Fuel prices have soared in recent months with the impact on truck drivers and companies felt across the board. With companies reporting fuel costs increasing by tens of thousands of dollars within the first week of the most recent price spike, many are looking closely at ways to reduce operating costs.
As of April 2022, the US average price of diesel fuel sat at $5.15 per gallon. Considering that an average truck holds up to 300 gallons of fuel it can now cost over $1545 to fill up the empty tanks. In Canada, the average price is $7.49 per gallon, raising the fill-up to $2247.
Companies and drivers can’t control the price of fuel, making operating efficiency the best available option. While investing in tractor and trailer aerodynamics is an effective means to improve fuel economy, it is done so at a significant cost. But by changing driver behavior you can immediately reduce fuel costs.
Ways Drivers Can Increase Fuel Efficiency
Reduce Speed - According to the American Trucker’s Association, making the shift from 75 MPH to 65 MPH improves fuel consumption by 27%.
Cruise Control - Keeping your speed set at 65 MPH and maintaining a consistent RPM around 1300 can conserve up to 6% in fuel consumption.
Minimize Idling - Trucks burn approximately .8 to 1 gallon per hour of idling. According to one estimate, rest stop idling burns more than one billion gallons of fuel each year. Increase fuel efficiency by reducing unnecessary idling.
Leave Space - Each time you slow down, you need to speed up, and accelerating burns more fuel. By leaving space between you and the vehicle in front, you reduce the amount of braking, thus reducing the amount of unnecessary acceleration.
Use Momentum - Running in the highest possible gear in your circumstances increases efficiency. Using lower gears at higher speeds consumes up to 45% more fuel than needed, so, when possible, use your momentum. When are driving through hilly or mountainous terrain, use your downhill momentum to assist in the climb on the other side.
Tire Pressure - Peak tire performance is achieved through proper inflation. As minor as it may seem, for every 1 PSI drop in tire pressure, fuel mileage is reduced by 0.2 - 0.3%. Considering a tire running at 10 PSI below optimum tire pressure results in a 10% reduction in fuel efficiency, this adds up as the miles roll by. Coupled with tire pressure is your tire alignment. A tire misalignment that is off by less than a half-inch can result in 10-15 feet of sideways travel for each mile causing a decrease in fuel efficiency.
Don’t Overfill - Fuel expands when heated. Filling your truck’s tank to the top of the rim, though it may seem like a good idea, can actually result in overflow and wasted fuel.
Stay Tuned Up - Trucks running at peak efficiency are ones that have been mechanically maintained. According to Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc., a well-maintained engine could have an improvement of 4.1% better fuel economy. So look after your truck and remember to change your oil and all fluids within their manufacturer-recommended timelines.