Remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers? I used to love that show. It was only on TV for about three years but there were some great lessons to be learned from the show about environmental issues. While my wife won’t let me have a blue mullet or wear red tights, I consider myself to be somewhat of an eco-warrior. I try to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible and I always recycle. So when I discovered that my beloved Nissan Leaf has an “eco mode,” I was intrigued. Could this magical mode increase my environmental street cred? Here we take a look at eco mode – when to use it and how it works.

What Does Eco Mode Mean?

This writing is a rare one in that it pretty much applies similarly to all-electric vehicles (EVs) and vehicles utilizing an internal combustion engine (ICE) at the same time. Putting your car in eco mode will save electricity or gas by making your accelerator less sensitive. Your car will take longer to speed up and top speeds will be lower. Eco mode will also reduce the air conditioning’s throughput in most models. This in turn, lightens the load on the compressor so less energy is used.

Does It Really Save Electricity/Gas?

Yes! Because your car is incapable of quick acceleration when in eco mode, you will save on electricity and gas. As we noted previously, accelerating quickly in an EV has the same effect as it does in an ICE vehicle. The same is true for hard braking, although the braking systems are no different when the car is in eco mode. Putting your car in eco mode is a great way to save electricity or gas and maximize mileage no matter what type of car you have.

Does It Hurt the Engine?

Eco mode will NOT hurt your engine if…you drive reasonably. Over-compensating for the lack of acceleration by smashing the gas pedal or jamming on your brakes will negate the benefits of using eco mode. Drive like I did when my wife and I left the hospital with our first child and you’ll be just fine! Incidentally, that’s the last time I remember driving that carefully…

When Should I Use Eco Mode?

Eco mode is meant to be used when traveling at lower speeds such as in urban or suburban environments. Because acceleration is limited, it is not recommended that drivers use eco mode for highway driving. A poster to this thread on the Speak EV forum made the point that they like driving their Nissan Leaf in eco mode because they think the acceleration in regular mode is to twitchy. If you’re not used to the awesome power and acceleration capabilities of the Nissan Leaf, I can see why.

What do our readers have to say about using eco mode? Have you found significant savings in electricity or gas while using it? What is your opinion on the reduced acceleration? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

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