The cost of fuel is the biggest expense for motor carriers per mile.
The cost of fuel is the biggest expense for motor carriers per mile. OTR drivers can run anywhere from 80,000 – 130,000 miles in a year. With all those miles, a 1 MPG difference can save owner operators or trucking companies over $10,000 in a year! This is one reason why companies like offer fuel efficiency bonuses every month for drivers. Good fuel habits will help everyone in the long run.
1. Do Pre-Trip Inspections & Regular Maintenance Checks
Yeah, it’s a huge inconvenience, but it’s worth it. Start with the tires. If tire pressure is reduced even 1 PSI, it will make you lose .3% of your MPG. Keeping the tires in proper alignment will also save a lot of money in the long run.
Monitor the fan (it should only run about 6% of the time). Inspect the engine and cables because corroded cables can force the alternator to work harder. Look at the brakes, fluid levels, and the trailer to ensure everything is as it should be.
2. Reduce Idle Time
DVL uses Samsara to track the idle time. Rewarding a good idle percentage is a great idea, as it is a major contributor to fuel efficiency. Depending on the season of the year, drivers at DVL are encouraged to stay within a certain range. Idling for 1 hour can consume 1 gallon of fuel, so it’s an important metric to emphasize. There are several states like Connecticut that have time limit laws for idling, where drivers have as little as a 3-minute time limit.
3. Stick to higher gears
This is obvious, but it’s important to be meticulous about finding the gear sweet spots. The less engine revving, the more fuel efficient your truck will be. A good RPM zone to stay in is 1250 to 1350 RPM. Driving at a faster speed with a lower gear can use around 50% more fuel.
4. Coasting > Using the Brakes
CDL-A drivers everywhere know the road better than anyone else. Learn to increase the following distance so you can decrease your brake and startup times. Gears one and two are fuel efficiency killers, so avoid starting from a standstill as much as possible.
5. Consider your MPH
We govern our trucks at 72 MPH. Every 10 MPH brings about a 1 MPG loss in fuel efficiency. We all know going slower helps with fuel efficiency, but it also may not always be worth it when balancing timely deliveries and maximizing driving hours. Before going over 65 MPH or 70 MPH speeds, drivers need to consider if the loss of fuel efficiency is worth the time they will save.
6. Consider a Newer Truck
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just go out and buy a new truck? We use a fleet of trucks that are 2019-2022 and filter out anything older than that. One of the main reasons for newer equipment is the increase in fuel efficiency. Every year, truck makers come out with more fuel-efficient trucks than the year before. Volvo claims their newest upgrades offer a 31% increase in fuel efficiency when traveling in fuel efficient speed ranges.
Samsara tracks the MPG of Altex drivers, and we offer bonuses if drivers keep within a certain range. The MPG requirement is higher for newer trucks and lower for older trucks because of the technologies present in providing a good fuel efficiency.
7. Know the Traffic Conditions
A good dispatcher should help with providing the best route. Anticipate in advance when you will need to slow down by keeping an eye on road conditions and signs. Make sure to plan routes and avoid hazards and construction whenever possible to save fuel and time.
8. Don’t overfill the tank
If a driver fills the tank to its full capacity, it can waste a lot of fuel. It adds more weight, but it may also expand with heat and overflow. This also brings with it the potential of damaging some of the technical aspects of the truck.
The greatest contributing factor to an increase in fuel efficiency is the motivation for drivers to actually care about it. This is all information that truck drivers know, but it’s important to keep it at the forefront of the mind. For instance, finding the best place to get fuel can pay huge dividends, but it will take a little bit of forethought. Certain states have way higher gas prices than others, so planning when to fill up is essential. Now more than ever it is important for trucking companies to reward drivers who focus on fuel efficiency.