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8 Ways Semi-Trucks Can Get Better Fuel Economy

Semi-trucks are a vital part of the American economy, but they also guzzle down fuel at an alarming rate. In fact, the average semi-truck can go through up to 100 gallons of fuel per day. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that trucking companies and drivers can improve fuel economy and save money. Here are eight of the most effective:

1. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Tires are an important part of any vehicle, and making sure they are properly inflated is one of the best ways to improve fuel economy. When tires are properly inflated, they have less rolling resistance, which means the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to move the semi-trucks forward.

Additionally, proper tire inflation can help improve traction, resulting in better fuel economy. And keeping tires properly inflated can help extend their lifespan, which saves money in the long run. Although it may seem like a small thing, make sure your semi-trucks’ tires stay properly inflated to improve fuel economy.

2. Use Low-Rolling-Resistance Tires

Low-rolling-resistance tires can improve fuel economy by reducing the amount of energy needed to move the vehicle down the road. These tires are designed to minimize resistance, which results in less energy being lost.

In addition, low-rolling-resistance tires typically have a shallower tread depth. This further reduces energy loss.

While low-rolling-resistance tires may cost more upfront, they can quickly pay for themselves in fuel savings. As a bonus, they also tend to last longer than conventional tires. 

3. Reduce Aerodynamic Drag

When semi-trucks are moving, the force of wind resistance can have a significant impact on fuel consumption. By making some simple changes to the truck’s design, it’s possible to significantly reduce drag and improve fuel economy.

Some of the most effective methods for reducing drag include installing fairings over the trailer’s wheels, adding side skirts to the trailer, and placing a front-end cover on the tractor. These changes can help to improve fuel economy by up to 5 percent.

4. Drive at Lower Speeds

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one of the most effective ways to improve semi-truck fuel economy is to drive at lower speeds. Studies have shown that for every 5 mph over 50 mph, fuel efficiency decreases by about 7 percent.

This is because wind resistance increases exponentially as speed increases. Therefore, driving at lower speeds can make a significant difference in fuel economy. Additionally, it is important to maintain a consistent speed and avoid sudden accelerations and braking, as this can also lead to decreased fuel efficiency. 

5. Limit Idling Time

Diesel trucks can consume a gallon of fuel per hour when idling, so even a few minutes of idling can add up. When possible, truck drivers should shut off their engines while waiting for a load or during long stops.

Trucking companies can implement policies that discourage or prohibit idling. For example, some companies require drivers to submit a report whenever they idle for more than five minutes. By taking steps to reduce idling time, trucking companies can improve their fuel economy and lower their overall operating costs.

6. Use Auxiliary Power Units Wisely

Auxiliary power units (APUs) are used to provide power for lights, air conditioning, refrigeration, and other equipment while the engine is turned off. While they can help improve comfort for the driver and reduce idling time, they can also be a significant drain on fuel.

They also add to the truck’s overall weight, which can negatively affect aerodynamics. By using auxiliary power units only when necessary, trucking companies can help reduce fuel consumption and improve their bottom line.

7. Maintain Engines Regularly

When an engine is not functioning properly, it can cause the truck to use more fuel in order to compensate. Therefore, it is important to keep engines in good condition.

This means changing the oil and filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and having the engine tuned up regularly. A massive side benefit: you’ll be prolonging the life of your engines and helping to avoid costly repairs down the road.

8. Plan Routes Effectively

The most fuel-efficient route is not always the shortest or most direct, but rather the one that avoids traffic congestion, construction zones, and other delays. By taking the time to plan an efficient route, trucking companies can meaningfully reduce their fuel consumption and emissions.

Use Fuel Economy Knowledge to Get Better Results

We hope you now have a better grasp of why your fuel economy may be suffering and what you can do about it. Paying closer attention will save you money and headaches.Need help controlling the costs of your fleet’s activities? Choose a firm that understands the specifics of fleet performance. Choose J&A Fleet Maintenance. Our team will take care of your semi-trucks, no matter the time of year. We service the Morris, Wilmington, Joliet, Shorewood, and Gardner areas, as well as nearby cities in Illinois. We’re also proud to serve Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and many other locations in the state of Florida. Contact us today!

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