Tips For Better Fuel Efficiency?

Topic 31701 | Page 1

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Dennis L's Comment
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I’m seeking tips from experienced drivers who consistently maintain a fuel efficiency >8.0 mpg.

How do you do it driving over all terrains and highway types?

Thanks in advance for sharing your ideas.

PackRat's Comment
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I use a combination of low RPMs, light on the pedal, watch the boost gauge, and patience. I'm close to 8.6 mph for a six year average on pen and paper, not off the dashboard readings.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

RealDiehl's Comment
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Yeah , don't smash down hard on the accelerator even when you're empty and able to accelerate faster. Obviously there are times when you may need to accelerate more quickly. I try to accelerate at a pace where the gears shift smoothly at around 1300 to 1400 rpm. Driving at night with less traffic also helps. You can set the cruise and let the truck do its thing. If you have a Freightliner, they automatically anticipate hills and adjust accordingly to be most fuel efficient while the cruise control is engaged. Braking for traffic lights should also be done smoothly. If you are able to maintain forward motion while approaching a red light (conditions permitting), you won't have to come to a complete stop before the light turns green. Staying in motion this way also helps fuel efficiency.

Chief Brody's Comment
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Dennis,

As far as I’m concerned figuring out strategies to get better fuel mileage is like figuring out the best way to eat your soup with a fork. I will explain in more detail below. Probably a lot more detail than you want, but if one intends to contest the holy grail of profitability in the trucking industry, you need to be thorough. I will channel Ricky Gervais’s monologue from the 2020 Golden Globes throughout this post. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest Googling it. It’s rather funny to see the celebrities’ reactions to Ricky’s pillorying of them individually and Hollywood in general. Why am I channeling Ricky Gervais? Because, when it comes to fuel mileage, “I don’t care.”

Again, while you asked specifically about fuel mileage, I will put fuel mileage in a larger context. First, fuel mileage per se. Second, fuel cost. Third, maximizing revenue. The contribution of the first two to the third is negligible.

While you have gotten some suggestions, all of which sound good in an academic sense, most people probably don’t understand the complexities of fuel mileage. In my experience, three factors affect fuel mileage the most. In the order of the most impact, topography, wind resistance, and weight. I base this on the trip computer on the truck. I know, many people will say, “those computers are not accurate, you have to calculate x, y, z, etc.” Really, I don’t care what they say. I just drove empty North from Phoenix on I-17, up to I-40. I’m not being redundant. North from Phoenix along I-17 increases in elevation. For the 150 miles, my mileage was 7.6 mpg. A while ago, I had a trip that picked up in Flagstaff, heading North on US 89 down to Nevada. For the first 60 miles of the trip, my mileage was 19 mpg. I know that wind resistance does not affect you, but I have noticed a decrease in fuel mileage when I have a high profile load. Finally, the least impact I have found is weight. I’ve gotten decent fuel mileage with a heavy load traveling on flat ground. So, if you want good fuel mileage, do Texas regional.

I do a couple of other things, primarily to increase my average speed, but they affect my fuel mileage. When I have a downhill stretch, I turn off the cruise control and let the truck build up speed. I do not advocate unsafe driving. I keep the speed under the speed limit and under the 77 mph drive train overspeed threshold on the Prime trucks. Taking advantage of the downhills increases your average speed and fuel mileage. The other thing I do, is when the cruise shuts off before the crest of a hill, I mash down the accelerator. It has become a Pavlovian action for me. In fact, sometimes, after a stretch of hilly terrain, I realize that I have the accelerator mashed to the floor 20 miles after I’ve gotten on flat ground. Again, because I don’t care about fuel mileage. I care about my average speed.

Again, I have not done a study. And anyone who says they have the secret sauce for fuel mileage probably has not tried those things under the exact same conditions. And even if they have, I don’t care.

While Prime sends a message each week about your fuel mileage, your ranking under the “My Fuel” section of the Prime app is based on your fuel cost. Mine is generally around 15 cents per mile. I think Prime calculates the fuel bonus based on your fuel cost. Although, I am not sure, because I don’t care. With Prime, the computer selects your fuel stops based on your location, direction of travel, current diesel gallons, and price. If you look at the Prime fuel and services app, that gives you the negotiated price for that truck stop. It doesn’t tell you the fuel tax rate. On the Prime app, you can navigate to a pdf document that gives you the fuel tax rate by state. The current rate in California is 72.7 cents per gallon. New Mexico is 21 cents per gallon. For 100 gallons of fuel, your fuel cost is at least $50 more in California than New Mexico. Another thing to consider, is how my typical fuel cost equals 15 cents per gallon. Even assuming fuel cost, including tax equals $3.00 per gallon and I get 10 mpg, that’s 30 cents per gallon. Hmmm? Prime gets a fuel surcharge, which is according to Sid V is about 40% paid by the customer, which is probably how my fuel cost equals typically about 15 cents per mile. But again, I don’t know for sure how this is calculated because I don’t care.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

Continued

I care about maximizing the money in my pocket. I do that by driving as many miles each day that I can. If another company driver, who cares about fuel mileage, sets the cruise at 60 mph, while I have mine set at 62, that’s roughly 20 minutes in a 10-hour shift. And that 20 minutes may actually equate to more than 20 miles. For example, two truck stops are 80 miles apart. I may be able to make the further truck stop because I’ve set my cruise at 62 instead of 60. In addition, I may be able to get to the receiver before they close with that 20 minutes. There have been several times where the receiver has told me “as long as in you’re in the gate by 1500, we’ll unload you. If not, we open at 800.” So I get there by 1500, get unloaded, send in my departure by 1600. And I’ve got another load before the end of the day. But if I miss that window, let’s say by 60 minutes, I have to wait until tomorrow to get unloaded. That’s 16 hours later or 6 hours that I could have been running on my next load.

You may say “well this is all hypothetical.” No. I generally start Monday, after a 34-hour reset. My loads, as scheduled would have me delivering Friday morning and then I would get a weekend load. Because I push my schedule, generally, I’ll deliver Thursday and then get another “day load” that delivers Friday, after which I get my weekend load. So, I generally get an extra load per week. Generally, these “day loads” are about 400 miles, which yields $200. No amount of fuel mileage management will get me an “extra” $200 per week. By the way my 8 week ranking on the Prime app is 17 on my FM’s board, which is top 20%. So even with my “west bound and down” driving style, I still earn a decent fuel bonus, even though, I, really, really, don’t’ care.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
BK's Comment
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Okay Counselor, I see you are in your War and Peace mode on this topic. BTW, I love it when you get on a roll.

Like you, I pay little attention to my miles per gallon rate. When I drove dry van I was always north of 8 mph. After switching to reefer , I’m at 7.1

Do I care? Well, a little, but not much. I drive for time, not so much for MPG.

What I hate about cruise control is before I crest a hill, the CC drops me 4 miles per hour below my speed. Why? So I tend to not use CC in hilly terrains. I find that I make better time by relying on my foot rather than cruise control.

I know more experienced drivers might correct me here, and if so I would appreciate the correction.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Harvey C.'s Comment
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Michael is home right now for a couple of days and I just gave him a summary of Chief Brody's War and Peace explanation since I found it interesting.

I had never heard or seen anything from Marten with Michael's mail about fuel economy and he confirmed it's never been brought up except one time when he got a call when keeping his truck running when he was parked (because he was still hot). This makes me wonder why any companies pay a fuel bonus. They should be able to make more money with their drivers getting in more miles and maybe another trip each week like Chief Brody.

Additionally, Michael says he almost never uses cruise control. For one, it usually keeps him at 64.5 instead of 65 but he said he also finds himself not paying as close attention to traffic flow if he uses cruise control and gets stuck behind a slow car, etc. He doesn't know what his average MPG is and doesn't know if his truck even shows something besides the instant reading. I guess he just doesn't care, lol.

G-Town's Comment
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Before I reply...in moderate to heavy traffic , I do not use CruiseControl.

CruseControl (like DriveWyze) on the newer trucks (when functioning properly) will not allow him to get that close to anything in front of him. I suggest he read the manual so he understands the system in his truck and how it functions when set. It’s quite sophisticated and perfectly safe in light traffic.

Diminished focus with cruise control set? That doesn’t resonate with me. However if he’s more comfortable on the pedal, then that’s the right decision.

Additionally, Michael says he almost never uses cruise control. For one, it usually keeps him at 64.5 instead of 65 but he said he also finds himself not paying as close attention to traffic flow if he uses cruise control and gets stuck behind a slow car, etc. He doesn't know what his average MPG is and doesn't know if his truck even shows something besides the instant reading. I guess he just doesn't care, lol.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

I never use the cruise. It's a fuel mileage killer. All the computer control recognizes is "maintain the programmed speed no matter what", so all hills, it's burning it up to maintain. Very inefficient.

Another one I left out is tire pressure, especially on the trailer. Most trailers and trucks are running underinflated tires.

BK's Comment
member avatar

I never use the cruise. It's a fuel mileage killer. All the computer control recognizes is "maintain the programmed speed no matter what", so all hills, it's burning it up to maintain. Very inefficient.

Another one I left out is tire pressure, especially on the trailer. Most trailers and trucks are running underinflated tires.

The under inflated tire part of your comment caught my interest. How do you deal with this? Do you air up your tires to maximum inflation pressure? Please elaborate , thanks

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