Businesses and trucking fleets are always looking for ways to minimize costs, especially when it comes to the cost of fuel. In order to keep expenses low, fleet managers normally look for the best price per gallon. Another strategy to consider as well is extending those gallons by maximizing vehicle gas mileage. Implementing better driving habits and staying on top of vehicle maintenance are some useful areas to focus on when deciding how best to impact fuel economy. Below are some helpful tips for how to improve gas mileage efficiency so that your business can lower costs while vehicles are on the road.
1. Check your tire pressure.
An often overlooked issue that can impact a vehicle's gas economy is tire pressure. A vehicle with underinflated tires requires more energy to accelerate while increasing the potential of blowouts. Each drop in pressure by 1 PSI is expected to lower gas mileage by about 0.2%, meaning tires underinflated by just 5 PSI will make your vehicle 1% less fuel efficient. This might not sound like much, but it adds up over time. This also causes more wear and tear on tires, another expense that fleets have to consider. To avoid potential blowouts and a loss of fuel efficiency, make sure to keep tires at the right tire pressure number.
2. Don't overuse the A/C.
Using the air conditioning system can burn up to 20% more fuel. Air conditioning systems are powered by alternators which rely on the engine. This means that every time a driver runs the A/C, it requires more fuel to be used. Instead of hitting the A/C button, try rolling down the windows for some fresh air, use the re-circulation feature or park in the shade if possible.
3. Replace air filters.
Another tip for how to improve gas mileage is by preventing debris from piling up in air filters. Clearing clogged air filters can improve vehicle performance, increasing fuel efficiency by up to 10%. The buildup of air filters creates less airflow for a vehicle's engine, causing more strain during operation. A restriction of oxygen limits engine performance, so make sure to replace air filters when needed.
4. Avoid rush hour.
An obvious way to improve gas mileage is to avoid crowded highways, especially during rush hour. Sitting in traffic causes your vehicle to idle for long periods of time which results in wasted fuel with each minute that passes. If possible, try to use alternative routes that aren't as congested. Apps like Wayz, Google Maps, or INRIX are available to help drivers avoid heavy traffic on the road. Otherwise, scheduling mandatory rest breaks to avoid high traffic hours might also be an option to consider.
5. Keep up with vehicle maintenance.
Always check warning lights that appear on your dashboard. In fact, keeping up with vehicle maintenance on a regular basis is important for avoiding any loss in fuel efficiency. Neglecting your vehicle, regardless of how small the maintenance issue may seem, can lead to bigger and more costly mechanical problems later. A mechanical problem can make an engine work harder and use more gas than it normally would. Ignoring warning lights and regular tune-ups can also decrease the vehicle's value. You should have your vehicle inspected thoroughly at recommended maintenance thresholds to ensure optimal performance.
6. Minimize vehicle weight.
The more your vehicle weighs the harder the engine has to work. If you're looking to purchase a vehicle, consider some options and configurations that might minimize vehicle weight. If you already have a vehicle, you might be able to make some modifications to reduce your vehicle's weight. Below are some ideas.
Get a lighter sleeper day cab.
If you use a semi-truck for your business, then consider getting a lightweight sleeper day cab. A heavy sleeper cab can weigh up to 5,000 pounds, causing a big difference in how much energy your truck uses to accelerate. Instead of getting a sleeper cab that has unnecessary amenities like kitchen appliances, opt for a simpler sleeper cab with perhaps only a mattress if that's all you need.
A great way to improve vehicle efficiency is to add some aerodynamics if you use a semi-truck. Making a truck more aerodynamic helps it pass through air more easily which can help optimize your mileage. Purchasing add-ons like composite front bumpers, sloped front windshields, and pedestal door mirrors are all effective ways to improve your truck's efficiency. Other amenities like side skirts or wheel covers and closing any gaps between the truck and trailer can help improve fuel efficiency too.
Purchase a lighter fifth wheel.
For many businesses that use trailers or semi-trucks, using a fifth-wheel mounting system is needed to transport goods. A fifth wheel acts as a link between vehicle and trailer to tow loads and can vary in weight ranging from 2,400 pounds to 20,000 pounds. If possible, try opting for a fifth-wheel mounting system that's on the lighter side. Some lighter fifth-wheel mounting systems are made from aluminum instead of fiberglass, making a big difference in weight. This can reflect better mileage down the road, helping you save money on fuel.
Choose a smaller engine.
While it's important to get a high-quality engine for your work truck, choosing a smaller and more efficient engine can maximize gas mileage. Smaller engines weigh less, and a lighter vehicle means better fuel economy. With modern technology, 13-liter engines that produce up to 500 horsepower are available for vehicles. Unless your work requires you to use 600 horsepower for more labor-intensive trips, try to choose a smaller engine that has sufficient horsepower.
7. Drive responsibly.
In addition to how your vehicle is configured, how you drive is another factor that impacts fuel efficiency. Rapid acceleration causes tire rolling and air resistance which leads to more fuel consumption. According to some studies, every 5 MPH above 50 MPH can burn an extra 22 cents per gallon. By avoiding rapid acceleration and hard braking while maintaining highway speed limits, you can optimize gas mileage and prevent unwanted wear and tear on a vehicle. Using cruise control can also improve fuel economy by up to 14% if you're able to maintain consistent speed for an extended period of time, depending on traffic conditions. Overall, driving responsibly is just as important as keeping up with vehicle maintenance, and staying on top of those priorities will maximize fuel economy and minimize fuel costs.