Tips For Boosting Your Over-The-Road Fuel Mileage
Fuel prices may be lower than they were a few years ago, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned the hard way in recent years, you can’t predict the cost of fuel. Whatever it is, it will remain a significant part of your trucking budget. That means every little thing you can do to boost over-the-road fuel mileage benefits your bottom line.
Savvy truckers and fleet managers know that “little” improvements can add up handsomely. It’s simple math to pencil out what a small savings per tank of fuel would bring you over a year’s time. The steps you take to get better fuel mileage usually help your truck perform better in other ways as well.
To start, are your driving practices focused on fuel efficiency?
Here are four reminders you can use right now to save fuel:
- Check your tire pressure daily. Even a tiny amount of under-inflation produces drag that reduces over-the-road fuel mileage and increases tire wear.
- Find your RPM sweet spot. With many engines, slower speed means better fuel mileage. But that’s not necessarily true if your truck is geared for high speed operation. You’ll do better to find the RPM that gives you the smoothest performance, and try to stay close to that.
- Shift at lower PRMs. Progressive shifting reduces fuel consumption because less fuel is burned during the transition.
- Don’t let your truck idle unnecessarily. A few minutes here and there become hours over the week, and worse over the year. Yes, we’re heading into summer and it’s likely to be hot while you’re on the road, so it’s tempting to idle to keep the AC going – especially on your long breaks. Experts recommend you find an alternative – go to an air-conditioned movie theatre, for example, and give your truck a rest. Idling not only wastes fuel, it causes undue wear and tear on your truck.
There are longer-term ways to boost over-the-road fuel mileage, too.
Consider these four additional tips:
- Switching to low rolling resistance tires. The bigger each tire’s footprint, the more friction it creates as it rolls across the pavement. Friction causes resistance, so you burn more fuel.
- Adding trailer skirts. Aerodynamic accessories make your truck look snazzy, but their true purpose is to reduce airflow. Like surface resistance, wind resistance works against you when it comes to fuel efficiency. However, industry experts say investing in wind resistance options is a good investment only if you own your truck. You should also pencil out cost vs. potential savings from each option to know which one(s) make sense for your operation.
- Adding an APU. This can help improve fuel mileage and reduce maintenance costs. If your truck is leased, check to be sure installing an APU is allowed.
- Upgrading your truck. Older trucks don’t have the built-in fuel efficiency features, especially if they were manufactured before 2012. Investing in a new truck (or a higher lease payment) is a serious decision, but it could ultimately benefit your business through fuel savings and lower maintenance costs. Once again, you’ll have to get out your pencil to see if replacing your truck makes bottom-line sense for your operation.
And don’t neglect your truck’s regular preventive maintenance schedule.
Keeping your vehicle in top running form not only keeps you rolling, it protects your investment by avoiding costly repairs and extending the life of your truck.
With these tips, your over-the-road fuel mileage will be right on the money. And that will ensure you’re getting the most from your fuel investment, whatever today’s price of fuel.