Most modern vehicles have features that reduce fuel consumption and the environmental impacts of driving.
Often this setting is labeled as ECO or ecological mode.
Although trucks are known for their large gas tanks and aren’t necessarily associated with eco-friendliness, many, including the Dodge Ram, are equipped with features that increase fuel efficiency and decrease the vehicle’s emissions.
When ECO Mode is activated in a Dodge Ram, you’re driving in a way that allows the engine to conserve energy and perform more efficiently. Often, when ECO Mode is engaged, your V8 engine has also switched to MDS Mode, which restricts the number of cylinders in use and increases fuel economy.
What is ECO Mode and How Does It Work?
ECO Mode is an automatic setting that informs drivers when they’re driving in a fuel-efficient way and comes standard on all modern Ram 1500s with V8 engines.
A Ram 1500 V8 also has other systems tied to ECO Mode that help increase fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
One of these systems is Chrysler’s 4-cylinder MDS mode.
MDS stands for Multi-Displacement System and is an automobile displacement technology for V8 engines that increases engine efficiency and reduces fuel consumption.
When the ECO Mode light appears on your dash, your truck has switched to MDS Mode. (In the 5th generation Ram 1500s, this light is shaped like a leaf.)
MDS automatically engages whenever you have a light load on the engine or aren’t using the engine’s full power for a certain period of time.
It disables half the cylinders turning the V8 into a 4-cylinder engine, restricting the engine and the transmission to lower overall emissions and prevent the truck from burning excess fuel.
The system disengages when you increase the engine load, like when going up an incline or accelerating from a full stop.
It’s important to note that ECO Mode and MDS are different.
You can be in ECO Mode without switching to MDS Mode, but MDS only activates when you’re in ECO Mode.
However, most of the time, if you’re in ECO Mode, MDS is also engaged.
Can You Disable MDS or ECO Mode?
You can partially disable MDS or ECO Mode on your Ram 1500, but there’s quite a bit of debate regarding whether any method truly works.
You can, however, disable the ECO light on your dash.
- Go to the SETTINGS tab on your touch screen and select the DISPLAY tab.
- Scroll down until you see “Fuel Saver Display In Cluster.” There should be a box with a check mark.
- Tap to uncheck the box and disable the ECO light.
Disabling the dash indicator doesn’t prevent ECO or MDS Mode from engaging.
The only way to disable them completely is to buy a truck without them or have the manufacturer disable the features on the truck’s computer.
Ram 1500 drivers who dislike ECO and MDS Modes have tried other methods to avoid activating the systems, but there is debate about how well any of them work.
The first and easiest way to deactivate MDS Mode is to turn on Tow/Haul Mode.
MDS shouldn’t be engaging when you’re towing with the truck as you need all the power available, or you’ll lose payload weight.
Driving in this mode shouldn’t harm the truck, though it will only run through lower gears.
You can also try driving more aggressively.
Since the MDS can only start when ECO Mode is on, driving inefficiently will prevent the truck from switching to ECO.
Hard accelerations and higher speeds can keep the truck from entering ECO Mode, locking out MDS, but driving this way isn’t a safe option in towns or around other vehicles.
You should have pedals on the steering wheel that allow you to shift gears manually.
If you drive the truck in 7th or 8th gear, it may not activate ECO Mode.
Outside of a custom engine adjustment, you can’t permanently disable ECO Mode or MDS Mode in your Dodge Ram 1500.
Modern Ram 1500s contain an ECO Mode feature that notifies you when you’re driving in a fuel-efficient manner.
Tied to ECO Mode is the MDS, which switches off 50% of the cylinders in a V8 engine to further increase fuel economy and lower the truck’s emissions.
These modes help save gas and the environment but can affect performance.
It’s difficult to avoid engaging ECO or MDS Mode as these are automatic features built into the truck.
Driving in tow mode or locking the truck in higher gears seems to work, but a custom engine tune is the only permanent way to disable them.