Don’t Resist: Stop-Start Here to Stay

2014_Chevrolet_Malibu

Do we need stop-start engine technology in this country?

Those of us who continue to drive vehicles powered by fossil fuels need every piece of technology we can get to reduce the amount of fuel we need to fill our tanks.

Stop-start technology works by automatically stopping the engine when a car comes to a complete stop, then starting it again when the brake pedal is released.

The technology has been a success in Europe, where gas prices are exorbitant. As many as 70 percent of cars sold there are equipped with stop-start, compared with just seven percent here. There’s  definitely been a lukewarm acceptance of stop-start in the States, but it’s time we readily embrace it because soon the vast majority of new cars sold here will have it.

Even if the buyer has no idea.

Somehow car buyers are taking home new vehicles equipped with stop-start, but not knowing about it until they notice the car stalling at stop lights.

A quote at The Detroit News said,

John Fisher, a 24-year-old from Plymouth, was confused and surprised the first time he experienced the stop-start feature on his 2014 Chevy Malibu.

“I thought something was wrong,” he said. “I thought maybe it stalled, but then the engine came back on.”

What’s going on here? Are dealers not mentioning the feature in case it turns people off? Are buyers not taking the cars on thorough test drives before buying?

Stop-start might go from the feature that no one knows about to quietly sneaking into every new car on the road. The same Detroit News article said,

“About 10 years from now, there won’t be a (new) vehicle that doesn’t have stop-start,” said Paul Seredynski, Ford’s manager of global powertrain technology communications.

There’s a potential problem, though. Autocar writes,

“A normal car without automatic stop-start can be expected to go through up to 50,000 stop-start events during its lifetime,” says Gerhard Arnold, who is responsible for bearing design at Federal Mogul.

“But with automatic stop-start being activated every time the car comes to a standstill, the figure rises dramatically, perhaps to as many as 500,000 stop start cycles over the engine’s life.”

That’s a big jump and one that poses major challenges to the durability and life of the engine’s bearings.

With requirements to increase fuel efficiency on cars, automakers are pretty much forced to take every fuel-saving measure they can. Whether we like it not, stop-start will be a part of our future.

Unless, of course, we do all of our shopping on the used market and limit ourselves to engines that only turn off when we decide.

Have you driven a car with start-stop technology? Would you want to buy a vehicle equipped with the feature?

-tgriffith

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Used Chevrolet Malibu

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