Enhanced Starter Motor Operation in Engine Stop/Start Systems

The Engine Stop/Start system in GM vehicles automatically turns off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop under certain driving conditions, and can quickly restart the engine in about 0.3 seconds when commanded to do so.

 

A Stop/Start system is available on 2014-2018 Malibu; 2015-2018 Impala; 2016-2018 Encore, Envision, CT6, Cruze; 2017 Verano; 2017-2018 LaCrosse, Regal, ATS, CTS, XT5, Trax, Acadia (VIN N); and 2018 Equinox and Terrain models.

 

In order to smoothly restart the engine as quickly as possible while managing the greater number of engine starts, the Stop/Start system uses an enhanced starter motor that operates differently from a conventional starter motor. (Fig. 6) It has a high performance electric motor and a stronger pinion engagement mechanism than a conventional starter. It also has independent control of the pinion and motor.

 

Fig. 6

 

Independent Control

 

The enhanced starter motor continues using the typical pinion engagement mechanism with a starter solenoid that drives the pinion gear to engage or disengage the flywheel of the engine. When engaged, the starter motor can rotate the engine flywheel and, in turn, the crankshaft. However, there are two differences in the solenoid. It now has two parts.

 

On a conventional starter, the starter solenoid serves the dual purpose of providing the high-current switch that completes the battery positive current to the DC electric motor and the mechanical solenoid action to push the pinion gear into the flywheel of the engine. The Starter Relay (Fig. 7, A) is controlled by the ECM.

 

But on the enhanced starter of a Stop/Start system, these two functions are separated into two different functions inside the solenoid, with each function controlled individually by the ECM. There are two separate relays (Fig. 7, B) to control the two separate parts of the enhanced solenoid:

  • Starter Motor Relay
  • Starter Pinion Solenoid Actuator Relay

 

The two individually-controlled relays allow for smooth engagement of the pinion gear into the flywheel with minimum noise and wear.

 

Fig. 7

 

Auto Stop Operation

 

When the vehicle is coming to a stop, just before the engine stops rotating (at approximately 50 RPM) during stop/start operation, the ECM energizes the Starter Pinion Solenoid Actuator Relay to easily push the pinion gear into the flywheel gear without gear clash. (Fig. 8) When the engine stops rotating during Stop/Start operation (Auto Stop mode), the starter pinion gear is fully engaged, ready for the starter motor to become energized to quickly start the engine again.

 

Fig. 8

 

Slowing, but Not Stopping

 

A secondary need for the starter pinion to be driven into the flywheel gear before the engine stops rotating is to address quickly changing demands on the engine. For example, when a driver is slowing nearly to a stop — and the Stop/Start system is preparing for Auto Stop mode — but suddenly decides to release the brake and accelerate

 

In this situation, the engine has already stopped rotating, or nearly so. A conventional starter cannot restart the engine until the engine has completely stopped. However, with the enhanced starter, the starter pinion gear is fully engaged and ready to begin rotating the engine even before it fully stops turning. Otherwise, the engine would actually have to stop rotating before the pinion can engage smoothly to begin a restart.

 

To prevent a lag in engine operation, the ECM uses predictive speed matching of the flywheel gear speed and the pinion gear speed to engage the pinion gear into the flywheel gear without gear clash before the engine fully stops. By predicting how long it takes the starter motor to spin up using an algorithm, the pinion gear speed can be matched to the flywheel gear speed. The result is an almost instant restart that is possible at extremely low engine speeds.

 

– Thanks to Dan Jaszkowski and Jack Woodward

 

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