Gaming Fuel Economy
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By Tom Bagwell & Patrick Carpenter

Introduction

Maximizing fuel economy in on-highway vehicles is one of the most obvious ways of increasing profitability for any trucking fleet. The challenge is that there are so many factors that influence fuel economy. From vehicle specifications, maintenance, load, traffic, weather (including wind), terrain, and of course, the driver – the number of variables can cause someone to say it is nearly impossible to single out an improvement and its impact on fuel economy. Countless manufacturers – from tires, transmissions, engines, truck makers and oil companies all make claims of superior fuel economy when their products are used. There are even snake oil salespeople that claim products like fuel additives or what I called “magic beads” you put into tires can fix all sorts of ailments. The challenge is separating fact from fiction to determining what is of value and what is not. Interestingly, no manufacturer has come to my office and ‘guaranteed’ improvement in fuel efficiency.