What Does “Eco” On A Car Mean?

Automatic car transmission shift lever interior car detail / automatic gear and button econ mode Reducing fuel consumption, What Does "Eco" On A Car Mean?If you have driven a late model vehicle in your life, you have likely noticed an eco button. Cars today have many settings and buttons, so knowing what they do can help you get the most optimal performance while you drive. If you have ever wondered what the eco button does, we have done the research to answer your question.

Eco is short for economy mode. When engaged, this mode enables you to get the best fuel economy out of your car. It efficiently operates your engine so that you get the most out of the gas in your car. It is an excellent way to save yourself money in the long run.

To find out more about the eco mode, including when you should use it, whether it is bad for the engine, and whether you can drive in eco mode all of the time, keep reading!

How Eco Mode Works

Economy mode on your vehicle is essentially a way to reduce the strain placed on your engine. When engaged, the eco mode regulates the way your transmission functions, slows the speed of acceleration and performs other system limitations to ensure that your car is getting the absolute most out of the fuel in the tank.

When you accelerate under natural conditions, the gas pedal responds to the amount of pressure you place on it and signals the engine that it is time to work harder and get things moving. This sudden acceleration requires more fuel and reduces the distance you can travel on the amount of gas in your tank. Similarly, when in normal mode, your transmission progresses through all gears when it shifts, it is not trying to operate as efficiently as possible.

When in economy mode, your car is told to work more efficiently and intentionally instead of as quickly as possible. For example, in economy mode, your vehicle will feel as though it is taking longer to respond when you press down on the gas pedal to accelerate. This is because the car is working to maximize fuel efficiency. It can do this by increasing your speed gradually, instead of all at once.

You may also notice that the car seems to shift differently when in economy mode. That is natural. When in economy mode, the transmission will potentially skip first gear altogether and shift more efficiently. This shifting pattern does not force the engine to work as hard as it does when not in economy mode.

Finally, when you are in economy mode, be aware that your air conditioning and other systems may not work as well or turn off at a certain point. This is normal. Your air conditioner forces the engine to work harder, and, as a result, it will be limited when the economy mode is turned on.

When Should I Use The Eco Button In My Car?

Automatic car transmission shift lever interior car detail / automatic gear and button econ mode Reducing fuel consumption

Knowing when to use the eco button is important. While saving money on gas is appealing to everyone, using the economy mode properly is the best way to benefit from it. Otherwise, you're merely pushing a button.

If you tend to drive aggressively -- quick acceleration, forceful braking -- the eco button might not be the right fit for you. If you drive this way regularly, you may feel that your car is not responding or operating well when the economy mode is turned on. You could become frustrated or angry with your car, and that is never a good thing.

However, if you do not spend a lot of time driving on the highway, if the day is not particularly hot, and if you are not an aggressive driver, the eco button may be just what you need to get the best gas mileage that your vehicle has to offer.

Does Eco Mode Really Save Gas?

When used correctly, the answer is definitely yes. By allowing your car to reduce the power directed toward specific systems and functions, you are enabling your car to go farther with the gas in its tank. The easiest correlation to make is to consider how your body responds when exercising. When you run, you put a strain on your body, your heart, and your lungs. At some point, no matter how well-conditioned you are, you will run out of energy. But, if you reduce your run to a jog or a walk, you can travel for a longer time than if you were running the entire time. Your car is the same way. By reducing the effort required of the engine, your car can travel farther.

Does Eco Mode Hurt The Engine?

You may wonder if you can harm your engine by using the economy mode, especially if you spend a lot of time on the highway or tend to drive fast. The good news is that driving in economy mode does not hurt your engine. Again, however, it is important to restate that if you drive fast or brake aggressively, using the economy mode will not be beneficial. Taking advantage of the system is the most important role you have to play. Pushing the button but not changing your behavior will not have a long term impact on your fuel savings.

Is It Bad To Drive In Eco Mode All The Time?

Close up of car dashboard with green eco mode icon on

Driving in economy mode all of the time is not bad. As we have discussed, the feature is designed to benefit you while driving. When conditions allow, driving in economy mode is a good idea. But, highway driving and hot days are two conditions where operating in economy mode will not benefit you.


When you understand the benefits of economy mode, how it works, and when to use it, you can get the most out of the gas in your car. If you realize that your commute route, the way you drive, or the climate where you live are not conducive to using economy mode, then there is no benefit to pushing the eco button. Instead, perhaps concentrate on driving more slowly, not pressing the accelerator as forcefully, and finding ways to reduce the amount of time you spend in traffic. These steps can be an effective way to increase gas mileage and fuel efficiency when the economy mode is not an option for you.

For more information about features in your car, check out some of our other blog posts here on Vehq.com:

What Engine Does My Car Have? 

What Are The Gauges In My Car?

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