Automotive Education/Info

Understanding the Start-Stop System in New Cars

When did Start-Stop technology become popular?

According to CarProUsa, the start-stop system technology we see in late model vehicles in the United States was actually first debuted way back in 1983. Volkswagen was the first car with a start-stop technology system but VW’s version wasn’t entirely the same as what we see in 2023. 

It was in the Polo Formel E that Volkswagen introduced its version of start-stop technology commonly seen in the United States in ‘23. That was way back in 1983, now in 2023 it’s hard to find a make or model of new automobile that does not come with a start-stop system.

It’s been proven the tech does improve fuel economy by reducing engine idle time while at stop lights, stop sign and other idle conditions. 

What was first new vehicle to offer Start-Stop technology? 

According to a report from Sustainable America, the 2013 Ford Fusion was the first domestic vehicle to offer a start-stop system (also called idle-stop) technology. Chrysler and GM soon followed suit adding start-stop technology to their portfolio of models.

Luxury cars like BMW, Audi and Jaguar also added the fuel saving tech to its 2012 and 2013 offerings in the United States. Ultimately, it was Ford that built the first domestic vehicle with start-stop technology built in. 

As of model year 2018, the number of light duty vehicles with start-stop technology has risen exponentially. According to Green Car Congress, 35.7% of model year 2018 light duty trucks offered a non-hybrid idle-stop system. As of 2022, European vehicles still hold a majority of the market share for cars with start-stop technology, but North American vehicles are adding “idle-stop” to their vehicles hybrid vehicles rapidly. .


You might also like- What’s the Upside? Cash Back on Fuel

What is a Start-Stop System and How Does it Work?

Understanding how a start-stop system works on newer cars and trucks can be a little confusing to an uninformed car buyer. In a fairly short section, I’m going to give you a quick lesson in how these new start-stop systems work.

Since you know already that love it or hate it, stalling at red lights is here to stay in the year 2023, it’s pertinent that car owners understand how the start-stop system works. Just like the brake system on your vehicle, a better understanding is always beneficial in terms of maintaining the system and making it last. 

Diagram of components on the start-stop system of a car or truck.
Diagram showing the major components of the start-stop system on a car or truck, via

Here’s how it works. 

When you start a vehicle, the starter motor spins the flywheel in turn causing the crankshaft to spin and the pistons to move. In combination with many other complicated on board systems, the vehicle starts up and runs at an idle until it’s put into gear. Essentially, a vehicle with start-stop technology starts and stalls multiple times depending on how many times the driver stops the vehicle completely and presses the brake pedal. 

Once the vehicle equipped with a start-stop system reaches 0 MPH and the brake is fully depressed, the engine shuts down instead of continuing to idle and consume fuel. When the driver removes his/her foot from the brakes and begins to accelerate, the vehicles starter motor quickly engages and starts the internal combustion engine. All of this is done instantly and automatically with the help of the ECM and other modules involved in the operation of the start-stop system.


You might be interested in- Self-Driving Trucks, AI and Autonomy in 2023

Do Start-Stop Systems Put Wear on the Starter? 

With a vehicle that makes a start and stop cycle many times more than a traditional car, it’s fair to ask if the start-stop system wears out the starter. In order to understand how the starter in a start-stop vehicle works, it’s important to look at how it is designed. 

Instead of using a traditional starter, vehicles with the idle-stop system use a different design with dual-layer, longer lasting brushes in order to handle the many start cycles they will eventually endure. Essentially, the starter in a start-stop vehicle is beefier and built far more rigorously. In a way, these heavy-duty starters are good because they can handle the demand of an idle-stop vehicle. Unfortunately, they are also more expensive if they do fail.


That’s why I recommend buying one online if you can find it for your make and model. I’ve bought many alternators and starters online with good results as long as you stick to well-known brands like Delhi-Remy, Denso and Bosch. All of which are OEM on certain manufacturers. 


What are the advantages to the start-stop system?

I mentioned earlier that start-stop technology has technically been around since the early ‘80s starting with Volkswagen. Although it took some time to become adopted in the US, start-stop non-hybrid vehicles are here to stay. The main reason for this is the several advantages of the start-stop system versus disadvantages. The main advantage is obviously fuel economy and emissions standards. Here are a couple of the advantages to the start-stop system in your new vehicle.

  • Start-stop systems offer increased fuel economy and emissions release due to a significant decrease in idle time.
  • Start-stop technology significantly increases fuel economy without adding many extra components to the vehicle.
  • Even at stop lights when your engine shuts down, the design of the start-stop system allows accessories to continue running. This is due to a beefed up electrical system and larger batteries. Sometimes coupled with super capacitors.

Disadvantages to the start-stop system.

As with any system in general, if there are advantages there are bound to be disadvantages. The start-stop system is no different in this regard. Although the disadvantages of the start-stop system in your vehicle are likely less than you would expect.

Any time you add a new “advanced” system to something, there are going to be new components that weren’t used before. Start-stop automobile systems are no different. Although the amount of different components is surprisingly low. Here are the main disadvantages I’ve observed or read reports on.

  • Idle-stop or start-stop systems require a slightly larger battery due to the constant starting and restarting of the main engine. Also, continuing to run accessories while the vehicle is stopped puts a larger load on start-stop battery.
  • Although most vehicles with idle-stop technology restart smoothly after the engine shuts down, some are sluggish. This has been reported more frequently during extreme weather such as heat or cold.
  • Although most reports I’ve read disagree, it’s my experience that start-stop systems decrease the lifespan of the vehicles starter. This is obviously due to far more cranking time. My advice would be to avoid remanufactured or aftermarket starters on idle-stop vehicles.

Will start-stop technology save me money?

This is the main question consumers want answered when considering a vehicle with any new technology. Will start-stop technology save me money?

Although the reasons for auto manufacturers adopting idle-stop technology vary, increased fuel economy is perhaps the most appealing. This is especially true for potential car buyers. Most people looking for a new vehicle aren’t concerned about the amount of emissions released. These buyers want to know if the start-stop technology is going to save them money. With fuel prices across the country well over $4 a gallon in most regions, it’s a valid question to ask when purchasing a car.
This video from does a great job of explaining why start-stop systems save more money on fuel than you may think.

It’s an age old myth I’ve heard a thousand times. “It takes more fuel to start your car than to leave it running”. This is clearly not the case, so it’s easy to see why an idle-stop system would be beneficial to saving money on gas. Where these start-stop systems truly excel are in densely populated areas with heavy traffic. Some drivers may spend 10 or more minutes idling in traffic each way on their commute to work.

It’s hard to quantify exactly how much fuel a start-stop system will save you due to the number of variables. These include idle time, traffic conditions, size and performance of the e gone among others. But it’s clear that the idle-stop systems being adopted in non-hybrid vehicles will definitely save you money at the gas pumps. According to Continental Automotive, the average amount of fuel saved by a start-stop system is 4 percent.


Also Check Out- Read This Before Buying a NoCo Genius Battery Charger

How much more will a start-stop system cost me when buying a new car?

If you’re interested in how much money an idle-stop system will save you, it’s natural to first ask how much more will said system cost me when buying a car?

According to, the average price of a start-stop system in a new vehicle is a modest $300-$400. The same article points out that the 2013 Ford Fusion offered its first vehicle with an idle-stop system for just $295. Using the 4% savings figure mentioned above, at current gas prices, you would save around $170 for every 1,000 gallons consumed. According to the latest figures, Americans consume an average of 656 gallons of fuel per year.

Using those examples, it’s fairly easy to see that idle-stop systems will in fact save you money on gas in the long run.

How much will maintenance cost on my start-stop system?

Here’s where things get a little tricky. I said above that start-stop systems will absolutely save you money on gas. Another pertinent question though is, how much will maintenance cost on my start-stop system?

The two main components to any start-stop system are the battery and the starter motor. These are the two parts in an idle-stop system that will require the most maintenance. So it’s natural to wonder how much a battery and starter will cost for my start-stop system?

How much is a battery for my start-stop system?

First, we will talk battery. With a higher demand placed on the 12 volt battery in an idle-stop system, naturally a cheapy isn’t going to cut it. Vehicles with start-stop systems require an AGM or “absorbent glass mat” battery. While traditional flooded lead acid batteries can be had for around $100, an AGM battery is going to be closer to $300. In most idle-stop systems, battery replacement also requires programming to the vehicle which may cost you more money.

How much is a starter for my start-stop system?

Being one of the most used components in the start-stop system, you’ll wanna know how much a starter for your start-stop system is going to cost.

The cost of a starter for any idle-stop system is going to vary widely based on the model year, brand and quality of the starter. For an aftermarket remanufactured starter, you can expect to pay around $300. If you decide to go with a brand new OEM starter for your idle-stop system, $1,000 or more is not out of the question. Labor costs will also have to be factored into this equation.

In an earlier post, I gave you guys a bunch of resources to get your auto parts cheaper ordering them online. This goes for start-stop systems as well. You can save a good chunk of change by buying parts for your start-stop system on the internet.

Will the start-stop system ruin my engine?

It’s a hot topic for debate among car owners and technicians. Do start-stop systems damage the engine in your vehicle? Although there isn’t a definitive answer, the issue has been addressed- especially in newer systems.

The main reason people wonder is idle-stop systems damage the vehicles engine is due to the constant starting and potential lack of lubrication upon restart. Auto manufacturers have made this essentially a non-issue by only allowing the start-stop system to activate once the engine is fully warmed up and the components are fully lubricated.

Modern engine oils are also designed to offer better protection against “dry starts” which would be a main cause for concern. With the engine shut down at idle, oil flow will cease and the oil drains back to the pan. Mobil 1 specifically offers an engine oil designed for start-stop systems. The oil maker claims protection for 300k start-stop cycles over a 120,000 mile period.

Mobil 1 300k start-stop or idle-stop cycles
Mobil 1 claims to offer protection for 300k start-stop cycles over a 120,000 mile period.

In conclusion, most experts agree that the key to a healthy engine in a start-stop vehicle is using a premium, synthetic oil designed for the system. If you run quality oil and maintain your vehicle according to manufacturer standards, the life of your engine should not be reduced with a start-stop system.

By John Green

I’m John Green. I’m a 33 year old auto technician from Upstate New York. I have 18 years of experience as an automotive light duty and heavy duty truck mechanic. Cars, trucks and anything with moving parts are my passion in my professional life.

Aside from my life as a technician, I am also a seasoned investor and consider myself very financially literate. I use this other passion combined with my passion for cars, trucks and tools to look for ways to save money for my technician friends.

Raising my three girls and teaching them the proper way of life is my personal passion in life. If you want to know more, just ask! I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well!