By: Steve Irick
Sure, fuel prices are on the decline, but every dollar you save at the pump still means more money in your pocket. Even if it’s not your rig, following these tips could come back to you as a bonus through a company sponsored fuel savings incentive plan – as well as potentially less breakdown time.
It all boils down to a diligent pre-trip combined with routine maintenance.
All too often we thump our tires with a hammer and call it good. Check your air pressure with a tire gauge. Maybe you keep a close eye on your rig’s tires, but what about the trailer you just hooked on to? Tires that are 10-20 pounds low will make a difference in rolling resistance as well as safe handling. Look for irregular wear on your steer axles – alignment issues not only wear your tires down faster but add rolling resistance.
Check your charge air cooler for leaks. Again, this is normal pre-trip under the hood stuff, but many drivers will just do a visual. This is something where you’ll need to use your hands. Physically check each connection. Start the engine and listen for a whistling air sound. A leak in the turbo system will affect the performance and efficiency of your engine.
How clean is your air filter? Most trucks have a gauge on the filter assembly that shows when replacement is necessary. Keep an eye on that gauge, especially when you’ve been driving in dry and windy conditions. Look for any debris at the inlet that could restrict air flow.
Routinely checking your oil level is always worth a mention. Many drivers will go several days just because “it looked good yesterday”, but even with a new engine, leaks can develop. You should always carry at least one extra gallon of oil with you and make sure that the oil level is within parameters on the dip stick.
In addition to your engine oil, keep a close eye on your other fluids. Low power steering fluid, engine coolant and power assisted clutch fluid will have adverse affects on your truck’s performance and overall life expectancy. City drivers as well as over the roaders should always carry extra fluids in their truck.
Follow the engine manufacturer’s recommendations for RPM limitations. Over revving your engine will not provide any more horsepower and will use more fuel. Use the progressive shift technique and avoid jumping gears and lugging your engine at a low RPM.
Maintain your driving speed. Using cruise control on the highway will help keep the engine RPM’s more consistent and again save on fuel consumption.
Limit your idle time. Shut your rig down when it isn’t rolling. Savings will add up quicker than you might imagine.
It is also important to follow the engine manufacture’s commendations for routine major service procedures. Efficiency and extended life will outweigh the costs.
If possible, consider investing in fairings, wings and cab extenders: they have all proven to increase fuel mileage.
Remember that the better you take care of your truck the better it will take care of you.