CCA specs on batteries; north [cold] or south [hot] climates, an important factor?

so, i’m buying a new battery in detroit, for my Nissan, just recently driven from Texas, in november. i thought the batt i had was ok, but after freezing days/nights it didn’t crank the motor. Sears shop said, “bad battery” so i put in a new DieHard, 585CCA, spec’d for my model Nissan.

at sears i was told something i’d never heard about in the thirty years of auto maintenance i’ve endured, &

i ask if anyone can verify this novel info: that batteries are indeed manufactured, with specs for performing in two categories–to efficiently handle the “cold” north conditions, or to handle the southern climates.

& further, he said, the two types of batteries are of different physical construction;

by the Sears salesman’s account, there are fewer plates (greater spacing intervals between plates)in the south or “hot” climate battery cells–this being to disperse heat, he said!)

The salesman says a N battery (presumably this means it has relatively greater CCA) will not perform as well in the south; likewise that a S battery won’t perform as well in N climates.

I should have thought in the engineering of batteries (DieHards, in the specific instance) they all would be rated for CCA, that there would be no engineering specs, other than cranking power, that one would use to determine what batt was optimal for a the 12 V. power supply in any given vehicle.

I’ve always assumed a batt of sufficient CCA would work with the same efficiency whether in the north or the south, hot or cold climes.

anyone know the skinny on this engineering of ordinary 12 V. auto batteries?

mutch obliged.

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If you believe anything they tell you at Sears, I have a house I’d like to sell you that’s guaranteed to double in value in the next six months. Guaranteed!

Guaranteed! I’m not kidding!

Why, oh why, did you go to Sears? There are so many places to buy batteries where they won’t lie to you and make up things to sell you stuff.

CCA is CCA, and it doesn’t matter whether you live in the north or the south. The battery neither knows nor cares.

Your assumption about “sufficient CCA” is correct.

The old battery in your Frontier didn’t die because it came from the south. It died because it was old and you moved to a colder climate, which asks more from a battery. Old batteries don’t do well in cold climate conditions.

Your new battery should start your Frontier reliably for several years. But only because it’s new, not because it’s been designed for a “northern” climate.

Next time you need something for your Frontier, take it to an independent mechanic, not a chain shop like Sears.

There’s a reason those guys are stuck working for Sears. (Hint: It isn’t because they have a degree in car battery design.)

Agree with above posters; cars in the “north” have larger batteries because they need lots of cranking power (CCA)on cold days!! I lived in the tropics for 5 years and the battery in my car was about half the size of the one in my car back home. It filled only 2/3 of the battery case, since this model was also sold for export to Europe. The plate spacing is a function of the design of that particular make.

Sears personnel are encouraged to say almost anthing as long as it results in a sale.

However, when in Detroit, get the biggest, meanest battery that will fit in your car! It gets brutally cold in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, should you go there for a winter weekend!

Perhaps Sears was the only place open at the time that the OP thought could test the battery. I’ve went to Sears a few times because they’re close by my house and they’re open on sunday mornings to fix flat tires(since those flats seem to happen at odd times).

In hot climates, they do indeed make and sell “hot climate batteries”. But the only real difference is the specific gravity of the sulfuric acid electrolyte. In hot climates, a lower specific gravity can be used without harming the performance of the battery in above freezing temperatures. By lowering the acid content a little, the life of the battery is extended…A 3 or 4 year old hot climate battery might not be the best choice for Detroit winters…As a matter of fact, ANYTHING Texan is not likely to fare very well in Detroit…

Don’t get fooled by trying to figure out the relationship between physical dimensions and the output ratings of batterys. You can have a smaller battery physicaly but have more output electricaly.

back to the top! on the house offer, perhaps i’ll run with that. i’m always asking questions first, tho. always look at the horse’s teeth, etc, so-o-o-o,
how big is it, where is it, what’s yer price!!?
i’m that kind of gambler . . .

you say:
“As a matter of fact, ANYTHING Texan is not likely to fare very well in Detroit . . .”

BOY, i heard that! i’m living proof of it, too. All seriousness aside tho,

my question searches (in the dark, it would seem) for some technically knowledgeable response that will in a definite way answer the question whether there is anything the buyer of a new batt needs to know, to have the best fit for his vehicle, other than the CCA spec (which is what they give you wherever you go to buy the item for any make and model. I do not speak about different price ranges that correlate with longer spec’d months of life for batteries. I’ve discover’d thru using very high quality batts for many years that one can reckon they will last NEARLY TO THE MONTH OF their advertised and spec’d expected life. I generally speak of DieHards in this empirical finding. One may buy a more or a less expensive DieHard, or other battery, spec’d for the vehicle in question, but i’ve understood the CCA was the one and only critical spec to consider. Never heard a word on the topic of how climate conditions of cold or heat somehow render some batts less durable or efficient in the climate that is quite different from the ambient conditions around their retail sales points.
that’s my interest. I just spent a hunnurd dollars for a batt in the North, and this dude is telling me it might not werk as well if i mean to ‘abuse it’ (my words) by heading South.
i don’t believe this mumbo-jumbo. i think it’s a rock-n-roll myth.
but there are FACTS that bear directly on my impoverished acumen on this topic of batteries.
thanks for your fine and technically informed info on the H2SO4-acid concentration details.
it still leaves unanswered the crude question i have, “is the 585CCA batt i buy new in Detroit any different from the 585CCA batt i would buy in Houston?” i say NO. but i do not know FACTS that prove the case.

here’s a commonsense thought–why would legitimate batt mfgrs make a batt that had the PECULIARITY of good performance in one area of the country, but inferior performance in an area of different climate conditions? that’s not how they engineer batts, is it?

not to mention, if batt mfgrs indeed DO follow such a weird production system, why hasn’t someone in this discussion already pointed me to such FACTS–you’d think they’d be readily available . . .
if there were such important criteria we need to know, in purchasing auto batteries, one would expect such factors to be very conspicuously stated by the Mfgrs.

right. no problem in that department i think.
what i actually ‘believe’ is that all batts will work anywhere, but there is a special condition that sets 'em apart. that is: in the cold start-up mode, just when you crank the car or whatever, if it’s very cold, the batt has to be able to deliver the amps to get the prime mover ‘fired up’.
thereafter, heck . . . the radiating heat of an engine block would seem to me to sorta countervail any practical worries about whether the climate, hot or cold, would be causing batt performance problems–
the heat coming off a warmed engine is hotter than an Texas ambient temperatures i’ve been in. How do i know that? I open the vehicle hood, in the summer, i remember the thought-balloon that accompanies this picture–it says, “wow! it’s hot in there”. simple.
yet LO! my batteries, without exception, have lasted for the mfgr spec’d number of months. now, that’s a texas story; maybe it’s all different up in the cold cold north. maybe up there if you somehow got a battery in your steed, purchased in the south, come the first prolonged norther freeze, you can expect that sucker will . . . ok, pun here: that sucker will just ‘go south’ har!

While it’s true that CCA doesn’t care where the car is, the batteries ability to retain it’s CCA is just as important. The battery actually “ages” faster in warm weather when the electrlyte evaporates and the plates corrode more readily. Getting a battery with sufficient and not maximum CCA and the ability to retain electrolyte and resist corrosion during the summer is MORE important.

So, just looking for max CCA is a fools request for best battery performance, and though I would take the salesman’s explanation with a grain of salt (as I do all salemen) there would be differences in engineering between max CCA and longevity in warm weather which is just as important for dependable winter starting.

Test your battery every fall to be sure. If it’s fine after a hard summer, it’s good for the winter, again provided there is sufficient CCA for your car. You don’t need over kill in that department. There are other, as important considerations.

when you say, “Test your battery every fall to be sure. If it’s fine after a hard summer, it’s good for . . .”

what “test” exactly, do you mean?

every time i start the vehicle is a “test” of the battery.
you mean, open the cells, use a hydrometer, put a heavy load tester of it?

seems like a lagoon of ambiguities, to speak of “. . . a battery with sufficient and not maximum CCA and . . .”

perhaps i shd be more precise in my want of facts:
I have always meant “optimal” where i might have said “max” CCAs

the issue here is 100% pragmatic:a search for what doesn’t contradict the facts, and is practical.

using modern-day batteries MY experience has been that one never has to open the caps to the cells; they never need replenishment, and as i’ve remarked, my DieHards generally have lasted the full length the mfgr asserts in specs–without jiggering the component in ANY way, except that, rarely, i find cleaning the batt terminals is required–it solves the performance problem (that can be mis-diagnosed as a “bad” battery ) whose symptoms are that the car won’t start, and the headlights come on dim.

i stress DieHard’s quantification of longevity–from the time of installation till the demise of numerous batteries i’ve used, i can generalize with this empirical statement:
“regarding battery technology, one may trust that the actual lifespan will fall within a month or so of the mfgr’s spec’d months of life.”

again, my experience for the most part has been in the south climes, and my driving habits are very conventional–12K miles a year would be high for me.

Once upon a time, batteries were rated in Amp/Hours… Car batteries typically had a capacity of between 45 and 100 A/H… This is simply a measurement of how much electricity a given battery can store. Deep cycle and commercial batteries are STILL rated this way…Cold Cranking Amps was invented to provide a larger, more impressive number and it allows battery manufacturers to design a battery that can provide a huge number of amperes for a few seconds even though their amp/hour rating is rather low…These batteries are optimized for STARTING engines, not providing long term power to a moderate load…

About all the consumer can do is take a bathroom scale along when buying a battery and buy the heaviest one you can find for the money. Lead is, after all, what you are paying for… I would be VERY skeptical of a battery that CLAIMED a high CCA number but was 7 or 8 pounds lighter than it’s equally rated competitors…

Look at jumper pack batterys,they claim high CCA’s but the batterys are very light. This supports the claim that CCA rating method leans more towards very short time periods for output.

i owe you one. thanks.

ok, can’t resist.
what else is the batt really for, than kicking the mule and getting it going?
unless you have a bunch of low-rider accessories that are really drawing the amps, yer worst look-out will prove the headlights, running in the night. right?
not much of a load for a batt to handle–its chief use being for the momentary kick to do the starting.
i don’t run any accessories to speak of, other than a 9V. power inverter to get 120 VAC sometimes, to charge up a laptop batt.
i presume when the vehicle elect system is working right, the batt is kinda free-wheeling, the alternator being the beefy guy putting out the amp power. least, that’s what the gypsie woman told me.

“Starting Batteries” tend to have a large number of very thin plates with a very fine grid-work. This exposes the maximum surface area to the electrolyte and allows the battery to discharge at a very high rate for a short period of time. However, this design and plate structure is somewhat fragile and the positive plates tend to deteriorate faster than designs that use thicker, more robust plates.

This discussion applies mainly to flooded-cell lead-acid batteries…There are other types with different characteristics…AGM, absorbed glass mat, for one…Gel Cell for another. Both still use lead acid chemistry…

what “test” exactly, do you mean?

every time i start the vehicle is a “test” of the battery.

Technically that’s true. You want to see though if it will put out the necessary voltage to start your car under less than ideal conditions. A local mechanic with a load tester to put the battery under load then test it’s output. A gross test at home would be to turn your headlights on for at least ten minutes, and try to start your car. If the battery is can’t hold sufficient charge, turn over will be sluggish or not at all. Be prepared to jump start it if it fails. Personally, I’d ask for a load test on or about the last fall oil change if you don’t change oil yourself or have a tester.

much obliged, thanks.

Think of it this way, a battery that wont even provide enough power to motivate the starter to turn your engine one revolution has enough power to burn your car down in the event of a short circuit.

What I am getting at is just being able to start the car once in ideal conditions does not qualify as a battery test.