I drive a 2005 Toyota Highlander with a four cylinder automatic transmission. During the last great snow storm, I started using my ETC Snow button even when I wasn’t driving on snow. It reduced rpms and really seemed to increase gas milage. What happens if I push that button every time I start out (all year long)? Will it hurt, or just increase my gas milage?
All it does is make the car start out in 2nd gear. It probably won’t hurt anything to drive around with it on all the time, but I’ll bet you can replicate any gas mileage gains you’re seeing just by accelerating more gently.
Thanks for the response. Yes, it is apparent that the car starts out in a higher gear, but there is more going on than that. With the ETC Snow button pushed, the rpms are lower at any speed than they are without it. Without the button pushed, while cruising at 70 mph, it shows 32-3400 rpms. With the button pushed, it barely hits 3000, and so on down. So, I don’t think the first response can be entirely correct. There may be some significant improvement in gas use when moving out from a stop, but that is not all that is happening. What else is going on? Any ideas?
What does the owner’s manual say about it? Does it admonish you to only use it in the snow?
I believe ETC stands for electronic traction control, which limits power to the wheels. What you are doing can be done by being gentle on the gas pedal.
How much does it increase your gas mileage?
Others have noticed the drop in rpm with the “snow” button ON; but, have no technical explanation. It must be one of those “Toyota intellectual property” secrets. http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/showthread.php?t=222264
It may also make the kick-down less sensitive (I’ve found on Toyotas and most Japanese automatics that they are very sensitive compared to most domestic cars), but again, any fuel economy advantage given by the transmission’s snow mode could probably be replicated by just not using as much right pedal.
I’ll check the milage again in a day or two and post it. The first attempt didn’t work because the trip odometer had not been zeroed out before that. Driving last week and this coming week will be almost all local trips (to and from work, gym and shopping). Next Monday I plan to drive to Richmond and back, and that will put about 200 road miles on. That should give me a good comaprison.