A Guide to Improving Truck Fuel Efficiency and Performance

Truck speed vs MPG chartImproving the performance of a truck, in tandem with improving fuel efficiency, can not only lead to lower fuel costs but it can also lengthen the life of your vehicle. In any trucking or haulage business, where almost a third of running costs can be spent on fuel, this can lead to substantial savings.

A detailed guide to improving the fuel efficiency of your vehicle can be found at Truck Locator, which approaches the issue from every angle. However, as an introduction to the subject we are going to look here at four key areas: the habits of the driver, maintenance of the vehicle, upgrades which should be considered and vehicle technology aids. The driver is the person who can make the largest difference to fuel efficiency. All the small steps outlined below, when added up over the long term, will have a big impact on how much is spent on fuel.

Fuel Efficiency Starts with the Driver:

  1. Letting your vehicle warm up slowly on cold days will cause less strain on the engine and hence will lead to greater fuel efficiency.
  2. Idling an engine can use up to 2 liters of fuel (or about a half-gallon) per hour. Thus if you need to be stationary for any prolonged time it is best to turn off your engine.
  3. Planning your day and your route can make a big difference to fuel efficiency and potential wear on your vehicle. Considering issues such as weather, topography, road works and potential traffic delays, as well as road restrictions for commercial trucks (or HGVs), will help you to plan the most efficient route.
  4. When you are loading your vehicle consider aerodynamics to keep it fuel efficient. This means the load should be kept as low as possible and the bulk situated towards the cab end of the vehicle.
  5. Driving habits are another area which can have a big impact on fuel efficiency. Ensure that your clutch control is good and that you accelerate smoothly and brake gradually. Defensive driving techniques lead to higher levels of safety and also to better fuel efficiency.
  6. Finally, would you like to save up to 22% on your fuel consumption? If the answer is yes you only need to drop your speed from an average of 56mph to 50mph. It won’t take you much longer to reach your destination but you will have a lot more fuel in the tank when you do.

Proper Maintenance of Your Truck will Lead to Better Fuel Efficiency, Improved Performance and Longer Vehicle Life:

  • Tires: Check tires regularly to ensure that they are legal in terms of tread but also make sure they are at the recommended psi levels. Even slightly deflated tyres can lead to more drag and higher fuel consumption.
  • Oil: As your truck ages it will need more frequent oil changes. A well lubricated engine means it will be under less strain. You can assist this further by fitting high-capacity filters and using synthetic oil.
  • Air Filters: Every time you do an oil change check the air filters. When you are on the road for long periods of time these can easily get clogged with dirt and debris. A dirty air filter can lead to a drop in fuel efficiency by as much as 10%.

Consider Upgrades to Your Truck to Lower Fuel Cost:

None of us necessarily want to make upgrades when there is an initial out of pocket expense. However, you have to weigh this against the saving you will make over the course of the year in lower fuel costs. There are many upgrades that can be considered. However the following, although expensive, will have the most dramatic impact on improving performance and fuel efficiency.

  • Performance Exhaust: This improves fuel efficiency by reducing flow resistance and will lead to more miles from every litre of fuel.
  • Suspension and Tires: Less wear on your tires leads to less frequent replacement and this can be achieved by equipping your truck with air springs. Tires are an expensive necessity in a haulage firm so this can lead to a substantial saving.
  • Improving Aerodynamics and Reducing Weight: Installing a tailgate cover will lessen drag, lead to better aerodynamics and improved fuel efficiency. The same can’t be said for bully bars and headache racks, if you don’t need them, lessen the weight on your vehicle by removing them.

21st Century Enhancements:

Our reliance on technology is also allowing us to improve our fuel efficiency. Gadgets which monitor how our vehicles are performing tell us what improvements we need to make, often in real time.

  • MPG Meter: We talked earlier about making improvements to driving style including accelerating more smoothly and braking less harshly. An MPG meter lets you see the impact this is having on the amount of fuel you are using.
  • Fuel Mizer: To take this a step further you may want a system that tells you how to make improvements as you drive. For example, brake too harshly and an alarm will sound. Change how you drive because of this and you will quickly notice that you aren’t refueling so frequently.

By implementing some or all of these key areas in your business you will soon see improved vehicle performance and lower fuel costs. The time spent on making the changes will be a sound investment and the initial expense will quickly be repaid. Good news for you and your business.

*Written by James Timpson:

“Hi, I’m James and I hold a big interest in the automotive field, especially with trucks. I have been writing in the industry for many years and I try and engage with my readers as much as possible.”

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