Blog Car Care Advice Can I Use a Lower CCA Battery & Why Is This Rating Important?
Car Care Advice

Can I Use a Lower CCA Battery & Why Is This Rating Important?

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When looking at the prices of high CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) batteries, you might wonder:

Can I use a lower CCA battery instead?
The short answer is no.

Although a battery with a lower CCA rating might seem budget-friendly, it can compromise your vehicle’s performance and reliability.

We’ll dig deeper into why using a lower CCA battery isn’t advised and what its adverse impacts are on your vehicle. We’ll also go over some important factors to consider when choosing a car battery. 

This Article Contains: 

Can I Use a Lower CCA Battery Than the One Recommended for My Car?

No, using a battery with a lower Cold Cranking Amps rating isn’t recommended, especially in areas where the temperature drops to sub-zero levels

Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) indicate a battery’s ability to start an engine at 0°F (-18°C) for a 30-second duration while maintaining a battery voltage above 7.2 volts.

Car makers recommend CCA ratings (usually 600 or above) based on engine size and the rule that a battery should have one CCA for each cubic inch of engine displacement. Installing a battery below this requirement can lead to difficulty starting your car and damage its electrical components

But what about warmer regions?
If you live in a warmer climate, you can use a lower Cold Cranking Amps battery (around 500 CCA). However, you should still use a battery with the same CCA rating as your OEM battery. 

Now, let’s see how using a low CCA battery can damage your car.

4 Key Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use a Lower CCA Battery 

Installing a lower CCA battery than recommended can cause the following problems:

1. Diminished Battery Performance

A low CCA battery works harder to start the engine in cold climate conditions. This strains the battery and speeds up the depletion of its chemical components, affecting your battery’s ability to hold a charge.

2. Vehicle Won’t Start in Cold Weather

A lower CCA battery fails to supply adequate power to the starter motor, resulting in sluggish engine cranking or complete starting failure

3. Accelerated Wear of Car Components

If the battery doesn’t have enough power to start the engine, other parts, like the starter motor and ignition, compensate for it. This wears them out faster, resulting in unnecessary repairs.

4. Electrical System Damage

A battery with insufficient CCA fails to provide the minimum voltage needed for engine start in cold climate conditions. This results in battery voltage fluctuations and can damage electronic components like the engine control module, alternator, or infotainment system.

Also, if your battery doesn’t meet the minimum voltage and CCA requirements, it won’t deliver the power needed to operate the car’s lights or wipers, potentially compromising your safety.

That’s why, when getting a new battery, refer to your owner’s manual for the minimum required CCA rating.

But remember, CCA isn’t the only important factor to consider while selecting a car battery. You should also focus on the battery’s type, size, and compatibility with your car.

Let’s understand this in more detail. 

How to Choose the Right Battery for Your Vehicle

When getting a new battery, keep the following factors in mind:

1. Weather Conditions

Batteries struggle to generate electrical current in cold weather as the engine oil thickens. This makes it harder for the oil to circulate through the engine block. Meanwhile, cold temperature conditions can cause diesel fuel to solidify or gel in diesel engines, slowing the engine start-up process. 

Depending on your climate, here’s the ideal Cold Cranking Amp rating for your battery:

2. Battery Type 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all battery for every car. So, choose a battery type that’s compatible with your vehicle and requires minimal maintenance. 
Some common options to choose from are:

3. Battery Life 

Car batteries usually last 3 to 5 years. However, battery life can vary based on the battery type, usage, and compatibility with your car. 
Here’s a general guideline:

4. Reserve Capacity

The Reserve Capacity (RC) rating indicates the duration, in minutes, a 12V battery can run before it requires recharging or replacement. This typically applies to a lead-acid battery

A lead-acid battery is considered a ‘dead battery’ when its voltage falls to 10.5 volts. So, choose a replacement battery with an RC that matches your vehicle’s requirements (usually 70-190 minutes for a 12-volt battery.) 

Note: RC rating helps evaluate how long a ‘deep cycle battery’ in an RV can sustain an electrical load. It also has marine applications and is used alongside Marine Cranking Amps to determine battery performance.

5. Group Size 

Each automotive battery has specific measurements to fit securely in your vehicle’s battery compartment. The size also determines terminal placement to ensure reliable connections.

Additionally, a bigger battery can store more energy than a smaller battery of the same type.

To find the right-sized automotive battery for your vehicle, consult your owner’s manual or look at the label on the front or top of your original battery.

Got more questions?
Check out these FAQs. 

3 FAQs on CCA Batteries

Here are answers to some common CCA battery-related queries:

1. Will Using a Higher CCA Rating Battery Improve Vehicle Performance?

No, a higher CCA battery doesn’t improve your vehicle’s performance. However, you can still use it as it’s safe and won’t damage your car. 

For instance, if your car needs a minimum 630 CCA battery but you install a higher CCA battery of 750, it just means the battery has more starting power to crank the engine when necessary. 

Choosing a battery with CCA close to or slightly above your OEM battery is ideal for optimal compatibility.

2. At What Percentage of CCA Should Vehicle Batteries Be Replaced?

Manufacturers recommend replacing a battery if its CCA drops to 65% of its original battery rating. Meanwhile, mechanics consider a battery nearly finished at 40% capacity.

A battery with 40% capacity may work for 6 to 12 months. However, if it drops below this level, it should be replaced. 

3. Do Lithium Batteries Have a CCA Rating?

Lithium batteries don’t have a Cold Cranking Amp rating because they’re not designed to power vehicles in colder climate conditions. 

Instead, they’re preferred for being lightweight, having a high energy density, and a longer lifespan, making them ideal for an electric vehicle. They may require additional heating or insulation in extreme cold conditions to maintain optimal performance.

Get Convenient Battery Replacement with AutoNation Mobile Service

A lower Cold Cranking Amp rating can reduce battery performance and cause starting troubles, especially in cold climate conditions. If you’re unsure how to find the right replacement battery for your car, refer to the above-mentioned tips. 

And if you need a battery replacement for a dead battery, let AutoNation Mobile Service mechanics come to you. 

We’re a mobile auto repair and maintenance service that offers convenient online booking, upfront pricing, and a 12-month | 12,000-mile repair warranty. Whether you drive a Honda Motor Company or any other vehicle, our expert mechanics can efficiently resolve all your automotive issues right from your driveway. 

Contact us today for a quote!