Tuesday , April 23 2019
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The Unintended Consequences of ASS

Summary:
The Japanese make Bonsai miniature trees by stunting real ones. In this case, the result of altering the natural course of things is pretty. When government stunts the natural growth of things, the result is usually not. It’s also almost always expensive, too. A good example of both is ASS – Automated Stop/Start – and the 48 volt electrical systems being grafted (just the right word) onto many new cars to make ASS palatable. ASS is an engineering expedient, not a feature. There was no market clamor for a system which automatically shut off a vehicle’s engine every time the vehicle came to a stop – as at a red light – and then automatically re-started it (with a slight shudder as well as a slight delay) when it came time to get

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The Japanese make Bonsai miniature trees by stunting real ones. In this case, the result of altering the natural course of things is pretty.

When government stunts the natural growth of things, the result is usually not.

It’s also almost always expensive, too.

A good example of both is ASS – Automated Stop/Start – and the 48 volt electrical systems being grafted (just the right word) onto many new cars to make ASS palatable.

ASS is an engineering expedient, not a feature.

There was no market clamor for a system which automatically shut off a vehicle’s engine every time the vehicle came to a stop – as at a red light – and then automatically re-started it (with a slight shudder as well as a slight delay) when it came time to get going again.

ASS brought no tangible advantages to vehicle’s owner – and several disadvantages, among them the slight but noticeable shudder/delay at every stop/start cycle – as well as accessories such as the AC system that also stopped when the engine did, because such accessories are usually mechanically driven by the running engine.

When it stopped running, so did the AC.

Also, the heat – because the water pump, which circulates hot coolant which warms the car’s cabin stops circulating it when the engine isn’t running.

Finally, there is the definite cost – as opposed to the above intangibles – of the wear and tear on the starter battery, which was never meant to handle such abuse.

Italicized to make the point.

The 12 volt starter battery almost all new cars have (the reason for that italics will become clear shortly) was designed to start the engine a couple of times or so each day. Not a couple of dozen time each day.

Here’s why that’s a problem:

The 12V battery starts the engine; the running engine recharges the battery  – via the alternator, which also produces electricity to run the car’s electrical systems, such as the headlights, windshield wipers, stereo and the fan that blows warm or cold air into the car’s cabin.

Once the engine is running, all of the car’s electrical requirements are met by the alternator.

While the engine is running, the battery recovers the charge it lost to start the engine. After the engine has been running awhile, it is fully charged up and ready to start the engine again.

But when the engine is regularly cycling off, the battery hasn’t got time to fully recharge – as no electricity is being generated by the not-running engine.

Then it is expected to re-start the engine.

In the meanwhile, at every stop interval, charge is being sapped from it to power the car’s still-on electrical accessories, such as the headlights and windshield wipers.

All of this is very hard on 12 volt batteries and that shortens their useful life. While the cost of buying a new battery every three or four years rather than every five or six isn’t great, it is high enough to negate the minuscule fuel savings – about 1 MPG  overall-  achieved by ASS.

Eric Peters
Eric Peters is a freelance car/bike/political columnist. He escaped the corporate-owned media Big Boys years ago. Without the censorship of the corporate tools

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