Eco Mode: How It Works and When to Use It

With newer cars, it’s an eventuality. You’re going to look down at your dash or steering wheel and see a control you don’t fully understand. Don’t fret it. With all of the innovations that manufacturers are plugging into new cars at breakneck speed, it can be hard to keep up.

One of the newer and most common innovations is Eco mode. But what is Eco Mode, and when should you be using it? Keep reading, and we’ll break it all down for you.

what is ECO mode

What is Eco Mode?

Eco Mode is a newer technology that manufacturers have started to install on vehicles with increased frequency. By enabling Eco Mode, you can decide to sacrifice some of your vehicle’s power and responsiveness, and in return, you get slightly better fuel economy.

Some drivers swear by Eco Mode, while others insist that it’s no different than adapting your driving style manually. While there is some truth to both viewpoints, Eco Mode will improve your fuel economy no matter how you drive.

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How Does Eco Mode Work?

acceleration hesitation

Eco Mode works by restricting engine and transmission performance to give you better fuel economy. This means when you stomp on the gas, your vehicle won’t do everything in its power to go as fast as possible. Instead, it’ll do everything that the manufacturer allowed it to do when installing Eco Mode.

In addition to restricting both engine and transmission performance, Eco Mode fine-tunes all of the fuel, air, and other significant adjustments to get the maximum fuel economy out of your vehicle without any severe side effects. All you’ll notice is slightly decreased power and responsiveness.  

Essentially Eco Mode is nothing more than a set of restrictions that the manufacturer put on your car when you enable it. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s not some form of revolutionary technology that they equipped.

When Should You Use Eco Mode?

economy driving mode

You should use Eco Mode whenever you want to save fuel, of course! But since it affects your vehicle’s performance, you shouldn’t use Eco Mode anytime you anticipate you might need the extra performance.

This means on highways and other busy roads; you should consider keeping Eco Mode switched off. You might end up going to the gas station just a bit more, but you don’t want to be stuck not being able to accelerate like you need to, to avoid an accident.

Meanwhile, in cities, there’s not much of a drawback to driving in Eco Mode. You don’t need to accelerate quickly, and it’s a lot of stop and go traffic. It’s the perfect opportunity to try and improve your fuel economy without any tradeoff!

So, when should you use Eco Mode? Whenever you’re comfortable with your vehicle having a little less power.

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Is It OK to Drive In Eco Mode ALL the Time?

Absolutely! While you might suffer from some reduced performance while you’re driving in Eco Mode, you can drive in Eco Mode all the time without having to worry. No engine damage, increased maintenance, or any other additional problems will occur.

The manufacturer specifically designed vehicles with Eco Mode to function perfectly fine with it enabled. All of the car electronics adjust according to the new engine and transmission outputs, so you don’t have to worry about anything misfiring and causing any damage.

In fact, unless you’re in a situation where you need that extra power and responsiveness, driving in Eco Mode all the time is the recommended way to drive!

See Also: Can Cruise Control Get Stuck?

Does Eco Mode Really Save Gas?

poor gas mileage

Many people think that you can get the same results as Eco Mode by adjusting your driving patterns. While it’s certainly possible to get better gas mileage if you accelerate slower and keep your top speeds down, Eco Mode will help you get even better fuel economy.

While the exact amount of fuel saved by switching to Eco Mode varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, there’s no doubt that Eco Mode improves your fuel economy. However, it would help if you realized that Eco Mode isn’t going to take your car from a 20 MPG behemoth to a 45 MPG hybrid with the click of a button.

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In reality, Eco Mode only boosts your fuel economy by around five percent. So, if you spend $200 at the pump every month, you can expect to save about $10 a month. Yes, it works; no, it’s not significant cost savings.

Finally, if you drive in a way that consumes excess fuel, you’ll likely see even more savings at the pump. That’s because Eco Mode can make you more aware of your driving habits, and eco-driving can lower your fuel consumption by as much as 24 percent! However, you’re also more likely to notice the difference in performance more acutely than other drivers.

Read Also: Fuel Efficiency (A/C On vs Windows Down)

It might not be the most exciting feature on the car, but Eco Mode is a great way to save a few bucks at the fuel pump and emit a few less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere!

Adam Mann


    1. If you want to. Eco is meant to save fuel, but you’re not really saving much fuel at 82 mph. Some eco modes change the throttle map to be more linear so it’s easier to hold a steady speed. In that case, eco mode might be helpful to you.

      I know it’s a ton of fun to drive fast, but vehicles tend to use much more fuel while driving at 82 mph than they do at 55 mph. This is due to aerodynamics of the vehicle and gearing. You’re probably better off just using cruise control and slowing down a bit if your goal is to save fuel. Even if the speed limit is 80, you’ll be able to go much farther on a tank of gas if you slow down just 10 mph.

  1. I have a Qashquai 2021, is it possible to default to Eco mode as I keep forgetting to set it going. Is it possible?

  2. Hi, thanks for the info on Eco-Mode.

    I have a different question regarding the dash lights on a Toyota fielder hybrid.
    I understand what Ev-mode is but there is a EV light with a percentage beside it. Do you know what this percentage is for?

    1. Sounds like your battery percentage. Your owner’s manual will be able to tell you for sure. If you no longer have your owner’s manual, you should be able to get it from Toyota for free. Do a web search for “Toyota fielder owner’s manual”.

  3. Just started regular use of Eco mode on my New Berlingo auto. It gives a dramatic improvement in mpg – say from 45mpg to >60mpg for same journey. I just wish it could be set to default to Eco mode as I keep forgetting to set it going. Is it possible?

  4. My car is 2014 Hyundai Tucson…I did not read all the books bought this car dashboard lit the word I need to bring this now to the mechanic ?? Or something to do save fuel economy ECO mode .

    1. Usually ECO is a mode you can select for better fuel economy. You should be able to find an owner’s manual for your car online, and that will tell you what it means.

  5. Hello I have FIAT 500 MLV 2015 Model,is it okay to drive with it in town where there is traffic,I understand is not to be used on highways.
    ASR OFF button is to be switched off only in snowy conditions if one is stuck ,am I right ,Kindly advice.thanks .Fareed.

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