Maximizing Your Fuel Economy Brings Peace of MindIt’s the most substantial expense a truck driver incurs: fuel. With prices rising from coast to coast, truck performance is key to keeping your hard-earned money right where it belongs, in your wallet.
Diesel fuel prices across the county are averaging $3.20 a gallon, with the highest on the West Coast at $4.08, according to the Energy Information Association.
The heavier your truck is, the more diesel it takes to power it. The largest benefits come from light loads and low speed drive cycles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But an empty truck can’t make money, so truck drivers have to do a number of things to increase their fuel economy.
1. Planning your drive
Getting all of the information about your load and where you're going is key. If you pick up a load that weighs 60,000 pounds and you have to drive 300 miles, have you done your due diligence in figuring out what you're going to make per mile? What if the weight has been over-estimated?
2. Driving the speed limit
A driver getting a load to its destination on time versus a driver attempting to save on fuel has the potential to be nothing more than a pain. Higher speeds contribute not only to higher fuel costs, but wear and tear on the truck itself.
3. Acceleration control
Pedal to the metal? Technically, it's not the best idea. The faster you try to get to a good speed the harder your truck has to work - the more air it has to push out of the way. Think about pushing your hand through a pool of water and the resistance you feel the faster you go. It's like that.
4. Minimizing idle time
Unnecessary engine idling not only cuts into fuel costs, but it also adds to unneeded maintenance on your truck. An idling semi burns 0.8 gallon per hour, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center with the Department of Energy.
5. Keeping maintenance up-to-date
You want a return on your investment and keeping your truck in tip-top shape costs you less in the long run. With proper upkeep on oil and filter changes, engine and transmission work, fluids, exhaust, belts and hoses... You can help mitigate additional fuel costs.
6. Braking smart
Seems simple, but driving habits are key. The more you brake the more you have to accelerate. Inefficient braking or aggressive driving isn't optimal for fuel costs because lower gears require faster engine revolutions.
7. Fuel cards are handy
Different companies may offer different discounts, but the savings add up over time. Using a fleet fuel card can save you a significant amount of money yearly because fuel is often discounted and there are no annual fees.
8. Driving in higher gears
It seems obvious, but staying in lower gears for longer is a waste of that precious liquid and an even bigger drain on your wallet. Each truck is a little different and it's important to find the "sweet spot" on speed.
Making sure you have the correct pressure in your tires can increase your fuel efficiency by an average of 0.6% and up to 3%, according to the NHTSA. And don't forget to rotate them either!
10. Cutting out extra stops
The more you stop, the more it costs. Plan ahead when refueling, getting coffee, grabbing a bite to eat, using the restroom, sleeping, and the like. Another thing - try to make sure if you do have to stop, you stop along your route and not somewhere out of the way.