• Over the past few months, we have given fleet managers fuel saving tips for efficient engine function and fuel saving practices for drivers. This week,  Fleet Cards USA is going to cover more fuel saving tips so that every business dollar for fuel is justifiably spent.

    Upgrade fleet vehicles for enhanced fuel economy

    As a fleet manager, it is pertinent to ensure that your fleet drivers are practicing fuel efficient tactics when behind the wheel. However, there are vehicle enhancements that can allow these fuel efficient driving practices to realize their savings to a greater extent.

    Oil Grade Impacts Fuel Economy

    Motor oil might originate from the same fossil beds, but the way an engine responds to the various grades differs greatly. Oil grades are generally classified based on two metrics: viscosity at cold temperatures, and viscosity at heat. For example, 5W-30 oil has a viscosity rating of 5 at 0° F and a rating of 30 at 212° F. What this means is when the engine is cold the oil will be thinner, and thus be able to lubricate the engine components faster than a thicker fluid. However, as the engine heats up, the oil thickens, allowing greater protection against the shearing forces of an engine.  It is important to utilize the recommended oil grade for each fleet vehicle because the varying properties of distinct engines will require a more or less viscous lubricant.  Improper oil selection can lead to aggressive wear on startup and increased friction – the enemy of efficiency – during operation.

    Synthetic Lubricants are more Efficient than Organic

    Synthetic lubricants have long been recommended for high performance vehicles, because of their ability to protect and even enhance the output of an engine. The vehicles in your fleet are some of the most valuable assets to your business, so treat them like the race cars they dream to be while also increasing fuel efficiency.  Synthetic fluids have proven to reduce friction and increase efficiency when compared to the organic counterparts for crankcase, differential, and transmission lubricants. While these are upgrades and have a steeper up-front cost, the fuel savings offset the expense before the fleet's next fluid change.

    Wide-Base Single tires Reduce Weight and Rolling Resistance

    Dual tire setups have been a strong-hold in the trucking industry for decades because of the increased weight distribution from both the trailer to the tire and the tire to the road; enabling a greater payload to be carried. Unfortunately, duals are heavy and have a higher rolling resistance than their wide-base counterparts because of the number of sidewalls that meet the road. Wide-base single tires (interchangeably referred to as super wides) provide a lighter weight more efficient alternative to a dual setup.

    With less materials required in the manufacturing process, replacing your fleet's dual tires with super wides allows for a lighter Curb Weight.  This lighter weight provides increased fuel economy when operating the fleet at less than the Gross Combined Weight Rating, while also enabling more cargo to be carried within the limits of the transportation infrastructure. In addition to the weight management these tires provide, fuel efficiency is boosted considerably. With the most resistant point of contact for a tire being the sidewall, a 50% reduction of sidewalls greatly decreases the fleet vehicle's rolling resistance. In the most extreme examples, created by 62 wheel road trains, replacing fleet tires with wide-base singles will show a reduction in sidewalls by a count of 60.

    Save your Business Money by upgrading the Fleet

    From following a manufacturer's recommendations, to utilizing performance enhancing, synthetic lubricants, and exchanging high resistant duals for weight reducing super wides, increasing fuel economy is an imperative process to any financially conscious fleet manager. A few dollars initially spent to upgrade components of your fleet vehicle, can save your business thousands of dollars in the long run.

  • Fleet management involves a much wider scope of stipulations within the realm of ensuring fleet operators are driving safely and efficiently. With the discrepancy between federal and international weight regulations, weight management of individual vehicles is a continual hot topic of discussion. In addition to the legislation in place, an improperly loaded vehicle can have disastrous results.

    Risks of Vehicle Overload

    To stymie the risk of legal action, it is important for Fleet managers and fleet drivers to be cognizant of payload size. Federal and state regulations dealing with maximum weight limits have been passed not only because of the dangers overloaded trailers present to the driving environment, but the economic impact associated with road damage as well.  Aside from damage to the road and risks of operation, there is an inherent risk of vehicle damage when overloading.

    Manufacturers have prescribed limits to various operational and non-operational weight limits as a means to reduce damage from overloading. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum allowable mass of a vehicle fully loaded with fuel, fluids, and passengers. GVWR does not include the added weight of trailers; Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR). Gross Combined Weight Rating(GCWR) accounts for the total weight that is being placed on the road surface and is the sum of GVWR and GTWR. Curb Weight is the mass of a vehicle without cargo or occupants. This value is further reduced to make up the Dry Weight which is when all fuels and engine fluids are removed. Gross Axle Weight Rating provides the maximum weight available for individual axles. Going above these set limits can lead to a decline in fuel efficiency, an altered driving experience as well as mechanical issues within the vehicle caused by the undue strain this additional weight applies to the components of the chassis and engine. Staying within these maximums is imperative for reduction of fleet operational costs.

    With so much against overloading, why is it still an issue?

    Even with legal and financial risk widely regulated, Fleet managers often boldly ignore these factors to reduce costs elsewhere. The general consensus behind going beyond these limits revolves around consolidation. It is seen as justifiable to risk the fuel efficiency and operational standards of a few vehicles in a fleet if it means fewer vehicles are needed to be driven and thus loaded and received. If an unethical business has, for example, two trucks with a 36,000 pound GCWR, a single hauler with a 76,000 pound GCWR and 82,000 pounds of cargo to deliver, a strictly expense focused manager might place all the cargo into a single load. While this reduces the fuel efficiency of the single truck, it saves fuel costs overall because an additional vehicle is not making the same trip. In addition to fuel costs, having the cargo split into two loads means double the man power needed to make the delivery, additional savings from a human resources vantage.

    While there are isolated, positive financial impacts of increasing a vehicle's payload past the specified limits, the overall fiduciary risk of doing so greatly outweighs the positives. To avoid legal fees and extraneous maintenance costs due to mismanagement of weight in your fleet, fleet operators and managers need to acknowledge that these limits have been provided for reasons of safety and damage to roads and vehicles.