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How to Improve Semi-Truck Fuel Economy

Fuel is one of the biggest expenses for a trucking business. Semi-trucks average around 5.6 miles per gallon (MPG). For reference, the average fuel efficiency of a passenger vehicle in 2019 was 24.9 MPG according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The difference in fuel economy shouldn’t be too surprising since tractor-trailers have a lot more weight than other vehicles on the road. However, there are some things you can do as a driver to help improve your semi-truck’s fuel economy. Even a small difference can translate into significant savings considering how many miles a long-haul trucker travels – often more than 100,000 miles each year.

Some tips for your improving your fuel efficiency:

Slow Down

Speeding in a semi-truck is dangerous and in addition to the safety risk, it also reduces your fuel efficiency The exact drop based on your speed will vary depending on your particular truck. Studies have demonstrated that vehicles traveling 75 MPH burn up to 27% more fuel than those traveling at 65 MPH. Other data indicates that there is a 0.1 MPG drop for every 1 MPH over 55 MPH.

Avoid Idling

It’s best to keep idling to a minimum to avoid wasting diesel. If you are going to be parked for more than five minutes, turn the engine off. At DSW, all of our trucks are equipped with auxiliary power units (APUs), so you can still keep the cab at a comfortable temperature for sleep and use your electronic devices without idling. It’s also worth noting that idling your truck when you are not in it is dangerous and is also illegal in many jurisdictions.

Use Cruise Control

Aggressive acceleration and braking both negatively affect your semi-truck’s fuel efficiency. Using cruise control keeps your speed steady and helps you avoid these two issues. It also makes it easy to ensure you stay at a safe speed at all times.

However, there are some circumstances when cruise control is not safe. If the weather is bad or the roads are slippery, you should control your speed manually. The same goes for winding roads with lots of curves. In any situation where road conditions can change rapidly, it’s best to avoid cruise control.

Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require you to perform a pre-trip inspection each day before you start driving. During this time, make sure all of your tires are inflated properly. According to the EPA, this can improve the mileage of passenger vehicles by an average of 0.6%.  There isn’t as much data for semi-trucks specifically, but it is still a beneficial practice. Beyond fuel efficiency, proper tire inflation can prevent blowouts and reduce your risk of getting in an accident.

Other Maintenance

In addition to checking your tires, you should also address any other maintenance issues promptly. This ensures your truck is running at its best. Depending on the repair, it may not have a large impact on fuel economy. However, there are several other benefits, including staying compliant with FMCSA regulations.

Become a DSW Driver

At DSW, 90% of our trucks are less than four years old and we ensure our drivers have access to up-to-date technology. We aim to work as hard for our drivers as they work for us.

To learn more about open positions with our Tucson trucking company, contact us today.