Ford's "Auto Start-Stop": Hard on the engine?

As I was looking at the details of the 2014 Ford Fusion, I noticed the following feature:

“To help enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, Auto Start-Stop, available with the 1.5L EcoBoost engine, shuts off the engine when the vehicle stops and seamlessly restarts the engine when you take your foot off the brake”.

I was always told that starting your engine is the activity that causes it the most wear (excluding abuse and neglect, of course). Also, I assume that the cooling system is inactive during the time that the engine is off, so I would think that would cause extra heat to build up.

Am I thinking correctly, or am I missing something?

Starting a cold engine is what causes most of that added wear. There will be extra demands on the starter and battery, but those are beefed up. The radiator fan can still run, so heat is not a problem. This has become a pretty common feature in Europe. The biggest issue I’ve heard of is the added noise at every startup. The system can be turned off on BMW cars, not sure if you can on the Fusion.

with a turbo charge engine shutting it down shuts off the flow of oil to the turbo that scares me

They have had pressure reservoirs available for turbos for quite a while. They continue to feed the turbo pressurized oil after the engine cuts off while Iit spools down. I wonder if Ford included one for the eco-boost?

Time will tell. I don’t like this feature but it seems it’s here to stay.

+1 to missileman’s post.

Unfortunately, I think we’re at a point in the evolution of the automobile where longevity and robustness is being sacrificed to meet constantly-tightening federal Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) requirements. Having recently damaged another bearing on a monstrous pothole, and knowing that today’s ball bearings being used for the lower rolling resistance are more susceptible to damage than yesterday’s roller bearings, I get aggravated by this trend.

There’s also the turbo question. They’re being used more and more today to make smaller engines’ performance acceptable, but they run hot from the exhaust and spin at speeds upwards of 200,000 rpm. Modern ones are more durable than the old ones used to be, but for guys like me who keep their cars forever, the turbo is still a weak spot. IMHO it’s a compromise in longevity to satisfy the CAFE requirements.

But we’re stuck with it. And I feel confident in saying that more compromises will emerge in the coming years. I could write a long list of what’s coming. And that’s only the things I know about.

I’m sure Ford, like all manufacturers, tests their engines, turbos, etc. to at least twice the expected life of the vehicle, including testing the start/stop function and its impact on longevity.

However, I’m willing to bet that if you took two vehicles that are identical and disabled the start/stop on one of them, leaving it active on the other, that the vehicle not using start/stop will go more miles and have fewer failures if you ran them both until they were ready for the junkyard. (and the driver would probably be happier in the vehicle with the system disabled too)

This is purely speculative of course, as to have a meaningful test you’d need a much larger sample size than two vehicles.

I like CAFE standards, and would be among those saying they should be higher.

I would also not chalk up bearing failures (re: ball vs. roller) so simply to CAFE. A market that is more and more geared toward cheapest prices coupled with the global “shopping mall” for the cheapest subcontractors has an awful lot to do with shrinking durability and reliability of parts. And even on the question of the quest for better fuel economy, it has been a major concern of buyers for at least the last 10 years. And not because the feds told them to be concerned.

A telling sign is the repair shop.
NONE of those have been in the shop.
That’s a good sign, buy the brand and model that is not in the shops.

Though ecoboost is new to the market, they ( cars or trucks ) have not been in the shop for booster or auto stop issues.

Time will tell.

Thank you for the replies. I knew there were people who would know more about the subject than I do.

Personally, I would think the start-stop feature would be annoying from an aesthetic perspective. Also, I doubt a 1.5L engine is using much fuel while idling.

The auto start-stop tech doesn’t start a cold engine. It usually starts a warm engine.

A 1.5L engine with a turbo uses a lot of fuel while idling. You’re getting 0 MPG.

Worries about actual engine wear being significant in the life a car are probably a bit outdated. They were more relevant maybe 30-40 years ago and prior. But at this point between materials and engineering, engines just don’t physically wear the way they used to unless you neglect them. That’s especially relevant too since most restarts on these kinds of designs are not cold and dry-ish.

Obviously a car that’s not moving gets 0 MPG whether it’s running or not. But in summer and winter months you kind of want that A/C and heat working, especially when days are at the extremes possible for these seasons. I know there are secondary systems that sort of make up for it on these cars, but from a driver’s perspective, I’d prefer my engine to keep running unless the car I’m driving is meant to be a hybrid. Sorry if I’m not “green” enough for you.

... A 1.5L engine with a turbo uses a lot of fuel while idling. You're getting 0 MPG.

I’m not that familiar with turbocharged engines - does the turbo run even if you’re at idle?

Also, I was comparing the fuel usage to my 4.6L at idle.

My 06 Escape Hybrid uses the auto spot/start.
it is seemless.
you drive just as normal as always , no changes for you the driver.
You’ll never notice…or care…till you see the lesser quantity of gas you need to put in next week

I put gas in the ‘‘bus’’…08 Expedition weekly.
I put gas in the Escape…MONTHLY :wink:

The Camry hybrid I drive for work has stop/start tech, and it works seamlessly. If the air conditioning is running, it doesn’t shut itself off unless it has enough battery power to run the air. It’s pretty safe to assume a non-hybrid with stop/start tech would do the same thing, keeping the engine running when accessories need it.

The vehicle in question is a 2014 Ford Fusion with EcoBoost. I assume the EcoBoost package includes turbo.

Cig, Toyota’s design documents state that ball bearings are being used for lower rolling resistance. THAT is where I gleaned the information from.

Are you really suggesting that manufacturers did not seek out the lowest bidders back when they used roller bearings? Do you actually think that tapered ball bearing assemblies are less expensive than tapered roller bearings?

Better mileage has been a concern to buyers due to high gas prices and a struggling economy, period. Most who can afford it, however, choose cars without regard to mileage. There is a subculture that can afford it yet strives to provide an example for everyone to “embrace efficient cars”, but they’re really only a market niche. Stop at any mall and count the SUVs, the land yachts, and the hot rods and sports cars, and then count the hybrids. Then hang around and see who’s driving the hybrids. They’re people on a budget. 1% is probably people concerned about the environment.

Cig, there’s a concept known as “the law of unintended consequences”. I maintain that we’re seeing that in effect right now.

Or are you claiming that Auto-Start-Stop, turbochargers, and other such changes are do to something other than the CAFE mandates?

If you are willing to accept compromises in design to meet higher and higher fuel efficiencies, I’ll do battle for your right to drive cars built to serve your wants. But where we are right now is that the rest of us are being forced to accept compromises to meet higher and higher fuel efficiencies whether we want to or not. Apparently your crowd is not willing to tolerate the desires of my crowd.

I promised myself that I would not be goaded into another heated debate. So I won’t visit this site again. But I urge you to consider MY needs, just as I accept your choice to buy based on YOUR needs.

Auto-stop-start for the engine is not something I’d worry about myself when considering to purchase a new car. I suppose some extra wear and tear could occur to the starter motor, solenoid contacts, and even-less so to the flywheel or flex plate teeth. But I imagine Ford engineers have already thought of this and beefed those parts up to take a little extra use. And those are all bolt-on parts, not really part of the engine innards, so they can be easily replaced if they fail.

If you want to worry about something, Ford owners seem to be complaining mostly about the user interface to the electronics package, and about the Ford automatic-clutch. My advice is to take some test drives and make sure you can live with those as your first priority.

Start stop works well for hybrids because the big battery powers the a/c, the water pump (for heat), etc., unlike the start stop equipped regular cars.

I worried about that too, years ago. The Prius and Ford Escape hybrid’s engine turns off not only when the car is stopped, but also often when the gas pedal is released when driving at city speeds. So it restarts even more often than in a conventional car with auto start-stop.

In spite of that, Prius and Escape engines have turned out to be very long lived. There have been many documented cases of hybrid taxis running hundreds of thousands of miles with no problems. And reports of worn out engines are extremely rare. I probably should point out however, that they do have the benefit of a very powerful starter motor that spins the engine up to idle speed within a fraction of a second, before then firing up.

My conclusion is that it has already been proven that if the car is set up properly, then auto start-stop is no problem for reliability and engine longevity. Given Ford’s experience with hybrids, I would think they have also properly designed their conventional auto start-stop. Only time will prove that with absolute certainty, but even now I feel reasonably sure that there is no problem.