Millers began researching low-friction oils in its laboratories back in 2006. “We put a formulation together, tested it on a friction rig and found we could reduce the sliding friction between typical components like pistons and liners by 50 percent,” says Mann.
Generally, this reduces heat, power loss, fuel consumption and wear but Miller’s new triple ester nano-technology, known as Nanodrive, goes further. Tiny nano-particles like microscopic ball bearings exfoliate under high pressure, the polymer ‘flakes’ adhering to the engine surfaces.
So far the technology is available only in Miller’s high-end racing oils, but in relation to stop-start, it could also reduce wear during each re-start when the most wear takes place.
With low-friction bearing and lubrication technology in place the potential threat to engine life by stop-start systems should theoretically be overcome. But the current technology is still relatively new and only time will tell whether every car manufacturer has got it right.
Does stop-start help save fuel?
Yes – in situations where you’re stationary with the engine idling, such as in heavy traffic or waiting for traffic lights to change, it will save however much fuel would have been used by the engine while the car is stationary.
How much fuel is saved is often disputed and depends almost entirely upon the type of driving undertaken with the system. Obviously, more stationary time means more fuel saved. There are also occasions when stop-start will not kick in, for example if the engine is cold, the system is less likely to intervene, to allow the engine to warm up fully. It may also not shut off the engine if the battery is below a certain level, if, like Volvo’s system, the driver unfastens their seatbelt, or if you turn the air conditioning on.
Stop-start is also designed to decrease emissions in urban areas where traffic is more likely to be stationary for longer, so despite the benefit to drivers’ fuel consumption, there are more benefits to the systems than monetary ones.