Cost Saving Tips from the Experts at Iron Fuel

There is no question that fuel is the largest expense for most truck drivers and fleet owners. Which makes our current economic climate, in which the average price of diesel has risen to above $5.00 a gallon, a particularly challenging time to make a living.

 

We came up with the following Fuel Economy Cheat Sheet, that includes ten important tips to help drivers and fleet owners improve their fuel economy and reduce their costs.

Reduce Engine Idle Time

The average tractor will burn just under 1 gallon of diesel per hour when idling. If a driver idles for 5 hours per day, it will cost $5,850 a year (assuming $4.50/gallon at 1 gallon/hour, 5 days/week.) For a fleet of 5 drivers, that would cost $29,250 per year. For a fleet of 10 drivers, that could mean as much as $58,500 per year.

 

  • Shut off the engine whenever possible. Try to utilize bunk heaters in the winter and customer break rooms in the summer, instead of idling the truck. When idling is necessary, engine RPMs should be kept as low as possible.
  • Utilize a fan to circulate the air and keep the truck cool. If possible, use curtains, shade from other trucks, buildings, signs, etc. to keep the truck out of the sun. Parking near grass or areas with trees may also help keep the truck cool.

Practice Efficient Driving and Use Cruise Control

Simple behaviors, like coasting to a stop instead of staying on the accelerator until the last minute and then braking hard, add up to significant fuel savings after thousands of miles. Try to maintain a high field of vision and establish proper following distances for better anticipation of any changes in traffic and road conditions. Cruise control will help provide smooth and consistent operation of the engine. Using cruise control while running in top gear can improve fuel economy by as much as 0.4 miles per gallon.

Reduce Road Speed

Reducing highway speed will greatly improve fuel mileage. Every mile per hour over 55 decreases fuel efficiency by 0.1 miles per gallon. By increasing travel speed from 55mph to 65mph, efficiency will decrease by 1 mile per gallon.

Minimize Out of Route Miles (OOR)

Any additional miles driven which are not included in the dispatch should always be kept to a minimum. To assist with this, plan personal trips in advance to minimize unpaid driving time. The associated cost of fuel, maintenance, and lost production is ultimately paid for by the owner of the truck.

Reduce Weight

Remove any unnecessary, heavy items from the truck. For example, consider leaving tire chains behind in summer and pick them back up when it becomes closer to winter. Switching from steel to aluminum wheels also helps to reduce weight.

Maintain Tires

Keep tires at 110 PSI for optimal fuel economy. For every 10 psi of under-inflation, we see approximately a 1% decrease in fuel efficiency. A slight misalignment can result in another 1% decrease in fuel efficiency.

Manual Transmission Tips

Monitor RPM/Shifting Patterns

Increase the time in the “sweet spot” (approx. 1200-1400 RPM) by staying in highest possible gear as much as possible. Driving at the optimal RPM of approximately 1200-1400 can create a fuel savings of 3% to 5%

Optimize Hill Climbing

For optimal fuel economy while climbing hills, lug the engine to approximately 1200 RPM before downshifting.

Increase Time in Top Gear

Get into top gear quickly and stay there as long as possible. For a driver who completes 100,000 miles per year, an improvement from 6.5 to 7.0 miles per gallon would save about 1,100 gallons and almost $5,000 per year (assuming $4.50/gallon). For a fleet of 5 trucks, that is worth almost $25,000 per year. For a fleet of 10 trucks, it’s roughly $50,000 of potential savings per year!

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