Gas prices keep going up, and the idea of owning a car is more and more exhausting to your wallet. Fuel-efficiency is the name of the game! Driver’s fuel-saving demands prompted car manufacturers to develop eco-mode. Eco-mode, short for economical mode, is a feature that helps drivers save on gas and improve car efficiency and functionality. But can a simple press of a button really save on gas?
Do I Have Eco-Mode in My Car?
Look at your center console or the buttons on your steering wheel. If you see something labeled “eco” or “econ,” then your car has eco-mode.
How Eco Mode Works
The answer is yes, eco-mode can save you gas, about 3%-10% for the average driver.
A car has special mechanical features that control the amount of gas it uses per mile. Eco-mode alters these features — reducing acceleration and cutting off the AC, for instance — and inhibits engine performance in favor of saving fuel. This means that the car consumes minimal fuel. In some vehicles, once you reach maximum fuel consumption, the eco light will turn on. When this light turns on, the car will adjust itself to get out of this state. These are the adjustments your car will make.
Modern vehicles do not have a cable that connects the gas pedal to the car engine. So a car determines gas mileage by interpreting throttle inputs using the car’s computer, which controls the engine activity. Therefore, when a driver activates eco-mode, the system takes the throttle inputs and reduces them slightly. This results in lower acceleration but also reduced gas mileage.
Eco-mode alters the automatic transmission behavior of a car. Engine activities mainly control fuel consumption. So, reducing engine activities reduces its speed. For example, when a vehicle stops in traffic, the car’s engine automatically turns off. Switching off the engine at this instance leads to the throttle valve’s closure, so there is no gas transmission. When it turns back on (usually queued by lightly pressing the gas pedal), the throttle valve opens gradually, reducing fuel flowing to the piston.
A car on eco-mode won’t accelerate immediately even when you press on the throttle. It opens the throttle valve, slowly reducing the gas mileage.
Automatic AC Cut-Off
A car’s AC depends on the engine. It uses gas to control the temperatures in the vehicle. So clearly, the AC is notorious for excess fuel consumption. When you turn on eco-mode, it regulates the AC compressor’s speed, therefore saving gas.
Reduce the Alternator’s Work
An alternator supplies power to the car’s electrical system — headlights, interior lighting, etc. — while in motion. The brightness of these lights reduces with eco-mode, reducing the alternator’s work.
Revolution per Minute (RPM) measures the speed of a machine at a given time. In this case, the RPM determines when an engine crankshaft completes a full rotation within a minute. In eco mode, the shift point for transmission for the car reduces to save on gas as it accelerates.
When You Don’t Need Eco-Mode
Eco-mode is a great feature, but getting too eco-mode happy may not be the most beneficial fuel-efficiency thing. You’ll end up using more gas if you turn it on in some cases.
Driving on a Highway
Remember that eco-mode slows down acceleration. As a driver, you have to speed up on a highway, and eco-mode could compromise this necessary acceleration. If you want to use eco-mode on the highway, you should first reach your desired speed.
If you turn on eco-mode driving uphill, your engine will end up using more gas. Turn off eco-mode to allow the vehicle to shift normally.
On a Very Hot Day
This one is more for your own comfort. Eco-mode reduces AC levels and efficiency. Activating it on a very hot day could mean a sweaty driver and uncomfortable passengers.
To save on gas, turn on eco-mode! But not all the time. Knowing when to turn it on will help you maximize your fuel-saving efforts.