Keeping trucks on the road has become more expensive since drivers demand more pay (rightfully so), and repair costs are higher than before. But the biggest expense around the world is the rising cost of fuel.
The American Transportation Research Institute report shows that truck fuel prices increased by more than 35% last year. This has made the overall cost of trucking per mile the highest it’s ever been today.
However, there are many ways to make trucks use fuel more efficiently and cost less. Some of these are quick and easy and show results right away. Let’s discuss them below.
9 Tips for Improving Truck Fuel Efficiency
Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can be used to enhance fuel economy for your trucking journey. We have realized that a minor change in your journey on the road can have a great impact on how you can save your fuel costs.
1. Use fuel cards
Using trucking fuel cards is a smart way for trucking businesses to save money on fuel costs. These cards make buying fuel easier because drivers don’t need cash or credit cards, which helps prevent mistakes and fraud.
Many fuel card programs give discounts and rewards, which can really cut down on overall fuel expenses. The cards also have features that let businesses see how much fuel is being used in real-time, helping them control costs better.
They work well with reporting systems that show detailed information, making it easier for businesses to make smart fuel-use decisions. These cards can be customized to fit the business’s needs, helping them manage fuel costs better. Using fuel cards isn’t just about saving money; it’s a good investment that helps businesses run better.
2. Cut down on idling
Ever wondered how much fuel is consumed while idling? Surprisingly, one hour of idling uses a whole gallon of gas, and this can quickly accumulate. Minimizing idle time is a simple and highly effective strategy to slash fuel costs. While you might leave your truck running for comfort or safety during errands, turning it off whenever possible is advisable. Technology and engine settings can be used to limit idle time, saving on fuel and reducing maintenance expenses. Of course, there are situations where idling is necessary, especially in extreme weather conditions, prioritizing the truck driver’s comfort and safety.
For truckers employed by a company, it’s crucial to note that the company can access data from the truck’s computer, revealing the frequency of idling. Excessive idling might create a negative impression on your employer. Furthermore, an unattended truck idling is an attractive target for theft.
3. Minimize aggressive driving
After speeding, the next significant factor to address is harsh and frequent braking and accelerating. Consider the stop-start driving scenario when an eager trucker accelerates only to slow down on busy roads abruptly.
According to a 2017 study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, improving fuel economy in light-duty gasoline vehicles by 15% to 30% at highway speeds is possible by curbing aggressive driving. Based on this study, the US Department of Energy estimated potential savings between $0.26 and $1.06 per gallon of gasoline.
While heavy-duty trucks may not experience the exact results as light-duty vehicles, it’s unrealistic to expect a complete elimination of harsh driving habits. A more conservative estimate from a 2012 study, factoring in “real-world driving conditions,” suggests a 5–10% reduction in fuel use by ceasing harsh braking and accelerating, or up to 20% for particularly aggressive driving. The key takeaway remains clear: aggressive driving significantly contributes to fuel consumption.
4. Taking care of your trucks
Ensuring your truck is in optimal condition is fundamental to enhancing fuel efficiency. Routine maintenance checks play a crucial role in identifying and resolving issues that could be causing unnecessary fuel consumption.
Here are some things you should do:
- Follow the schedule the truck maker suggests for checking and fixing things.
- Don’t drive trucks that are damaged because it makes them less aerodynamic and uses more fuel. Fix any damage as soon as possible.
- Keep the tires in good shape and fill them with the right amount of air, like the truck maker says.
- Stick to a plan for changing the oil and air filter. This helps your trucks use less fuel.
5. Choosing the right tires
Using tires with low rolling resistance helps save fuel. Rolling resistance is like the energy lost when a tire is rolling. If your tires have less rolling resistance, you waste less fuel. A small improvement in rolling resistance means a small improvement in fuel efficiency.
But not all fleets can use these tires. You need to think about how much weight your fleet carries and the routes your trucks take. No matter what kind of tires you use, make sure they have enough air. This keeps the tires in good condition and helps your trucks use less fuel. If a tire is not filled enough, you could use one to one-and-a-half percent more fuel for every ten psi it’s under-inflated.
6. Use cruise control
Trucks nowadays have a cool thing called cruise control. It helps them keep a steady speed, which uses less fuel than going fast and slow.
When it’s okay, turn on cruise control. It helps the truck use fuel the best way.
7. Fuel-efficient route planning
When a truck has to go somewhere, there are many ways it can take. Some ways use less fuel. You need to think about how many miles it is and if there will be lots of traffic. Sometimes, going a bit farther to avoid a busy area is better for using less fuel.
Look at the ways your company usually goes and find the ones that use the least fuel. Then, make sure your drivers use those ways.
To make it easy, you can use things like GPS and special software. They help drivers find the best way to go and use less fuel.
8. Make the truck lighter
If a truck carries too much stuff, it uses more fuel. Check what’s in the truck often and take out things that aren’t needed.
Also, think about using light things for trailers and containers to make the truck weigh less.
9. Go easy on air conditioning
Turning on a vehicle’s air conditioning (A/C) uses more fuel. It’s been tested in cars, and it was found that A/C in a car driving at 65 mph can make the fuel use 3% more. Some say it could even be as much as 30% more, but it’s not clear for trucks.
While it’s not easy to say exactly how much A/C affects a truck’s fuel use, it does make a difference, and 3% is probably the least it can be. So, using A/C less will save fuel.
But, it’s also important to know that not using A/C might be really hard for drivers, especially in really hot weather.
Let’s save more!
To sum up, it’s crucial for truck drivers to enhance fuel efficiency, cutting down on operating expenses and boosting profits.
Small changes in how you drive and take care of your trucks can lead to substantial yearly savings.
Whether it’s adjusting your speed, reducing idling, or keeping an eye on tire pressure, there are various ways for truck drivers to increase fuel economy.
Adopting these practices not only helps the environment by reducing your carbon footprint but also improves overall efficiency, saving money and preserving your vehicles.
In the end, these efforts contribute to a more sustainable and lucrative business.