Follow These Tips for Better Semi Truck Fuel Mileage

Truck driving is a great way to earn a living, but the cost of fuel can eat into your profits if you’re not careful.

Fuel is the #1 expense that comes with operating a semi-truck, so minimizing fuel consumption while maximizing efficiency is a smart strategy that’s good for both the environment and your bank account.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can get better fuel mileage from your trucks.

Reduce Speed

Most people know that driving too fast can increase the risk of an accident. But did you also know it can hurt your fuel efficiency?

Reducing your speed is one of the best ways to get better fuel mileage according to the American Trucking Association.

  • For every mile per hour, you increase your speed, you reduce fuel efficiency by 0.1 miles per gallon.
  • Traveling at 75 miles per hour uses 27% more fuel than driving the same distance at 65 mph.
  • If you slow down to 55 mph, you’ll use 20% less fuel than at 65 mph.
  • Excessive speed also increases wear and tear on your tires, brakes, and engine, leading to higher maintenance and repair costs — and more time off the road.

Reduce Idling

Just because your truck isn’t moving doesn’t mean it isn’t costing you money.

Idling burns a gallon an hour, and over time, that can do some serious damage to your finances. Across the industry, discretionary idling — such as running the engine to provide heat during a stop — burns over 1 billion gallons a year.

  • Plan routes to avoid traffic jams and minimize time at stoplights.
  • If you’re trying to keep warm during a stop, bring along a small generator or lightweight heater that doesn’t depend on your truck’s fuel tank.
  • Look for truck stops that offer climate control, appliances, and other basic comforts you can use without running your engine.
  • Invest in automatic engine shut-down and start-up systems. These can automatically start and stop your engine based on set time periods, ambient temperature, and other factors.

Get the Right Tires

Your tires do much more than keep you rolling. Choosing the right tires, and keeping them in good condition, can keep you safe and improve your fuel mileage.

  • Look for low rolling resistance. For every 3% improvement in rolling resistance, you get 1% better fuel efficiency.
  • Wide-based tires can improve your efficiency by 4 to 8%, depending on the model you get. They are lighter in weight and require less maintenance.
  • Keep tires inflated. Every 10 psi of underinflation increases your fuel consumption by 1 to 1.5%. Consider automatic tire inflation systems and follow rigorous tire maintenance.

Invest in Semi Truck Aerodynamics

When you’re in the process of purchasing a semi-truck, look for features that cut fuel consumption and boost efficiency.

Aerodynamic drag, or wind resistance, causes your engine to work harder than it should and use more fuel. At highway speeds, reducing drag by 25% can improve fuel economy by 15%.

  • Aerodynamic features for your semi-tractor include roof fairings, cab extenders, side fairings, and a sloped hood, among other add-ons.
  • Your trailer also makes a difference. Reducing the gap between your tractor and trailer from 45” to 25” can save about 2% on fuel, and installing side skirts can save up to 5%. Keeping a low, smooth cargo profile also helps.

Optimize Logistics

Inefficient freight operations waste fuel in the form of long or congested routes, unnecessary idling, and non-revenue generating empty miles. Optimizing your logistics strategy with technology and good old-fashioned planning can save you fuel and time while improving productivity.

For example, reducing empty miles by just 1% can save over 100 gallons of fuel and increase your ton-miles by 20,000 per year.

  • Get computerized routing and scheduling software. Specialized logistics programs can help you optimize your routes based on hours-of-service rules, vehicle size and cargo compatibility, pickup and delivery schedules, and other factors.
  • Adopt 24/7 shipping and receiving. Planning routes at off-peak times can help you avoid congestion, minimize loading and unloading, cut down on idling and haul more freight.

Other Fuel-Saving Tips for Your Semi Truck

Here are a few other good habits that’ll keep your truck running smoothly and save you money on fuel.

  • Reduce vehicle weight. Heavier trucks need more fuel to accelerate, climb hills, and carry cargo. Choose the lightest weight tractor and trailer combination for the type of hauling you’re doing — every 10% reduction in truck weight reduces fuel consumption by 5 to 10%.
  • Use care when shifting gears. It’s best to combine braking and shifting and maintain as high a gear as possible to reduce the need to shift.
  • Use a low-viscosity lubricant. A quality lubricant will reduce friction and wear. Low-viscosity lubricants can improve fuel economy by 2 to 4%.


Do you need a fuel-efficient semi-truck or semi-trailer to keep you rolling? At Pedigree, we have a large inventory of used trucks from brands like Freightliner. Our inventory of used trailers includes well-maintained reefers, tankers, and flatbeds.

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