What Does ECO Mean on a Car and When You should use it?

The advancement of technology has led to innovations in the automobile industry. These innovations have led to the restructuring of vehicles, designing them with new features to help with the improvement of vehicles’ efficiency and save gas. One of these features is the eco mode system, which is the subject of this article.

This brings us to the question, what does eco mean on a car, and what are its functions? Many car owners are asking these questions. A lot of them have this system in their vehicles and have never used them before, while others get scared or don’t know what to do when they see the eco light on. 

What is Eco Mode?

Eco Mode means Economic Mode in vehicles, with its button located at the left-hand side of the steering wheel in most vehicles. Its typical function is to reduce maximum fuel consumption by altering certain features in a car so your car uses a lesser amount of gas while driving, especially for short distances.

This function changes the operation mode of your transmission system and engine by causing a reduction in the rate of response of the throttle, which helps in fuel economy. As your throttle’s response rate becomes low, it results in less consumption of fuel. Please note that electric cars do not have the eco mode function, as they don’t use gas.

when to use eco mode

When to use eco mode

Eco Mode should be used for vehicles driving at low or moderate speeds. For instance, going on a drive to get a coffee, taking a trip to the park, or any drive at low speeds are perfect conditions for using eco mode.

 On that note, eco mode isn’t suitable for drives across town or any long-distance driving. So if you need to go on a long trip and save your gas somehow, eco mode isn’t the best option for those drives.

Is Eco mode bad for your car?

Regardless of the advantages of the economic mode (Eco Mode) feature in vehicles, constant wrong use of this mode can critically damage your vehicle’s engine. Automobile professionals are convinced that it only injures the main units of your car when used recklessly.

Like the transmission system, for instance, shifts modes and changes gear less frequently than usual. This results in your engine’s speed rising to a significant level, reducing your fuel pump’s efficiency.

Further results of this lead to a shortage of oil in the engine system, which puts the entire engine system at risk of total damage. There are certain driving conditions in which Eco Mode shouldn’t be used. This answers anyone asking is it ok to drive in eco mode all the time. You now know better.

Should I drive with ECO on or off?

Like we highlighted earlier, there are certain conditions when you shouldn’t turn on Eco Mode in your vehicle.

While driving uphill

Whenever you drive up a hill or on a sloppy road, your vehicle needs to shift gears to drive smoothly up the hill, which helps your fuel economy, and this shifting is being restricted when you have eco mode ON. So you have to be aware that your vehicle will consume more gas with Eco Mode enabled when driving uphill.

Without eco mode, a particular skill is required to drive a car or over a hill without having the vehicle roll backward, and this is more difficult in manual cars than automatic.

While driving on highways

On highways, you need to attain a high speed while driving, and your eco mode ON will only make your vehicle travel slowly. Hence, speeding becomes very difficult. So it would be best if you put off eco mode while driving on highways, so you can quickly get your desired speed and later turn it ON when you are off the highway.

During a hot and sunny day

No one would love to reduce their vehicle’s AC level on a hot day just to reduce fuel consumption. Why? It’s because it can leave us sweaty and uncomfortable. To be chilled while inside your vehicle, it’s not advisable to use eco mode, it makes your air conditioning system less effective.

Does Eco Mode really save gas?

Technically yes, turning ON your vehicle’s eco mode function can help save you some gas, but from a realistic view, always putting your pedal to the metal even when you have your eco mode turned ON won’t save you any gas. It is similar to a plug-in hybrid, and if you constantly thrash it about, you are definitely going to struggle with saving gas.

This means that if your driving style is not right, your vehicle won’t save fuel, even when your eco mode is ON. They work together, your driving behavior and the eco mode. It’s convenient to say that the efficiency of a vehicle’s eco mode function relies heavily on the driver’s driving behavior. Now you can answer anyone asking does eco mode saves gas.

What happens if you turn off Eco mode?

Turning off your eco mode means that you are going to be operating on normal mode. You should now be able to accelerate quickly due to faster throttle response. You won’t have to press your pedal so hard to go more quickly, and you shouldn’t experience any delay before your vehicle changes speed.

With your eco mode off, your Air conditioning system should function properly with no restriction, and the auto climate control should be able to use the highest fan setting. You might still be able to save some fuel if you have good driving behavior and your engine system is functioning correctly.

How fast can you drive eco-mode?

When you put ON your eco mode function, your eco coast freewheel function is being activated. This function causes engine braking to cease. Hence, your vehicle’s kinetic energy is used for freewheeling during long-distance driving.

When you release your accelerator pedal, your gearbox disengages automatically from your engine, whose speed then reduces to idling speed with low fuel consumption. In this case, your maximum speed should be 140km/h (87mph).

Does Eco-mode make cars slower?

Yes, the eco mode function makes a car go slower to help reduce the consumption of fuel. High-speed driving consumes a high volume of gas, so the eco mode is being set to prevent driving at high speed.

This feature does this by making your pedal and engine less responsive to inputs; that’s why when you press down your throttle, your vehicle accelerates much slower than expected. So with the eco mode feature ON, your vehicle will move slower.

What cars have eco-mode?

Due to the effectiveness and relevance of the eco mode, most modern vehicles are now built with this feature, increasing the durability and functionality of the vehicles. We will review what cars have eco mode.

Toyota Eco Mode

If you own a Toyota vehicle with the eco mode feature, do not be surprised by the automatic regulation of your vehicle’s cabin controls as you put ON your eco, including the air conditioner. It’s normal for all Toyota vehicles to have this system.

With this mode ON, your engine will not work so hard anymore, so your car consumes much less fuel. Toyota advises that its customers use the eco mode Toyota function for any stop or slow driving.


Some Kia owners might wonder what does eco mode mean in a Kia car. Well, an active eco mode in Kai or Hyundai vehicles is a feature that really helps in giving the vehicles high gas mileages. This mode takes control of the engine and transaxle. Immediately the driver presses the eco button; a green light comes up, indicating that the vehicle is in economic mode.

Ford Eco Mode

It’s no news that Ford has a unique eco mode system. The eco mode feature installed in this brand gives its drivers a frequent evaluation of their driving behavior relating to their vehicles’ fuel consumption rate.

Ford’s eco mode feature analyzes the drivers’ gear shifting, speed, and braking. Even more, it evaluates the number of trips you can make with your vehicle. This particular eco mode system operates together with a trip computer.

While driving in eco mode, this system acquires information and then sends data to the driver via the displays on the vehicle’s dashboard. As a ford owner with the eco mode system, you should be able to know the ratings of your fuel economy through three symbols representing anticipation, gear shifting, and speed.

With Ford’s Eco Mode system, you should also be able to save a lot of gas, especially with the right driving style.

Lexus Eco Mode

Every Lexus car owner with an eco-mode system should enjoy an economic ride. Lexus version of eco mode is called the Drive Mode Select. This is an all-inclusive system that gives Lexus owners the option of choosing between five drive modes, but this is based on the type of Lexus car you own.

These modes include EV, Normal, Sport, Sport S+, and Eco mode. Each of these modes is being customized to suit your driving behavior.

Chevrolet Eco Mode

For Chevrolet vehicles and most other general vehicles designed with the Eco-mode function, this mode will lock the torque converter of the vehicles, forcing the driver to drive at low speeds. It also stops the vehicle’s engine speed during idling, and the engine begins to lug when approaching 50 mph.

How Does Eco Mode Work?

Eco mode alters the performance of a vehicle by reducing its functionality to make sure it reduces the fuel consumption rate of the vehicle. However, the effect of eco mode varies with different cars. How the eco mode works is being simplified below:

Reduces acceleration.

As long as you have your eco ON, your vehicle won’t quickly accelerate even when your throttle is pressed down. This is due to the slow opening of your vehicle’s throttle so it can save gas.

Reduces the brightness of car lights.

The eco mode reduces the brightness of your car’s interior and exterior lights, so to reduce the alternator’s work supplying power to your vehicle’s electrical system while the vehicle is in motion. Keep in mind that your vehicle’s engine system also powers your alternator.

Switches off the engine at idling.

Unlike automatic vehicles, eco mode switches off engines of manual cars when the car is not moving and then restarts the car when the clutch is being pressed. In automatic vehicles, the eco mode closes the throttle to reduce gas entering the cylinder.

Affects the air conditioning system.

The air conditioning (AC) system is one of the vehicle systems that cause high fuel consumption due to your compressor’s load on the engine. So when your eco mode is ON, it manages the compressor’s speed and sometimes shuts it down at some point.

Alters transmission RPMs.

The eco mode reduces your vehicle’s transmission shift point to reduce the fuel consumption rate of the car while it shifts from a low speed to a higher speed.

does eco mode save gas

Some Important Tips for Driving in Eco Mode

Since you are now aware of eco Mode’s functions, it’s time you know how to optimize this feature and utilize its function optimally. Here are some important that will help make driving in Eco Mode better.

Before driving:

Examine your air filters.

Air filter inspection is usually done when changing your engine oil. Replacement of faulty or clogged air filters can really help in gas mileage.

Use the proper engine oil.

You need to ensure that you always use the appropriate engine oil for your vehicle. You can either consult your dealer or leave the job to a professional mechanic. Using the right oil plays a significant role in improving gas mileage.

Your engine should be turned up properly.

Ensure your engine is turned ON properly, so it doesn’t fail the emissions test. That could be bad.

Inflate your tires correctly.

Tires that are correctly air gauged have proven to be more durable than tires that aren’t gauged. A properly air-gauged tire contributes to high gas mileage in a vehicle.

While Driving:

Do not idle excessively.

Idling excessively consumes a lot of gas in most vehicles, especially vehicles with large engine systems. So to get the best from your eco mode, you shouldn’t be idling so much.

Do not drive at high speed.

This is the first rule when using eco mode; the reasons are because speeding defeats the whole aim of the eco mode feature. Usually, gas mileage falls while driving above a speed of 60mph.

So, when you drive at that speed or a higher speed, you should slow down, or you can think of how you will spend more money on purchasing gas. Also, constantly driving at high speed on eco mode can cause your vehicle to develop engine problems.

Do not drive roughly.

Rough driving definitely gives low gas mileage. This shouldn’t be an option. It will only lead to fuel wastage. To have a better fuel economy when your eco mode is ON, you need to develop good driving behavior; else, your eco mode becomes useless. Always drive calmly.

Use cruise control.

Setting your vehicle on cruise control keeps your vehicle at a constant speed, and this helps save gas.

Why is my Eco light on?

On a regular scale, illumination of your eco light might mean that your vehicle’s computer system is alerting you that your engine is operating very close to its designated miles per gallon. Your computer decides when to turn ON your vehicle’s eco light by monitoring your engine RPM, the speed of your car, and the throttle’s position.

On some cars, immediately the eco light comes ON, some aspects of the vehicles’ engine begin to change slightly to improve the eco system’s efficiency and the ignition timing and fuel usage, for instance.

Some newer models of Honda Accords utilize a technique labeled Cylinder Cancellation to reduce gas consumption rate. The eco light will suddenly come up to tell the driver that some of the engine cylinders have been shut down, which is an entirely normal situation. No need to panic. It’s just the ecosystem trying to save your gas.

Also, note that the eco light does not have similar indications to when your engine check light illuminates. If your engine warning light comes ON, your eco light might never come ON due to the reduction in your engine’s efficiency.

You can still refer to the vehicle’s manual to get precise information on what it means for your Eco light to illuminate.

How do you turn off the Eco-driving indicator?

On how to turn off eco mode on a car with an automatic eco mode system like in some Toyota Corolla models, you should be able to turn the eco light off by going to your vehicle’s Settings > Eco driving indicator light > Select Off.

You can turn off the eco-driving indicator on some other vehicle models by holding down the DISP button on the steering wheel. So you see, turning off your eco-driving indicator is that simple. 

Final words

The eco mode is a feature everyone needs to have in their vehicles. It’s undoubtedly an excellent way to save fuel and save money too. Nice and Easy!. With this mode, you also preserve your vehicle, increasing its durability.

You already know what does eco means on a car and that the reckless use of this mode can damage your vehicle, but as long as you keep to the driving conditions of when to use eco mode, your vehicle shouldn’t develop any problem driving on this mode. Instead, you are sure to have a very high gas mileage.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

One thought on “What Does ECO Mean on a Car and When You should use it?

  1. Is it okay to switch from eco mode to power mode while you are driving? And vice versa.

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