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Are Lithium Batteries Good for Starting?

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 12/19/2022

X2Power Lithium battery hooked up

Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries have been becoming increasingly popular over the past few years. We recommend our X2Power lithium batteries for many deep cycle applications from RVs to boats but can these batteries be used as a replacement for your starting battery?

Will LiFePO4 Work as a Cranking Battery?

The answer to this question largely depends on the application. If you are looking to use a lithium battery as a cranking battery in your car, truck, RV or boat then the answer is a resounding no. If you are looking for a battery for your motorcycle, jet ski or ATV, then yes, an X2Power LiFePO4 battery is a suitable choice for a starting battery.

Why Don't Cars and Trucks Use Lithium?

Electric vehicles aside, which use a specially designed type of lithium-ion battery for EVs, LiFePO4 batteries are not recommended for use in extreme cold conditions. While you can use lithium iron phosphate batteries in sub-freezing temperatures, you cannot and should not charge LiFePO4 batteries in below-freezing temperatures. Charging them in sub-freezing temperatures can cause lithium plating, a process that will cause a loss of battery capacity and also cause short circuits, causing permanent damage to the battery.

Why Aren't Lithium Batteries Good for Starting?

The issue isn't necessarily with the power output of the batteries. Lithium batteries provide ample power for most starting situations. The problem lies in how the battery is used in starting situations, how the battery is charged and the working environment.


When you hop in the car and turn the key, the starting battery needs to release a very large amount of current to get the starter motor spinning to crank the engine. This extremely large amount of current, even if it only lasts for a second or two, will activate the battery management system (BMS) in the lithium iron phosphate battery, rendering the battery useless requiring a replacement battery to be installed.


Most vehicle charging systems are engineered for use with lead acid batteries, not lithium. If the battery shuts down if the BMS gets tripped, the excess power from the alternator could be too much for the vehicle's electronics to handle and could cause thousands of dollars in damage to computers, sensors and wiring.


As we learned in "How Do Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries Perform in Cold Weather?" lithium batteries are not well suited for use in extreme cold climates. The majority of people in the US live and work in areas that have the potential to drop below-freezing temperatures. In some areas, it may be a rare occurrence but others may be below freezing for weeks or months on end. One major drawback with lithium batteries is that they cannot be charged in temperatures below 32℉. As we learned earlier, charging them in sub-freezing temperatures can cause lithium plating that will cause a significant reduction of battery capacity and also cause short circuits, causing irreversible damage to the battery. Seeing as your car or truck charges the battery as it drives, this could be a serious problem for lithium batteries when driving in below-freezing temperatures.

What Are LiFePO4 Batteries Usually Used In?

X2Power lithium batteries are optimal for deep cycle applications that need constant, long-term power like in boats for running trolling motors and other accessories. Lithium batteries are also a great option for upgrading your motorcycle battery. To learn more about the uses of X2Power LiFePO4 batteries read our blog "Why You Should Use X2Power Lithium Batteries".

What's An Alternative to Lithium for Starting Batteries?

If you are looking to upgrade your car or truck battery and were excited about the prospect of lithium but are now not sure what to look for, our premium X2Power brand has 28 times more resistance to vibrations and will perform exceptionally in any climate, no matter how hot or cold it is. Drive in the city or have a short drive to the office every day? X2Power AGM car and truck batteries recharge quickly and are ideal for short trips and sitting for long periods of time.

Stop into your local Batteries Plus today to see our extensive selection of high-quality AGM car and truck batteries. AGM batteries, like our premium X2Power brand, deliver relentless power to get you where you need to be while having plenty of reserve power to power all of your electronics.

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