You may not realize it, but of all the variable costs for a truck owner-operator—such as maintenance, insurance, permits, licenses, and tolls—fuel is your most controllable expense, but also the easiest to waste. So how do you accomplish good fuel economy? Your truck must overcome three things: air resistance, rolling resistance, and gravity. Here are some driving tips to address these issues and avoid wasting fuel.
Did you know it takes about 40-50 more horsepower to drive at 75 mph than at 65 mph? Higher speed requires more horsepower, which in turn requires more fuel. Experts agree that every mile per hour driven over 60 mph reduces fuel economy by one-tenth of a mile per gallon.
And each time you fill your tank, check your miles per gallon. If it ever falls, determine the reason.
Once a week, check the air pressure in all 18 of your tires and air them up to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Slower acceleration consumes less fuel and is easier on your equipment. Quick acceleration may get you a few extra seconds, but it creates premature wear on your engine, driveline, and tires, in addition to increasing your fuel costs.
Slow braking avoids precious fuel from being converted to wasted energy. With hard braking, a lot of the fuel you’ve used to get up to speed is wasted when you apply the brakes. Watch ahead a distance of 12 seconds, and you should rarely have to react at the last split second.
Idling requires about a gallon of fuel per hour. That’s about $80 a week if your truck idles for eight hours a day. An extra blanket for when it’s cold outside and window screens for when it’s warm can help limit your idle time.
Although your ride may not be as good, when your trailer is snug tight to the tractor, you cut down on wind resistance. The fuel savings are worth the trade-off.
If you work for a trucking company (about 30% of all truck drivers are employed by the trucking industry), buy fuel through your company’s fuel network to control the cost and quality of fuel.