50952302 | Juri Bizgajmer | Dreamstime
Dreamstime L 50952302 634ec2b57433f 6350108050e66

10 fuel-saving tips for the holidays

Oct. 19, 2022
Holidays mean hauling freight and burning fuel. NACFE has 10 tips to get your trucks running above 10 mpg.

The holiday shipping season is upon us, and predictions are that sales will be up 7.5% this year, per Bain & Co. Total sales are predicted to reach $915 billion. If the sales predictions are accurate, that’s a lot of shipping either to brick and mortar stores or to end user homes and businesses. Trucks of all classes are going to be racking up lots of miles.

This seems like a good time to remind fleets and drivers about some of the fuel economy lessons we learned from Run on Less 2017, when seven drivers delivering real freight in trucks spec’d with commercially available technology averaged 10 mpg over the course of the when the national fleet average is 6.3.

We at NACFE call our finding the 10 actions to achieve 10+ mpg. They include suggestions on items to spec on your vehicles as well as other operation changes a fleet can make to get closer to 10 MPG. I think ahead of the holiday season is a good time to reshare the list.

Five truck items you can spec to help improve fuel economy

1. Buy all available tractor aerodynamics

Fleets should start their specification process with all available sleeper tractor aerodynamics. NACFE has found that tractor aerodynamics have a very high ROI for linehaul applications, and fleets should only remove items if they suffer frequent damage in their specific operation.

2. Adopt appropriate trailer aerodynamics

Fleets should address trailer aerodynamics in relation to the side, rear, and front (the tractor-to-trailer gap) and adopt the most appropriate technologies depending on route, drivers, maneuverability, etc.

3. Embrace low rolling resistance tires

Low rolling resistance tires are critical for a fleet to get high miles per gallon, but the most fuel-efficient tires are not right for every fleet, application, or region. A productive tire purchase and management process takes focus but will pay off.

4. Implement the right axle configuration

Fleets should use the correct axle configuration for the job, depending on the payload, speed, maneuverability, fleet practices such as tire management, and even resale value if the asset will be sold before its useful life is exhausted.

5. Use downsped engines and AMTs

It is important to use automated manual transmissions that enable other technologies such as downspeeding. The duty cycle is key to these choices and, in particular with downspeeding, buyers should only apply the most aggressive downspeeding to tractors with high average speed where the amount of starts and stops are low.

Five trucking operational changes you can make to improve fuel economy

1. Optimize cruise control and vehicle speed

Fleets should maximize the parameter settings for cruise control to gain the most fuel savings. While a slower speed burns less fuel, there may be times when a faster speed can get a trucker more revenue. Thus, the conditions dictate whether it makes more sense economically to drive faster and burn more fuel.

2. Provide tools to reduce idle times

Drivers should shut the truck off whenever and wherever possible. They should use technology and engine parameter settings to reduce idle time.

3. Build a culture of methodically choosing technologies

Fleets should have a process to constantly monitor, adjust, and act upon new technology opportunities. Best practices include comprehensive understanding of the performance, either by testing or through industry involvement; robust payback or return on investment analyses; and supplier selection.

4. Keep equipment maintained

The technologies employed on tractors and trailers work best when the trucks are maintained well. It is important to employ solid maintenance practices and utilize technology to help the equipment run as it is intended (e.g., automatic tire inflation on trailers, use of low-viscosity lubrication, alignment, replacing or cleaning filters, etc.).

5. Educate and incentivize conscientious drivers

Run on Less benefited by having the trucks operated by some of the most proficient drivers on the road. Hiring, educating, and incentivizing drivers for the best fuel efficiency possible is a critical part of a successful fuel management system.

If taking on all 10 of these things seems daunting, start with one or two. Every small step you take to improve fuel efficiency is a step in the right direction and, given the miles your trucks will be driving this holiday season, could result in big savings.

This article originally appeared on FleetOwner.com.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Mike has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as the Executive Director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency. Mike is also leading the Trucking Efficiency Operations for the Carbon War Room. Mike’s specialty is brokering green truck collaborative technologies into the real world at scale. He has a BS in Engineering from the Ohio State University and a Masters in Organizational Leadership from the Indiana Institute of Technology. Mike served as Chairman of the Board for the Truck Manufacturers Association, Board member of the Automotive Industry Action Group and currently serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

Sponsored Recommendations

10 Steps Every Tech Should Follow Before Clearing Fault Codes

Are you tired of recurring fault codes? Clear them with confidence today! View the 10 steps that every technician should follow before attempting to clear faults.

Repair, Replace or Retire - Grab Your Calculator

Don't make the mistake of ignoring fleet maintenance. Learn how to be proactive instead of reactive and reduce up to 70% of breakdowns.

Mobil Delvac™ oils give race car haulers winning edge

See how Mobil Delvac™ oils boosted the Tony Stewart Racing Team

The Technician’s Guide for Mastering DPF Regens

Become a regen expert today! Equip yourself with the skills necessary to recognize when a forced regen is the correct procedure to maximize the lifespan of your filter and keep...