How to Better Your Gas Mileage – 10 Tips to Get to 10 MPG
Fuel is one of the largest expenses trucking companies face when managing their fleet. AAA reports that the current national average for diesel fuel is $2.92. Being that, fueling up your heavy-duty trucks for a long-haul can cost an upwards of $800 depending on the tank setup. So, we’ve put together a list of ten factors to think about to maximize your time and money.
1. Monitor speed
During those long trips, it may be tempting to drive as fast as possible to get from point A to point B. However, doing so has a major effect on your fuel efficiency. On average, every 1 mile per hour increase results in a 0.14 mile per gallon decrease in fuel economy. So, if you have a lead foot try to keep your speed lower, or do so automatically by having your truck’s ECM set so the road speed limiter restricts the truck to a certain speed.
2. Minimize Idling
While you don’t want to turn your heavy-duty truck off during a traffic jam, it is important that you minimize idling. When you realize you are going to be parked somewhere for a while, like during a delivery or at a rest stop, it’s better that you turn the engine off rather than let it run as doing so wastes diesel.
3. Watch your weight
Weight can be maintained in two ways: both by what you haul and the truck itself. Heavier trucks require more fuel to accelerate especially on hills and rough terrain. They also reduce the amount of cargo that can be carried on a rig. Semi-trucks can certainly haul more than other vehicles on the road, but carrying more than necessary can affect your overall performance. Before starting a long trek, be sure to double check that your load is not more than the semi-truck is designed to carry. Similarly, make sure that you are not carrying anything inside your cab that is unnecessary for the trip, particularly if you are driving a sleeper model.
4. Keep proper inflation of your tires
This one may seem like a no-brainer but the importance of keeping your tires inflated to the recommended pressure is sometimes easily forgotten. Across the board, proper tire inflation can help improve fuel economy.
Tires that are not properly inflated flex more under load, producing heat and increasing rolling resistance, which wastes fuel. The heat and stress caused by improper inflation can also affect your overall tire components. From uneven wear to the increased risk of tire failure, this can lead to high road service and maintenance costs.
5. Use tech in your favor
Advancements in technology for the trucking industry have come a long way in the past few years. From predictive maintenance monitoring services to self-driving all-electric semi-trucks, this technology is only going to keep growing. So why not take advantage of those modifications to better your driver experience and fuel economy?
In some cases, the key to getting to 10 MPG is as simple as setting cruise control on smooth terrain. In other cases, like in the case of this Mack Anthem test drive, it takes a little more skill behind the wheel, and a bit of coordination between complimentary specs.
6. Use the right fuel and oil
When it comes to maximizing your fuel economy, the type of diesel that keeps your heavy-duty trucks running makes all the difference. It is important to be aware that seasons can dictate the type of fuel and oil you put into your truck, with thinner fuels and oils recommended for those sweltering summers.
You also want to make sure that you do not overfill your tank when it is time to refuel. High temperatures can lead to fuel expanding in the tanks, which can lead to an overflow and, in turn, wasted fuel and wasted money.
7. Stay in a higher gear when possible
It’s pretty simple, when you gradually increase or decrease your speed rather than coming to an abrupt halt or speeding up faster than absolutely necessary, you won’t switch gears as much, which burns less fuel.
8. Use experienced drivers and keep them trained
Drivers are the number one expense of trucking companies and they are arguably the biggest factor when attempting to control your fuel costs. According to ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), the most skilled drivers can produce as much as 35% better mpg than less-skilled truck operators.
Even the most experienced drivers can improve their skills through technique training. Well trained drivers can lower fuel consumption by:
- Using cruise control where appropriate
- Using progressive shifting techniques (upshift at the lowest RPM possible)
- Block shifting (Going from 2nd to 5th gear)
- Starting out in a gear that doesn’t require the use of the throttle when releasing the clutch
9. Take advantage of computerized routing and scheduling software
Computerized routing and scheduling softwares allow fleets to base their routes on optimization models for more efficient travel. Inefficiencies in freight operations can often cause semi-trucks to travel empty, use longer or more congested roads and idle unnecessarily. All of these inefficiencies can be minimized by a software that constructs fleet routes based on driver hours-of-service rules, pickup and delivery times, heavy-duty truck constraints, compatibility between the truck and the cargo, availability and much more.
10. Consider more aerodynamic models
Manufacturers have made strides to mitigate inherent drag in design. Some aerodynamic features are standard on many heavy-duty trucks, like a streamlined hood, but this also means that newer models have a leg-up when it comes to fuel-efficient aerodynamic features. A streamlined front profile, sloped hoods, and full add-on packages with cab extenders, roof fairings and more, have made it possible to customize a rig that fits your hauling needs while also retaining upscale aerodynamic qualities. While the initial cost of these options, or even a new semi-truck can be steep, by minimizing drag and maximizing aerodynamic components to your cab and trailer often quickly recoup the expense through fuel savings.
Bring out the best in your heavy-duty truck fuel economy and extend the life of your vehicle by following these tips. If you need any help, Nextran Truck Centers has locations in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Give us a call at one of our 16 locations.