Are Your Fleet Fuel Dollars Going the Distance?

Justin Christensen |

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Fuel efficiency isn’t new, but as fuel prices fluctuate and technology changes, there is some comfort in knowing you’re doing everything possible to maximize your fleet fuel dollars. Refreshers help to keep your staff and drivers on board with best practices, too.

So, are you getting the best fuel efficiency? Here’s a checklist to help you find out.

Driving Habits

Operator techniques will have the biggest impact on fuel mileage. A driver with the poorest efficiency will consume about 30 percent more fuel than one with the best.

Here are some habits exhibited by fuel-efficient drivers:

  • Accelerate and break gently and smoothly
  • Use cruise control whenever permissible
  • Drive at the lowest RPMs for each gear
  • Avoid driving during rush hours and through construction zones
  • Practice progressive shifting – “changing gears upward as early as possible when accelerating”
  • Reduce speeds – for every mph over 55, fuel economy drops by 0.1 mpg
  • Avoid idling – every hour spent reduces fuel economy by up to 1 percent

Vehicle Maintenance

Schedule regular tune-ups – ensuring parts are functioning correctly and in good condition, reducing downtime, and upgrading products will all help you spend less at the pumps.

  • Be sure to use the best type of oil for your engine – see The Skinny on Synthetic Lubricants
  • Buy the right blend of fuel and appropriate additives
  • Fine tune your vehicle so gearing ratios are set properly
  • Check for proper wheel alignment and tire inflation
  • Choose tires designed to reduce rolling resistance; use worn and ribbed tires on drive axles
  • Keeping your vehicle clean of mud, dirt, snow and salt helps to cut down on drag

Loads and Accessories

Aerodynamics and weight distribution can also play a role in fuel efficiency. Drag is the most significant factor for speeds over 50 mph and every 2 percent reduction can improve your fuel economy by about 1 percent.

  • Use tractor and trailer side skirts, vortex generators, trailer tails, nose cones and wheel covers
  • Remove quarter fenders to reduce vacuum and cut down road spray
  • Trim mud flaps to the same width as the tires you’re using them on
  • Install round-edged mirrors
  • Relocate license plates from under to on bumpers
  • Balance loads between drive axles and trailer tandems for more pulling power
  • Arrange flat bed loads to create the least wind drag

Older Trucks

If you have some older equipment still kicking around and are trying to extend its life just a little bit longer, there are a few things you can do to boost fuel efficiency:

  • Make frequent oil changes using synthetic blends and consider a fuel injection cleaner
  • Upgrade to a high-flow air filter and high-flow exhaust system for more breathability
  • Check spark plugs annually – discoloration indicates using too much fuel or not getting enough
  • Install extra springs – overloading suspensions can burn more fuel
  • Remove unnecessary accessories such as bars and racks that reduce aerodynamics and add weight
  • Firm up shifts and check gear ratio if transmission work is required

Your fuel distributor is another great source of ways to maximize fuel efficiency. They carry the best products at the best prices—check their online fuel savings tool—and they will help you choose what’s right for your fleet. They also have a whole load of professional services geared for commercial and transport businesses. Give them a call and start saving today.