Fuel costs are one of the largest expenses for truck owner-operators. On average, you’ll spend anywhere between $50,000 to $70,000 per year on fuel costs alone. While fuel costs have increased, you can take steps to bring fuel costs down. Let’s look at the state of our fuel economy and how truckers can save on fuel costs.
Fuel prices fluctuate regularly, especially when seasons change. Unfortunately, we’re seeing spikes in fuel prices that go beyond those normal changes. While it is tempting to put the blame for higher prices on Russian sanctions and that country’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s actually more complicated. We have a few impacts converging at once:
The US average for diesel costs has been over $5 per gallon since mid-March. While we may see a small drop (emphasis on “may”) any relief will fade away quickly once summer hits.
While you can’t do anything about global fuel supply and demand, you can take steps to help reduce fuel usage and save money.
Regular maintenance on your rig is one of the most important things you can do for your business as an owner-operator. If your truck run, your business runs. Keeping up maintenance also helps improve your fuel efficiency.
Check your tires regularly and ensure they’re inflated to their proper PSI. You’ll extend the life of your tires and save on fuel costs. For every 10psi tire pressure drops, your truck burns an extra 1% of fuel. That adds up quickly, so keep your tires pumped.
If you’re stopped for more than 5 minutes, cut your engine. Trucks burn up to a gallon of gas per hour they idle. So, no matter how fast the stop should be, turn off the engine.
Most modern trucks have cruise control, and many drivers ignore it. However, finding your engine’s “sweet spot” where it does just enough work to move but not so much that your engine revs is a good way to save on gas mileage. Cruise control does it for you automatically, so take advantage of that feature.
Large trucks build the momentum you can use, especially in hilly areas. Collect as much momentum as you can approaching hills and let gravity do the work for you going down them. The less you have to use the gas pedal, the less fuel your engine has to consume.
Just because the speed limit is over 55 mph doesn’t mean you have to drive over 55. When you’re not having to build momentum for hills, ease off the gas, and don’t go over 55 mph. You’ll notice the difference over the course of a long haul. That’s because vehicles (including big rigs) lose about 0.1 mpg of fuel economy for every 1 mph they go over 55. So, plan your trip for a slightly lower speed and save fuel and money.
Do what you can to reduce your trailer’s drag and resistance by keeping loads low and even. If you can’t avoid uneven loads, ensure high and heavy items are loaded towards the front of the trailer. Lower resistance and drag mean less work your engine has to do on the road.
If you’re an owner-operator, contact REY Logistics to see what else we can do to help you maximize your business and stay on the road with our logistics planning and 24/7 dispatchers.
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