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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Auto

‘ECO’ OK?

Sharon L. Peters CTW Features
Q: I bought a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan a while back. I just can’t seem to get a straight answer on this: activating the ECO button (on the dashboard) does save me gas, so that’s good, but I’m told by some I should not use it all the time (though others say it’s OK to do that). Truly, is it OK or not to use it all the time? A: I assume your question relates to whether it will damage the vehicle if you use ECO (the fuel-saving button you can push or not at will) all the time. The answer is: it will not cause any damage to use whenever you want. Just to be certain that the Caravan’s ECO technology/process is not substantially different from all others with which I’m familiar (which would seem very strange, but double-checking is never a bad thing), I chatted with my local Dodge service folks. They confirmed: Use it as much as you want. The ECO (for “economy”) causes the vehicle’s shift points to change, and that results in a little boost in fuel economy. Some manufacturers’ ECO technology also alter the energy draw somewhat, another tiny fuel saver. Most carmakers say putting their vehicles in ECO mode gives an extra mile or two per gallon; most of my pals who have this ECO button on their cars agree with that. Shifting to this mode causes vehicles to be less responsive, so folks often choose not to use it on hilly terrain or when entering highways. If that sluggishness doesn’t bother you, use it always. Q: We live in the country and don’t often go into the city. We were recently on a busy multi-lane highway and there was a flashing yellow X above one lane. I had no idea what that meant. What does it mean? A: That signal means that you, the driver, can use the lane beneath the flashing X to do a left hand turn. Just know that you may be sharing the lane with vehicles coming from the opposite direction, which also are setting up to make a left turn. What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email Sharon@ctwfeatures.com.
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