Fuel is a major expense for fleets and prices of diesel are expected to increase in 2018. Diesel fuel will average $2.95 a gallon in 2018 and $3.01 a gallon in 2019.
Improving fuel economy can result in significant savings while also potentially increasing the lifespan of a vehicle. Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance support for Penske Truck Leasing, shared six tips for improving fuel economy.
Choosing the right specifications for the application a vehicle will run in 80 percent of the time is one of the biggest opportunities to improve fuel economy, Hasinec said.
Today’s engines are more efficient from a fuel economy standpoint and they live longer, but they can’t tolerate lack of maintenance. “Because they’re so tightly machined, the tolerances are so much tighter and they operate more efficiently, but they aren’t as forgiving,” Hasinec said, adding that preventive maintenance is a critical element of improving fuel economy. Even things like exhaust leaks can harm fuel economy as they can impact waste heat recovery and passive and active regenerations. “When you have exhaust leaks, not only do the fumes bother the driver, but they also can impact the after-treatment system and fuel economy. If there are air leaks, the air compressor has to run all of the time. All of those little things produce loss and all of that adds up,” he said. Other maintenance issues include:
As part of preventive maintenance, Penske techs validate engine parameters, such as road and cruise speeds and especially idle shutdown, which can alter fuel economy. Techs also check for various software updates. “Many of these updates improve vehicle reliability, regens and fuel economy,” Hasinec said.
Using quality motor oil, as well as quality air filters, is also important and can improve fuel economy while prolonging engine life.
For vehicles that spend most of their time on the highway, aerodynamics play an important part in improving fuel economy. “Keeping devices secure and in good condition is critical,” Hasinec said.
Proper tire inflation is a critical element when it comes to fuel economy. Tires running just 10 pounds underinflated can impact fuel economy by as much as 1 percent. Penske checks tire pressures every time a unit is in the service bay for any type of repair. Techs also inspect tires for irregular wear, which can be caused by misalignment, another thing that impacts fuel economy. Penske has also decided to make tire inflation systems standard on its trailers. “Trailers are the most neglected equipment of a fleet. You don’t see them in and out of the shop and drivers don’t take care of them the same way they do the truck,” Hasinec said. “Tire inflation on those is unbelievably important.” “Years ago, a driver came into a Penske shop complaining about low power. It turns out that all eight tires on the trailer had low pressure, so it was like pulling a cement block,” Hasinec said.