How Does the Start Stop Work?

Tips & Support
OPTIMA Batteries
Milwaukee, WI
Tags: start stop

Companies frequently bring together focus groups to get a sense of what the general public thinks and understands about a variety of topics. As an automotive car battery manufacturer, OPTIMA's focus groups naturally tend to focus on automotive-specific topics. As such, we recently brought in a group to ask them a number of questions and as always, the responses they presented gave us fantastic insight into the minds of at least some consumers.

One topic that came up was Start Stop technology that many car manufacturers are now adding to their new cars. The technology allows cars to turn the engine off when vehicles come to a stop or are idling, with the thought being that reducing the time the engine is running while the vehicle isn't moving would reduce fuel consumption and emissions. In essence, it makes cars function much like gas-powered golf carts, where the engine is only running when you press down on the accelerator.

Working in the industry often leads us to assume most folks understand the basics of this technology, but the recent focus group we had in suggested that wasn't necessarily the case. Many new cars have ignition buttons on them now, instead of an ignition system where a key is inserted and turned. On these push button systems, the words "Start Stop" are often printed very visibly. The presence of "Start Stop" in any form, as pictured above, was intended by the auto manufacturers to identify how the vehicles were started and stopped, since there was no longer any location to insert a key on those vehicles.

While some of those vehicles may also employ start/stop technology, that is not necessarily the case. So do some consumers believe their vehicles have Start/Stop technology, because the push button on their dashboard says "Start Stop" or do they believe the push button starting system itself is what Start Stop technology actually means? Both options are probably correct answers, even if neither happens to be true.

Many vehicles now come with Start Stop technology as either optional or standard equipment. One of the most well-known examples might be the Toyota Prius, but there are many others, including Jaguar, the Kia Rio, Honda Civic Hybrid, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Malibu and even the Ford F-150 pickup, just to name a few. Many of these vehicles come equipped from the factory with an AGM (absorbed glass mat) lead-acid battery, as opposed to the traditional flooded lead-acid battery found in most cars and trucks. This is where OPTIMA gets interested what people think or know about Start Stop technology, because we manufacture AGM batteries.

AGM batteries, including OPTIMA batteries, have long had a reputation for being able to perform better and last longer than their flooded lead-acid counterparts and this is especially true in high-demand applications. While someone might not associate their vehicle as demanding a lot from it's electrical system, if the car has Start Stop technology, it actually does call on the battery quite a bit. Start Stop vehicles use battery power to run accessories while the engine is turned off, but the car is in use. They also use battery power to start the car again, when it begins moving. In a 15-20 minute commute, this could happen a dozen times or more, versus the battery just being used to start an engine once in most cars (the alternator typically provides electricity once the engine is running).

Over the life of a battery and a vehicle, that can really add up to a lot of stress on a battery, which is why many (but not all) manufacturers opt to equip start stop vehicles with AGM batteries from the factory. While there is typically more cost involved up front in using an AGM battery, the added expense is often more than covered by a longer lifespan over a flooded battery, especially in high-demand applications, which we now know include vehicles with Start Stop technology. So if you have a start stop vehicle, like an Acura RLX, that uses start stop technology and you find yourself needing a replacement battery, make sure you opt for an AGM battery, like these.