What is CCA mean for car battery

If battery label says 550 CCA but when tested the CCA is 250, is this bad? does this mean the battery is bad? do I need to change ASAP?

sounds like cranking amps. And yes, if it is only half either you are testing it wrong, or it is only cranking half its rated amps which is not good.

thanks for quick response! why is it not good? I thought it has to do with battery be able to start in cold weather. I live in orlando, Fl. Still not good? would you recommend to still change battery?

Cold Cranking Amps.

It’s the capacity to produce current when cold. Assuming the battery was tested correctly it’s got less than half its capacity.

Why did you have it tested, and how old is it?

If a 550 cca rated battery tests only 250 cca it is drastically undercharged. It may be discharged because the lights were left on. It may be discharged because the alternator isn’t working. It may be discharged because it can no longer hold a charge. Which is the likely problem?

I had it tested after I took it to Honda (6 weeks ago) and they told me my battery was bad. I was skeptical so I did not change it. Since then, every now and then (not often) my car will take a bit longer to start. Once it took me 3-4 clicks and then it started. it hasn’t happen since so I want to make sure that it’s not the alternator. The battery says yr 06. How long are batteries suppose to last?

I have a battery that (knock on wood) has now lasted over 10 years and shows no sign of going bad, but that is exceptional in my experience. A battery can fail for several reasons, such as diluted fluid from too much outgassing and refilling, from filling with bad water (not distilled) and accumulation of crud in the bottom of cells etc. But usually a failure to fully charge the battery will cause it to put out low power. That can be caused by a faulty alternator or voltage regulator (usually now a days, built into the alternator). You need to have the charging system checked with the engine running to find out if the alternator is going bad. Otherwise you are looking at a new battery for what, 50 bucks or so? by the way, check the terminals and lugs for oxidation or corrosion.

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I definitely did not leave the lights on. Lights are bright, AC is fine, etc. Out of the 2 (alternator or being discharged) I’m leaning towards battery being discharged. How can I test for that? Can I fully charge it back to normal and if so, would the CCA number go back up? If it was the alternator, wouldn’t honda tell me it was that and not battery since that is more expensive and harder to fix then putting in brand new battery. If it is the alternator, can that affect CCA?

Most parts stores will test both the battery and the charging system for free. Both need to be tested.

The CCA rating and the level of charge have some relation, but they are not one and the same. You can have a fully charged battery but have it’s CCA test to be a very low value if the internal resistance of the battery is high. A half discharged battery can have a very good CCA reading. If the CCA test was done correctly, the charge level was checked first and the battery charged if it needed it.

Just left honda (used the internet there looking up car stuff and this site!) and across the street is autozone. The guy checked it. His meter (or whatever they use) does not give CCA reading. The voltage is good but test says bad battery. I asked him if it was alternator and he said does not seem so. I guess it must be the low CCA reading.

You thought right. CCA is “cold cranking amps,” or how many amps the battery can put out when its cold - specifically 0 degrees F. That’s important because if it gets colder than that its not going to put out the rated CCA even if it’s brand new and in perfect condition. So in other words, if it happens to be about -35 where you are right now, your battery is putting out a normal amperage for its rating.

I doubt that’s the case here unless you live in Siberia, so your battery is probably bad.

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here is the thing, when an alternator fails, it is often the result of bad diodes. the alternator will continue to give out power, just not enough to charge the battery. The voltage of the battery is not a good indication of its quality, since if there is any charge on it at all, it will be 12 volts, unless one or more of the cells are shorted internally. It has six cells, and each cell puts out one volt. But the battery can be bad if the current capacity is low even though the voltage is good. If you buy a new battery, be sure to get a warranty. Or have them put a slow charge on the battery, and re-test it after 24 hours. If it then tests good, replace the alternator.

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Several posters here could likely make a very accurate diagnosis of your problem in a matter of minutes without any equipment. Someone near you could likely be as proficient. But you have to work with what you have available and the Auto Zone equipment can be very accurate if properly operated. Don’t let the numbers confuse you. It sounds like the battery is the problem and the red top Auto Zone battery is a best buy and depending on your car they often install their batteries for free. And no, I don’t own Auto Zone stock.

I have a Chevy Malibu with a 218 CCA and when I put in CCA in GoogleSearch, I got this conversation. I learned a lot of things here and I subscribed to CarTalk. I have a 2003 and I need to take care of it since I don’t want car payments any time soon. Thank you everyone for the posts. It is appreciated.

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