The cost of fuel is your largest expense. Unfortunately there is not one magic solution to improve your miles per gallon (MPG.) It is a series of applications and processes that must be followed diligently. The good news is that the most significant variable affecting fuel economy is you. The truck driver controls many of the conditions that dramatically impact MPG. It is not uncommon for fleets with identically specified trucks to experience as much as 25% (5.0 vs. 6.7 MPG) difference in fuel consumption between the best and worst drivers. Educate yourself on MPG factors, and start saving now.
Find the sweet spot, usually 63 – 65 mph. This can be implemented immediately and does not require any up front capital investment. It is likely to be your largest cost-saving item.
Choose Your Blend Wisely
Summer blend # 2 diesel fuel has a higher BTU (higher heat value) content than #1 winter blend and contributes to better fuel economy. Winter blend is responsible for a 2.5 % penalty.
Cut Idle Time
A diesel engine consumes approximately one gallon of fuel per hour. Excessive idling can contribute to carbon build up and/or engine slobber and is detrimental to the engine.
Allow Engine “Warm Up” and “Shut Down”
The best and fastest way to warm up an engine is to begin driving at part throttle shortly after startup, following a pre-trip inspection. To shut down, before exiting the highway, take your foot off the throttle and coast long enough to decelerate the tractor to the point where a minimum amount of braking is required. A tractor trailer can coast a long way, during which the engine is not consuming fuel. With such a light load on the engine for 2 – 3 minutes, the engine can cooled sufficiently and shut down.
Reduce speed and coast before applying the brakes.
Use the Cruise
We know this hurts a little, but the computer is more efficient than you.
Repeat after us…Aerodynamics. Come on, you can say it. Big hoods are dinosaurs. While we’re on that subject, the tractor-trailer gap also affects aerodynamics. A 6-foot gap can represent a 7.5% penalty. For every 12 inches of trailer gap, the fuel mileage changes approximately 1%.
Monitor Tire Pressure
Proper tire inflation pressure is important for your safety and that of others. Maintaining correct inflation will optimize tire life, ride quality and fuel economy.
Install an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
APUs can and should be installed to eliminate unnecessary idling, obey many state’s anti-idling laws and save money. Estimated fuel savings for one year are between $5,500 and $6,000.
As a value-added service for truck operators at GDS, we have negotiated the best fuel prices available nationwide with our top five fuel providers. That’s right, we never pay the advertised price! By fueling in network and taking advantage of our discounts, singles can save more than $5,000 a year, and teams can save more than $9,000 a year. That is smart business.
Source: Some information was taken from “Understanding Tractor Trailer Performance”, by Caterpillar.
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