It is no secret the US Trucking industry spends billions on diesel fuel every year. Whether you are a company driver or owner/operator, fuel efficiency and rising fuel prices will ultimately affect you in one way or another. It all comes down to the numbers, improving your fuel efficiency by just 1 MPG could save thousands of dollars. We have compiled a list of tips and tricks by some of our best OTR drivers to help you get the best fuel economy.
1. Managing Speed and RPMs
The most obvious step is also the most disregarded. When moving a 25K rig the faster you go the more fuel you are going to burn. Even on flat roads drag and wind resistance increase exponentially and will kill your MPGs. Our drivers recommend around 1200 – 1300 RPMs as an ideal cruise speed for optimal diesel fuel efficiency.
“A truck driving 75 mph consumes 27% more fuel than one driving 65 mph, the ATA has found. According to their estimate, capping truck speed at 65 mph would net the trucking industry another 2.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel saved, over the course of a decade.” Adam Rowe Tech.co January 2021
2. Keep your tires inflated
Tire management is extremely important for heavy duty trucks for a variety of reasons including safety, but did you know that under inflated tires can wreak havoc on your fuel consumption? The US Department of Energy states “Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer”
Fluctuating temperatures and normal wear and tear can throw off tire pressures so be sure to check them regularly and inflate as recommended by the manufacturer.
3. Turn the truck off
Most newer Diesel truck manufacturers with Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) systems highly discourage extended periods of idling the engine because of possible crystallization of the DEF on the fuel injectors. With that being said you don’t need any fancy charts or studies to know the truck doesn’t burn fuel when it’s not running, so when conditions permit turn it off. You are giving the engine a break and over the course of a million miles you could rack up a significant amount of money and time saved at the pump.
4. Tune it up
Another exceptional way to boost fuel efficiency is to keep tabs on your regular and preventative maintenance. Clogged air filters, oil quality, poor batteries and connections can not only leave you stranded on the side of the road but will slowly chip away at your fuel efficiency.
5. Pay Attention
Incredibly, paying attention to the road can have an effect on fuel efficiency. Watching traffic lights and letting off the gas well in advance makes a much safer approach and reduces fuel consumption. By keeping your eyes on the road you can see upcoming slow traffic and avoid excessive braking and accelerating. Simply being more aware of your surroundings you can easily improve your MPGs.
6. Run in proper gear
Moving freight requires lots of gears to not only get the rig moving from a dead stop, but also power through mountains and steep grades. Situations like these require a lot of shifting and ultimately are going to burn fuel. The trick is to shift while in the sweet spot without unnecessarily high RPMs. Using the proper gear for your speed will have you running lower RPM’s, and lower RPM’s mean burn less fuel.
7. Efficient trip planning
When receiving your load and executing a trip plan don’t forget to factor in some important details related to your route. Take into account not just the routes themselves but double check weather conditions coming in and out of your drop, best fuel stops based on your load, and even time of day you would be refueling can all impact your run. — see Number 8
8. Use cold fuel
You may have heard pumping fuel in the morning or at night gets you more bang for your buck than doing so during the middle of the day. Not only is it true but the effect is magnified for semi trucks and the volume of fuel they take at fill up. The rising temperatures during the middle of the day causes the fuel to expand in the tanks lowering the percentage of fuel you end up driving off with. As mentioned in the previous step, proper trip planning can go a long way.
The Bottom Line:
The cost of operating a truck is extremely high without even considering fuel consumption. Today most trucking companies incentivize fuel efficiency and regardless if you are an owner/ operator or company driver it is ultimately in your best interest to get the most MPGs possible. Dynamic Transit runs a fleet of Peterbilt 389’s with 10 speed manual transmissions. Our managers take extra time with on-the-job training and coaching to get the most out of their trucks.