Bureaucracy Run Amok: Engine Start Stop

My car has the engine start stop requirement. I didn’t use the word “feature” because it is not a feature, but rather an annoyance. What is the start-stop thing you ask? Once you stop at an intersection your car’s engine suddenly shuts off. If your car is new you probably have the start-stop annoyance. If you have an older model, listen next time you are at an intersection and you will note different cars suddenly come alive as the light turns green. Those of you who have driven cars with carburetors and experienced the dreaded vapor lock know exactly how the start-stop thingy makes you cringe.

The idea behind the start-stop thingy is that you reduce fuel consumption and emissions while your car idles at a light. How much fuel? Are emissions reduced? That’s up to whatever study you want to believe. There are studies for each argument you can make on this thingy.

Look online and you will see many posts about ways to disable the start-stop thingy – I refuse to label it as a feature. You’ll also find posts about how much everyone hates it. The last thing car manufacturers want to do is to annoy drivers, so as much as some will argue that the start-stop thingy is a manufacturing thing they would be wrong.

The start-stop thingy is plain wrong.

The start-stop thingy was put into cars because bureaucracy is running amok. It started with the idea that households should recycle, and municipalities figured out a way to tax you even more by giving you an extra trash can and telling you, you are saving the environment. Municipal trash recycling is a failure. It has become a tax scheme to bolster tax revenues for cities.

For cars, the Euro 5 scheme forced automobile manufacturers to reduce emissions in Europe. European automobile makers looked for ways to meet new stringent environmental regulations by making engines more efficient and relying more and more on turbos to offer the same power and reduce the size of the engines at the same time.

Once the combustion engines reached a point of efficiency that could not be tinkered even more, the car makers looked for other ways to make it look like they were diligently reducing their carbon footprints. So, the start-stop thingy was born.

The car dealers make splashy announcements about how the “feature” is an extra pricey item for free or how it is a technological advancement only certain models have. But the reality is that the start-stop thingy is nothing more than a bureaucratic requirement, even though no one admits it.

What the car dealers and the government does not tell the consumer is that the car-stop feature requires a more expensive battery because of the constant on-off cycling. Batteries are notoriously polluting.

Worse is that the wear and tear on the starter is now something that car owners are going to have to start to factor into their operating expense for their brand-new car. Besides the starter, the constant start-stop of the engine will likely introduce wear-and-tear on the crankshaft and other oil lubricated components that rely on oil to reduce wear on that component. This was not a problem before because most drivers only started their vehicles a few times a day. Now, it is every stop light.

The fact that there is a button that allows drivers to bypass the start-stop thingy proves that it annoys drivers. The fact that the feature must be activated, in most cars, each time the automobile is started again proves it is a government mandated requirement.

Like all bureaucratic stupidity, the start-stop thingy forces me to push an extra button each time I get into my car. In other words, instead of solving a problem it created a new one.

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