What Does CCA On A Battery Mean?

You’re probably here because you’ve seen that batteries are advertised and rated using a CCA number, right? Or perhaps you saw a CCA number on a car battery and wondered what it is.

In other words, you want to know what does CCA on a battery mean?

That’s what we’ll answer for you!

Not only that, we’ll also look at to what extent you should use the CCA number to make a battery buying decision, and how many CCA you need.

Without further ado, let’s get cracking.

What does CCA mean on a battery

Introducing ‘What Does CCA On A Battery Mean?’

So we’ll look at what CCA stands for, what it means, and why this measure is used.

Then, we’ll move onto what most people need to know: that is, what does this number actually mean about the battery and how do I know how much CCA I need for my car.

CCA means Cold Cranking Amps

Most simply, CCA stands for Cold Cranking Amps.

It’s a measure of your battery’s ability to start your vehicle.

Why “Cold”? Because lower temperatures make it more difficult for the battery to crank / start the vehicle, so it makes the measure a better one. There’s no point in having a battery that’s great in warm temperatures but useless in cold temperatures.

CCA, then, is how many Amps the car battery can provide for 30 seconds, before the battery voltage drops to unusable levels.

Most specifically, it’s the number of Amps the battery can deliver for 30 seconds before dropping to below 7.2 Volts, at -18°C (0°F).

How important is CCA to you?

It depends where you live.

Specifically, if your climate ever gets to freezing.

In the UK, our temperatures do drop to 0 and well below that sometimes. So we do need to know how much starting power our batteries have in freezing weather. The CCA rating gives us that information.

No-one wants a battery that’ll start fine in summer but gives you problems in winter.

If you’re in Australia or the warmer states in the USA, CCA is not the most relevant measure for you. You’re better off with the CA (Cranking Amps), or MCA (Marine Cranking Amps) number, which is taken at 0°C instead.

Why do cold temperatures make it more difficult to start a car?

It’s actually a dual effect.

The engine fluids become more viscous (thicker) and this makes the engine harder to start.

At the same time, the car battery has significantly less power when it’s cold. Like the engine fluids, the battery’s electrolyte (a mixture of sulphuric acid and distilled water) becomes more viscous. This increases the battery’s resistance and so it can deliver less amperage. The battery’s voltage is also lowered (here’s a 12V car battery voltage chart) so it can store less energy. Therefore, in cold temperatures a battery has less power.

So, as you can see, just at the time when the engine needs more power than normal to start, the battery has less power than it normally has.

Check out the table below, to see the major effect that temperature has on battery power and engine power requirements.

Battery CCA power needed in cold temperatures

That’s why starting in the cold is so much harder. And that’s why you need to know the Cold Cranking Amps of the battery.

Different measures of CCA

We’ve been talking about CCA in its most widely used sense. If a battery says, for example, 420CCA then it means the battery can deliver 420 Amps for 30 seconds before it drops below 7.2 Volts, at -18°C. That’s according to the test we mentioned before.

That test comes from the American standards, called SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). Specifically, the J537 Jun 1994 American Standard.

It’s been widely adopted around the world.

However there are alternatives:


These are European CSN EN standards, EN stands for European Norm.

Specifically, it’s EN50342.1A1 Nov 2011 Item 5.3.

You may see a battery in the UK and Europe listing an EN value, instead of CCA. For example, the battery may say 320 EN.

This is still a measure of Cold Cranking Amps, but it uses a slightly different test method.

Like the CCA (SAE) test, it’s performed at -18°C.

The EN test is the number of Amps the battery can deliver while voltage is still above 7.5V after 10 seconds; AND after 10 seconds rest can deliver 0.6 times that Amperage for a further 73 seconds.

This was introduced by the European Standards Organisation as a more stringent test.


These are German Industrial Standards. You’ll be surprised to hear they’re a little more exacting.

It’s also performed at -18°C. The difference is that the battery must be 9 Volts after the 30 seconds. (And it further stipulates the voltage must still be above 6 Volts after 150 seconds.)

How many CCA should my battery be?

A good rule of thumb is to get the same CCA as the battery you’re replacing, or a little more.

You’d typically want around 350-450CCA for smaller cars (like some Ford Fiesta models), 500-600CCA for medium sized cars, and 700CCA plus for large vehicles.

Bear in mind that is a rough guide, and apart from factors like temperatures, it can vary a lot between different makes and models of vehicles.

For example, let’s say you needed a car battery for your Ford Focus. Take a moment and Google the range of Ford Focus models over the years. There are a variety of engine sizes which require different sizes of battery with different CCA.

That’s because the power required to start a vehicle also depends on the quality of the internal components and their condition as well.

A good way to get the right battery is to check out our guide to the best car battery brands in the UK. We recommend a few brands that are the best for component quality, power and battery lifespan.

You can also go to https://www.eurocarparts.com/car-battery and enter your vehicle licence plate or vehicle type, and then see exactly which batteries will fit your vehicle.

You should also be aware that CCA of specific battery being higher than doesn’t necessarily make it more powerful; you must also consider the quality of the materials. Sorry to say it: more expensive batteries use better quality components. For example, see our Yuasa Silver 5000 car battery review UK, for an example of some high CCA, and high quality batteries.

Apart from CCA, how to compare batteries?

CCA isn’t the only measure car battery makers list on their batteries.

There’s also the Ah number of a battery. We’ve gone in-depth on what Ah means on a car battery.

Summing Up ‘What Does CCA Mean On A Battery?’

CCA, then, is Cold Cranking Amps.

We talked about how important it is to know – because your battery needs to be able to start your car in cold temperatures.

And we analysed why it’s more difficult for batteries to start vehicles in freezing weather. Cold Cranking Amps gives you a way to determine if the starting power of the battery will be enough.

We looked at different measures of CCA and how they compare.

And we discussed how many CCA you might need for your car battery.

All in all, hopefully you now know what does CCA mean on a battery!