There have been a lot of breakthroughs in drag-loss technology, and some exciting news in semi-truck aerodynamics. This article will cover some things you can do today to increase fuel mileage, and some hope for the future. Making your truck more eco-friendly is great for the environment and it’s also good for your bank balance. Many of the changes you make will have a direct influence on fuel efficiency and in these times of ever-increasing diesel prices this can have a positive effect on the bottom line of your business. And with some of the new concept trucks, the furure of truck fuel efficiency is promising indeed. In fact, 14 MPG has already been achieved. Compare that to today’s 7 MPG if you’re lucky, and you can see that cutting your fuel bill in half is entirely possible, or will be very soon.
Let’s explore ways you can increase your truck’s green credentials today and tomorrow:
The more weight you carry on your truck the less aerodynamic the vehicle will be and the more fuel it will use. By following the tips outlined below you can lessen the overall drag:
- Remove any unnecessary weight you really don’t need, such as headache racks, those extra chains you never use, or 500 pounds of tools in your side-box.
- When you load your flatbed trailer keep it low and as close to the cab as possible, this will make it more aerodynamic.
- Install those silly looking skirts on the bottom, and flaps on the back of van trailers for increased aerodynamic flow.
- Make sure your tires are at the recommended psi as any drop can increase drag.
Air Conditioner Use
The more you use the air-conditioning the higher the fuel consumption will be. However, the solution isn’t just to open the window because at high speeds this can reduce the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Therefore you need to strike a balance. When you are moving more slowly through town or when you are caught in traffic you should keep the windows open. When you start to pick up speed the air-conditioning can come into play. This alone can reduce your fuel consumption by 10%, keeping you more eco-friendly and saving you money.
Watch Your Speed
Probably the single most important thing you can do immediately is slow down. Driving at high speed decreases the aerodynamics of your vehicle and increases strain on the engine, which will all add up to lower fuel efficiency. Therefore monitor your speed closely. Even a small drop in speed from 56mph to 50mph can lessen the amount of fuel you use by 22%. It won’t take you much longer to get to your destination but you will have more money in your pocket when you arrive.
How You Drive
The way you drive can have a big impact on fuel efficiency and here are just a few of the changes you can make:
- Make sure you read the road ahead and employ defensive driving techniques so that you need to brake less.
- Accelerate smoothly and move up through the gears at lower RPM’s. The less gear changes you make, the more fuel you will save.
- Idling your engine uses a lot of unnecessary fuel. If you are parked for more than a minute or two it is best to turn off your engine.
- On cold days warm up your engine for a few minutes before you move, and then move slowly for the first few minutes, as this puts much less strain on the cold engine and other parts.
Keep on Top of Maintenance
Keeping your truck in tip top condition can help with fuel efficiency and will also lower your emissions. Some of the areas you need to address are:
- Oil changes should be done regularly and as your truck ages make sure, to aid lubrication, you the best oil, even synthetic oil when recommended, and high capacity filters.
- Take a look at the air filter and if it is dirty or clogged change it. Clogged air filters can dramatically decrease fuel usage. A truck struggling to take in enough air will not be an efficient one.
What about the future of fuel efficiency?
Engineers at Airflow Truck Company have achieved 14 MPG on a test run from Gary, IN to Cheyenne, WY. This is not a short run, and this was done with an actual semi-truck carrying a 53-foot trailer with a load on it. They also ran a loaded trailer from Connecticut to Tracy, CA and faced 40 MPH winds, and still managed 13.4 MPG with their prototype truck as seen in the picture. (No mention of how much the load weighed, but still, even if t was a light load, this is very impressive!)
This is the best news the trucking industry has heard in a generation in my opinion, and could really affect profits in the future. Of course, these trucks aren’t mass-produced yet, but they soon will be.
This might seem unimportant but it is vital to keep your truck clean too. A build-up of dirt can block air vents or even damage electronics. Once you have taken all the steps you can toward fuel efficiency, and you are driving a more eco-friendly vehicle, don’t be afraid to tell people about it. If you are running a trucking business always include your green credentials in your marketing materials as this can be a big plus point for many potential clients.
*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.”