What is eco mode?

Many modern cars have an eco mode setting to improve the vehicle's fuel economy. While it's on, the engine reduces its power output, so it doesn't work as hard, and the gas pedals become less responsive. The reduction in power leads the car to accelerate more slowly. Benefits of eco mode include using less gas and creating fewer emissions. Eco mode works best when driving at a relaxed pace.

4 min to read

How does eco mode work?

The purpose of eco mode, or "economical mode," is to improve your car's fuel economy as you drive. You can switch eco mode on and off by simply pressing a button that you can find near the steering wheel. Auto makers have built the eco mode feature into many modern-day models of fuel-operated and hybrid vehicles — electric cars don't use the fuel-saving feature since they don't run on gas.

Pro tip:

Note that eco mode is different from EV mode that you may find in some hybrid cars. Eco mode still uses fuel, while EV mode won't take any energy from the gas tank and will run solely on the electric car battery instead.

When the eco mode button is engaged, the car's throttle becomes less reactive. When the throttle is less reactive, the engine doesn't work as hard, and you can't accelerate as quickly as you usally can. Eco mode doesn't make a car go slower overall, but it does slow down the acceleration. The best thing you can do is drive at a relaxed pace with eco mode on — having a heavy foot on the gas and brake pedals may cancel out the good that the eco mode setting is doing.

In addition to slowing the reaction time of accelerating, eco mode may lower the air conditioning output and dim interior lights.

When should I use eco mode?

The ideal time to use eco mode is when you're driving at a slower pace — typically under 45 miles per hour. It's perfect for day-to-day use in settings where you're likely to drive in a leisurely way. It's a great way to save on some fuel while running errands around town, sitting in stop-and-go traffic, or driving through city streets where speed limits are generally low.

When should I turn off eco mode?

Eco mode reduces a car's response time, so it's best to turn it off in situations where you may need to accelerate quickly. For example, automotive experts do not recommend using eco mode when you're on a highway, merging into traffic, driving on difficult roads, or when the weather conditions are poor.

Another characteristic of eco mode is that it causes the car to change gears less often. For this reason, it's best to avoid using eco mode in situations where the gears need to change regularly, such as driving uphill or accelerating quickly.

Many drivers also choose to switch off eco mode on sweltering days as air conditioning doesn't run very efficiently while it's on.

How do I turn off eco mode on my car?

Most cars have a basic button that you can press to turn eco mode on and off. Some vehicles may have an automatic eco mode feature that switches on at certain times. If your car uses this system, you can go into the vehicle's settings to switch eco mode on or off.

What are the advantages of using eco mode?

Eco mode puts less strain on a car's engine, resulting in several benefits such as:

  • Improved fuel economy: While the change in fuel economy isn't drastic, your car will use less gas and get more miles per gallon when you use eco mode correctly.
  • Fewer harmful emissions: A decrease in fuel consumption also means your car won't emit as many toxic chemicals into the air.
  • Less pressure on the car's engine and battery: When you switch eco mode on, the engine doesn't work as hard, which doesn't put as much demand on the car's battery.
  • Money savings: An improvement in fuel economy means you won't need to fill up your gas tank as often, helping you save some cash.

Is eco mode worth it?

If you do most of your driving at low speeds around town, you'll likely notice the benefits of using eco mode. You may not see much difference in your car's fuel economy if you regularly hit high speeds or tend to have a heavier foot on the gas pedal while you drive.

Is eco mode bad for your car?

If you use it correctly, eco mode won't negatively affect your car or engine. Only use eco mode in recommended situations, such as the examples mentioned previously. Also, try to drive with a light foot when you have eco mode turned on and avoid accelerating too quickly.

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