NAPA KNOW HOW car battery replacement Cold Cranking Amps

Car Battery Know How: Cold Cranking Amps and Reserve Capacity

A car battery wears out just like any other battery and needs to be replaced.  There are a couple of things you should understand when looking for a new car battery: one is cold cranking amps and the other is reserve capacity.

Cold Is The Enemy

Let’s start with cold cranking amps.  This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold engine.  The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live, specifically how cold it is where you live.  The two factors are that the colder an engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started.  It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.  The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the car battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient in the cold.How to Spot Car Battery Issues in Cold Weather Before They Freeze You Out

So the colder it gets, more power is needed, but the available power drops.

So if you live where it’s cold, you need a car battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where its moderate or hot.  You should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as the manufacturer recommends, but may want to upgrade if you live where it gets real cold.

An important note: Batteries may also list the Cranking Amps – CA – number.  It is the Cold Cranking Amps – or CCA – that is the important number here.  CCA is the number to use in your comparisons.

Now with all this talk of cold temperatures, it’s important to note that heat is the real enemy of long battery life.  In other words, the damage that’s done over the hot summer months shows up with the increased demands on the battery when the weather turns cold.

Calling In The Reserves

Now on to reserve capacity:  It’s a measurement of the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has at a given load.  The number is more important these days because of parasitic drain.  Parasitic drain is the battery energy that’s used when the key is off.  So, the power drawn by the security system, the remote start system, even the power the computers require to maintain their memory.

Reserves are also needed when you make very short trips.  You’re not driving long enough for the battery to recover the energy it used to start the engine.

So go with the minimum recommended by your manufacturer and upgrade if you need more.  Talk with your parts or service advisor about options.  If you need more from your battery, a larger capacity battery may be called for.

A car battery is a big ticket item, so the warranty gives piece of mind.  Be sure to ask about the warranty so you know what you’re getting. And finally make sure to check out our Batteries 101 Guide for more information on automotive batteries & battery maintenance.

Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on cold cranking amps, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

about author

Nick Palermo

Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.

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  • Sayed

    February 16, 2016 at 2:58 AM


    My 1993 Nissan pathfinder V6 is call for 550 cold crank battery.The storewhich i was shoping for batterydid not have550 cold crank amp so i purchase 630 cold crank my question isif i use 630 crank amp battery could. Damage my car or it will be ok.

    • Brian Medford

      February 16, 2016 at 9:29 AM


      It will be fine. A higher rating of cold cranking amps just gives you a larger reservoir of power to draw from while cranking. It won’t overpower the electrical system or damage anything. Just make sure it still fits securely in the factory battery hold-down.

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  • Alicia

    May 27, 2017 at 8:24 PM


    I have a v6 Hyundai Sonata is it okay to purchase a battery with 700 cold crank amps?

    • NAPA Auto Parts

      June 2, 2017 at 1:23 PM


      Thank you for your comment about your Sonata’s battery, a NAPA Auto Parts representative will be contacting you via email shortly.

  • Frank

    June 9, 2017 at 10:14 AM


    2006 Cadillac DTS, calls for 880 CCR,how many CCR do I really need to start DEAD battery using a emergency jump pack

    • NAPA Auto Parts

      June 9, 2017 at 12:38 PM


      Thank you for your comment about your Cadillac, a NAPA Auto Parts representative will be contacting you via email shortly.

  • Gene Simpson

    June 13, 2017 at 12:32 PM


    I have a Honda Accord V 6. BAT wiith 550 cca.
    Tested at 455 cca.
    hot weather so do I need a new batter?
    Ser dep said yes “now”

    • NAPA Auto Parts

      June 26, 2017 at 10:54 AM


      Thank you for your comment about your Honda’s battery, a NAPA Auto Parts representative will be contacting you via email shortly.

  • H. Kelley

    July 14, 2017 at 6:23 PM


    Brand New car battery rated @590 CCA , TESTED on meter registered 768 CCA. Is there a storage risk whereby CCA’s continue to accumulate ( 768 to 850 to 975 and so on ) until battery heats and kaboom. Or is this not an indication of “OVERCHARGING… AKA OverAmping” ?? Thanks.

    • NAPA Auto Parts

      July 27, 2017 at 11:34 AM


      Thank you for your question about battery safety, a NAPA Auto Parts representative will be contacting you via email shortly.


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