The Automotive Low Flush Toilet

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I wish I could take credit for this one, but I can’t. However, I will shamelessly use it – and credit the reader (Jim H) who made the analogy:

Auto-stop/start systems – which have become de facto standard equipment in almost all new cars – are the automotive equivalent of the low-flush toilet.

You may recall.

The government decided that people were using “too much” water in the bathroom. The solution was a fatwa outlawing toilets as they had been and requiring that new toilets be designed to use less water (1.6 gallons, about half the volume of water used in the old, “wasteful” toilets).

Everyone knows what the result was.

It now took two or more flushes to get the same job done – which ended up using twice the water.

Sometimes the job didn’t get done at all.

Eventually, the problems caused by the low-flow toilets were fixed by modifying the toilet to operate at higher pressure, so as to make more effective use of less water. These toilets, of course, cost more than the old “water waster” toilets, now outlawed.

Instead, people waste money.

Now comes Auto-stop/start.

It’s the same bad idea as the low-flow toilet, applied to cars. Use less gas by using the engine less – by automatically shutting it off whenever the vehicle comes to a complete stop. When the driver takes his foot off the brake – indicating his desire to get moving again – a high-torque starter motor is automatically engaged to re-start the engine and off you go – until the next stop, when the cycle repeats.

In theory – in government testing – it does save a little gas. On the order of 1 mile-per-gallon vs. an otherwise identical vehicle without the system.

But it costs a lot more money.

The system requires the already mentioned high-torque starter motor (and solenoid) which must be made tougher and more durable than a regular starter motor which is only expected to start the vehicle once – prior to starting your trip – not numerous times (often, a dozen or more times) in the course of your trip.

No car company installs additional hardware (and software, the electronics necessary to operate the system) in a vehicle for free.  Instead of paying ExxonMobil an extra couple of bucks each month, you pay the company that built  your car with the Auto-stop/start system more than a couple of extra bucks when you buy it.

And then you pay Exide or Interstate – whom you’ll end up buying a new battery from – to replace your prematurely croaked one.

A not-mentioned problem (one of them) with Auto-stop/start is that – with one very recent exception, bear with – the system relies on a system never meant to deal with the much-multiplied workload.

The 12V battery was designed to start the engine . . . once. Not over and over and over and over again, every day.

Batteries age faster when they are used harder. Repeatedly discharge/recharge cycling constitutes harder use. And when the battery croaks, you’ll be stopped for longer than the next light cycle.

Automotive 12V batteries were designed more than 50 years ago (previously, cars used 6V systems, in the same way) to spin the engine to life and then retire from the field, deferring to the alternator – which then provided the electricity to power all of the car’s electrical accessories, such as the lights and also the ignition system.

The alternator would also “top off’ the battery as you drove – restoring it to full charge so that it would be ready for the next start-up.

Which might not be until tomorrow morning.

With Auto-stop/start, the battery is constantly discharging – to start the engine, over and over and over – and the alternator is constantly working to recharge it.

This will almost certainly reduce the service life of the battery. Instead of buying a new one every four or five years, as has been normal in the past (and pre Auto-stop/start) the interval will shorten to once every three or four years; possibly less. No one really knows yet because Auto-stop/start is still relatively new as a mass-market technology and so it will take time to see how things work out in the real world, over time. But given the facts of battery chemistry, a shorter life is inevitable given the much harder use these batteries are being subjected to.

Auto-stop/start is also harder on the alternator – which has to work harder to keep the constantly-being-discharged battery recharged. This will probably reduce  its useful life, too.

And new alternators cost even more than new batteries. Especially the heavier-duty/higher-capacity alternators necessary in a car with the Auto-stop/start system.

The engineers know all about this – and you are going to love their solution.

Last week, I drove the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up, which is all-new. Including a new form of Auto-stop/start, which uses a dedicated 48 volt motor-generator and battery pack to run the system. The upside is it’s much faster (and much smoother) re-starting the engine – and the system is specifically designed to have the capacity for all those stop-start cycles.

But a 48V electrical system isn’t free, either. And the hybrid-style lithium-ion battery in this rig will cost you considerably more than an over-the-counter Exide or Interstate 12V lead-acid battery.

Nonetheless, expect other car companies to follow suit – as they pursue ever-more-desperate engineering solutions to problems created by the government.

Two flushes, basically, to do the same job one flush used to do.

Your tax dollars at work.

. . .

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  1. I work at a GM dealership in Arizona, not only the engines now demand more from the batteries but combined with the heat out here we are seeing cars needing batteries within 2 years. Have even had some need replaced after 1 year. Combine that with all the luxury gadgets now that require even higher reserve capacities, in most of the 2016 and newer cars with this feature they require and AGM ( advanced glass mat ) battery. Those are $200 plus installation. And the Malibu even has to back that up with an auxiliary 12 volt battery that looks like a motorcycle battery, 2 years out of those also and they’re another $130. Once you fork over all that money in batteries alone you’re back in the red compared to any fuel savings.

    • Hi Mark,

      Yup. The auto-stop/start alone is murder on a 12V battery, a type of battery designed to start the engine – once. Dozens of stop/start cycles each day will inevitably shorten battery life. Also, the stop-starting is itself obnoxiously noticeable.

      This is why Dodge adopted the 48V system/generator motor.Of course, it just adds another layer of cost/complexity to the vehicle.

      The industry is literally being driven insane.

  2. It’s funny how our tax dollars are used against us to pay some evil fatwa author to create a rule to be used against us, and then we have to come up with more dollars (from our productive efforts) to comply with their evil deeds.

    They could have come up with a simpler solution: Outlaw automatic transmissions, and require every car to stall when the operator releases the clutch as they get back into motion.

    At least, a typical manual transmission and clutch both last longer than a battery. Before the clutch wears out from this comical type of misuse.

  3. To compensate for the poor flushing ability of these hobbled Fergusons, some bright boy came up with the idea of compressed air assisted flushing.

    Great idea. Blast the bowl with a charge of air from an air bladder pumped up with incoming water pressure.

    Well, in addition to the fact that a backed up bowl would tend to lead to a flying shit-storm (Oh, ask me how I know), now millions are being recalled because they are randomly exploding.

    Toilet-flusher manufacturer recalls 1.4 million units following reports of bursting units, injured customers

    Isn’t that special?

    Because of Uncle Sucker and his ayatollahs, you now have Takata in your toilet.

  4. If this were a worthwhile engineered feature, no Government “Fatwa” would have been necessary. I don’t recall that Mr. Kettering was trying to fulfill some mandate from the Wilson (Woodrow) administration to make cars “safer” by developing the electric starter. He just knew that (1) higher compression engines were becoming available, along with higher octane gasolines (which he’d help develop), making hand cranking much less easy and (2) more WOMEN (before they were “womyn”) were wanting to drive, and it wouldn’t do to have some dear thing in her high-waisted DRESS and a bustle try to hand-crank an engine, right? No, this was ordinary product improvement, part of a free and COMPETITIVE market in automobiles.

    Makes restoring that ’66 Fury an imperative…give CARB, EPA, and the safety and environmental Nazis the “Finger” is satisfaction enough! Any recommendations on a suitable HOOD ORNAMENT?

    • Hi Doug,

      Exactly; well-said.

      Tom Woods wants me to debate the clown who postures as a Libertarian but defends Tesla. I have insisted that the debate start with the obvious. That the guy is not a Libertarian, by definition. Because Libertarians do not defend using the cudgel of government to advantage billionaire crony capitalists or create “markets” for which there is no natural, free-market demand.

      Just as a thing with cold blood and scales cannot be a mammal.

      I’ve told Tom I will not get into an ends-justifies-the-means “conversation” with the guy over opinions about how much he likes the Tesla. That is what Republican vs. Democrat debates are like and I don’t do that show.

      • If enough folks “liked” the Tesla, they’d lay down their precious doubloons of their own volition at whatever price Tesla deemed necessary to actually make a profit.

        I have nothing against the Toyota Prius per se, in fact, methinks it’s a well-engineered little car which performance and reliability have exceeded original projections. However, the thing is not Jesus Christ with hubcaps. How well, indeed, would the Prius had done had it not been for the Federal, and, in CA, state tax rebates? Or would Toyota have ever built the thing in the first place?

        What really rankles me is the “virtue signalling” (that’s what the kids call it now, I guess) that many Prius drivers exhibit, mistakenly believing that they’re being “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” (the latter an utter bullshit term if there ever was one), and utterly snotty in their smug self-righteousness. Hence why I’ve deemed that model the “Pious”. What I notice else is how so many “Pious” drivers seem to ‘drive’ in a self-centered and OBSTRUCTIVE manner…like a CLOVER!

        • PIOUS

          Pefect, doug. Thanks for the best bellly laugh I’ve had in a few days. You are spot on…. MOST Pious drivers DO exhibit the extreme self-righteous I am proper and you are not syndrome. I’ve learned to be extra vigilant when one of those things is about in my space.

          But I’ve a good friend who owns not one but TWO of the things… and loves them. And he is very near the direct antithesis to what you describe so accurately: He’s in his forties, married three kids. His main source of income is legal marijuana production, on a small scale operation, and manufactured products derived from that herb. He is a gun lover… one time when he went to meet a client to deliver a bag of weed, he had an interesting encounter. He has a few places where he will meet a stranger.. one is a hotel parking lot near his home (they NEVER come there until he knows them well as friends) Security patrols, video surfveilance, wide access roads, near the freeway…. he texted his arrival, described his car and exact location, character approaches right side door, is motioned in. Friend greets client, produces the desired product, client produces… a small handgun pointd at Friend and demands the product AND all his money. Friend, being left handed, and having already slipped his seatbelt (ALWAYS) instantlu produced his own 40 cal Glock aiimed at client’s apparently empty cranium……. “GET OUT< NOW". Client's handgun goes limp, client opens door and exits. Friend had already identified client's car per description, and had number plate recorded. Client peels out of car park and heads up the street, friend has sheriff on the pnone instantly,, who locates the suspect's car, lights him up and arrests him. Sheriff later thanks Friend for his vigilance and quick thinking. Friend thanks sheriff for taking out the garbage.

          Friend has hair down to the bottom of his shoulderblades, drive for Uber and Lyft (uses Prius)operates a small coffee roasting and dleivery businss, free local delivery (as he is already out and about delivering his herbs, and doing the uber thing) and runs a small local parcel delivery service for business and individuals. He loves the Prii because they are reasonably fast, low profile (plain jane whit Prius…. who would notice THAT?) and super cheap to run. And we both have a good laugh as he is well aware is does NOT fit any portion of the profile of the typical Pious driver……

    • I have a 52 chevy suburban – have had it for years. A few years ago I noticed a little hole in the front, that aligned perfectly with a slot in the crank pully. Had no idea this thing had an optional crank start. lol

      • I’m sure that every ’52 Chevy Suburban left the factory with a battery and starter motor. However, especially in those days of 6 volt systems and the battery tech not being what it is today, there WERE occasions, especially on cold days, where between gummy cold engine oil and a battery that wouldn’t yield electrons when nearly frozen, you’d have to resort to hand-cranking, at least to break the viscous oil hydrostatic “lock”. Plus, that Suburban was truly intended to be an OFF road vehicle, for hunters, lumber operations, rangers, and so on…and what if, as often happened, the damn thing wouldn’t turn over? Out in the desert wilds of Utah, couldn’t exactly call the Auto Club to come give you a “jump”!

  5. Sorry, but I have to scream this:


    Way back when I was in Driver Ed class in Canada almost forty years ago, I remember the instructor reaming out a student in front of the whole class after an in-car lesson.

    The student had ignored something written in the Text book which strongly cautioned, advised,
    admonished, and warned against turning off the Car’s Engine when stopped at traffic lights or while in a traffic jam..

    The silly student during road practice stopped at some traffic lights. He turned off the Engine.
    The instructor reportedly swore a blue streak as he reached over and turned the ignition key and told the student “he deserved to fucking die for being so stupid”.

    The instructor’s tirade continued back in the classroom.

    He said something that has always stuck with me. “When a runaway truck is heading toward
    you at 100 km per hour and you are in an car without the engine running, the time it takes you to turn on that engine and try to get out of the way, is much longer than it takes you to die.”

    The takeaway: When the engine is running, you at least have a chance to get out of the way.

    A smart lawyer would be getting ready for the future class-action suit on behalf of victims of this stupid system.

    • Hi World,

      I can help….

      Help you understand, that is.

      It’s not stupidity that is driving this. It is a purposeful movement to make cars more and more prolix, annoying and expensive – in order to turn people off to them and to get people out of them.

      When you finally see this, everything makes sense.

      I’ve been a car journalist for more than 25 years. It took me a long time to truly come to grips with what is going on. But now, at last, I finally do understand.

    • Required Motorcycle saffffety course in Texas – they tell you to leave the bike in gear and watch your 360 when stopped at a light. For that very reason. ALL you have on a bike in your favor is maneuverability.

    • So how long until the car monitors the traffic controls and shuts off the engine BEFORE you get to the stop light/sign?

      No need to waste gas when you can coast to a stop.

  6. I remember when I first encountered this stop/start idiocy. My ex-wife had just bought a brand new 2015 Jeep Cherokee and let me drive to see how I liked it. When we got to the light and stopped the whole engine shut down and we both looked at each other like WTF?? Neither one of us had ever heard of this feature so we actually thought that something was already wrong with the vehicle as it would do it everytime we stopped. It wasn’t until a short time later we discovered what it was and that you could thankfully turn it off if desired as she hated it herself. Just solidified in my mind even more my hatred for new vehicles and that I’d keep my “normal” 99′ Jeep Cherokee and 84′ Dodge Daytona forever!

  7. Slowcomode – Sung to the tune of the Beach Boys KoKomo:
    Everybody knows, a place that has a slow commode
    Not where you want to go – to dump your load
    3/4 gallon flush
    is not enough to move that mush
    down where it needs to go –
    down a slow commode

  8. I am deployed in N.C. on a government project. I was somewhat delighted after landing at the airport and receiving a 2017 Chev Impala from Hertz. This is the biggest rental car I have had in 3 years. The Ecotec 4-cyl is adequate if I am the only one in the vehicle. Would much rather prefer the optional 300 hp v-6.
    However, I absolutely detest the start/stop feature that is the subject of your article. I will keep our trusty 2004 3.5L Hyundai Santa Fe and 2011 Chrysler 200 3.6L until the wheels fall off.

    • Same here! I have a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer with the 4.2L inline-6 that runs like a Swiss watch. In fact, the engine was part of the reason I purchased it since the Trailblazers/Envoys were the last American cars to have such an engine (aside from the Cummins-powered Ram 3/4 ton trucks). I, too, plan to keep it for as long as I can. Late-model cars are obviously designed to ease people away from the idea of driving and being in control over one’s own vehicle.

  9. Not to mention, the emissions, for those who care…

    Transient emissions are always worse than steady state due to incomplete combustion due primarily to low temperatures. So now, instead of your engine idling at steady state, you are adding many incidents of transient startup. Engine is still warm, so probably not as bad as a cold start, but I’ll bet it is an overall non-trivial increase in overall emissions…

  10. What about the additonal wear on all of the little parts moving in the engine?
    Both ball and journal bearings rely on an oil film built by motion which is not there at the initition of motion.
    A Spectator

  11. Of all the new car nonsense, this one is the worst. I, for one, WILL NOT buy a car that has this which cannot be disabled by the user. It is an absolute deal breaker. 3/4 ton trucks for everyone!!!!

    Seriously, if this gets too much (and I think we are jussssst about there), then the 3/4 ton truck is the only way to go when buying new to avoid all this, that is what I’m gonna do for new car purchase. Gas mileage be damned.

    • Those may not be a safe bet for long. The 2019 Sierra 1500 now has that feature on its V8’s. Won’t be long till they figure out how to do it on the diesels.

  12. My 2018 Equinox is ideal for (me) driving for LYFT & UBER; size, comfort, utility and economy however that cursed “auto stop/start” is almost a deal breaker. When I am gauging traffic making a right hand turn and the engine isn’t running can get a bit tense. So, what to do? Two things: 1) Put the transmission in manual mode and select the top gear. The transmission performs as expected. 2) Here in Atlanta the traffic signals have a very long cycle so I slip it into neutral. It is a work around but it works for me.

  13. da gummit dweebs never stop to consider, when they come up with their Cuckoo’s Nest “solutions” to save a dew drams of fuel once in a while, that all their plan does is kick the can out of immediate view to somewhere else. Larger starters (heavier, cost more fuel to drag about), larger alternators (ditto) tht hve to work a LOT harder using more fuel, larger batteries that have to be replaced more often, the fuel/oil issues mentioned above, long term engine damage, likely to include premature failure of the ring gear, perhaps flex plate (typically only serviceable as a unit) and the labour to swap those expensive parts out when they fail…. NONE of the gummit eedjits ever stop to tot up the OVERALL cost of their changes.. I’ve been bellyaching for decades now on the super thin featherweight brake discs.. used to be you could machine them two, three, even four times, and still have plenty of thickness to function safely. Now they rarely outlast the first set of cheap factory pads. Its a false economy, precisely what one would expect from hirelings only concerned with their own job security and future pay, and totally unaccountable to their customers, the ones they shaft all day long. So they “save” a few drams of fuel at the signal light, right? But I’ll lay high stakes at long odds that when the ENTIRE added cost and environmental load are totted up, it is a lose lose lose scenario. Just like the false claims that EV’s don’t pollute. Oh, they don’t belch it out of that nasty bunghole called a tailpipe. NO ONE pushing those things has EVER made the point of the pollution incurred, nor the environmental load, involved in the equipment, land, labour, construction costs including enviro load, to build the facility to turn fuel into watt-hours. Because joules, watts, or some such is what makes anything MOVE. Instead of putting fuel into the final user of that energy where it gets converted into motion, fuel is simply put into a larger user of that energy and converts it into electricity to be then rransported to the final user to make it move. There is NO WAY a given mass can be moved at a given speed over a given distance without the application of a quantity of energy. Quite simply, WORK is involved whenever something is made to move. There IS no shortcut to the amount of energy required. Work is mass times speed. Same mass, same speed, same amount of energy demanded. As ever, from gummit, smoke and mirrors are their name, and control is their game.

    I’d forgotten about the gimpy cars out there, lately I’ve wondered WHY so many drivers wait so long to pull away when the llight switches colour. I’ll have to start paying attention to what kinds of cars are the culprits.
    If they’re so intent on avoiding the fuel cosumed as thousands of cars IDLE at the traffic lights, then zoom off only to panic brake at the next one to avoid the daily portrait taken as you run the light “pink”….. and resultant added cost to “freely” move about as you pay the baksheesh….. I have a solution for THAT “problem”.. SYNCHRONISE THE SIGNALS so a car running at the posted speed limit makes them ALL green and never has to stop. Duh….. then we’d return to the olden times when the daily commute took twenty minutes and the engine never shut off the whole time cause the car KEPT MOVING. Oh, and crashes at the intersctions would all but end, as well. No motivatioin to run the red and have Mr. Speed Racer TeeBone you as you start through.

    • I think the lights NOT being in time is an agenda to clog traffic.I just ran into it the other day,yet I can remember in the 70’S the lights were in time.Dont tell me it cant be done,i LIVED it!

      • In early 1979 I had to drive into downtown Houston a few times. I watched in amazement as all the traffic lights changed color within 1 second of each other.

        Along with clogging traffic, I suspect lights are intentionally out of sync to cause more red light running, which means more revenue for the gummint.

      • Absolutely right these things are done on purpose. It is government’s mission to make us just uncomfortable enough that we demand they “do something”, but not uncomfortable enough that we revolt.

      • Around here they even brag about effing up your ride, there are signs proclaiming “lights timed for frequent stops”. So how does that work out for your “carbon footprint/gas mileage/climate change” BS? Rotten hypocrites make me want to barf.

      • I lived in the L:ower Mainland of British Columbia 1975-90. I worked for a time at a specialty Porsche shop in North Vancouver, and lived on the south side of Burrard INlet… so I had to cross at the Second Narrows Bridge then work my way west on the surface streets through North Van. The lights were meticulously timed to make you stop at almost every one. At the shop we were discussing this disgusting factoid. One of the guys had done some digging. turns out the North Van Chamber of COmmerce pressed the Town COuncil to deliberatly scramble the signal lights to MAKE everyone stop and wait… so they were FORCED to look t the store displays in the BIG front windows facing us, and the ONLY entertainment beyond ogling the other cars and drivers, none of whom were in the least bit remarkable.
        So, the businesses tweaked their crones, the aldermen, to deliberately force everyone to wait most of the lights. Took half an hour to travel 3/Tion4 of a mile through that zone.

  14. One of the next moves by Uncle will include rationing our energy usage in our homes. A “smart” meter (similar to these new digital meters) will cut the power once it decides that you’ve used “enough” electricity for the day.

    • Agreed, I already get nastygrams from the gas company shaming me that I use more gas than my “efficient” neighbors. So what, I’m old and I like to be warm and I can afford to actually pay for it. Bet they don’t send those letters to the welfare queens in public housing projects.

    • Amen, Zane!

      My ’76 Trans-Am reminds me of this every time I take it out. It has a tachometer, speedometer, oil pressure, water temp and Volt gauge. No touchscreens of any kind. There is no auto/stop start or back-up camera or TCS or ABS. I am in full control. The car does only what I input.

      It is so pleasant to not be nannied and countermanded!

      Almost anything that could go wrong is mechanical – a physical problem you can see and feel (and fix). The only critical to function electronic elements are: distributor and alternator. Simple to trace and fix a problem, if one crops up. It can only be one of a handful of things.

      The rest – mechanical. And much of it can be adjusted/fixed by the side of the road with the most basic tools.

      I will never not have an old car – even if it means going out in an old car (in the event the snowflake Bolsheviks do succeed in taking over the country).

      • Like I’ve said, ’07 A4 here. Gonna upgrade the diffs soon (4:1 vs 2:1 center and rlsd), make it a beast, then go big turbo (K04-R, since it’s still a daily)

        You ever drive a B7 RS4 btw?

  15. A year ago I experienced a really nasty feature of the late-model Prius. I had both a Prius and a Honda Civic hybrid in that same day, and both had to be driven after the work I had done. It was also a coldish rainy day.
    In the case of each, I drove the same route that included local 25 mph streets and 65-70 mph highway speeds. I drove the Civic Hybrid first, and seemed to have the normal driving and control responses of most any non-hybrid Civic. It did have the on/off motor feature, but didn’t seem to be so intrusive as it could be.
    Next was the Prius, which also has the on/off feature, but is programmed to cut off the motor within 5 seconds or less. The Prius also had a bit more aggressive electric motor torque or gearing, I suspect to make up for the inevitable constant restarting in traffic. Well, here is where the “rainy day” came into play. With each car I was at the head of the line at the same stoplight prior to entering the highway on my test drive route. The big white stopping marker on the pavement is also quite slick at this light, and the stop is on a bit of an incline.
    The tires of the Honda slipped as I took off from the light, but even if there was a bit of initial tire spin, I could barely notice because they gripped right away, and had I forced a spin, the Honda traction control would have slowed that over-spin down on just that wheel alone. Likewise, I could retreat on the gas just a tad, thus reducing the wheel spin and still retain forward acceleration. Ok, so that seems normal in any modern FWD w/traction control, hybrid or not.
    NOT so with the Prius! The wheel spin on the slick white paint/tape marker was much more abrupt due to the motor torque and/or gearing advantage, PLUS having just turned the motor back on with the gas pedal action.
    Here is where it got unexpectedly dicey……the Prius “traction control” solution is to completely disable the gas pedal input until the wheel spin is 100% done AND only after the gas pedal is 100% released! You want to talk about a lethal balk? Worse yet, I had sort of anticipated the car’s throttle off reaction to the tire spin, but I had NOT expected the total negation of my throttle control. It took more than a few seconds for me to realize that my attempts to maintain momentum by feathering the gas, as you can in most “normal” cars including the Honda Hybrid, was being intentionally blocked by the Prius programming! Well, this was getting ugly fast with traffic behind me wanting to go, like yesterday, even! I suspect the only reason I didn’t get rear ended on that occasion, is that the Prius was instantly recognized as a “crippled piece of crap” by the drivers behind me. Of course, once the tire traction AND throttle were both graciously restored by Toyota-Nanny, the extra torque of the Prius had me launching ahead a bit more than would be expected from some car that was genuinely crippled, which I almost HAD to do to get up to speed for the highway on-ramp! See what I’m getting at? As if it wasn’t bad enough that the car balked and inhibited traffic flow, BY DESIGN, now it was going to take off and make it look like I had been a prick intentionally stalling traffic! Great, I had to cuss Toyota the rest of the day just to get the irritation out of my system long enough to finish dealing with the piece of “saaaaafty” engineering. Trust me, the fact that the Prius IS butt-ugly is probably what saved me from a damage claim, but the psychotic crap designed into it’s driveability makes it almost necessary to stand out like a sore thumb! I have multiple Prius owners for customers, and I try to encourage them to ditch theirs at every opportunity.
    One such customer has a 1999 1st generation Prius that just finally ditched him. At 98K miles the transmission just went into what I can only describe as “random operation mode”. It simply decides to disable itself and re-engage itself completely at random, with no apparent cause, nor relation to anything you, the driver, might be asking it to do. That right there is the trademark of a real piece of garbage!

  16. Sounds like a real lifesaver in emergencies when you have to floor it to dodge something while stopped or merging from stopped traffic into moving traffic one lane over. Guess they didn’t test that. Wonder what the off-the-line timing difference is between an auto/stop vehicle and a normal vehicle. Must be great on the transmission as well.


  17. Early Jeep Cherokees (2014 year, when the hapless owners were beta testing all the new features) had a recall-worthy number of premature battery failures. The fix seems to be to install a battery big enough to start a truck, because that’s what’s in mine. It takes up 670 cubic inches under the hood. For a V6 engine. It is bigger than the air filter box. Last two vehicles I owned were sold on/traded in with the original batteries, still testing good under load and they were a fraction of the size. But at least they didn’t bury the thing in the wheel well or under the rear seats. Probably because they know you’ll be replacing it before its time.

    I now have a three button starting procedure: Push the starter button, then the autostart override and finally the electric emergency brake switch. Then put on the safety belts. Finally put it in gear and start moving. Unless you’re backing up, then there’s all the panic buzzers and camera feeds -which usually don’t work if there’s been any excuse for uncle’s minions to spray mag chloride around since it will put a smudgy layer of filth on the backup camera. I imagine this will just get worse over time and we’ll need a checklist to follow and possibly a copilot to confirm all the switches are set correctly.

    BTW I gave the auto-start “feature” a chance for a few months. I didn’t see any fuel savings at all, nor did I find it useful. On hot or cold days it didn’t do anything because the AC would override it. It was very annoying to pull into a parking space, have the engine shut down only to restart when you put the transmission in park. And no matter how quickly it reacts still has to react.

    • Hi RK,

      I have test driven probably several hundred cars with this “feature” and I can see no benefit . . . to the owner. The fuel savings, if any, are marginal while the annoyance (and expense) are considerable.

      I didn’t mention it in the piece – for the sake of length – but the majority of these systems are very noticeable during the stop-start cycling. Like a paint shaker. Also, there is a delay – not a big one, but it’s noticeable – if you are a fast-reaction driver and want to effing go when the light goes green. And, of course, with the engine off, so is the AC – so you get more erratic/less-efficient cooling in summer, too.

      • Hi Eric, is it possible to turn off/disable this abomination? Besides the things already mentioned there’s also the added wear on the engine from the oil pressure going to zero every time it shuts off. A really crappy trade off – save a few cents worth of gas in return for hundreds of dollars of added costs for the life of the car.

        • Yes, there’s a button that will temporarily disable the auto start/stop. But it has to be pressed every time you start the vehicle, hence the multi-button startup procedure on my Jeep.

          And not just oil pressure. If there’s fuel in the piston it will just sit there too, possibly getting past the rings and mixing with the oil. Maybe not as big a problem as I think but then again, the piston deactivation “feature” on Honda V6 engines causes oil consumption as the vacuum formed by holding valves shut will pull oil past the rings and into the combustion chamber.

          • Those buttons can be made so you don’t need to push them. Apparently in the Ford system all that’s needed is a jumper wire. But even if it had to be a simple momentary press a relay or timer circuit would do it. If there’s a way to turn it off it’s relatively easy to make it turn off automatically.

            • Im with Brent,a relay would be the way to go.As soon as power hits the car,that button is ‘pushed’.Im learning there are some simple mechanical hacks to ‘turn off’ / defeat certain computer controlled functions.Just think about what you want to do,most motorheads here can find workarounds I have no doubt.

  18. It’s hard to resist poop humor when it comes to the low water use toilets. As I discovered some time back at my brother’s place, sometimes the low flow flush didn’t work at all, and then you had…you know.

    The new start-stop won’t work on cars with manual transmissions (unless the clutch is somehow rigged with a system of switches or some such). All the more reason to be manually shifty.

  19. Let’s just put bicycle pedals in all the floorboards, so everyone in the cars can do their fair share to charge the battery, and run all the stupid little plug-in shit they carry with them 24/7. Better yet, to hell with a starter, give them a a crank handle to start the damn thing every time they stop at a light, that outta save a shitload of gas, cause it will take everyone all day to go 5 city blocks! My ’62 Dauphine had one, and I used it on several occasions, primarily because the 12 volt generator (DC) didn’t keep the battery charged worth a snot.
    If I drove under 35mph at night, the headlights killed the battery! That saved a hell of a lot of gas right? The damn thing got 45 mpg and only had a 7 gallon fuel tank, of course the car’s dry weight was only 1300 lbs. What do people expect? At least it had a water cooled engine (845cc) and so I had heat in the winter, haha!

  20. You can still go to Canada and buy a REAL “normal capacity” 3.5 gallon flush toilet. As long as you declare it upon return to the USA, American customs does not care…people and home builders in the Detroit area travel to Windsor (which is south of Detroit) all the time.

  21. Yep, and the other bright idea was to tell people to lower the tank-float level in their toilets, or to fill a leftover gallon milk jug and put that in the tank to take up a gallon’s worth of tank space. And guess who had to fix the stopped up plumbing in the house sewage drain systems caused by the drastic reduction in drainage flow? Your’s truly. The same “crap” is happening in cars and trucks in the intake and exhaust systems as well. It is having the same effect as if you turned the key of at every stoplight in a standard I.C. engine automobile, accelerated circulation congestion and wear on the battery, starter, and all moving parts of the starting cycle. The whole thing is a huge waste of effort and money, to save pennies at best. Just like the ding-a-lings that drive 30-50 miles out of their way to save 9 cents on a gallon of gasoline…..utter nonsense and brain-damage.

    • I remember reading a few years back that San Francisco had to spend a few million dollars reaming out all the sewer lines because of what you just mentioned, insufficient water flow to move all the sludge along. Serves their sorry asses right, not that my city is any better; still have my 50+ year old toilets in this house, I just replace the flushing hardware as needed.

      • Here in Australia we have the low flush units. 3/5 liter flushes. Old units were 6/9. Now they send these huge vacuum trucks around to suck out your sewer because not enough water to flush the shit and toilet paper down the slight slope on the plumbing. Who knows how many millions get spent on these trucks plus operators and maintenance to save a few liters of water.

  22. You hit a nerve. The start-stop thing really makes me mad how stupid it is.
    Like the stupid people over at MB. Yes, you can hit a button to defeat it, but you have to do it every time you start the car. There must be people who actually think they are saving the planet with this stuff. ohhh, boy…
    But you absolutely can’t have a remote start capability in a MB, at least in ’14-15 you couldn’t, not sure now. The dealer said ‘so you don’t waste gas’ So you can’t warm the car up a little and de-ice the windshield.
    I live in a valley with ice on my windshield every day it’s under 32. Kinda important to my wife and I.
    My ’18 300 v8 doesn’t start-stop, and I can remote start it. And I have a button to make it feel like a racecar. So guess what, wife is ditching her MB for a v8 with no start-stop and a remote start. hahahahaha. Screw you enviro-wacko-religion wanna bees.
    Long live FCA’s older school cars…………………….

    • A salesman at BMW opined that remote start on BMWs isn’t offered since European laws forbid same. Later that week I emailed a “no sale” for an X3 M40i.

      • Because of idiots you can’t have remote start and a manual transmission from any manufacturer in the USA. Given stories I’ve read on people who added aftermarket remote start to MT cars the automakers are correct on that.

        As to Germany I believe the law there requires MT cars to be parked in gear which of course renders remote start rather dangerous.

      • You know of course government was giving away water for pennies on the dollar all this time right? You know to all it’s agribusiness buddies.

        Price’s Law Of Activity: When a goal can be achieved by doing literally nothing and instead resources are expended to achieve it, it is not the real goal.


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