Dollars & Sense

Tips for Truckers to Conserve Fuel

By Brandon Scott - Staff Writer
Posted Jun 22nd 2022 8:00AM

It’s no secret that fuel prices in the United States, and around the globe, are reaching record highs on an almost daily basis. One area that has undoubtedly been hit the hardest is right here in the commercial trucking arena. The cost to move under a load, not to mention idling and dead-heading, is eating into the profits of drivers and carriers alike.

Now, thanks to the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, we have some much-needed advice in the form of tips that drivers can use to improve on their miles per gallon.

Smooth Out Your Acceleration

Fast and hard acceleration can waste fuel, plus it’s hard on the engine. Attempt to anticipate your acceleration points so you can use the appropriate amount of acceleration for any given situation. 

Be Mindful of Your Speed

A general rule of thumb is that every mile per hour driven over 60mph reduces fuel economy by one-tenth of a mile per gallon. A truck that travels at 65 mph will experience a fuel efficiency increase of about 27% compared to a truck traveling at 75 mph. 

Maintain a Constant Speed

Simple math: When you accelerate you burn more fuel. Continually slowing down, and then speeding up again, is a terribly inefficient way to drive.  

Try to Avoid Harsh Braking

Every time your foot touches the brake pedal, you’re losing energy. Two of the best ways to cutdown on braking are to follow neighboring vehicles at an extended distance and anticipate changes in upcoming traffic.

Routinely Check Your Tire Pressure

Underinflated tires can result in decreased fuel efficiency, as well as increase the wear on the tires. A 0.5-1.0% increase in fuel consumption is regularly seen in vehicles running with tires that are underinflated by 10 psi.

Use (Tom) Cruise Control – AKA: No Need for Speed

Cruise control can help to maintain a consistent speed and avoid unnecessary accelerations and decelerations. Adaptive cruise is even better and should be utilized if your vehicle comes equipped. 

Find Your Engine’s Sweet Spot

The sweet spot is the most efficient RPM at which you should run your engine. To hit that sweet spot you’ll have to drive at, and maintain, a consistent speed. 

Minimize Your Shifting

If you’re not using automatic transmission, try to minimize the number of shifts you make. Every time you shift your engine, RPMs increase, and you burn more fuel. Try shifting to the next highest gear while you’re still at a low rpm.

Minimize Your Idling 

A 10% annual reduction in idling is worth about 1% in fuel economy, which translates to about $300 to $500 per year at $3/gallon fuel prices and 100,000 miles per year. With the way fuel prices are currently escalating, those savings could nearly double. 

Check the Condition of Aerodynamic Devices 

Make sure any aerodynamic devices are in good condition. No dents, rips, tears, or dangling parts. Also, try to minimize the tractor-to-trailer gap. 

Watch Your Interval 

Try to keep an appropriate amount of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, especially in regard to speed and road conditions. This will help to eliminate harsh braking. 

Optimize Your Routing and Try to Reduce Out-of-Route Miles 

Always try to take the shortest and quickest route available, with the least number of stops, to your destination. Plan ahead to try and avoid rush hour traffic. 

Hopefully, these tips will help to ease some of the pain at the fuel pumps.