January and February 2006



Fuel Conservation

The high cost of fuel has impacted almost every aspect of the forest industry, but probably none harder than the truck drivers.

By Diane Mettler

The high cost of fuel has impacted almost every aspect of the forest industry, but probably none harder than the truck drivers. Prices have come down some since their peak, but drivers can still benefit from reducing their fuel needs.

Since cutting back driving miles is rarely an option, drivers must look to increasing their fuel efficiency. Here are six fuel-saving practices. One alone might not have a large impact, but combined, they can have significant effect on your fuel consumption.


1. Underinflated and over- inflated tires can have a direct effect on your fuel bill.

“The forest industry is almost exclusively on biasply tires. If underinflated, a bias-ply tire has increased rolling resistance. It doesn’t like to flex — it uses more energy,” says Wayne Birkenholz, manager of field engineering for Firestone. “And if we overinflate that same tire, we’re reducing the size of the footprint, which leads to more slippage and lower fuel conomy.” (See article Every Drop Counts in the TimberWest Nov/Dec 2005 issue.)


2. Avoid High Speeds

Most vehicles are fuel efficient between 30 and 60 mph. Beyond 60 mph fuel economy diminishes. Some studies have shown that reducing speed from 65 mph to 60 mph can reduce fuel consumption by 10 %.

Speed is also an important factor on the job. To make an informed choice — when to choose speed over fuel economy— professional drivers need to know how speed is effecting their fuel efficiency.


3. Drive Efficiently

Bob Johnson, NTEA Fleet Management Liaison, says that driving efficiently may require drivers to change their mindsets. In his article Fuel Conservation for Vocational Fleets he points out a number of ways to drive efficiently:

• Accelerate slowly

• Avoid aggressive driving

• Don’t drive with your foot on the brake pedal

• Minimize braking by adjusting your driving to meettraffic conditions

• When driving a manual transmis sion, shift into the highest gear as soon as possible, but do not allow the engine to bog down

• When driving an automatic transmission, utilize overdrive

• Use cruise control when conditions permit

• When not using cruise control, use the minimum amount of foot pressure on the accelerator pedalbto maintain desired speed.

4. Avoid Excessive Idling

Every time your vehicle is idling it’s using gas — sometimes as much as a half gallon to a gallon an hour. Be aware of your idling tendencies. Avoid excessive idling by turning off your engine when you arrive at your destination or if delayed for more than a couple of minutes. Drivers can also decrease idling by limiting their warm-up time to one to three minutes.


5. Avoid Excess Weight

It sounds obvious — reduced weight results in reduced drag, which help increase fuel economy. Don’t haul around more than you have to. It all adds up. Just removing mud, dirt and other buildup can improve your fuel economy.


6. Routine Tune-Ups

Have your vehicle's engine tuned regularly. Dirty air filters and worn spark plugs can have a noticeable effect on your gas mileage. The U.S. Department of Energy found that routine tuneups can improve fuel economy by an average of one mile per gallon. There are no doubt other ways to bring down your fuel bills, but making one or more of the above suggestions part of your driving routine will have a positive impact on your fuel consumption.




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This page was last updated on Friday, June 16, 2006