What are the best techniques for reducing fuel consumption? Cem Kizilkaya is one of Scania’s most experienced driver coaches and has created this list of sure-fire ways to drive more economically.
Cem Kizilkaya has been a driver all of his adult life. From taxis and buses to coaches and trucks, he has driven just about every kind of commercial vehicle you can think of.
His wide-ranging experience has earned him the job of Head of Operations and driver coach at Scania’s own internal haulage company, Scania Transport Laboratory.
The Transport Laboratory is part of Scania’s Research & Development division. It serves as a proving ground for continuously testing new technology and driver techniques aimed at improving the efficiency of the transport industry.
With the help of fuel masters like Kizilkaya, the lab has achieved impressive results across its six years of operation, lowering its fuel costs and cutting its own carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent.
So, what’s the secret to more economical driving? Here are a dozen of Cem Kizilkaya’s best tips:
Check your alignment
Many people don’t realise just how important it is to check the wheel alignment on the truck and the trailer. Badly aligned axles and wheels result in extra fuel consumption and premature tyre wear. They also increase the strain on the axel, increasing wear.
So, my advice is: have a wheel alignment carried out on your trucks and trailers regularly. This will extend the life of the components – and lower your fuel consumption.
Don’t “pimp” your ride
There are some situations when additional lights like these come in handy, but most of the time they’re basically unnecessary ornaments.
Try to remember that every additional item that you add to your truck – including lights, rotating beacons and extra bumpers – increases its air resistance. For example, additional lights can increase fuel consumption by two percent.
All Scania trucks are designed for minimal drag. My advice is: don’t mess with that. Avoid the knick knacks and save on fuel instead!
Check your tyre
Do you have the right tyres on your truck? And are your tyre pressures correct? Good, that’s two ways of avoiding worn tyres.
All too often, we meet drivers whose tyres are not adjusted to the right pressure or not suited to the task at hand.
So, make sure you check the tyre pressures at least once a week. And regularly check the electronic Tyre Pressure Monitoring instrument – or TPM – in the cab. That way, you will save fuel and reduce the wear and tear on both your tyres and your vehicle.
Coast more often
When approaching a hill, how can I make sure that I’m driving as fuel-efficiently as possible?
At the top of the hill, I make sure that I release the cruise control. I also release the accelerator pedal. I can then enjoy a free ride downhill, without wasting a single drop of fuel.
A good target for long-haulage drivers is to try to coast for at least 20 percent of each journey. In fact, that’s Scania’s own target for our daily operations.
So, come on: take the challenge and try to beat us!
Planning ahead is the key to successful eco-driving. Being closely aware of the situation ahead of you will allow you to make good fuel savings.
When I’m approaching a roundabout, I try to anticipate how the cars in front of me will behave. I decrease the truck’s speed, use its momentum, and roll through the roundabout.
I use the same technique when I’m approaching a red light. I keep the truck rolling at low speed. I then try to time things just right – so that I can pass through when the light turns green – without touching the brake or the accelerator pedal.
Carry out appropriate maintenance
Do you want to keep your truck on the road? Do you want to achieve 99.8 percent uptime, like the Scania Transport Laboratory?
The workshop is the place that makes this possible. Checking your truck in for regular maintenance by Scania’s service technicians will keep it in prime working condition. You’ll ensure your vehicle is performing at its best and avoid having to pay for extra repairs.
All this also adds up to lower fuel consumption, lower emissions and decreased wear and tear on all components.
Get up close and reduce wind resistance
Trucks used in Scania’s transport operations often drive in convoys or platoons like these. We keep the distance between the truck combinations at about 70 meters. Using this technique has helped us cut fuel costs by at least 5 percent.
Even if you’re not in a convoy you can also save fuel by creeping closer to the truck in front of you. Even at a distance of 100 meters you will start to get the advantages of the lower air resistance.
Just make sure you keep a safe – and legal – distance.
Use the engine heater
When it’s cold outside, your truck’s built-in electrical engine heater is the best way of getting your vehicle ready to go.
So, if you’re starting up in your own backyard or at a truck stop that has electric facilities, just plug the extension cord into an electrical socket. You’ll be pre-heating the engine in a way that’s good for the environment.
Your truck will appreciate it, too. And starting at the right working temperature also means lower emissions from the beginning of every job.
Check the brakes regularly
If you frequently use the engine retarder on your truck, it’s likely that the brakes on your trailer are not being exercised enough. This can cause them to drag or bind.
Dragging brakes will, of course, lead to a drastic increase in fuel consumption. This is why you should check the brakes on both your tractor unit and trailer regularly. My advice is to check the trailer brakes at least once a year, as part of a planned maintenance stop.
There are many myths surrounding idling. Some drivers think it’s the best way to warm up the engine. Others think it’s good for the turbo.
But most of the time idling is completely unnecessary. The only thing you’re doing is wasting fuel and increasing emissions.
My recommendation is to turn off the engine whenever you get the chance. If you’re stopping for more than 20 seconds, then you should definitely switch off. You’ll not only save fuel, you’ll save money.
Drop from 90 to 80 km/h
Before you overtake the truck in front of you, think again. Instead of speeding up to 90, it might make more sense to maintain a nice steady pace of 80 kilometres an hour.
This will make your boss happy. You will cut the company’s fuel costs by 10 percent, you will reduce the risk of deadly accidents by 40 percent, and you will greatly reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.
And remember: doing 80 rather than 90 increases your journey time by just one percent. So the choice is clear: slow down to 80.
Choose the right gear
Every little bit counts when it comes to eco-driving. Fitting your truck with side skirts will lower its air resistance – and its fuel consumption.
And if you mount air deflectors like these on the sides of the cab, well, that’s even better. You will lower the fuel consumption by an extra five percent.
You should also make sure the curtains of your curtain-sider are properly stretched. And, don’t forget to tighten the retaining straps and to tuck in the loose ends.