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Ways to Increase Diesel Fuel Mileage: Tips From The Industry

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

For trucking companies and diesel fleets, diesel fuel is probably the biggest consumable expense they have, the biggest operating line items in their budget. So it’s essential to keep as good a handle on fuel expenses as is humanly possible.  No operation can completely control their cost of fuel, but they all have some amount of control over it.

007dieselheavytrucks_compressed-resized-600-1.jpgIf you talk about engine and truck manufacturers, they’ll tell you that there are certain rules that apply for virtually everyone in the industry when it comes to fuel consumption expenses. You may already know some of these, but here are some ways to increase diesel fuel mileage:

Speed Matters

55 mph is the sweet spot for speed vs. fuel economy. For every 1 mph above 55 you go, you lose 0.1 mpg of fuel economy.  So if a fleet vehicle normally gets 6 mpg, driving 60 mph instead of 55 mph would cut its fuel economy by a half mpg, which is almost 10%. It’s even worse if the rig is getting 5 mpg or even 4 mpg. So speed definitely matters for fuel economy.

Tires Matter, As Well

The tires can have a dramatic impact on fuel use, since they are the one part of the vehicle that makes contact with the road surface.  The industry knows there are some tire rules they pay attention to:

  • New tires can actually cut your fuel economy by up to 7% until they get broken in.
  • Used lug tires can get up to 0.4 mpg better than new ones.
  • You lose 1% fuel economy for every 10 psi that your tire pressure is underinflated
  • The biggest fuel economy difference between old and new tires comes at speeds below 50 mph. As you go above 50 mph, aerodynamic influences become the biggest drag on fuel economy (see what we did there? Drag? Ha!)

There are other aspects and “hard rules” that could be commented on, but we want to save some more for later.  The same engine manufacturers who point out these rules to us can also offer some helpful suggestions on things you can do to maximize your diesel fuel mileage.

Revving The Engine Is Bad

You want to get to your next gear slowly, rather than rushing it.  This can help with your fuel mileage, even if it’s not quite as fun.

Finding The Sweet Spot Helps

Experienced drivers know that there’s a sweet spot in the torque zone that they get the best mileage and performance at.  Try to find this once you’ve achieved your desired cruising speed. You’ll get the best mileage this way.

Idling Throws Money Away

In the course of operation, truckers have to idle at certain periods. You can’t just instruct someone never to do that.  But if you can find shore power or truckstop electrification, that can really help.  Some analysts calculate that plugging in instead of idling can save more than $3,000 a year in fuel costs. That’s not pocket change, my friends.

You may be interested in these related posts:

How to Choose the Best Diesel Fuel Additive for You

This post was published on December 15, 2016 and was updated on December 15, 2016.

Topics: Diesel, Heavy Trucks and Equipment