Tip #10 The Driver

Welcome back.
Some of the tips for increasing your fuel mileage cost nothing to implement and some can be quite expensive. Let’s take a look at another one that costs nothing to implement but bar none (with the possible exception of slowing down) will have the biggest impact on your fuel mileage. I am speaking of the DRIVER himself/herself!
We can make all of the changes we want to our vehicle to improve our fuel mileage but it will all go for naught if we don’t drive economically.
So what do I mean by that? Let’s take a look at some examples:

How about taking off from a traffic light for starters. How many times have you been at a red light and seen another truck, (car or bus or whatever) take off like a bat out of hell when the light turns green? A hundred times a day, right? We shouldn’t care what the other folks are doing. The real question is what do YOU do? If you are the jack rabbit starter, boy are you wasting a lot of fuel. The funny (or maybe I should say not so funny) part about this is that you have to know that you are wasting fuel. You’re probably just not thinking about it at the time. You probably tell yourself something like “I don’t do this all the time” or “I only do this once in a while”. The truth is that you’re probably doing it a lot more than you think. When you put into perspective just how many times you take off from a dead stop during the course of a day, week, month or year, we’re talking about a lot of fuel here. Studies have shown that there can be as much as a 35%-50% difference in the fuel mileage that a truck can achieve depending upon who the driver in the seat is. The studies that I am referring to take the exact same truck, operate them under identical conditions (weight, route, weather etc.) and put two different drivers behind the wheel. The “jack rabbit” driver who also proceeds to drive 70-75 m.p.h. all the time when 55-60 m.p.h. will do, will burn 35%-50% more fuel than the economical driver!! This is not the time or place for a testosterone exhibition. If you don’t pay for the fuel that the truck burns, that’s one thing. If you are an owner-operator like myself and many of my friends, that fuel you waste come directly out of your pocket.
There are other times when we waste fuel as well.
If we don’t properly trip plan and pay attention to road signs we could find ourselves having to speed up unnecessarily to get off at an exit, or get into the proper lane for a turn, a weigh station a construction zone, a toll booth or a number of other situations. Each time we mash down on the accelerator pedal when we had other options, we waste fuel. It all adds up at the end of the year.
There are a few other things that you can do to save fuel while you are driving such as using the cruise control. In addition to wanting to maintain a constant speed, the cruise control can help you consistently stay in your trucks’ “sweet spot” where your truck achieves it’s best fuel mileage.
Also, excessive use of your trucks’ engine fan (the one that kicks on when the engine temperature rises significantly) will cost you fuel as well. If it seems to kick on for no reason, the settings for when it turns itself on and off should be checked. It’s not necessary to turn it on manually when your engine temperature rises, provided that the settings are correct. If the settings are correct and the clutch fan is operating properly, the fan will turn itself on when it’s need and turn itself off when it’s not. Speaking of the clutch fan, if your engine fan will not turn on at all or won’t shut itself off, that’s a problem too and needs to be fixed. Just remember, whenever that engine fan is on, it’s costing you fuel. There are times when it has to be on to avoid overheating the engine. The key is to make sure that it is only on when it’s needed.
Another tip for improving your fuel mileage and well as your safety and courtesy is to use “The Smith System” of driving. If you’re not familiar with this or have not heard about it, check out their website at http://www.smith-system.com/ to learn more. This course costs money but it will make you a better driver in many ways.
So, if you really want to get better fuel mileage, think about how you drive. You really do have to think about it. All day and every day. It’s not easy to change bad habits. It is necessary however to get better results. As I’ve said before, if we want different results, we have to do things differently. You’ve probably heard this before but the definition of insanity is “continuing to do things the same way and expecting different results”. It’s up to you. You have to want to do it. The best part is that IT’S FREE!
Until next time, be safe out there.

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