Cars have undergone big changes in the past decades, giving us super-efficient vehicles with gas mileage ratings much higher than before. A semi-truck is a far cry from a hybrid.
In fact, heavy trucks are perhaps one vehicle segment where no real notable fuel economy improvements have been made over the past 30 years.
For instance, in 1973, it was estimated that the average heavy truck got about 5.6 mpg. Today? 6.5 mpg. No, it’s not easy trying to make something that’s purpose-built to carry heavy loads more fuel-efficient, but with looming federal regulations that will set level road mpg at 7.2 taking effect, now’s the time to start.
With that being said, here’s a look at some ways to make semi-trucks run more efficiently:
Proper Tire Pressure
Improperly inflated tires don’t just throw off the tread wear and reduce the life of your tires, but they also lead to poor fuel economy. We get that 18 tires are a lot to keep track of, but it’s important, especially if you’re hauling goods across the country and driving through various different climates, to routinely check your tire pressure. The frequent cold and warm weather changes can affect your tire pressure.
This is arguably the easiest and most convenient way to add on mpgs. Truckers love leaving their trucks running. But talk about getting 0 mpgs when you do! So kill the engine and save the fuel during popular idling times, like loading/unloading, at rest areas, at the terminal, etc. Why waste? If you don’t want to turn the engine off for creature comfort reasons, there’s an easy fix for that – an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), which maintains electronics, heat and air conditioning. If you have an APU, you really don’t have an excuse.
An inexpensive improvement, fuel additives help a truck in two ways. One, they ensure that the fuel the engine is running on is of the best quality. And two, they help clean the engine and various engine components, ensuring that the engine runs better for longer. Combined, these two fuel additive benefits can mean more mpgs.
Drive the Speed Limit
Not only are these safer speeds, but driving at or below the speed limit likely means you won’t have to brake or accelerate hard as often, which are gas guzzling driving practices.
So what measures are you taking to ensure your heavy truck gets to the 7.2 mpg regulation that’s coming? Try implementing fuel additives, maintaining proper tire pressure and driving the speed limit. Those are all effective measures to help increase efficiency and boost your mpg.
This post was published on March 10, 2014 and was updated on April 19, 2021.