How to Improve Fuel Efficiency on the Road

February 6, 2019

Ever heard the statement, “It takes money to make money?” As with any industry, capital investment can greatly affect revenue. Ask any successful Owner/Operator or fleet manager working in commercial transportation, and they will be the first to tell you how true this statement can be. For a tractor/trailer owner, their first consideration in logistical transportation for example, includes the truck cost ranging anywhere from $50,000 for a current-decade used model, to $150,000 and up for an over the road sleeper. For investment in a fleet it could range from 10’s of thousands into an astronomical number depending on the size of a fleet. Consider a nationwide utility company for example, with thousands of vehicles across the country.

Depending on who you ask, these types of numbers may be a reasonable investment, and some may consider the expenditure out of reach. Everyone would probably agree however, that there are areas to save, once the investment is made, and perhaps one of the easiest could be in fuel savings.

Even with fuel prices at a moderate level these days, diesel fuel is still an expense of transportation always impacting the bottom line. Whether a light or medium duty truck on a local route, or a big-rig traversing the interstate system coast to coast, fuel consumption alone is a great place to start on ROI. Below are a few tips to help:

Acceleration: Avoid the need to rev the engine when slamming through the gears. Passing through the gears a little slower gives the transmission the time to do its job. When transferring less task on the engine and lower RPMs, more fuel stays in the tank to get the wheels rolling.

Tire Maintenance: As the actual component transferring the vehicles mechanical energy to the road, tires can have a great impact on fuel economy. Optimized tread design and rubber compound can greatly affect the coefficient of slip, and therefore the propulsion of the vehicle. Improper wear can alter the course of the vehicle requiring extra fuel to remain correctly on course. Proper alignment as well as the inflation of the tires provides more efficiency and traction to the road allowing the tread to provide better grip and move the vehicle forward.

Make Stops at the Top of a Hill: For truck stops and weigh stations, seek out those at the top of a hill. By utilizing the down-hill gravity to get your truck back up to speed, returning to the roadway requires less fuel for acceleration. Restarting at the bottom of the hill compounds the work of your engine and burns more fuel when returning to speed.

Fuel System Maintenance: Good fuel provides more efficiency in combustion and clean fuel filters allows the fuel to flow freely through the system. For diesel, the fuel mixture also includes lubricity to reduce friction, wear and deterioration to engine parts continually in motion against each other such as gears, pistons and rings, lifters and so much more. Clogged filters and injectors require more fuel to be forced through the entire system.

Engine and Fuel Additives: To help reduce carbon build up, dirt, grime, injector stiction and other residuals of an engine, adding the proper fuel and oil additives help dissolve foreign deposits, reduce friction, improve protection of metallic deterioration and corrosion, and improve viscosity indexes. Bradon Mass, owner of Mass Traction, tours the country prepping race tracks. He claims “We’ve crunched a few numbers and by using Hot Shot’s Secret, we have been able to save $4000 in fuel costs this year, and we have the added protection of our engine and better power.”

Specific to diesel fuel gel, additives help reduce the winter freezing of paraffins that gel into a thick wax clogging the entire fuel system.

Sitting at Idle: Minimize the amount of time with the engine running while sitting idle. Of course warm ups and stop overs are sometimes required, but when the possibility exists, turn off the motor to conserve more fuel.

Look ahead to Intersections: If knowing when stop lights, and any other hesitations in traffic flow are ahead, plan the juncture so you can continue rolling. When making a complete stop, more fuel is required to restart forward headway. If slowly rolling into the intersection and properly timing the stoplight to continue momentum, the truck is already in motion with the weight of the load already moving forward. A complete stop discontinues the inertia of the vehicle, requiring a restart from zero.

Cruising Sweet Spot: Also related to inertia and the weight of the load moving forward, find the sweet spot in cruising speed where it requires the least amount of acceleration and higher RPMs. Allow the inertia to remove the stress of the powerplant and the fuel required for acceleration. When you find the sweet spot, set the cruise control to speed and watch the mileage increase from your fuel tank.

Change the Oil: Fresh motor oil provides more lubricity allowing the mechanical parts in the engine to move freely. With less resistance on the movement of the parts, less fuel is required to power the transduction of chemical energy (fuel combustion) into mechanical energy. The investment in high grade motor oil proves to be worth the small investment providing increased oil flow, less friction on moving engine parts, a better seal on piston rings, and transferring heat. The right oil helps provide more horsepower per fuel burn, less repairs and extends the life of the engine.

Reduce the load: Extra weight burns extra fuel. When at all possible clean out the cab of the truck and remove unneeded weight constraints. Perhaps fill the tank less for shorter commutes? If the weight of the vehicle itself overreaches the need of the job, perhaps consider a smaller vehicle for the smaller jobs. Regardless of the size of the vehicle all the above information pertains as well.

Tony Lewis of Powerhouse Performance Diesel (Mount Holly, AR) mentions that one of the most common oversights in fuel economy and costly mistakes in available maintenance is when people don’t use additives. “I’m a firm believer,” says Lewis, “that including additives early on in the life of the vehicle, helps prolong the life of your engine, less repairs and savings in fuel economy. I’ve seen for myself many improvements in injector life for example, by keeping the entire chamber cleaner. I’ll take apart the top ends of motors from customers using the Stiction Eliminator from Hot Shot’s Secrets, and it’s so much cleaner than the others that have never used anything.” When fuel is required to pass through the gunked up system sans-additives, more fuel is required to actually get past the build up, costing more at the gas station.

With a few simple steps, the proper maintenance, a look ahead in the road and some added patience in our routines, fuels savings can become a sizeable benefit to the road-bound business. With the the tips above, drivers should see immediate results. Have more tips of your own? Feel free to share with us at our Hot Shot’s Secret Facebook page.

“We’ve been using Hot Shot’s Secret for trucks that come in with complaints about cold starts in the morning, and we offer Diesel Extreme for improved cold starting. Several of our customers are using the Everyday Diesel Treatment reporting back mileage improvements after their own tracking and testing in their diesel pickups.

I’ve used the Stiction Eliminator for probably 15 years in my own vehicles. Since I’ve become a dealer, I’ve put it in a whole lot of pickups, especially the 6.0 diesels, and more so than not an oil change with Stiction Eliminator has definitely made improvements in cold starting and issues with missing in the trucks. It definitely buys some time for your engines.

I’ve used other products, but for me personally, I’ve had better results out of the Hot Shot’s Secret products. When I visited my first NHRDA race and visited the HSS booth, I saw the engine oil for sale too. I asked the folks in the booth how can I get on board? I said I didn’t need any proof because I was already a customer and believer. And I’ve become the dealer in Arkansas for the motor oil. Every one of my customers has been more than happy with the product.

I’ve conducted my own personal tests on Hot Shot’s Secret Oils and it’s topped the other oils I’ve compared in the tests. I’ve had a lot of Dodge 5.9’s come in ‘missing’ in the cold. I treat them with Hot Shot’s Secret and then I don’t see them very often after that. The 6.7’s seem to have a better injector in them. When I use Hot Shot’s Secret on them, they are done. I haven’t seen them come back. I have a couple fleet trucks that come in on occasion and it’s been over a year now, and we haven’t had to touch the injector system since. It’s just a great product.

Plus, nowadays, there are some good parts, products and ideas out there everywhere. But the part left out is customer service. With Hot Shot’s Secret, however, I can get on the phone with any question, be it pricing, or shipping or product, and in a short matter of time, I am getting a call back with someone helping me almost immediately. The product speaks for itself, but the service is outstanding. For me, if you don’t have customer service, you don’t have much at all. With Hot Shot’s Secret, we do!”

Tony Lewis
Powerhouse Performance Diesel