Understanding Car Battery Life and CCA

Posted on 18 Feb 2014 by Battery Business Team in Cars

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In this blog we chat about car battery life, CCA and battery manufacturing.

When car batteries are new, they have a quoted cold cranking amp (CCA) rating.

This figure is usually between about 350 and 900, and gives you an indication of the power of the battery.

If you want detail it relates to the amount of power that the battery can produce for 30 seconds at zero degrees centigrade before it falls below 7.2 volts.

Clearly this is a bit difficult to verify in most Australian locations... so we have testers which can broadly simulate the same load, or test the battery resistance, and estimate the CCA with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

At least, then, if you ever take your battery on holiday to Norway, you’ll know what to expect!

You can get high CCA out of a battery by making it really carefully with top quality and very pure materials, and great engineering...

Or you can get high CCA by making the battery with really cheap thin lead plates and lots of cheap and strong electrolyte.  Which will give the same result when the battery is brand new, but a very short battery life because the combination of thin plates and strong acid will cause the battery to fail very quickly.

If you are concerned about getting high CCA, you should also be concerned about the brand and build-quality of the battery. Like most things, you get what you pay for.

At Battery Business we know which batteries have a quality build and which will give you a high CCA AND a long life. 

More about how car batteries work

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Your car or motorcycle battery has 6 cells in it, and each cell is 2 volts. With the 6 cells connected in series, they make a 12 volt battery (which is actually fully charged at about 12.8 volts, and virtually empty at 12 volts).

The battery produces power when you try to start the engine, and then the engine alternator recharges the battery very quickly when the engine is running.

Your car battery is only designed to lose a small percentage of the total power that it contains before a recharge. Deep discharging (deep cycling) isn’t good for a car battery, so having the doors open and the radio on for hours on end, without the engine running, spells disaster for the battery.

Maybe not today, but one day when you least expect it.

In the defence of car batteries though, they sit in dreadful conditions – heat, vibration etc – for years on end without missing a beat. Good batteries are brilliant value, and can easily last 5 years or more.

They deteriorate every day, and every time they are used.

How much they deteriorate depends on how they are cared for by your engine and alternator and, also, whether you occasionally treat them to a proper charge from a good quality battery charger.

Want to ask us about which brands offer good car battery life and high CCA? Call your local Battery Business Store