Auto Start-Stop Explained

Auto Start-Stop Explained

Last Updated October 22, 2020 | Sam Padgett

The auto stop-start feature is one of the more controversial elements of the newest Ford vehicles. While well-intentioned, this gas-saving measure has rubbed plenty of drivers the wrong way. The frequent starting and stopping of the engine, especially on larger vehicles like the F-150 and the Super Duty, becomes grating to drivers who live in urban areas. These concerns do make sense, but is it worth it to turn off this feature, or can it really save you some money?

The auto stop-start feature is rather self-explanatory; it’s a series of revamped components that allow your car to stop its engine when it would otherwise just sit idling. Besides a few exceptions, including using the interior climate control system, towing a large load, or turning the steering wheel beyond a certain threshold, this feature will automatically stop and start the engine and rely on the vehicle’s battery when not in use. This is intended to save gas, which seems rather logical since cars do burn a surprising amount of fuel when left idling.

How does Auto Start-Stop Work?

Starting Up A Car

The auto stop-start function relies on a series of beefed-up internal components that you would find in any other vehicle. The battery and the starter all have to be as powerful and as durable as possible in order to restart the engine of the vehicle every time it is brought to a stop. There are no additional parts besides some circuitry that is necessary for an auto stop-start vehicle.

Does Auto Start-Stop Save Gas?

While it is hard to measure the specific effect that auto stop-start systems have on MPG, it is clear that they do save fuel. Your car burns significantly more fuel idling than it needs to start the engine. According to a study conducted by the Society of American Engineers, it is beneficial to turn your car’s engine off if it is going to be idling for at least seven seconds. Within that range of time, enough fuel is saved to start the car once more, meaning that any time spent with the engine off over that seven-second mark will be fuel saved. Then, consider the amount of time you spend stopped at stoplights daily. There’s a single stoplight that I’ve probably spent a cumulative year of my life waiting to change, and if I had auto stop-start, I probably could have filled my gas tank up several times over with the saved fuel.

F-150 in Intersection

In all honesty, the concerns over some of the effects of auto stop-start are overblown. What is valid is that on larger vehicles, like the Ford F-150, for example, the sound of the engine stopping and starting can become tiresome, especially in city traffic.

How to Disable Ford’s Auto Start-Stop

There are a variety of ways to turn off the auto stop-start system on your vehicle. For one, almost every car or truck with this system gives you the option to disable the auto start-stop function temporarily by pressing a button. If you don’t want to ever drive with the auto stop-start function enabled, you will have to disable it each time you start the car.

Depending on which type of car you drive, there are a few methods you could use to permanently disable the auto stop-start feature should you decide to do so. On the F-150, for example, you could disable the auto stop-start by clipping a few wires that connect to the engine, or more simply, by plugging in a trailer light tester into the back of your truck to convince the engine that it’s towing something. That said, this trick will also permanently disable the backup camera and various other rear sensors for the same reason.

The easiest and possibly best solution is to buy an auto-start-stop eliminator. This simple device simply plugs into the switch itself, keeping it in the off position when the car is turned on. To see how simple it is to install, watch Brendan install one in a matter of minutes over on CJ Off-Road.

It bears repeating that there are no real downsides to the auto stop-start function besides being annoying. Besides a hardly noticeable lag upon restarting the vehicle and the frequent rumbling of the engine starting up, the auto stop-start system won’t harm your engine or your starter. The only thing it will really harm is your nerves. At the end of the day, it is ultimately your truck, and you can (and should) do whatever you can to make it yours.

Auto Start-Stop Explained

It’s almost inevitable that any new vehicle that you purchase will come with auto stop-start technology. This fuel saving technology has rubbed many truck and car drivers the wrong way. While it won’t harm your vehicle as many believe, it can prove to be a legitimate annoyance. Before deciding to disable it, you should consider its benefits and drawbacks.