A well-maintained truck is a fuel-efficient truck. Here are some examples of areas where regular upkeep will keep your vehicle in good condition and avoid any unnecessary increases in fuel consumption.
Fuel properties can differ and this can affect both the truck's fuel economy and the reliability of the fuel system. The difference in fuel consumption can be as much as five per cent, depending on the fuel characteristics. Using fuel with a sulphur content higher than ten ppm can also damage the engine and exhaust after-treatment system. For this reason, always use the correct fuel as specified by the manufacturer.
Trucks with Euro 6 engines are equipped with a particulate filter, also known as a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), which removes soot from exhaust gases in order to comply with the current Euro 6 emissions legislation. However, incorrect maintenance can increase fuel consumption by up to two per cent. It can also cause increased engine wear, emissions to exceed the Euro 6 standards, damage to the filter and unplanned downtime.
To avoid this, always use the correct fuel and oil as specified by the manufacturer. Otherwise, you risk clogging and damaging the DPF. The particulate filter should also be cleaned regularly according to the procedure described by the manufacturer.
Having the correct oil temperature in the gearbox lowers resistance and has a positive effect on your fuel economy. At temperatures of up to 20°C (and before the vehicle has been driven for an extended period – about an hour) the oil is heated by an oil cooler, which saves up to 0.3 per cent fuel. In warmer climates, the gearbox oil cooler also prevents oil from overheating, and by extension reduces wear on parts.
It is important to use the recommended oil with the correct viscosity and thickness. This also allies to the engine and axel oil.
When a leak occurs in the air brake system, fuel consumption can increase by up to two per cent depending on the size of the leak. This is because the compressor must be switched on in the event of a leak, which requires approximately 15 horsepower from the engine. There is always some degree of air leakage, for example when a truck is parked overnight or during weekly rest periods. But when a significant amount of air is lost during shorter breaks, this indicates that there is a bigger leak. The risk of air leakage is particularly high on trailer couplings.
Misaligned front and rear axles lead to unstable steering and increased air resistance. On a standard tractor, this can increase fuel consumption by up to three per cent. It is even higher if the trailer is also not properly aligned. If none of the trailer axles are properly aligned, fuel consumption can become significantly higher.
Under-inflated tires will increase rolling resistance, which by extension will increase fuel consumption. Tests show that tire pressure of just one bar too low can increase fuel consumption by two per cent. It can also reduce the tire’s lifespan by around 20 per cent.
Each of these small percentages can quickly add-up to a significant cost, and combined can take out a big chunk out of your bottom line. It is just another reason why regular servicing is essential.
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