Did you resolve to use less fuel in the new year? Vocational trucks and the engines that power them are getting more fuel efficient all the time—but there are still a few common-sense steps you can take to improve your fuel economy even further. Follow the advice of our Cat® Truck experts now, and you could be seeing big dividends by the end of 2015.
Tip #1: Coast Further
Every time you take your foot off the throttle—or shut off the cruise control—and let your truck coast with the transmission in gear, the diesel engine stops consuming fuel. When you coast in gear, all the fuel pumped to the engine is returned to the fuel tank. The act of the drive train turning keeps the engine rotating. When you push in the clutch and remove the drive train connection, the engine goes to idle and starts burning idle fuel. That means whatever distance you travel coasting in gear is essentially FREE.
To use your truck’s momentum to your advantage, back off the throttle early and coast as far as you can before you stop at a stop sign or red light—or even pull off an exit ramp. When you’ve coasted as far as you can in one gear, downshift and coast a bit further in another. Sure, you use a little fuel to make the shift, but the distance traveled is well worth it. Give it a try and see just how far your truck will coast.
An added benefit to coasting in gear—your brake linings should last longer since you won’t be using the service brakes as much. It’s a win-win!
Now, to get the full benefits of coasting in gear, be sure to leave your Jake Brake OFF. While it doesn’t use any fuel per se, the Jake Brake does slow you down more quickly—minimizing the distance you can coast. Use the Jake Brake when you need to keep your speed under control while descending a grade or if you need to stop in a hurry.
Tip #2: Slow Down
The simplest thing you can do to save the most fuel? Slow down. It’s simple physics: The faster you drive, the greater the horsepower demand on your engine. The greater the horsepower demand, the more fuel your truck has to consume to generate that horsepower.
For every mile per hour decrease in speed, you can save about a tenth of a mile per gallon in fuel. Translated into real numbers, that means you can increase your fuel economy by half a mile per gallon just by slowing down 5 mph—or improve it by a full mile per gallon by decreasing your speed by 10 mph.
Over the course of a year, those small improvements can really add up—and make it worth slowing down a bit during a busy work day. Just leave a little earlier and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Slow down, enjoy the ride and imagine what you’ll buy with all the money you’re saving on fuel.
Want more fuel-saving suggestions? Watch this space in February for Tips #3 and #4. In the meantime, check out this infographic for more advice. (Keep in mind it’s written for both diesel and gas engine users.)