Fuel-Saving strategies rely on Drivers, Maintenance Employees

Fuel-Saving strategies rely on Drivers, Maintenance Employees

Fuel ranks as one of the more significant expenses for motor carriers. For small owner-operators, fuel ranks as the top expense.

Even when the cost of diesel fuel is lower (according to the Energy Information Administration the cost of diesel is 10.5 cents per gallon lower than about a year ago) the amount carriers spend on fuel is significant. Drivers and maintenance technicians must know the importance of taking steps to conserve fuel when necessary.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not require training on fuel conservation, nor does it have any regulations linked to saving fuel. Still, in-house training on saving your company some money at the pump can be a wise business decision.

What drivers can do

Make sure your drivers are aware of the importance of saving fuel through their daily actions. The driver techniques and practices that have the biggest impact on fuel mileage are:

  • Idling;
  • Cruising at higher than necessary RPMs or Speed;
  • Progressive shifting, especially if involved in local runs; and
  • Rapid acceleration/deceleration.

The most important thing a driver can do when it comes to inspecting and caring for the vehicle to save fuel is to regularly check tire pressure. Checking it before every trip is essential, as under-inflated tires can reduce fuel mileage by 2 to 5 percent.

Drivers should also check for:

  • Wheel assemblies and axles for grease or oil leaks;
  • Brakes that might drag or not release correctly;
  • Anything attached to the vehicle that reduces aerodynamic performance;
  • Fuel leaks and potential fuel leaks;
  • Ensuring that oil and fluid levels are adequate; and
  • Reporting any operating problems, such as lack of power, or vibrations.

What maintenance can do

Maintenance departments need to work together with drivers to keep trucks running at top-level efficiency. When a driver complains of an operating issue, maintenance technicians should immediately investigate.

A checklist of priorities during inspections for the maintenance crew during should include:

  • Checking tire condition and inflation level,
  • Making sure the truck is properly aligned,
  • Checking fans and other clutching accessories to ensure they're engaging and disengaging properly,
  • Consistently tracking fuel mileage and oil consumption, and
  • Downloading on-board diagnostic computers as part of a preventive maintenance plan.

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