How to Improve Fuel Efficiency on the Road

June 2013, - WebXclusive

by Travis Tuft - VP of Client Services, Equinox

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According to AAA, the national average price of diesel is $3.888 - call it $3.89 - per gallon at the time of this writing. Given that your truck likely has a fuel capacity of 150 to 300 gallons, it would cost $583 to over $1,167 per fill-up at the current rate. In other words, as you may have already noticed, fueling up for a long-haul is quite expensive.

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve fuel efficiency. Doing so will result in less fuel usage, which will improve your bottom line. Let’s take a look at how to improve fuel efficiency on the road.

Manage Your Speed

While seeing the many sights across the US and beyond may be great, driving day after day can be a chore. It may be tempting to drive as fast as possible from point A to point B to get it over with or earn extra money. However, doing so has a major downside - more money spent on diesel.

On average, every 1 mph increase in speed results in a 0.14 miles per gallon  decrease in fuel economy.

Now, suppose that you drive 2,500 miles per week and decide to increase your average speed by 10 mph to save time. As the average 18-wheeler gets 5.9 mpg, your truck’s fuel economy would drop to 4.5 mpg. Thus, by increasing your average speed by 10 mph, your truck would consume approximately 132 extra gallons of fuel at a cost of nearly $513. Is that 10 mph increase really worth $513 per week?

According to Jim Phillips, quality service manager for Equinox Business Solutions, “Fortunately, there are two key ways you can manage your speed. One is to do so voluntarily by simply slowing down. If you have a lead foot or otherwise are inclined to speed, you can have your truck’s ECM set so the road speed limiter restricts the truck to a practical speed.” 

For example, you could set the road speed limiter to 65 mph, which will allow you to drive near, at or even above (not recommended) many modern speed limits without going overboard.

Take a Load Off

Your truck already carries tens of thousands of pounds of items across thousands of miles each week. Avoid adding unnecessary items to your truck.

Such items add to its total weight and, as a result, increase the amount of fuel it uses. Try to keep truck and in-cab accessories to a minimum.

Monitor Tire Pressure

Improperly-inflated tires decrease fuel economy. As such, routinely check all tires to ensure that they are properly inflated.

Add or remove air, when necessary. Also, replace or repair any tires that seem to lose air frequently.

Don’t Floor It

Rapid acceleration places a lot of strain on your truck’s engine and results in wasted fuel. Remember - you’re not in a drag race. So, avoid flooring it when the light turns green and you’ll save some greenbacks.

Minimize Idling

When your truck is stopped and you leave it running unnecessarily, fuel is wasted. Of course, it would be impractical to turn it off and on at every minor traffic jam, but avoid leaving it running for extended periods of time when it is unnecessary to do so.

For example, if you stop at a rest area and don’t plan to hit the road for another 30 minutes, turn your truck off.


Improving fuel efficiency only requires a minimal effort on your part. However, doing so can save you hundreds of dollars per week.

Be sure to manage your speed and minimize idling. Also, increase speed gradually instead of rapidly accelerating. Additionally, avoid adding unnecessary accessories to your truck and monitor its tire pressure regularly. Finally, you may want to invest in a larger wallet to handle all the money you’ll save.


  1. 1. Mike Kehrli [ June 04, 2013 @ 05:06PM ]

    Great article. I might also add that mileage can be saved by 1) drafting, 2) changing out all lubricants to high quality synthetics by a company like Torco or Amsoil, 3) Adding 2-3 ounces of acetone per 10 gallons of diesel will add 5% to your fuel mileage. We have an email series that outlines tips for truck drivers to save on fuel.


  2. 2. GREG FOREMAN [ June 14, 2013 @ 03:18PM ]

    Improved fuel economy will be accomplished when truck drivers are taught how to “operate” a truck as opposed to “driving” a truck. Yes, there are good drivers but to few of these drivers are good operators. Drivers are trained on backing up, driving between the “mayonnaise and mustard” and driving defensively. Unfortunately, good, safe driving techniques do not contribute to fuel efficient operations of a truck. Every major engine manufacture offers courses in operational techniques that if learned and if practiced will improve fuel economy by as much as 3% to 4%. I know that doesn't sound like much, but when one takes into consideration the number of trucks in a small fleet can be as many as 50 to 100 rigs, such an increase in fuel efficiency does not take long to add to the bottom line.
    Another aspect of improved fuel efficiency can be found in “spec trucks”. To many companies simply take the truck “as is” from the manufacture. The component parts, the engine, transmission, rear end, tires, etc are not specked out. The specs for a truck will depend upon the terrain encountered, long haul versus short haul, average weight hauled, etc., but once such factors are ascertained, a properly specked truck will provide increased fuel economy of as much as an additional two to three percent.

  3. 3. American Truck Showrooms [ May 01, 2016 @ 10:54PM ]

    If you want to spend money on truck accessories, this is a good way to do it. By monitoring fuel usage, you can develop truck driving habits that could save you money in the long run. Rapid acceleration and frequent shifting reduce fuel mileage; learning to drive efficiently will make you a better driver.


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