Recently, in our holographic meeting room high atop the Jalopnik Spire, as I sat discussing important Jalopnik issues with the other shimmering, flickering holograms around me, I came to two startling realizations: a good number of my beloved co-workers harbor an intense dislike for start-stop technology, and, secondly, I think I want them to stop whining about it. I need to investigate these concepts.
In case you’re unfamiliar with what start-stop technology is, it’s essentially a system that shuts off your car’s engine when idling. The basic concept behind it is quite sound: when you’re running your engine and not moving, you’re getting zero miles per gallon and pumping out pollutants for no good reason at all. So why run the engine at all?
Sure, there’s some reasons why, and nearly all modern stop-start systems address this: if you have a lot of accessories on or the a/c or something like that that needs more power than the battery alone can provide, the engine stays on. Also, start-stop systems have beefier starters and batteries—sometimes a second battery— to help deal with the added load and wear and tear caused by so many stops and starts.
These systems are designed to restart the car’s engine almost immediately, and, from my experience, they pretty much always do. Maybe you’ll feel a slight shudder as the engine cranks back to life, but I’ve yet to be in a car where its even as remotely awful as some of my co-workers, who I won’t name, like to tell me it is.
Keep in mind, my acceptance of a car going quiet at a light was not easy for me at first, because my entire history with cars involves cars that, when they go quiet in traffic, means I’ve screwed up adjusting an idle screw or some very important wire fell/burned off, or the engine is now likely to be spraying fuel all over the road. A car not idling at a stoplight generally means big trouble, in my experience.
But, it’s not that hard to adapt; in fact, I’ve grown to sort of enjoy the quiet serenity of a dead car at a light, ready to resurrect itself nearly instantaneously, like Lazarus late for a movie.
Still, people like to bitch about start-stop, or they like to tell me how they disable it immediately in every car they drive that has it, in the same sort of tone people use when they remind you they own no television.
Sure, if you’re in constant stop-and-go traffic for hours, it can get annoying I bet, so turn it off. If you’re racing for pinks at a stoplight, turn it off. But for normal driving? I just don’t see what the big deal is. It seems like a reasonable compromise that helps make the loud, powerful fuel-chugging engines we love a bit more clean and efficient. That’s a good thing?
Maybe as these cars and their systems age it’ll become more of an issue, but these aren’t carbureted cars with start-stop we have here. They should be able to start pretty quickly, with their beefy starters and huge batteries.
So what am I missing? Is this terrible, and I’m just deluded, or do people just like to complain about this?