June 8, 2022
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With diesel fuel and gas prices rising, many truck drivers and owner-operators are looking for ways to save on fuel. Below are some tips for making those trips to the pump less painful.
The average semi truck only gets 6.5 miles to the gallon. This changes drastically based on load weight and whether or not you’re driving uphill or downhill. Unfortunately it’s not possible to always drive downhill or unloaded. But there are still many ways to improve fuel efficiency when driving a big rig.
When you’re trying to make a tight delivery deadline, slowing down may not be what you want to do. But driving slower not only keeps you safer, it reduces the amount of fuel you use. Every time you increase your speed, you consume more fuel. And that extra 5 miles per hour probably won’t make a huge difference in the time you arrive at your destination. So drive the speed limit, or even a few mph slower to save on fuel.
Aggressive acceleration and braking waste gas and put extra strain on your truck. Keeping your truck at a steady speed with cruise control can help you save on fuel consumption and also reduce wear on your brakes.
Idling not only wastes gas, but it can also put stress on your truck’s engine and lead to higher repair costs down the road. Some states (like California) even have laws regarding truck idling time. Obviously you can’t help but idle when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, but if your truck is parked, turn the engine off whenever possible. Some truck stops offer Truck Stop Electrification (TSE). This technology enables truckers to use off-board power to support truck drivers’ rest period needs, like air-conditioning or power for appliances or charging devices.
When tires are underinflated, the vehicle burns more fuel to compensate for the poor tire performance. And this is another habit that can lead to more problems in the future. A good rule to remember is that every decrease in tire pressure reduces fuel mileage by 0.3%. Check your tire pressure regularly, and make sure that the tire inflation is within the guidelines for your truck to get the most out of your diesel fuel.
This is probably the easiest way to see your efforts in fuel cost reduction pay off. When trip planning, make sure to scout out the gas stations and truck stops with the lowest fuel prices. When you’re buying up to 300 gallons of fuel, a savings of even $0.10 per gallon of diesel can have a big impact.
Whether you’re an owner-operator or manage a fleet, making sure the trucks you buy are fuel-efficient should be a high priority. A lot of truck manufacturers are starting to offer fuel-efficient models or even alternative fuel options in their vehicles. There are also lots of aerodynamic options available that offer improved mpg or reduced emissions. So do some research before buying a new truck, and find a model that will save you some money at the pumps.