The ultimate guide to truck fuel economy.

Fuel economy is one technique to gain a competitive advantage over your competition, and simple modifications can have a significant impact.

Aerodynamics and rolling resistance should be improved.

Aerodynamics: improving the truck’s slickness

Because trucks have such a large cross area, they must push air out of the path. Just repelling air consumes about 21% of your fuel. If you’ve ever flown a kite, you know how much force can be generated even when the wind is just gusting at 30 km/h. Multiply that by up to the width of your truck’s front end, and triple the wind speed.

There are a few things that can be done to make trucks more aerodynamic:

  • Roof-top air deflectors, cab side edge turning vanes, front fairings, trailer side skirts, and under-bumper air dams are all examples of aerodynamic aids.
  • Keep the trailer as near the tractor as possible if you have a sliding fifth-wheel hookup.
  • Sheet your empty tipper bodies – this alone can save you 8%!
  • Load it as efficiently as possible while staying under axle weight constraints if you’re using a flatbed.
  • Keep curtain-side bodies and trailers taut to avoid luffing or flapping in the wind.
  • Purchase the correct trailer – do not purchase a trailer that is taller than you require; otherwise, you will be pushing more air than is needed.
  • Select a vehicle with aerodynamic features.
  • Air horns and other superfluous adornments should be removed from your truck.


Using low rolling resistance tires can save some fuel (usually a couple of percent), but if you let your tires go flat by 10psi, you can easily lose 1%. Flat tires also heat up and degrade faster, increasing the danger of a rupture. Over-inflating your tires reduce rolling resistance, causes them to wear out more quickly in the center, and loosens grip.

Use the tire manufacturer’s cold pressure inflation guidelines.


The amount of resistance is affected by the alignment of your wheels. Misaligned wheels create more friction on the road, which causes your tires to wear out faster and the engine to work harder.

A trailer’s misaligned wheels will cause it to crab slightly sideways, increasing wind resistance.


Do you have goods on your person that you don’t need? Any additional weight results in increased fuel usage. According to estimates, every 1000kg of cargo requires 1% extra fuel, though this varies by truck type and manufacturer.

Keep your momentum going.

Even if your truck only travels a few kilometers per hour, starting it from a halt consumes more fuel than if it is already moving. Adjust the spacing between your truck and the car in front of you when traveling in heavy traffic to smooth out the stops and starts of rush hour traffic. Even if you only walk at a leisurely speed, you will save money on gas.

When approaching a roundabout or traffic lights, aim to time your arrival to have a gap (at a roundabout) or a green signal. Green lights in the distance indicate that it will most likely be red by the time you arrive, so take off the gas and let the engine perform some braking. You may still have to come to a halt, but you haven’t used any more petrol than is required to get there.

You are practicing smooth lines through the turns to maintain a slightly higher average speed. By increasing your average corner speed by a few kilometers per hour, you can save money on brakes and minimize the amount of fuel you consume when you accelerate. However, don’t take the chance of a rollover.

Anticipate what will happen next by using anticipation. You have the height advantage and can look over other cars. You can slack off the gas if you see a traffic snarl ahead of you.

Allow your speed to naturally increase as you descend the hill, then use the momentum to propel you up the next one. As you near the top of the slope, remember to ease off the gas pedal.

Make use of all available technology.

Cruise control is a feature that allows you to drive.

Your right foot will bounce when you go over bumps, and these micro motions in the accelerator use more fuel. It’s also tough to keep a constant, unaltered pace — we tend to speed up a few km/h then have to lift off to slow down, or vice versa. This happens when the road’s gradient changes slightly — we think we’re keeping our foot on the accelerator in the same spot, but the road suddenly shifts from flat to 2 degrees downhill, and we unwittingly speed up. Cruise control automatically regulates these variations. However, it works best on longer, flatter roads like highways rather than mountainous, twisty parts of roadways.

Forecasts for the weather

Use a reliable weather forecasting service like the Bureau of Meteorology. Strong headwinds and driving in heavy rain, where the tires must overcome more water resistance, increase your fuel consumption. It’s preferable if you can avoid these instances.

Fog and snow can cause delays, and because your average speed will be lower, you will spend more time on the road. It’s useful to know what speed your truck is most efficient at so you can work with that.

Make a schedule for your trips.

The quickest path between numerous deliveries can be calculated using trip planning software. It’s not perfect because it doesn’t always account for bottlenecks and traffic jams, but it’s much better than guessing.

Use satellite navigation to get about.

Some satellite navigation systems, such as Google Maps, will alert you to impending traffic congestion and automatically reroute you to a more suitable route. Taking side streets with a huge truck isn’t always an option, but smaller trucks and vans can.

Data collection and analysis

Maintain an ongoing tally of your liters per hundred kilometers to discover whether something is amiss with your engine (fuel consumption will increase for no obvious reason).

Please keep track of where you acquire your fuel and how much of it you used from each supplier. You might discover that one supplier’s fuel is more cost-effective.

Variations in route: try changing your way and seeing how long it takes and how it affects your fuel economy.

Try altering the time you drive your routes to see if it affects your fuel economy or the amount of time you spend on the road. Leaving only 10 minutes sooner might equal half an hour less altogether.

Telematics: Telematics can help you figure out where you’re wasting the most gasoline. You might be able to pinpoint driving patterns that are costing you money or specific portions of road where fuel economy appears to be significantly worse than elsewhere.

Equipment should be treated with respect.

If you handle your truck with respect, it will last you hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of kilometers.


While your engine warms up, take it easy. The first 10 minutes of the journey consume the most fuel. Avoid idling the motor; if you are stopped for more than 30 seconds, turn it off to save gas (and reduce the environmental impact).


If your truck has one, keep your revs in the green ‘eco’ band on your rev counter. You can also request these figures from the truck’s manufacturer.

ratios of gears

If you’re buying a new vehicle, be sure the gear ratios are acceptable for the loads you’ll be hauling and the routes you’ll be taking. You should be able to simulate with the help of a manufacturer.

Gears can be skipped.

You don’t have to go through all gears to change up to or down. You lose momentum every time you shift gears. You can block shift up (skip bags) on downhill hills and block modification when stopping. Changing gears wear out the gearbox and clutch, so cutting down on the number of times you do it is smart.

Parking up

While the engine is warm, try to position the truck for an easy exit after the day. On a cold engine, you should avoid executing many low-speed maneuvers.