Fuel costs account for 30-50% of your heavy duty truck fleet’s total operating cost. That’s huge! The benefits of increased fuel efficiency are simple, you save money and reduce CO2 emissions. However, that doesn’t mean lowering your fuel consumption is easy. Factors affecting your fuel economy include engine and transmission performance, cab design, driving routes, and the driving behaviors.

Nothing affects your bottom line more than driver performance. Here are some driving tips to increase fuel efficiency and lower cost:

Volvo semi truck dashboard

What to do:

  • Slow down! Above 55 mph, each 1 mph increase reduces fuel efficiency by .1 mpg.
  • Coast when possible. Using the truck’s own momentum can save fuel.
  • Operate at a constant speed. Using cruise control when you can makes a big difference.
  • Try to stay in top gear at least 85% of the time of the distance in a normal highway application. Let the engine lug down when slowing.
  • Make as few shifts as possible, shifting between 1150 and 1500 rpm.
  • Stay on top of maintenance. Faulty or under-performing components in your truck decrease the efficiency of your truck.

What not to do:

  • Avoid speed changes. Each 0 to 65 mph acceleration uses up to ½ gallon of fuel.
  • Avoid idling whenever possible. Each hour of idle time can decrease fuel efficiency by 1%.

Extra steps you can take:

  • Minimize your trailer gap. If possible, move stationary fifth wheels forward, or add some rear stops on sliders. Decreasing your trailer gap 10’’ can save up to 1% in fuel savings. Best gap is approximately 36’’.

Other factors that affect fuel efficiency:

  • At any speed, the driver is the biggest contributor to mpg. After that, tires are the most important factor below 55 mph, aerodynamics contribute most above 55
  • Above 55 mph, each 2% reduction in drag results in 1% improvement in fuel efficiency.
  • Fuel efficiency can increase up to 7% after tires are broken in (35,000-50,000 miles).
  • Ribbed tires on drive axles can get 2-4% better fuel efficiency than lug tires.
  • Each 10 psi that a truck is under inflated can reduce fuel efficiency by 1%.

At the end of the day, the driver is the key to vehicle performance. That’s why effective driver training can pay off almost immediately. Tests show drivers who adopt more fuel-efficient driving techniques can reduce fuel cost by 5% or greater.

If fuel efficiency just isn’t giving you the operating cost-savings you’re looking for, it may be time to look into leasing or contract maintenance options. Contact our leasing staff today to see what your savings could be.