Audi's Start-Stop System Creates Dangerous Driving Situations
There are multiple problems with Audi's start-stop technology that outweigh the modest fuel efficiency gains. Owners complain that the system will shut off the power steering and brake systems at dangerous times and cause the accelerat The technology has been blamed for delayed acceleration and even creating some rollaway situations. Audi tells owners they can just turn the feature off, but that requires the owner to press a button after each ignition start.
The benefits of start-stop systems are clear. The technology shuts off your engine and transmission when you don't need it to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions output. It's become very popular with automakers as they compete to squeeze every fraction of a mile out of a gallon of gas.
But while automakers might love, owners aren't so sure.
First off, it's a little disconcerting. If you've ever driven a car with a start-stop system you likely remember the first time you pull up to a red light and the engine shuts off. Some of the more agressive systems will even shut the engine down before the car comes to a complete stop.
Then there's the valid concerns about wear and tear. A start-stop system can increase the number of times your engine is started on an average day to dozens or maybe even hundreds of times, depending on your commute. And that's when most engine wear occurs, particularily on the starter and transmission.
All this for what amounts to a marginal gain of 3% fuel efficiency.
The system is designed to restart the engine once the driver takes their foot off the brake pedal. The theory being that the engine and transmission will be ready by the time the driver's foot reaches the accelerator.
With Audi vehicles that isn't always the case and acceleration can suffer.
Not only will acceleration be delayed, but multiple owners say the acceleration isn't dependable even once the car gets rolling. Complaints about the transmission hesitating or lurching can be particularily dangerous in a busy intersection.
The engine isn't the only thing that shuts down when the start-stop system activates. Depending on the situation, the transmission, power steering, and power brakes are also disengaged.
That's fine if the vehicle is completely stopped, but those systems should always be available if the car is moving.
Audi owners often complain that those systems shut off way too early, well before the vehicle has come to a stop. They're also slow to reactivate and aren't always available during the initial acceleration.
If you've ever tried steering a car without power steering you know that it's hardest when the car is moving slowly, so this is a major defect.
Audi's start-stop system also tends to be a little preusumptuous.
For example, if the car comes to a stop and the system activates it won't re-activate if the driver takes off their seat belt. They assume you're parking and the engine is no longer needed, what they don't realize is you're just trying to pickup your kid's stuffed animal that they've somehow dropped for the 37th time.
Once the driver's seat belt is removed the engine won't restart. Not even if the driver puts their seat belt back on. The only way is to click the seat belt, put the transmission in park, and press the ignition button.
That can be a dangerous problem if the driver doesn't realize what happens and the vehicle starts to roll away once they release the brake. Not only will the engine not re-engage, but neither will the power braking or power steering systems.
Audi's owners manual says the engine will "automatically restart [when] the vehicle rolls, for example while on a slope.” But that's not what happens.
The lead plaintiff reports that rollaways can occur even putting the seat belt back on right after and pushing the ignition button does not start the engine. The only way to start the engine is by putting the vehicle in PARK and pushing the ignition button.
Pitts, et al., v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al. ∞
The plaintiff says Audi refuses to do anything about this known malfunction and has only offered a basic service bulletin without any real fixes. Instead it just says the Start/Stop system does not shutdown when the driver thinks it should. Ya think?
Swinburne, et al., v. Audi of America, Inc., et al. ∞
The plaintiff says the system doesn't work as advertised. Accordingo to Audi [w]hen the driver presses the brake pedal at stoplights or in other prolonged idle situations, the engine shuts off. When the driver releases the brake pedal, the engine instantaneously starts up again. That's not always what happens.
Despite all the complaints and ongoing litigation, Audi has only released a revised technical service bulletin about the problem. No warranty upgrades, customer servive campaigns, or recalls.
In service bulletin #00 18 14 2045316/3, Audi has told its dealers tell customers that they may be mistaking normal operations as faulty systems.
_“The Start/Stop system is complex and the number of the conditions affecting it is high. In many cases concerns about the Start/Stop system may actually be normal operation or influenced by the actions of the driver or passenger.”
Owners are also told to deactivate the system if it makes them uncomfortable. But that physically requires pushing a button each time the ignition is started.