Zack Ellison, director of customer technical support for Cummins, says fleets have tools that can offload information from engine computers that detail percentage in top gear and “all parameters for fuel economy,” he says.
Trucks that run in top gear more than 90 percent of the time get the best fuel mileage, Ellison says.
Some modern GPS units and electronic logs can help keep track of fuel mileage, too.
To cruise or not to cruise?
When he’s on the highway, owner-operator Jerod Ray sets his cruise control “to let the truck do the work,” he says, and his fuel mileage doesn’t take much of a hit when climbing hills with cruise on. “Again, I’m not sticking my foot into it constantly to get up the hill. I walk up the hill and let the motor do the work.”
Owner-operator Henry Albert, however, disagrees. “Cruise throws everything it has at a hill, including the kitchen sink,” he says, and drivers can beat cruise’s fuel mileage if they try.
“I monitor my boost gauge,” Albert says. “I try to press hills using as little boost as I can and use the back side of the hill to pick up speed.”
There’s some truth in both arguments, says Zack Ellison, director of customer technical support for Cummins. He says that while good drivers can occasionally beat cruise control fuel mileage in some areas and terrains, habitual use of cruise control offers the best fuel economy.
“When you look at the overall life of the vehicle and variations of drivers, using cruise control a larger percentage of the time will improve overall fuel economy,” he says.
Stop the bleeding
MPG Gallons per year Cost per year Gallons Savings per year (comp. to 5 mpg) Savings per year
5 24,000 $96,000 ————— _________
6 20,000 $80,000 4,000 $16,000
6.5 18,460 $73,840 5,540 $22,160
7 17,140 $68,560 6,860 $27,440
7.5 16,000 $64,000 8,000 $32,000
8 15,000 $60,000 9,000 $36,000