6 Tips for Improving Your Gas Mileage

Is your Mercedes eating into your wallet a lot more than you expected? That's going to hurt this winter, especially as it looks like a cold one, and you'll need your car to be as reliable and efficient as possible.

As a leading Mercedes repair shop in the Chicago area, we often see cars and fleet vehicles that aren't running at their best. We've put together a few helpful tips for you to keep things running smoothly, plus a few things you can still do in the garage before winter hits.

Check out this list below and contact us if you have any questions or concerns, or if you need help with any service. We've been a leading Mercedes fleet service and repair shop in Chicago for the past 25 years, so we know exactly what you're facing this winter.

1. Fuel Diet – Eat Better Gas

Just like people, your car has a diet that is best suited to making it run smoothly and efficiently. The problem here is that not all fuel is created equally and the gas pump may be misleading you. Instead of relying on the latest ads that try to get you to buy a certain octane, look at your owner's manual or on the fuel tank door of your Mercedes-Benz.

You may have seen 87, 89, and 93 at the pump, but what does it actually mean? You are looking at the Octane Rating which is tells us how much compression the fuel can withstand before detonation. Pre-detonation can lead to the dreaded engine “knock” which can damage internal engine parts.

Mercedes-Benz engines are more efficient and cleaner than ever, demanding higher-compression and higher octane levels. If your Mercedes-Benz requires premium gas, then follow that. By selecting a higher grade of gasoline you can ensure the longevity of your fuel system and engine performance.

Finding the right pump and fuel station is essential to maintain a healthy vehicle, too. There are many options out there in the Chicagoland area. Which gas station do you choose? We recommend you find a fuel station that is busy and has lots of business. Keep in mind fuel is stored in fuel tanks below ground and you want to ensure you are getting fresh fuel on a regular basis. You wouldn't want fuel that has been sitting for too long as it can be become contaminated or also known as “Bad Gas”.

Find a pump and stick with it. By going to the same pump, you can know for sure who sold you the fuel if anything ever goes wrong. Getting contaminated fuel can end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. If you were sold “Bad Gas” make sure you hold on to the receipt, your gas station can be held responsible and help you with the costs. Most gas stations carry insurance just for that reason alone.

2. Go With the Flow of Traffic and the Road

There are two big ways that going with the flow of traffic — or at least within the posted speed limit — can improve your gas mileage. These areas are speed and braking.

No matter how gasoline- and wallet-friendly your ride is, flooring it kills your gas mileage. This is especially true where you're coming from a dead stop, like all of those times you've decided to race as soon as the light turns green.

In almost all cases, you get better gas mileage when you're driving below 65mph. Flooring it to go as fast as you can may reduce your existing gas mileage by up to 15%. Your car's engine is a complex piece of machinery, and you may have heard compelling arguments that seem to contradict this, but you can feel free to ignore those.

The fact is, it takes more energy and power to accelerate more. The harder you push acceleration, the more energy you're using. In your car, the only place for you to get that energy is from your gasoline. Therefore, accelerating harder always uses more gas.

That note above about you killing up to 15% of your gas mileage by going above 65 mph comes into play here as well. If you're cruising at 55 mph, you're more likely to have better gas mileage than if you're racing at 65mph or 70 mph, says CarBibles.

Pushing your engine up to that 65mph line and cruising there causes you to need and use a greater amount of power in your engine. The more power you're demanding, the more gas you're using. Even if you're cruising down an interstate or an open highway, resisting that urge to floor it can save your wallet.

Now, if you're cruising around streets, it becomes even more important to ease up and pay attention to those speed limits — for more than the benefit of avoiding the latest speed trap. Braking is a drag on you and on your car. Zipping around the neighborhood probably means braking at a lot of speed bumps and stop signs, and then accelerating hard to get back up to speed. Even on a curvy road, waiting until you get to the curve to brake and take it can hurt your fuel efficiency.

Braking does this because it converts the forward momentum and energy that's already in your system to stopping power, which is never a 100% energy conversion. You're going to lose some energy, which means you're spending more gas than you need to for accelerations and stopping. Moreover, when you hit those traffic spots, remember that it takes more energy (so, more gas) to get going from a complete stop than it does from a reduced speed.

That means your best bet is to take your foot off the gas and coast for a bit when you first see those brake lights, stop sign or road signs indicating a curve ahead. Coasting means you're not using energy to slow down, so you'll get better gas mileage there. It can often be a bit more fun because you're able to accelerate through a curve or turn for a bit of a thrill.

3. Lose That Weight

How much stuff is in the back seat or trunk of your car right now? Does it need to be there or is it superfluous?

All of that stuff can add up quickly in terms of weight, especially if you're toting around exercise equipment, paper, heavy boxes, spare parts and anything else you just don't need. The more weight in your car, the more energy required to get it up to speed.

This can be even more important if you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle, says the team at Money Crashers. Weight in the trunk means weight on your rear axle, reducing your front wheels' ability to grip the road. That poor grip means your car is working harder to go the same speed, so you're again hurting that fuel economy.

This isn't necessarily going to be the greatest savings in the world, but cleaning out your car could pick you up a couple miles per gallon, which definitely adds up over time.

Now, the second diet benefit has a little bit of math and will take a little bit more of your time, so it's not the perfect recommendation for everyone, but it will help maximize your fuel efficiency. When filling up your car, don't fill it up all the way and don't top it off.

A gallon of gas weighs about 8.34 pounds, so a full tank can slow you down a little thanks to that extra weight. If you have the time and patience, filling up with less gas but a little more frequently may end up saving you some cash in the long run.

That gets even truer if you're topping off your tank. Angie's List experts note that topping off can kill the life of your car's charcoal canister. You might not even be getting any extra gas, because it can be drawn back into the station's pumps!

4. Maintain Your Aerodynamics

Safety concerns from blowouts are one reason that many of today's vehicles come with warning lights specifically for under-inflated tires. The added benefit is that keeping your tires inflated will give you better fuel efficiency.

When your tires are under inflated, they'll drag a little bit more on the ground and increase the surface area of your grip, which makes your engine put out more power to get your car moving. Proper inflation gives you the control you need thanks to an optimized grip, which helps you maximize that gas usage.

Check your owner's manual to find the right inflation pressure and keep it there. If you let your rate drop 10 PSI below the recommended level, you could be losing more than five miles per each gallon.

You can also opt for a set of tires that have a lower rolling resistance, which means they need less force to get them to roll on the road. This reduces the load on your engine and improves your overall MPG.

Unless you absolutely need that roof rack on the top of your car, take it off when you're traveling down the road. Bikes, carriers, kayaks, sports equipment and the racks that hold it all in place create more wind resistance and generate drag, which slows you down and causes your car to use more gas to reach the same speeds.

Take everything off when you're not using it, and at least store it in the truck — as we noted above the trunk isn't the best but at least this way you're only contending with weight and not with weight-plus-drag.

Some car-top options are aerodynamic, which means they create less drag than other boxes on top of your car. However, they're still generating more resistance than not having them up there. Fuel economy is often about keeping your car as close to factory recommendations as possible, so ditch the topper.

5. Time for a Tune-Up

Fuel efficiency depends on your engine much more than anything else can really provide. Chances are, you aren't looking under the hood before each trip, so you might be missing some changes and updates that could significantly boost fuel efficiency and the car closer to like-new status.

There are a few different things to check in your engine, and this list isn't exhaustive by any means, but it's the perfect place to start.

Air Filter

A clean air filter keeps dirt, grime, dust and a whole lot more out of the air in your engine. The better this performs, the better your fuel efficiency. It can be extremely easy to forget about the filter, but as it builds up layer upon layer of dirt and more, it'll work less efficiently and keep less gunk away from your engine's vulnerable parts.

When air filters clog, it has to work harder to keep things clear and filter the air. That extra work requires more power, and thus more gas. This is why many car companies recommend you change the filter annually. If you're moving from a filter that's a few years old to a brand new one, you just might see a couple MPG jump in your overall efficiency.

Spark Plugs

New spark plugs improve your fuel economy, because they have to work through less grime and buildup. New plugs require less gas for ignition and help your engine burn it more efficiently. Some reports say that old, worn-out spark plugs could be decreasing your fuel efficiency by as much as 30%.

Recommended Oil and Filter

Just like your car comes with a recommending PSI for tire pressure and a recommend fuel type for your gasoline, you have a manufacturer recommendation for motor oil and oil filters. Sticking to the right motor oil helps your car work more efficiently with less wear. Heavier oil will create friction on its own and cause your engine to work harder and burn more gas, while lighter oil doesn't protect enough from the heat and friction your engine is already causing.

Cleaning your oil and filter, plus replacing your filter regularly, allows your engine to run with as little friction and grinding as possible. You won't be doing any harm to your engine and you won't be making it work too hard by having it push through thick oil that's gumming everything.

A fuel injector turns your gas into a fine mist-like spray that's easier for your engine to combust. A continuous, consistent spray keeps your car burning at optimum efficiency. Over time, unfortunately, some of that mist and other deposits will build up on the injectors and causes the mist to turn into a blobby spray.

You might have seen some signs of gunky fuel injectors if you're having a rough or hard start, noisy idling and a general poor performance, including a decreased gas mileage. Fuel injectors only need cleaned every three years, or about every 50,000 miles, but the cleaning will create a noticeable difference if you haven't had it done before.

Fuel Filter & Fuel System Treatment

You might have seen some signs of gunky fuel injectors if you're having a rough or hard start, noisy idling and a general poor performance, including a decreased gas mileage. A fuel injector turns your gas into a fine mist-like spray that's easier for your engine to combust. A continuous, consistent spray keeps your car burning at optimum efficiency. Over time, unfortunately, some of that mist and other deposits will build up on the injectors and causes the mist to turn into a blobby spray.

Replacing you fuel filter regularly, allows for cleaner fuel to run through your injectors and better fuel economy. Burdi Motorworks recommends a fuel system treatment or fuel injector cleaner to prevent the formation of deposits in the fuel injection system. These additivities are typically organic chemicals that optimize certain properties of the fuel and assist in cleaning the system.

Gas Cap

Okay, so not all the tips involved the engine, but engine work will definitely have you thinking about other parts of your car. With that in mind, round your maintenance off with a quick check on the gas cap's seal. After a few years, the seal wears down and air will slowly leak into your tank. If that air enters your engine, it'll cause you to burn more gasoline and harm your fuel economy.

The good news is that gas caps are cheap, about $20 to $30, according to Money Crashers. The ones you get from these sources are less likely to cause concerns for the sensors that are present in many new cars.

6. When in Doubt, Just Ask Burdi Motorworks

As a leading Mercedes repair shop in Chicago, we always recommend going to a service team that specializes in your vehicle brand and uses genuine parts and replacements. It's quality you can't beat and helps keep those warranties safe.

Those are a few of our favorite general tips here at Burdi Motorworks, but the fuel economy of your ride could improve from a variety of other actions as well. Improving MPG is often about diagnosing and solving the problems you or your fleet face specifically.

That's why our Mercedes Fleet Services for Chicago and the surrounding areas take a complete look at your car, with an eye on the issues you're facing from wear and city driving. Almost nothing beats our traffic, potholes and closures that force you down unfamiliar routes. We've seen it all in these past 25 years and can help your fleet stay pristine even in those harsh winter conditions.

Come to the most trusted Mercedes repair shop Chicago has to offer whether you need a quick tune-up or want to repair your fleet after years of tough and reliable service. We'll get you back on your feet in no time.

Our Mercedes Fleet Services in Chicago are even open on Saturdays so you don't have to comprise on your customer service.