Whether you’re a semi-truck driver or you manage a fleet of trucks, you can save a lot of money by minimizing your fuel costs. Gasoline and diesel costs tend to add up in an industry that requires a lot of pickups, deliveries, and travel time.
Since semi-trucks are so heavy, they aren’t the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market. On average, semi-trucks get only 6.5 miles per gallon. Their efficiency ranges wildly between 3 mpg going up hills to more than 23 mpg going downhill. But even if it were possible to plan entire routes with only downhill roads, that’s not the most efficient method of improving fuel efficiency.
Instead, let’s focus on how drivers can help mitigate fuel costs. Follow these simple tips to save fuel and money at the same time.
Don’t Overfill Your Tank
When the tank is filled to capacity, it can expand and overflow when the fuel is heated. The sun can heat gain the tank, or fuel can be heated by the engine and cause overflow when it returns to the tank. Overflow is wasteful and dangerous to other drivers on the road. The extra fuel can also add to extra weight, which slows down the vehicle.
Be Moderate with Braking
When your truck comes to a complete stop, it requires more fuel to get back up to speed. Although all vehicles should come to a complete stop at stop signs and stoplights and follow all other traffic laws, drivers can use braking techniques to minimize unnecessary complete stops.
Regulate Your Speed
When you maintain a constant speed, you maintain a steady fuel usage. When you accelerate, you burn more fuel. If you accelerate more quickly, you burn more fuel. That’s why it’s important to maintain a speed at the speed limit. For trucks, the speed limit is usually no higher than 65 mph.
Regularly Inflate Your Tires
When your tires are correctly inflated, you improve your fuel efficiency. For every 1 psi drop in pressure that your tires have, your under-inflated tires can lower your gas mileage by .3%. When your tires are inflated, they have a longer lifespan and are safer for the road.
Stay in a Higher Gear
Instead of starting and stopping, try speeding up and slowing down incrementally. You’ll have to make fewer gear changes to raise and reduce your speed, and higher gears save fuel.
Avoid Idling Your Truck
Many drivers leave their trucks idling while they run a quick errand. Or they keep the truck idling to maintain the temperature during a cold or hot day. They may even want to avoid restarting the vehicle. However, you should never let your semi-truck idle for longer than five minutes. One hour of idling will burn a gallon of gas. Turn your truck off if you need to leave it for a while it’s probably the easiest way to save fuel.
Use Your Momentum
When you drive a heavy truck, you build a lot of momentum. Even when you drive at a consistent speed, you build momentum that can carry you through a stoplight if you don’t break in time. On hills, though, you can use your momentum to your advantage. Collect momentum before going up a hill so you can use the energy to make it to the top of the hill. Once you reach the apex of a hill, you can use your gathered momentum to ride the downhill slope without using your gas pedal. When you approach a stop or exit, start slowing down long before you reach the actual stop. Use your brakes minimally, as they waste your momentum and lower your fuel efficiency.
Watch Slippery Roads
It’s harder for tires to grip roads when they’re slippery from ice, rain, or oil. Even gravel surfaces make accelerating more difficult. Large semis need to accelerate slowly from a stop to avoid accidents and save fuel.
Fix Your Deflectors
If your truck has roof-mounted air deflectors, you can adjust them to guide air over the highest part of your trailer. If you have an uneven load height, this should be at the front of the trailer.
Keep Your Load Height Low
If your load is unevenly distributed, it can affect how much effort your truck needs to make to get moving. Try to keep your load as low and even as possible to improve the fuel economy.
Have a Good Driver Attitude
The most important aspect of maximizing your fuel economy is having a good attitude. When you or your drivers always keep fuel efficiency in mind, you’ll be more likely to use these simple techniques to improve your fuel consumption. Even the best plans to improve fuel efficiency are useless if the drivers don’t want to implement them.
Get Started Today
Your fuel usage doesn’t have to represent a static cost. Even as the price of gasoline and diesel fluctuate, you can improve your semi-truck’s fuel efficiency and start saving money today.