Did you know that improving your truck’s fuel economy by 1 MPG can help you save up to $10,000 a year? This may sound outrageous, but if you do the math, these big savings on truck fuel are easily possible. The secret here is improving your fuel economy by avoiding common mistakes that eat up extra amounts of gas.
As former truckers, we will share with you our insider tips on how to improve fuel economy. The 10 crucial steps below are great ways to start, whether for your trucking business or private vehicle.
Why is it important to maximize fuel economy?
So why do you have to improve your fuel economy? It all boils down to two major points: money savings and stretching your truck’s lifespan.
By improving your fleet’s number of miles per gallon, you can save thousands of dollars per year. The more distance you travel, the bigger the savings will be.
Aside from that, fuel efficiency will also reduce unnecessary wear and tear on your truck. This means that you’ll have fewer trips to an auto shop, thus further savings.
Unfortunately, some fleets tend to record low MPGs due to various reasons, including poor driver training, inefficient routes, and underinflated tires.
These and other factors can be easily fixed to help you get more distance on every gallon of fuel. It will also translate to a higher bottom line for your trucking business.
What is good fuel economy?
Since we’re talking about improving fuel economy, many are wondering, “What is considered a ‘good’ truck gas mileage?
In general, the average mile per gallon for semi trucks is around 6.5 miles per gallon (MPG). On the lower end, it’s around 5.6 MPG. These are the benchmarks, but they can be improved with good driving practices and the right choice of vehicle.
For example, the Kenworth T680 Advantage logs 9 miles per gallon, thanks to its range of design improvements. The Freightliner Cascadia Evolution is one of the trucks with the best gas mileage that can achieve 10 MPG.
There’s also the Mack Pinnacle that’s almost at 8 MPG with improved wind resistance and a low center of gravity. All these vehicles join more fuel-efficient pickup trucks and semi-trucks with modern designs.
How to increase fuel economy for your trucking business
Do you want to achieve the best semi-truck MPG for your fleet? Here are some simple yet effective ways to get started:
1. Manage your cruise speed
Does driving faster use more gas? It’s a big yes. In fact, a 1 mph increase in your cruise speed can instantly reduce fuel economy by 0.1 MPG.
That may not seem like a big number at first glance. But for long haul trucks covering thousands of miles, the excessive fuel use will easily add up. So does driving slower save gas? Definitely.
In general, the best speed for gas mileage is around 55 to 60 mph for trucks. By keeping this cruise speed, you’re not causing unnecessary wear and tear on the tires and engine. This means your trucks’ parts will work more efficiently on the road, reducing drag and overall maintenance costs.
2. Mind your cruise RPM
Another thing you should manage is your truck’s cruising RPM. This refers to how fast your engine’s crankshaft spins at specific speeds.
The sweet spot is around 1,250 to 1,350 RPM. This is just above idling, enough to keep your engine running without stalling.
Aside from saving fuel, managing your truck’s cruising speed will also stretch the life of your engine. This translates to more savings in the long run.
3. Take a strategic route
Taking the shortest route possible is a no-brainer way to save fuel on your trucking business. Still, this takes a lot of planning to ensure that your journey will be efficient and safe for your haul.
The good thing is that many software allows you to map out your route. It will also let you find the best possible way to reach your shipment’s destination.
4. Keep an ideal tire pressure
Keeping proper tire pressure not only increases its lifespan but can also improve your truck’s fuel economy.
Underinflated tires are found to lower a vehicle’s gas mileage by 0.2% in every 1 psi drop. It’s because underinflated tires have more drag, which slows down your vehicle. Your engine will then compensate by consuming more fuel.
This can easily increase fuel consumption over long distances. Aside from that, underinflated tires will put you at risk of road accidents.
5. Avoid too much idling
Many truckers leave their engines idling to keep the lights, heaters, and other devices on. In moderation, this is not too harmful. But although your truck isn’t moving, idling still uses fuel.
On average, idling will burn half a gallon of fuel per hour. Even if you only do it a few minutes a day, the habit can be costly in a matter of months.
6. Avoid aggressive driving
Improving your truck’s mileage is not only about finding the right speed for the best fuel economy. It also involves proper driving habits.
Harsh accelerating and braking are fuel-burning practices. In fact, fuel consumption can be reduced by 5% to 10% if the driver will stop aggressive stop-and-start habits. In some cases, the fuel savings can be as much as 20% for the most aggressive cases.
The bottom line here is this: disciplined drivers drive more fuel-efficient trucks.
7. Keep a low load height
Another way to improve semi truck fuel economy is to distribute your load evenly inside the trailer. The rule of thumb is to keep the load height low, so the truck will need less power to start moving.
Aside from that, make sure that the heaviest loads are placed at the lower levels. This will keep the entire haul stable, which will help reduce drag.
On top of that, this practice is also a matter of safety. By distributing your load evenly, there will be less risk of accidents once the door is opened.
8. Reduce air conditioning
A truck’s air conditioning system can reduce fuel economy by a whopping 3 MPG. While this can be unavoidable in some cases, you can save fuel by cracking a window from time to time.
Aside from that, you can run the fan once the air inside your truck is already cool. You should also use sunshades or curtains to block sunlight to prevent your truck’s interior from getting hotter.
9. Improve your truck’s aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a big science behind fuel economy. As mentioned, the average semi truck’s MPG is 6.5 miles, which can be drastically improved by implementing aerodynamic changes.
Here are some steps you can take to improve this aspect:
- Reduce your truck’s drag. Drag is the force in the opposite direction, which slows down your vehicle. Some of these parts are bike racks, flags, trailer skirts, and side fairings. When this happens, your truck will compensate by revving the engine more and using extra gas.
- Keep your bumper in good shape. Maintaining your truck’s bumper is not just about aesthetics. A cracked and heavily damaged bumper will reduce your aerodynamics a notch. And if you do a lot of highway driving, it’s even more crucial to keep this part repaired right away.
- Reduce truck and trailer gap. You can use a cover to patch the gap between your truck and trailer. There are specialized covers in the market that ensures maneuverability while reducing drag on this part of your truck.
- Use aerodynamic mud flaps. Slotted mud flaps are more efficient than solid rubber types. It allows air to pass through, which reduces drag on your vehicle.
10. Invest in driver training
Lastly, it’s important to invest in professional driver training to boost your fleet’s boost fuel economy. This includes how to use the most fuel-efficient speed, proper braking and accelerating practices, combining trips, and more.
Aside from saving money on fuel, this training will also improve your fleet’s performance in general.
Incentivizing driver training is also a great way to encourage your truckers to observe proper practices.
Save more fuel money with Factoring Express fuel card
Do you want to get more fuel savings? If yes, then you should consider getting the Factoring Express fuel card for your fleet.
Our fuel cards work for your trucking business by providing exclusive perks and discounts. It can be used at hundreds of fuel stops nationwide, making it a perfect choice for all fleets.
As the best fuel card for truckers, Factoring Express can help you secure multiple savings. Our fuel card will give you up to 25% savings on maintenance products and 0.35 cents per gallon of fuel. This means thousands of dollars in savings every year and more!
So if you’re ready to save money on fuel, contact us at Factoring Express and we’ll get you started!