As motorists become increasingly mindful of tips, tricks, purchases and methods to save fuel, car manufacturers are also having to think of innovative ways to incorporate consumer demands into their latest offerings. One such innovation – stop-start technology – is fast becoming a mechanical standard.
Sound like a gimmick? Lead technician at Auction.co.za, Lloyd Esau gives you 10 tips to help you make up your mind about buying a car with this technology:
Besides being trendy, its purpose is to save fuel
Automatically shutting down a car engine as it comes to a halt, and then automatically starting the vehicle as you push on the accelerator, reduces the amount of time the engine spends idling, which in turn reduces fuel consumption. A study by the Society of Automotive Engineers found that using start-stop can improve a car’s fuel economy by over eight percent in heavy traffic.
It’s older than you think
During the 1970s the global west went through a wave of fuel shortages due to an international oil crisis, making big car manufacturers begin to start thinking of the possibility of cars that depended less on larger amounts of fuel. Toyota was the first motoring manufacturer to use the automatic on/off switch with the creation of the Toyota Crown in 1974. Twenty years later, VW came out with the Golf Ecomatic in 1994, followed by Audi who came out with the Audi A2 3l in 1999.
The technology fits most brands
Although vehicles with stop-start technology are most popular in Europe, where there are stricter regulations on the types of cars consumers should be driving with regard to fuel consumption, South Africa is in no way lagging behind with a range of different car manufacturers offering stop-start technology cars.
Some of the most popular brands locally are Renault, Ford, Volvo, Land Rover, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar.
Is it bad for my engine?
Not at all. When stop-start technology first surfaced, many drivers experienced earlier than anticipated wear-and-tear on their vehicle engines, forcing technicians and engineers to invent better technology and parts to support the effect that constant switching on and off of a vehicle had on older engines. Now engines are far more robust and on par with current stop start technology.
If much of your driving is moving a mere metre or two at a time in heavy traffic to and from work, you’ve probably noticed the amount of fuel you’re using keeping your vehicle running and constantly changing gears. And it all adds up!
In addition to the perk of stop-start technology saving monumental amounts of fuel, you also get to sit back and enjoy a more relaxing drive.
Computers are in cars too
While the battery powers most of the car’s electronics in stop-start vehicles, it often won’t have enough energy to power the engine as well as the electronics bringing in the addition of a vehicle computer to oversee the stop-start technology.
If the vehicle computer detects that the battery is not able to charge up the engine, the vehicle PC will keep the engine running. How cool is that?
With the number of cars on our roads increasing each year, so too are the levels of pollution each emits. Although SA’s carbon emission legislation is not yet being enforced on motorists, it’s in our best interest to be sure that our purchasing decisions are as eco-conscious as possible.
Less time spent idling during each commute equals less exhaust fumes and carbon emissions, which in turn makes for eco-friendly driving
It calls for an attentive driver
Surprisingly, in some cases with stop-start technology, the engine won’t actually turn off when the car comes to a stop, creating the need for a more attentive driver to ensure fuel saving is kept to a maximum.
Having the air conditioning running with a high outside temperature, an engine not being fully warmed up and a diesel car’s particulate filter being in its cleaning cycle are just some extras to be aware of.
Turn it on and off
Although it will still be called a stop-start vehicle, there are a variety of ways to turn off the stop/start function. When driving out of the city you can disable the function without harming your car. You can turn it back on with a mere click of a button too.
They’re available everywhere
Stop-start technology rolled out in South Africa a few years ago, so the options are endless. Whether you opt to go secondhand online through Auction.co.za, or brand new through a dealership, at least test drive a stop-start car and get a feel for what promises to be a conscious and more responsible driving experience.