Tips for Fuel Management in Semi-Trucks

As they journey through state lines, hills, and valleys, semi-trucks rack up a lot of miles. On top of the distance they travel, semi-trucks in the United States can legally pull up to 80,000 pounds. And that’s without an oversize permit. Ever-changing conditions on the road and the enormous weight of semi-trucks are two reasons why these vehicles get such low gas mileage.

On average, semi-trucks get 6.5 mpg. When they are driving uphill, gas mileage is even lower than that. But you can do a few things as a truck driver to lower the amount of fuel you use during each trip.

When you reduce the amount of fuel your truck uses, you release fewer emissions into the atmosphere, extend the lifespan of your truck, and save money on gas. Implement these tips on fuel management today.

Regulate Speed

Try to maintain a consistent speed that matches the posted speed limit on the road.

For trucks, the speed limit is usually at 65 mph. If you travel at even 70 mph, you’ll decrease the fuel economy of your vehicle. And if you travel faster than that, your fuel economy will lower exponentially.

Keeping a constant speed is just as important as driving at the appropriate speed. When on the road, use cruise control whenever possible to make sure you don’t speed up.

When you accelerate from your starting speed, you burn more fuel. The faster you speed up, the more fuel you waste. The same goes if you aren’t driving fast enough, though. The more you slow down, the more you have to accelerate to get back up to 65 mph.

Stop Less and Stay in a Higher Gear

Limit the number of times you stop and start your semi-truck for best fuel management. As you drive down a busy road, watch the traffic around you and be aware of your surroundings to avoid excess stopping. The less you stop, the fewer gear changes you have to make. Higher gears save on fuel, so stay in those gears when you can.

Avoid Idling Your Truck

Need to leave your semi for a minute? Some drivers idle their trucks to keep the inside temperature the same or to avoid restarting the vehicle. However, you should never leave a semi-truck idling for more than five minutes. An hour of idling burns a gallon of gas. Save the fuel, and just shut your truck off if you need to leave for an extended period of time.

Use Your Momentum

Heavy trucks moving fast build a lot of momentum. Just by keeping a consistent pace on the open road, your semi-truck can build momentum for upcoming hills. If you’re on a route where you know you’ll be going uphill, collect momentum beforehand by driving at a constant 65 mph speed. This will give you the additional energy you need to make it up steep hills.

You can also use momentum to propel your vehicle forward without using the gas pedal. If you know you’ll be coming to a stop light or stop sign soon, take your foot off the gas and start slowing down beforehand. Finally land on the brakes once you are there. Don’t let excessive braking waste your momentum and force you to shift gears more often than necessary.

Many of these suggestions apply to more than commercial vehicles. Learning how to keep your semi-truck fuel efficient is a skill that will pay off whether you are on the job or driving around in your free time. Try out some of these suggestions, and start saving fuel, money, and the environment today.

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