When you’re driving all the time, what seems like ‘perfectly normal’ fuel prices for everyone else can stack up to a really large expense. Fleets with trucks are among the largest fuel consumers in the modern world no matter how much you optimize your vehicles, your policies, and your shipping routes. At that point, it’s up to the drivers to optimize how the truck runs on the road in order to minimize unnecessary fuel usage without reducing the quality of the trip for the driver. Whether you’re on your own dime or your fleet is asking you to improve your mileage, here are six great tips you can apply to every trip to help meet that goal.
1) Drive with Cruise Control
Your truck has a significant amount of inertia, especially when you’re hauling a heavy load. This means that other than the forces of friction and gravity, the truck wants to keep the speed and direction it’s already traveling. This means that maintaining a steady speed is the best way to use the minimum amount of fuel. While expert foot operators can achieve this, cruise control lets you sit back and rest while your truck glides along at a steady pace whenever traffic allows.
2) Use the Recommended Fuel Type
Every engine has a type of fuel that it was built to process. It’s important to know the fuel station chains that have the brand for your truck and plan to hit them along your route. If you have to hit a station that doesn’t have the perfect selection, it’s survivable but your truck may need more maintenance as a result.
3) Switch Off Often
When you practically live in your truck, the familiar rumble of the engine feels like normal and, except for the fuel, it’s usually harmless to leave your truck running while you sit in traffic or run errands. However, that rumble is the sound of the engine running and fuel burning. If you’re not going to be moving for a minute or more, consider switching off the truck and letting it rest. Turn it off when you stop to eat, when traffic is stopped, and when you’re waiting for something.
4) Inflate Your Tires
Low tire pressure is the number one cause of slightly inefficient MPG. Tire pressure can change from day to day based on the climate and conditions so it can take some effort and upkeep to keep your tires at the optimal pressure. Your pressure will drop in the cold and raise in the heat so if you find yourself driving through wild climate changes, be careful about when and where you fill the tires. If you inflate them too much in the cold then drive somewhere warmer, be sure to check the pressure again and let off any excess as the warmed air expands.
5) Accelerate Gently
The faster you want to accelerate, the more fuel your maneuver requires. There will always be moments in traffic when you’ll need to really go in order to snag spot in a busy freeway merge or stick with the flow in variable traffic but when you have a choice, lay off the accelerator. Speed up slowly and ease into your ideal speed window. Once you get there, coast on cruise control for as long as possible while watching out for the antics of smaller cars who see you as part of the terrain.
6) Run the AC Intermittently
Finally, everyone’s least favorite piece of fuel mileage advice. If you really want to make a difference, you can take care with your use of the AC. In a house or business, the thermostat would switch the AC off and on automatically to maintain the temperature. You can do this manually for yourself to both save fuel and stay comfortable. Many more modern vehicle consoles actually feature a built-in thermostat that will regulate the fan speed and cold intensity in order to optimize your fuel use and maintain cabin comfort.
Reducing your trip mileage is really just a matter of efficiency. The better you get at driving your rig with the right tires and fuel, at the right speed, and managing your AC to only run when needed, the less fuel your truck will need with every trip.