No stop-start kill switch in Cruze

The Mercury News Weekend - - DRIVE - By Brad Bergholdt

We are writ­ing to you with a sug­ges­tion and a good ques­tion about it. Sug­ges­tion: Like many new ve­hi­cles, our Chevy Cruze has the stop/ start fea­ture. We un­der­stand its pur­pose; but it is most an­noy­ing in many ways. We found an easy work­around that negates this an­noy­ing fea­ture; and it may be worth shar­ing the idea with oth­ers. At startup, we put the shift lever in L gear and then pad­dle shift to L6. The Cruze goes through all nor­mal gears when driv­ing; but the engine does not shut down at stops. We are an­noyed no longer. And, there is no doubt that the bat­tery and starter mo­tor will live a longer life us­ing this L6 op­tion. My ques­tion: Does driv­ing in L6 around town and/or on the high­way hurt the trans­mis­sion in any way? — Brent, Barb and Micah E.

Ugh! No stop- start dis­able switch? Most cars and light trucks em­ploy­ing stop- start tech­nol­ogy have them, and there’s a lot of folks who are grate­ful for the but­ton, even though it must be pressed each time the ve­hi­cle is driven. Stop­ping the engine while the ve­hi­cle is at rest and quickly restart­ing it as one’s foot comes off the brake pedal got its start with hy­brid ve­hi­cles and Euro­pean gas and diesel ve­hi­cles where their emis­sions- mileage cer­ti­fi­ca­tion drive cy­cle has about twice as much idle time as we do in the States. Stop- start is a fairly in­ex­pen­sive means of achiev­ing per­haps a 5 to 10 per­cent fuel- econ­omy gain and re­duc­ing emis­sions on a wide scale. While hy­brids do much bet­ter on fuel econ­omy and emis­sions, they’re only a small frac­tion of the ve­hi­cle fleet, and stop- start is now found on most new ve­hi­cles sold.

A typ­i­cal gas engine ve­hi­cle will wait till the engine and cat­alytic con­verter are at op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture and the bat­tery is well charged be­fore em­ploy­ing the fea­ture. There are ad­di­tional hur­dles to over­come. An elec­tric pump main­tains au­to­matic trans­mis­sion fluid pres­sure, and air con­di­tion­ing and heat­ing, to some de­gree, will re­quire a restart within a cou­ple of min­utes to func­tion well.

Done well, typ­i­cally us­ing a hy­brid’s mo­tor- gen­er­a­tor, op­er­a­tion is seam­less and quiet, and the huge hy­brid bat­tery and elec­tric A/ C com­pres­sor al­lows long engine- off pe­ri­ods. Oth­ers use a beefed- up starter and heavy- duty AGM bat­tery, and some­times things can get a lit­tle jerky. Your Cruze gets higher marks than many for smooth starts, but I can ap­pre­ci­ate the de­sire to can­cel op­er­a­tion, at least dur­ing cer­tain driv­ing sit­u­a­tions.

Hack­ing the sys­tem us­ing the shifter as you have will cause no is­sues, as, with the ex­cep­tion of sec­ond gear, man­ual shift­ing ba­si­cally sets the up­per- gear limit in op­er­a­tion. Se­lect­ing the top gear will sim­ply al­low nor­mal au­to­matic shift­ing func­tions. This would be a great time to ask folks for their in­put on stop- start fa­vorites and dogs! I’ll com­pile and for­ward the re­sults.

Brad Bergholdt is an au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy in­struc­tor at Ev­er­green Val­ley Col­lege in San Jose, Calif. Read­ers may send him email at brad­bergholdt@ gmail. com; he can­not make per­sonal replies.

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