Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the price of petrol has dropped in Nigeria from ₦145 to ₦125 and there is no better time to learn about the "ECO" or "ECON" function on some cars like Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, and others. ECO means "Economy" and is usually represented with a green leaf sign.
The econ Mode button in modern cars
So what is Eco mode?
It is a mode in a car that reduces the fuel consumption of the car, simple!. In a world where fuel efficiency in cars matters so much, eco mode is the ultimate solution. Now, imagine driving your car with cheaper petrol prices now, coupled with a function that reduces its fuel consumption, amazing right?.
How does eco mode work on cars?
Eco mode reduces the performance of the car just to make sure it doesn't consume fuel normally. It does this by operating on different areas of the car which I will list below. Note though that this varies from car to car.
However, there are other driving modes that perform the direct opposite function of what eco mode does. Modes like "sport" increases the overall performance of a car so it can drive faster. See the list following:
Different driving modes on a Lexus GS-F Sport
1. Switching off the engine at idling
In manual cars, it switches off the car when it's not moving, (like in Lagos traffic) and restarts the car once the clutch is depressed. In automatic cars, it closes the throttle body more than normal just to reduce the fuel entering the engine cylinder. This should be at the barest minimum while idling.
2. It reduces acceleration
Even when you suddenly depress the car's throttle, as long as the eco mode is on, it won't accelerate suddenly. It opens the car's throttle valve slowly just to save fuel.
3. Automatic AC cutting-off
AC is one of the major reasons a car consumes more fuel because of the effect of the compressor's load effect on the engine. When the car is in eco mode, it regulates the speed of the AC compressor and automatically shuts it off at some point in some cars.
4. It reduces the transmission RPMs
It also reduces the shift point of the car's transmission just to save the amount of fuel the car consumes as it accelerates from lower speeds.
5. It reduces the brightness of lights
Eco mode reduces the brightness of the car's headlights and interior lights just to reduce the work the alternator has to do in supplying power to the car's electrical system while moving. The alternator is also powered by the car's engine.
Three instances you shouldn't use eco mode!
1. When driving on highways
You need to get up-to-speed when you join a highway and eco mode would make speeding up difficult in the car. So you should shut it off till you get to your desired speed after which you can push the eco button.
2. When driving uphill
When you are driving up a ramp or slopy road, the car needs to shift normally to make sure the ride is smooth and economical. It takes a special skill to drive uphill without rolling the car backward especially in manual cars.
Driving up the hill requires special skill without eco mode
It is ironic that the eco mode will make the car consume more fuel when driving uphill, beware!
3. On very hot days
On hot days, the last thing you want your car to do is to reduce the AC level to save one tiny bit of fuel while you are left sweating, haha.
AC is very important under Nigerian hot sun
Do not use eco mode when you need to be properly chilled by your car's AC system.
What have we learned?
Now that you know how to use that eco button on cars, it's best you start eyeing cars that have this button so that you can buy at the same price as the cars that don't have while you save money daily on fuel. No doubt, eco mode is one of the best ways to reduce fuel consumption on your car, commercial drivers like Uber/Taxify operators should look into buying cars with the eco mode feature.