Heavy-duty truck maintenance practices to protect fuel efficiency

The right heavy-duty truck maintenance practices to protect fuel efficiency

As a fleet manager, I’m sure you feel the pain as diesel prices reach new heights and while there isn’t much that can be done about the total at the pump, taking into consideration the maintenance of your tires, fluids and lubricants can help mitigate the severity of diesel fuel prices. 

Effective tire maintenance is one of the best ways to not only save some money at the pump, but also increases uptime, extends tire life, and leaves you with fewer expensive and timely tire-related breakdowns to worry about. 

Let’s be honest, tires are expensive so in order to maximize your investment, regular checks and prompt responses to TPMS alerts should be carried out by you and your drivers. The simple rule of thumb to keep in mind is that 10% underinflation will cost about 1% in fuel economy and those numbers quickly add up. Identifying and proactively addressing tire pressure issues may seem like such a simple task, but on average 34% of a fleet’s tires are underinflated according to statistics from fleet inspections carried out throughout the United States.

While checking tire pressure, ensure you are using a tire inflation pressure gauge that is checked weekly against a calibrated master gauge to ensure the accuracy of reading. By keeping in mind these tips, fleets can extend tire life by 10% or more and protect the casing integrity for retreading so your trucks can get the most out of every mile driven. 

Support your driver’s safety and improve fuel economy by utilizing technologies such as tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and automatic tire inflation system (ATIS) technologies to keep your trucks on a roll. While TPMS monitors the pressure and sends alerts, ATIS technology actually inflates the tires if it’s low, but is typically only used on trailers. There are some products available for tractor tires, but we have yet to see the widespread adoption like trailer inflation systems

The right lubricants also play a major part of improved fuel economy. Using the wrong type of lubrication, considering your application and haul conditions, can have a negative impact on the rate of engine wear and condition of your vehicle due to increased friction. 

In addition to lubrication, fluids used for transmissions are extremely important as each is developed to optimize friction plates and clutch performance. 

To achieve this, the fluid has to be compatible with chemical and performance requirements individually specified by each transmission OEM. Many transmissions are fill-for-life, so it is important you make the right decision the first time. Utilize OEM recommendations when deciding on transmission fluid choice.  

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