Stop-start mo­tor­ing

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Help! -

My last car, a Volk­swa­gen Golf, had an elec­tronic hand­brake and stop-start tech­nol­ogy. Be­ing old-school, I hated this, as I could imag­ine the starter and starter ring en­gag­ing so fre­quently that sooner or later some­thing would break. Am I miss­ing some­thing? Have man­u­fac­tur­ers come up with a way to avoid this hap­pen­ing? I asked the VW and SEAT ser­vice de­part­ments and they just shrugged and said the man­u­fac­tur­ers knew what they were do­ing! Mike Nurse

One would hope that ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers knew what they were do­ing, but one can’t help but won­der if stop-start sys­tems were sim­ply in­tro­duced to lower emis­sions to meet tar­gets!

There are a few vari­a­tions of starter mo­tor used in stop-start sys­tems. These vary from the stan­dard type which has been strength­ened to cope to per­ma­nently-en­gaged sys­tems which also act as an al­ter­na­tor. The bat­tery also needs to be im­proved to han­dle stop-start driv­ing and has to pre­vent the sys­tem op­er­at­ing if the bat­tery volt­age drops too low. Most of these sys­tems can be – and of­ten are – dis­abled.

I have yet to see any ex­ten­sive wear on the ring gear from such sys­tems and so far have not come across any starter mo­tor fail­ures. But as ve­hi­cles age, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how they fare. As far as hand­brake op­er­a­tion goes, there is no sub­sti­tute for a proper hand-op­er­ated park­ing brake which you can re­lease me­chan­i­cally when you wish. Driv­ing a man­ual ve­hi­cle with an elec­tri­cally-op­er­ated hand­brake does take quite a bit of prac­tice.

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