Use these driver-focused tips to maximize MPG's and save at the pump this summer.
Owner-operator truck drivers and fleet owners alike know that fuel is a key variable cost that goes into determining their profit. Just one fill-up on diesel can be anywhere from $450 to $950.
Last summer we shared 4 Simple Ways to Get the Best Fuel Mileage for Your Semi-Truck, which included tips about staying on top of truck maintenance and equipping rigs with aerodynamic parts such as trailer skirts and other upgrades like automated manual transmissions.
Don't get me wrong, adding those parts to your semi are still great ways to save on fuel, but they cost money and take time to install. As a driver, you have the power to control your rigs fuel consumption in many small ways that can quickly add up to huge savings on fuel. Here are 10 free ways for truck drivers to start saving on fuel today.
1. Monitor tire pressure regularly
It's been found that semi trucks can have as much as a 1% drop in mpg for every 10psi a single tire is underinflated. Before the rubber hits the road, make sure all your tires are properly inflated to their recommended psi. Not only will this save gas, but it will also make those expensive tires last longer.
2. Avoid idling
Obviously, engine idling can't always be avoided. But, if you know you're going to be stopped for more than just a few minutes, it's worth cutting the engine. Some states, like California, actually have idling laws that could get you a fine if you're caught idling for five minutes or more.
3. Stay in a high gear
Higher gears save fuel. You don't want to be lugging in too high a gear, but you also don't want your engine revving up and working harder than necessary. Find the sweet spot for your gearbox and minimize the use of your brake and gas pedals by speeding up and slowing down incrementally.
4. Use momentum on hills
Semi trucks build lots of momentum, especially on the highway. Start slowing down early when you have an exit coming up and collect as much momentum as possible when approaching a hill. Once you get to the apex of the hill, you should be able to coast downhill without being on the gas pedal.
5. Use cruise control
Using cruise control is an easy way for truck drivers to save on fuel, although many don't use it. Cruise control helps keep the engine's rpm in that "sweet spot" which minimizes fuel consumption.
6. Regulate speed
Faster acceleration and speeds over 55mph burns fuel quicker. In fact, every mile per hour you go over 55mph results in a 0.1 mpg drop in fuel economy. Lower your speed and increase your following distance so you don't have to speed up and slow down frequently.
7. Find the lowest cost fuel
Use the time in your truck to plan ahead for your next fill up. Just a few cents can make a big difference given how big a semi's fuel tank is. We've shared helpful apps for truck drivers in the past, and Trucker Path is a great one if you're looking to see fuel prices and parking spot availability for truck stops all around you.
8. Don't overfill your tank
Not only does extra fuel add more weight to your vehicle, but it's also about the same as throwing money down the drain. If your tank is way up to capacity or beyond, the fuel will likely expand once you're driving and cause a wasteful overflow.
9. Keep cargo load low and even
It's all about creating as little resistance as possible. Whether you're using winch straps, chain binders, or tarps – remember to secure your cargo as low and even as possible. If you can't avoid an uneven load, position the higher cargo closer to the front of the trailer to minimize drag.
Put these fuel-saving tips into action
Now that you know these free ways to save on fuel, it's up to you to put them into action. Give them a try the next time you hit the road and move some money from your expense report to your pocket.
Have any other tips for truck drivers to save on fuel? Share them in the comments below to help out your fellow driver.