Tips on Saving Fuel and Getting Mileage Out of Your Semi-Truck

Strong Tie Insurance February 4, 2021 Our Blog

Most truck drivers are constantly seeking out tips on getting better mileage. When you’re driving such a large vehicle, and for such long distances, fuel economy takes on a new importance. Owner-operators might be especially interested in the question of how to increase fuel economy.

Here are some of our best fuel saving tips for any truck driver trying to improve their mileage.

Avoid Idling

Idling your truck is the easiest way to waste fuel. For semi-trucks, idling could use up to 0.8 gallons per hour. Sometimes, there’s no way to avoid idling as a truck driver. You might need to sleep in your cab, cook food, or charge devices. However, you may want to avoid idling your trucks during lunch and other breaks to cut down on your fuel costs.

Investing in an auxiliary power unit could reduce the amount of time you spend idle in your truck, however. These power units give you access to power without needing to idle your truck, so you can save money on fuel.

Keep an Eye on the Speedometer

The speed at which a truck travels affects its fuel consumption. Every mile per hour increase in speed results in a fuel efficiency decrease of 0.14 MPG.

If you drive at a lower, consistent speed, you can keep your truck moving as efficiently as possible. Large trucks can save fuel by driving at speeds 65 MPH and under.

Consider Tire Pressure

Your tire’s pressure can actually affect how fuel efficient your truck is. This is actually one of the most important factors in improving your truck’s fuel mileage.

With 18 wheels on a semi-truck, this may sound like an intimidating prospect. However, for each 10 PSI a tire is underinflated, it can cost you a 1% decrease of your MPG. That can add up quite a bit when you account for each tire, so make sure to set aside time to keep track of the many tires on your truck.

Once you find the sweet spot for your tires, you’ll want to maintain all of them as much as possible. Overinflated tires are a safety hazard, though, and they can even blow out on the road.

Plan for the Most Efficient Route

Planning your trucking route is an art, and you likely spend time finding the best route already. Choosing the path with the shortest distance will let you reduce the amount of fuel you use for the trip.

In addition to distance and miles driven, consider the number of truck stops you visit. If you stop and idle for a while, you’ll be using up extra fuel.

While you’re planning, you can also seek out the gas stations with the lowest cost for truck fuel. Some apps catering to truckers can even help you compare the cost between different truck fuel stations.

Track the Truck Weight Carefully

If you have a commercial vehicle, heavy loads are the norm. However, adding more weight to your truck will decrease its fuel efficiency.

Semi-trucks are designed to haul tons of weight, but each pound makes a difference when it comes to fuel efficiency. Avoid carrying extra items whenever possible.

Know When to Use AC and When to Avoid It

Air conditioning is known to decrease the number of miles per gallon you can expect, but that’s not always the case. The US Department of Energy recommends keeping your windows rolled down at street speeds instead of using the air conditioning, because it can reduce fuel economy by 25% or more.

At highway speeds, though, air conditioning doesn’t make as much of a difference in terms of MPG. At that point, you can feel free to turn on the AC. Make sure to roll the windows up to prevent the drag caused by an open window!

Avoid Topping Up

Some people swear by topping up their gas tanks. In fact, this practice can actually waste fuel. When it heats up, the fuel will expand in the tank and it has the potential to overflow. A gas overflow can seriously damage any vehicle, including a semi-truck.

Some gas stations even have a system designed to collect extra gasoline or vapor from the pump if your tank is already full, to prevent spillage and gasoline vapors. That means you could end up wasting money by paying for a small amount of gas that doesn’t actually make it into your tank.

Take Advantage of Cruise Control

This can be a useful tool when it comes to fuel efficiency. Using this feature can keep you at a steady speed with minimal acceleration or braking. Both of those acts tend to contribute to fuel use, so avoiding them can save you a significant amount of diesel.

Depending on your personal driving habits, you can save anywhere from 6% to 20% on gas by using this setting. Most estimates are in the single digits, though, hovering around 6 or 7%.

Modify Your Truck for a More Aerodynamic Style

If you love truck modifications, this technique could be the perfect excuse for you to indulge your hobby. A more streamlined, aerodynamic shape can reduce drag, which allows the truck to glide through the air more easily, and lets you improve fuel efficiency.

Side skirts, mud flaps, and even cab top deflectors can all help create a more streamlined shape that will help improve fuel economy. This is one of the easiest ways to get better fuel efficiency.

Coast Whenever Possible

Coasting through life isn’t recommended, but when it comes to saving gas, you should coast down the road whenever possible. A semi-truck is a heavy vehicle, and that means it has plenty of momentum; it takes up to 600 feet, the length of almost 2 football fields, for a truck to stop from normal highway speeds.

You can save a significant amount of gas by letting your truck move forward using that momentum, instead of pressing your foot on the gas pedal. When you’re trying to save fuel, every bit counts.

If you’re in need of commercial insurance for your truck, Strong Tie Insurance can help you find affordable options. We offer personalized advice on anything from a truck insurance claim to cargo insurance. Our agents are happy to assist you in finding a plan that works for you, so contact us today!