negative leads to the battery’s positive and negative leads. If the connecting gap has accumulated filth, clean it with baking soda and water. Before reconnecting the terminals, make sure they’re totally dry.

Step 5

Tighten the bolts on the battery terminals to ensure a proper connection.

Step 6

Turn on your Multimeter and select the CCA Reading option.

Start the car and wait 30 seconds. Shut off the car after 30 seconds and check your multimeter for CCA readings.

The results should be shown on a graph, with a peak and average CCA reading indicated.

What Causes A Battery to Lose Cold Cranking Amps?

Following are the reasons what causes a battery to lose cold cranking amps:

Plate Wearing Down

Thousands of discharge-recharge reactions occur during the life of a battery. Each cycle wears down the plates slightly, and the lead deteriorates with time.

This can lead to the battery losing cranking amps

Deep Discharge

A large number of battery problems are caused by a deep discharge which occurs when the battery is used to power your car’s audio, lights, or other electrical equipment when the engine is turned off.

Using your battery in this manner for an extended period of time and then recharging it by driving might cause the sulfur in the electrolyte solution to cling to the lead and cause further damage to the battery plates.

Acid Stratification

Then there is Acid Stratification. Plate activation in a limited acid environment. It also causes degradation, which decreases the battery’s performance over time.

Acid Concentration

The open-circuit voltage is intentionally raised by a high acid concentration on the bottom side. The battery appears to be properly charged, however, it already has a low CCA.

CCA and Other Important Things To Consider When Buying A Battery

What criteria do you use to determine which battery is best for you? Here are some simple pointers to assist you in making the best decision possible.

Check your vehicle’s manual for instructions from the original equipment manufacturer for:

  • Battery group size – the battery size that best fits your vehicle’s physical measurements. Many vehicles can handle many groups of various sizes.
  • CCA (cold-cranking amps) – CCA is essential for optimal cranking performance. It’s the maximum amount of amps a battery can handle for 30 seconds at 0 degrees F before the voltage drops to unacceptable levels.
  • If your alternator fails, the reserve capacity (RC) assists to power your vehicle’s electrical system. It determines how long the battery can provide adequate power without dropping below the minimum voltage required to operate your car.

In general, the greater the value for both CCA and RC, the better.

If you reside in a cold location, however, the CCA rating should be a top priority when selecting a battery.

In contrast, if you live in a hot environment, you won’t require as much CCA.

How Much CCA Is Required For A Vehicle?

The amount of cranking current necessary to start a car varies depending on the engine size, circuit resistance, temperature, engine oil viscosity, and accessory loads.

Because it must crank quicker to start, a four-cylinder engine may require the same amount of cranking current as an eight-cylinder engine.

When a car manufacturer specifies original equipment (OE) battery, all of these considerations are taken into account.

The BCI (Battery Council International) table below shows numerous examples of current demands on a battery from electrical accessories in a car.

Typical Current Loads of Passenger Cars:

  • Ignition: 2-9A
  • Radio 0.5-5A
  • Windshield Wipers: 7.5A
  • Headlamps (Low Beam, Dim): 17-18A
  • Headlamps (High Beam, Bright): 19-20A
  • Parking lights: 4-10A
  • Brake lights 6-11A
  • Interior lights: 2-4A
  • Bonnet Light: 0.5-1A
  • Horn: 4A
  • Power Window (One window): 5A
  • ABS Brakes: 14A Max
  • Boot Light: 0.5-1A
  • Blower (Heater, Air Conditioner): 10-14A
  • Heated Rear Window Defogger: 13-28A
  • Heated Seat: 4-5A
  • Power Seat Motor: 10-13A
  • Summer Starting (Petrol): 150-200A
  • Summer Starting (Diesel): 450-550A
  • Winter Starting (Petrol): 250-350A
  • Winter Starting Diesel: 700-800A

It’s tough to choose the best battery for the vehicle or application because there are so many similar-looking black batteries on the market claiming to have the highest CCA ratings.

Given the negative effects of greater CCA on overall life and a vehicle’s starting motors, it’s critical to know what the vehicle is used for and the operating circumstances (including temperature) before choosing the best battery.

Don’t be deceived by huge CCA figures. The key to picking the right battery is to choose one with design elements and internal components that are more suitable to the vehicle’s requirements and operating circumstances.

What Is The Ideal Number of Cold Cranking Amps for A Battery?

A battery’s capacity should be sufficient to allow for reliable cold starting. A battery with at least one Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) for every cubic inch of engine displacement is the typical guideline.

The CCA rating of a battery indicates its capacity to produce a constant amp output at a specific temperature.

It refers to how many amps a fresh, fully charged battery can provide for 30 seconds at 0 degrees Fahrenheit while maintaining a minimum voltage of 1.2 volts per cell.

A vehicle’s battery should have a CCA rating equal to or more than the engine displacement in cubic inches. A battery with a capacity of 280 CCA would be sufficient for a 135 cubic inch four-cylinder engine, but not for a 350 cubic inch V8.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs):

What happens if I put a higher CCA battery in my car?

A higher CCA just creates the ability for the battery to provide more starting amperage but  it can be dangerous.

At what percentage of CCA Should a battery be replaced?

20–25% of CCA rating is recommended for a battery replacement.

What is the standard CCA rating of a battery?

600 CCA is the standard rating for a Car and Truck battery.

Final Words

If you have made it this part of the article, you already know what causes a battery to lose cold cranking amps along with everything else that you need to know.

It is important to select the right battery with the right CCA rating for your required application to maintain safety and longevity.

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