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Jonas Nordquist
2022-11-17
5.5 min
Saving Fuel
Author
Jonas Nordquist
Director Transport Industry Intelligence

Five tips to save fuel and improve a truck’s fuel economy

Even in good times, minimising a truck’s fuel consumption is essential for a profitable business. But when you’re dealing with inflation, high energy prices and a cost-of-living crisis, then no saving is too small. The good news is that there is plenty you can do right away to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

1. Keep your vehicle well-maintained and serviced regularly

  • Regular services and maintenance: Service technicians can help you identify issues causing unnecessary high fuel consumption such as brake drag and seized brake, clogged air filters, pressure leakages and fuel leaks.
  • Fuel and oil quality: Always use the correct fuel and oil as specified by the manufacturer. Oil lubricants are there to reduce friction however it will break down over time, so missing a        scheduled service can mean unnecessary energy losses. By sticking to your oil service intervals, you ensure your engine runs with minimal energy losses. 
  • Vehicle updates: Software is increasingly important for improving the performance and fuel efficiency of trucks and their engines, and manufacturers are continuously making updates and improvements. It is worth contacting your local workshop to see what software upgrades are available for your truck. 

       
        Learn more about how good vehicle maintenance can save you fuel.


2. Choose the right tyres and ensure your wheels are aligned correctly

  • The correct tyres: Use tyre labels and classifications to find tyres with low rolling resistance as this can have a significant impact on fuel consumption. For example, the latest class A tyres have improved thread, as well as rubber and side wall compounds that give lower rolling resistance and friction. It is believed that Class C and D tyres can help reduce costs through longer service life, however often the fuel savings from class A tyres will outweigh the costs of shortened tyre changing intervals, especially for trucks that drive long distances.
  • Tyre pressure: Under-inflated tyres will increase rolling resistance, and by extension increase fuel consumption. This will also contribute to increase wear on the tyres.
  • Wheel alignment: When the front and rear axles are misaligned, it creates significantly higher rolling resistance, which not only increases fuel consumption but also tyre wear. On a standard tractor, this can increase fuel consumption by up to three per cent – even more if the trailer is also misaligned. If all trailer axles are misaligned, it can increase fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent. Wheel alignment can be checked and corrected by a service technician during your next scheduled service.

 

         Learn more about how rolling resistance impacts fuel consumption.

3. Make sure your vehicle’s aerodynamics are optimal

  • Add roof spoiler and deflectors: At high speeds, a roof spoiler can reduce fuel consumption by up to five per cent. However, if you are really serious about maximising aerodynamic performance, it is also important to make sure that the roof spoiler is correctly adjusted. Research from Volvo Trucks has shown that when a roof deflector is mounted 5 cm too low or 10 cm too high, the potential savings are reduced by up to one per cent. For this reason, it is highly recommended that a roof spoiler is fitted by the workshop.
  • Add side fairings: If not already fitted, these can save up to three per cent in fuel.
  • Remove unnecessary external accessories: While external accessories, such as extra lights, bull bars, top bars and air horns, can be important for your operations, be aware that they affect air flow and fuel consumption, so it’s worth evaluating if each is really needed.

         
         Learn more about how aerodynamics and truck accessories impact fuel consumption.


4. Be more strategic with route planning and scheduling

  • Optimal routes: Depending on a vehicle’s weight, a longer, flat route might require less fuel than a shorter, hilly route. It can also be beneficial to avoid heavy traffic and poor roads, as these factors can also increase fuel consumption.
  • Use digital tools and fleet management systems: These can help with scheduling and route planning over entire fleets to ensure trucks are not wasting fuel unnecessarily.

         
         Learn more about how a fleet management system can help save fuel.

5. Inspire and motivate your drivers to drive more efficiently

  • Driver training: Good driving techniques such as speed adaptation, anticipation, gear selection and use of cruise control, can significantly improve a truck’s fuel consumption. Driver training programmes can help individual driver’s perfect their technique.
  • Digital tools: Fleet management systems and other digital tools can help track fuel consumption across fleets and identify areas where it can be improved. 
  • Rewards and incentives: Get the whole team involved in saving fuel by encourage and acknowledge fuel-efficient driving through internal competitions and group targets.

Learn more about fuel saving

This is  how technology can help with driver development and fuel-efficient driving, and how to best implement initiatives to encourage fuel efficient driving across a fleet.In addition to all of the above, there is also a lot that you can do when specifying your new truck to help lower fuel consumption. Learn more about improving truck fuel efficiency here.