Eco Mode – How It Works (& When to Use It?)

Eco mode

Modern vehicles are equipped with many drive modes designed to give you a customized experience based on your needs. While some cars offer a sports mode for a more engaging ride or an off-road mode for rough terrain, the Eco Mode seems to gain the most attention.

What is Eco Mode and is it really worthwhile? This economical mode is meant to save fuel and protect the environment, but when should it be used? We examine the benefits of Eco mode and examine the proper use. 

What is Eco Mode? 

Eco Mode is the shortened form of “Economical Mode.” It’s a newer driving mode on many vehicles. Cars will either contain an Eco Mode button or have a selector dial to adjust. 

When Eco Mode is activated, the features of the vehicle are altered to provide more efficiency. However, it is also known for reducing performance in order to achieve this efficiency. 

How Does Eco Mode Work?

eco mode button

Eco Mode restricts performance from the transmission and engine to achieve better fuel efficiency. Even if you push hard on the accelerator while Eco Mode is activated, you aren’t going to receive mind-blowing power. Instead, it’s going to only operate within the constraints programmed by the automaker.

Eco Mode can also alter the fuel and air intake to create a better mixture for efficiency. These adjustments further add to the lack of responsiveness and power. 

To activate the Eco Mode, the driver can push the button or turn the dial. This action can be taken while the car is moving and doesn’t require any special tools to complete. 

Eco Mode Pros

1. Fuel Economy Improvement

When the manufacturer installs Eco Mode, the adjustments are automatically set to save as much fuel as possible. In all cases, this involves throttling back the output of the engine and transmission.

However, some models also adjust the air and fuel mixture to further promote efficiency. It’s estimated that using Eco Mode could cut back on fuel consumption by 3-10% when used in the right circumstances. 

2. Easy to Use

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to use Eco Mode. In fact, manufacturers couldn’t make the system any easier to use.

In some vehicles, there’s a special button to activate Eco Mode. Other models use a dial selector for altering the drive modes, with the Eco option as one of them. Thankfully, Eco Mode is just as easy to turn off when you are ready for some on-road fun again. 

Eco Mode Cons

eco mode power mode

1. Loss of Power

To achieve better fuel economy, the automaker puts limits on the engine power while running in Eco Mode. If you are on the highway, you likely won’t appreciate the benefits this fuel-saving system provides.

Additionally, if you like to step on the accelerator and get moving quickly, it’s not going to happen with this system activated. Instead, pulling out from a stop is going to feel a little more gradual. 

2. Torque Reduction

There are some times when extra torque is needed. For example, if you are towing or you are facing a steep incline, torque is necessary for a smooth ride.

When Eco Mode is activated, torque is reduced for better fuel economy. That’s why Eco Mode isn’t favorable among people needing high-torque performance. 

When Should You Use Eco Mode?

driving highway

Eco Mode is beneficial whenever you want to spend less on fuel. However, it’s not ideal when performance is a must.

If you are traveling on a busy road where you need quick acceleration or you are moving at highway speeds, it’s often best to turn Eco Mode off. While you might need more fuel, it’s safer to drive without it in these circumstances. 

Urban travel is ideal for Eco Mode because you typically aren’t trying to accelerate fast and you are driving slower. Considering these situations often use the most fuel, it seems the perfect chance to try out Eco Mode. 

While it is okay to drive with Eco Mode activated at all times, you will likely find that it’s not ideal. There will be times when you demand more from your vehicle than what it can give you while the power is being harnessed. 

Is Eco Mode Bad for the Engine?

It would seem that anything altering the performance of the engine could cause damage. You might even be scared to push down on the accelerator with the Eco Mode button activated. 

However, we haven’t seen any evidence that suggests Eco Mode is damaging. However, your driving behavior is what is most important. You can easily damage your engine by pushing it too hard or not maintaining it, regardless of whether you rely on Eco Mode or not.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. He has also been a motorsport (drifting) driver for over 5 years.