7 Ways To Save Fuel Like A Mother Trucker

With diesel fuel prices varying between $3.75 and $4.50 per gallon, small savings add up. In the trucking industry, these small savings can make a huge impact. Can these same fuel saving strategies impact your budget? Let’s look at a few of the trucking industries’ strategies, and consider if they may be applied to your personal vehicle to save fuel. 

How many miles do you drive per year?

The average American driver puts 13,476 miles per year on their personal vehicle. If you averaged 20 mpg and spent $2.50 per gallon, you’d spend $1,684 per year on fuel per vehicle. (Do you have two vehicles? Three?) Here are a few fuel saving ideas:

1. Slow Down

The trucking industry calculates slowing from 75 mph, top speed, to 65 mph, saves an estimated 8-12% fuel usage. “The first step in reducing fuel consumption, according to the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), is reducing speed. A truck traveling at 75 mph consumes 27% more fuel than one going 65 mph; so limiting truck speed to 65 mph would save 2.8 billion gals. of diesel fuel over a decade. Consequently, the trucking association has recommended enacting a national speed limit not to exceed 65 mph and governing speeds on trucks manufactured after 1992 at no more than 65 mph.” — Fleet Owner — Fuel economy 101

If your the average American driver who spends $2,695 on gas per year then reducing fuel consumption in your personal vehicle by 10% would mean a savings of $168 per year, per car.

2. Modify Driver Behavior

An estimated savings of 5 to 10% can be accomplished by driving with fuel economy in mind. Using cruise control and avoiding fast starts and hard stops will impact savings, as will short shifting and smooth or progressive shifting. This could add another 5 to 10% fuel savings.  Savings $84 to $168 

3. Find the Best Route

If you have a smart phone there’s no excuse not to use GPS. Use it — it is usually correct. It probably will not drive you into a lake. Use the app on your iphone or download goggle maps. Don’t waste fuel being lost or driving in circles (It’s a guy thing). The trucking industry calculates 3 to 7% of fuel is wasted on poor routing. Savings $51 to $118 per year. 

4. Maintain Tires

Proper inflation, alignment, balance, and replacing worn tires all affect fuel consumption. Maintaining your tires can save 6% or more, which can save $101 per year

5. Maintain The Overall Vehicle

Proper, up-to-date maintenance saves fuel. While ignition timing, faulty fuel injectors, low coolant levels, leaky vacuum hoses, etc., will affect your economy, even a low savings of 4% would mean Savings of $51  per year. 

6. Aerodynamics 

The trucking industry has been improving design aerodynamics since the 1970’s—the most recent innovation being side trailer skirts. Aero drag can be cut by up to 31%—every 1% saves the US trucking industry 200 million gallons of fuel per year. Passenger vehicles may also be improved with modifications, such as an aluminum sheet belly pan, and a few other aero modifications—all for about $1000. Here are 10 ways to improve the aerodynamics of your passenger car– Passenger Car Aerodynamics. 

Savings up to 15 to 25% or $253 to $421

7. Consider a Hybrid

It’s estimated hybrid trucks could save 20 to 25% in fuel usage. Unfortunately, unlike hybrid passenger vehicles, the cost for hybrid tractor-trailers continues to be cost prohibitive. Savings $336 to $421 per year.

So, what can be saved? The total savings here, using the low end percentages equals $1038, or a savings of 61%. However, these numbers include buying a hybrid vehicle so if we take that out you can still save $702 or 42% of your average fuel usage. And if you’re like me, and drive double the 13,476 miles per year – this is a savings of  $1,400 per year. Multiply the savings by the number of vehicles you own, and the savings begin to add up. For example we own two daily drivers, which could men a savings of $2800 per year. I know I could use the money, how about you?

Do you want to learn more? Check out the Automobile Association’s ways to save up to 33% with Eco-driving advice, Save fuel and money with eco-driving