One of the easiest ways to reduce fuel costs is to properly and efficiently maintain your fleet’s vehicles. Here are nine ways to do just that.
It takes a lot of extra fuel burn to drag a tire sideways. Check trailer and drive axle alignment, which can be as simple as using measuring tape. Ideally, an alignment should be part of your regular maintenance check performed by a professional technician.
2. Inflate Your Tires, Not Your Fuel Bill
Improper inflation bites you in two ways: (1) it reduces the ability of the tire sidewall to support the load on the tire, which increases the degree to which the sidewall will flex; and (2) it changes the footprint or contact patch of the tire.
3. Don’t Pull Tires Prematurely
Tires that can be run out to the minimum acceptable tread depth – without being pulled prematurely due to irregular wear – have a reduced tread depth and can roll more freely. Manufacturer studies show that an 80 percent-worn tire is something like 6.5 percent more fuel efficient than a new tire due ti the thinner tread. Unfortunately, tires with irregular or uneven wear won’t see their best days from a fuel efficiency perspective, so this only works if you’re properly maintaining your tires.
4. Keep Tires and Wheels Balanced
When a tire is not balanced, it vibrates (roughly 10 times a second at 66 mph), causing irregular wear, which contributes to tires being pulled before they wear down to their most fuel-efficient tread thickness. That wastes energy meant to propel the truck forward.
There’s also evidence that a balanced tire and wheel, even in its early or mid-stage of life, can improve fuel economy. SAE Type II fuel economy testing done in 2008 for “Counteract Balancing Beads” at a test track in Indiana, revealed that properly balanced wheels produced a 2.2 percent improvement in fuel economy.
5. Watch for Leaking
A leaking charge air cooler can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 0.5 mpg, adding up to dollars wasted every mile. Have your charge air cooler tested for leaks every time your vehicle is serviced or when the oil is changed. The simple test only takes 10-15 minutes and can ultimately save you thousands of dollars per year.
6. Replace Worn-Out Fuel Injectors
Over time, performance of fuel injectors is diminished due to wear and tear on moving parts and metal-to-metal sealing surfaces. Adding to this problem, extreme heat and high combustion pressures cause carbon buildup on injector tips, which degrades fuel atomization and spray patterns and decrease combustion efficiency.
7. Dragging Breaks Are a Drag on Fuel Economy
Drivers should feel the wheels and hubs on walk-around inspections to detect any irregularities. Pay attention to drivers who report that brakes on a truck are dragging at times or if under certain circumstances, are losing power.
8. Consider an Engine Overhaul
If you’ve got an older engine and don’t want to buy entirely new equipment, there are steps you can take to improve your engine’s performance and efficiency. Most engine manufacturers offer rebuilding choices and remanufactured diesels with like-new performance and warranties.
9. Keep the Truck in Shape
Make sure preventive maintenance intervals are done on schedule, the alternator is charging the batteries, and the cables and connections are clean and healthy. That way the engine will start when you want it to and you won’t have to idle it. Poor chassis lubrication, filter restrictions, etc. can increase engine load and waste fuel. Even just replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent. So keep your vehicle well-tuned overall and you’ll keep you MPG numbers strong through the life of the vehicle.