One of the biggest expenses for an owner-operator is the cost of fuel. It adds up so quickly that if you do not manage it correctly, it cuts into your weekly earnings very fast, reducing your profits significantly. Although you cannot control fuel inflation, here are some practices that you can use to manage your fuel costs.
Tips on How to Reduce Your Fuel Cost:
- Routine Preventative Maintenance
- Limiting Unnecessary Idling
- Reducing Average Speed
- Optimizing Routes
- Avoiding Over Fueling
- Fuel Station Pre-Planning
- Maintaining Tire Pressure
Do Your Preventative Maintenance Routinely
Preventative maintenance routines will help with fuel efficiency. You should regularly check these for leaks:
- air filters,
- tire pressure,
- oil levels,
- oxygen sensors,
These items can directly affect your miles per gallon. Checking them regularly ensures that your truck runs smoothly and helps you avoid costly problems and repairs.
Did you know that it costs up to a gallon of fuel per hour to idle your truck? Idling your truck has become very expensive due to diesel inflation. Think about it – idling your truck for 8 hours a day at $4.52 per gallon would cost you approximately $253.00 per week. Many drivers let their trucks idle at night while they wait to be loaded or unloaded, to control the climate and accessories. You can purchase an auxiliary power unit (APU); however, this is very expensive. You can also purchase an inverter, which is much more cost-friendly – it can be used to power small fans, small heaters, and accessories without using your fuel.
Reduce Your Speed
A truck driver’s job is to get the load from point A to point B, safely and as fast as possible. Truck drivers often speed up to get more deliveries during the week and appease the shippers and brokers. It has been proven that lowering your average speed saves fuel and lowers your fuel costs. Once you exceed the optimal speed of 60–65 mph, your fuel mileage will start to decrease.
By slightly reducing your speed, you can improve your overall fuel economy and, most importantly, increase safety.
Optimize Your Routes
Ever missed your exit or gone the wrong way? Then you should start your day by taking some additional time to plan out each route.
Planning your trip will help you reduce driving times, avoid traffic, and cut unnecessary miles. If you have not already purchased a high-quality trucker GPS, you will want to make this purchase as soon as possible! The GPS will also help alert you to traffic and detours in advance. We spoke about it more in another of our texts.
Avoid Over Fueling
The average is 6-7 miles per gallon, which equates to 600–700 miles per 100 gallons of fuel. When fueling, you should keep this in mind. For instance, if you have a load of 1,400 miles, you should only fuel based on those miles. If you have two 100-gallon tanks, 200 gallons of fuel should be sufficient to travel 1,400 miles.
Take into account the pay cycle, to prevent having an excess of fuel at the end of the week, which will have an impact on your weekly gross earnings! For instance, if by the end of the pay cycle, you have a 90-gallon surplus of fuel remaining in your tanks, this would mean approximately $400 (at $4.52 per gallon) from your weekly settlement.
Pre-Plan Fuel Stations
Save a lot of money by pre-planning your route and fuel stops!
Although it may be convenient, it may not be the best idea to fuel at the nearest station. For example, if the nearest network fueling station to you costs $5.20 per gallon, but there is another network fueling station down the road for $4.70 per gallon, this would give you a savings of $0.50 per gallon.
You can use tools like your trucker GPS and phone apps such as Mud Flap and Trucker Path to identify the different fuel stations.
Check Tire Pressure Often
Low tire pressure will affect your fuel economy. You should check your tire pressure frequently and fill all tires according to the manufacturer’s specs. Low tire pressure can cause more rolling resistance, which causes the engine to work harder and increase fuel consumption. Fuel consumption could be decreased by approximately 0.2% per 1 psi drop.
According to this, a tire deflated by 20 psi could result in a 4% decrease in fuel economy. Fuel prices and low tire pressure combined will have you paying more at the pumps.