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Stop-start Systems in cars are irritating

By Rigval on 08 Feb 2013

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I have something against the Start-stop or Stop-start System in cars these days. As most of us are aware, this system automatically shuts down and restarts a vehicle's engine when it idles longer than a specific period of time. This allows the car to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

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According to car manufacturers this sort of system is advantageous for vehicles that spend significant amounts of time waiting at traffic lights or frequently come to a stop in traffic jams. While this is a supposedly a good thing for the environment and to one's fuel bill I actually despise it.

I am quite familiar in cars with this function and I do not hate it because it may eat up battery life or the starter motor of the car. I hate it for something else.

I recently test drove a Honda Insight, a Honda CRZ and a BlueEfficiency Mercedes Benz C-class. I find them equally irritating when you drive with the system operating in rush hour traffic. Less irritating in the Mercedes but then again, the Mercedes is a whole lot more refined than the other cars mentioned.

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In traffic jams that are long, tiresome and located in tropical countries like where we live we love air-conditioning in our cars. This is because the weather is hot and extremely humid most of the time and I personally use air-conditioning 99% of the time.

The only time I do not run air-conditioning is when I am in Fraser's Hill. I keep the air-conditioning on even if I am in Genting or Cameron Highlands as it isn't that cold these days. And if any of you have driven cars with Stop-start systems, you'd notice that most of the time the system shuts down the air-conditioning compressor and only the blowers are running. Not very nice in our climate. Even for a few seconds. I am sorry, but I am one of those truly spoiled people who enjoy the comforts of an air-condition compressor running when it needs to and not when the car feels that it needs to save some fuel.

I also do not like the fact that when a car restarts and then stops after a short period of time. It is actually quite irritating. When a car restarts itself things vibrate a whole lot more than when it is idling with its engine running.

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In a Honda Insight, which probably has some normal rubber mounted engine mounts it is felt quite a bit. In a Mercedes C-class, which most probably has fluid filled engine mounts it is less irritating but still takes away some refinement. Imagine if the engine mounts are worn out is a car which is more than a few years old. It would be extremely irritating. This is why every time I end up in a BlueEfficiency Mercedes I end up switching off the Stop-start system in the car everytime I start driving it.

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I suppose the only reason most car manufacturers have such a feature in their car is that the car in question may emit slightly less carbon emissions on paper. This is so that they can sell the car in a lower tax bracket in countries that base their road taxes on carbon emissions. Call it a necessity and not something truly environmentally friendly.

Of course, like the electrically assisted power steering which has basically taken over from hydraulic systems in order to gain that extra 3% fuel savings, Stop-start Systems are here to stay. But that doesn't mean that I like it. I don't.

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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