December 18, 2021
When we first purchased our Jeep three years ago the salesperson warned us about the automatic shutoff system that was installed on the vehicle. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 in the 2018 Wrangler JL utilizes an Electronic Start Stop System (ESS). Once the Jeep’s engine and the interior is warmed up the engine enables ESS, and a signal light comes on letting you know it is active. If ESS is enabled when the Jeep comes to a stop and the brake is pushed the engine will shut off, but the lights, HVAC, radio, and any accessories will remain on. As soon as the brake pedal is released the engine starts and you are on your way. I was warned because drivers new to ESS tend to experience a moment of panic the first few times the engine automatically shuts off.
The reason for the ESS is to achieve a higher fuel rating. The estimated fuel consumption of an idling engine is 0.16 gallons/hour per liter of engine displacement. This means an idling 3.6-liter engine consumes .57 gallons of gas per hour. The average jeep driver will average 4.5 minutes per day in idle, and over a 5-day work week 22.5 minutes of idle time. Pushed out over a year that is 1170 minutes or 19.5 hours of idling, or just over 11 gallons (around $30) of fuel burned. Jeep produced over 200,000 Wranglers in 2018 and if we assume an average idle time for those 200,000 2018 JL Wranglers ESS could collectively save 2.2 million gallons of fuel per year. The ESS is automatically disabled in 4wd lo and on max A/C. You can also press the A switch signal on the dash to turn off ESS, but ESS will turn on the next time the Jeep is started. Jeep continues to use ESS on their Wranglers in an effort to save fuel.
While the fuel savings is a great feature, ESS itself is maddening. Melissa and I both worry about running the A/C with the engine off. We also worry about the constant starting and stopping, as these are times of maximum wear and fuel consumption. Jeep’s website says they thought of that and have safeguards built into the system. The real problem is it drives us crazy. Whatever the advantage, it seems to be a race to see who can disable the feature the first time it shuts off. One suggestion I found concerning the annoyance was, “It’s a new concept for most and . . . like anything else in life, it takes getting used to.” Essentially, I was told to deal with it.
Thoughts: There is another signal on the jeep they did not tell me about. This automatically engages when you leave the blinker on too long. This usually happens when you make a turn that is not sharp enough to engage the automatic turnoff. Then you drive down the road with your blinker signal on and others shaking their heads when they pass. I never have this problem when Melissa is in the car as she will tell me to turn it off. Several times while by myself I have not seen the flashing blinker or heard the beeping signal, and my gauge indicator screen will flash a picture of a white Jeep Wrangler with a yellow flashing signal indicator. I have wondered if the color of the picture changes if you have a different color Jeep. During the pandemic there have been many new concepts we have been forced to get used to. Rather than ignore them or their benefits, we also need to learn to deal with it. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.