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The Scoop on Start-Stop

by Soriana Stern October 24, 2012

Many cars today feature the option of start-stop engines throughout their models. It’s a more expensive feature up-front, but did you know how much they save you money?

What is Start-Stop?

Vehicles with start-stop engines are also referred to as mild hybrids. Here’s why:

Start-stop engines turn off when the car is idling. So, when you’re sitting at a stop light, stuck in traffic, or waiting for your kid’s Happy Meal, the engine turns off, and simply turns back on once you press the accelerator.

Typical engines stay on during those brief times. If you are driving in urban areas, you are hitting a lot of traffic lights, and stopping plenty due to heavy traffic congestion.

For manuals, start-stop only works when idling if the driver switches to neutral, and lifts off the clutch. For automatic vehicles, though, start-stop systems work when the vehicle is at a stand still for a couple of seconds, without the driver needing to switch gears from drive to neutral.

Why Start-Stop?

Starting and stopping the engine does not take up extra fuel or power. As a matter of fact, the beauty of start-stop engines, especially in urban driving settings, is that drivers can save at least 5-10% of fuel.

In typical engines, other accessories in cars, like air-conditioning, turn off once the engine is off. With vehicles that have start-stop engines, these accessories still function. Vehicles that utilize the start-stop engine have to use differently designed components.

For example, many vehicles with start-stop engines require stronger batteries. Stronger batteries are needed because a vehicle that turns on and off needs a battery that will be able to support many engine starts. The battery also needs to support the other car accessories that utilize separate electric motors from the engine so that these accessories, like the air-conditioning, are able to remain on while the engine is off.

Since start-stop vehicles are especially beneficial for urban driving, vehicles with start-stop technology are also good for these environments. Because start-stop engines manage when to fuel needs to be consumed, less carbon dioxide is let into the air, reducing air pollutants throughout cities.