Lightweighting & Bad Fuel
If you’re looking for new ways to increase efficiency, one thing to keep in mind is the overall weight of the tractor. Lightweighting is a popular new trend fleets are using to increase fuel economy, but you can take advantage of leightweighting as well. Efficiency gained can be up to 0.5% to 0.6% for every 1,000 lbs. of weight reduction. If you manage to lose 4,000 pounds of weight, that’s a 2% MPG gain which is significant. Think of all the benefits of a lighter vehicle, less energy is needed to accelerate, brake, and change direction. In addition to using less fuel, there will also be less wear and tear on the engine, brakes, tires, and driveline. It also allows you to take heavier loads when you need to. OEMs are looking into offering aluminum frames, carbon fiber cabs, and even a lightweight film instead of paint. But until those options become available, you can still spec a new truck to be lighter weight. A big sleeper cab might be comfortable, but they can add significant weight. Consider a shortened wheelbase too. You can save 5 pounds per inch on a shorter frame. Consider a 6x2 axle configuration to save 400 lbs. This will also reduce mechanical inefficiency, increasing mileage even more. If you’re looking to lighten up an old truck, air suspension will save you 275 pounds, aluminum wheels could be up to 500 pounds total in comparison to steel wheels, composite brake drums can be 50 pounds per wheel. Stationary 5th wheels are the lightest type of 5th wheel. It may seem obvious, but the first place to start is to get rid of any junk you’ve been hauling around you don’t need. We do recommend having some basic tools with you, but refrain from bringing the entire tool chest if you can. The best part is, this type of lightweighting is free. Overall, lightweighting might not completely transform your truck, but every little bit helps when chasing more MPG.
We’ve had quite a few reports of bad diesel fuel recently. Quite often people are experiencing a rough running engine and don’t think to check the fuel first. It’s one of the most common causes of a rough, sputtering, or weak running engine. Good diesel fuel should be clear and slightly yellow in color. If it’s opaque, like lemonade, you probably have water in the fuel. If it’s dark amber, that usually means asphaltenes, which is a black tar like substance caused from age, pressure, and heat. An amber color can also indicate microbes, which is a result of too much water in the tank. Both asphaltenes and microbes will result in a black oily looking filter. If your filter has a white or cream color substance stuck on it, that’s an indication of DEF in the fuel. There are several ways to find out what sort of condition your fuel is in. The easiest is to inspect your fuel filter while replacing it, or ask your mechanic to check it out for you. You can also sample the tank to look at the fuel first hand. If you want to be extra thorough, you can send a fuel sample to a lab to be tested. Diagnosing bad fuel is something almost anyone can do, as it’s usually obvious by looking at it to see if there is an issue or not. Don’t spend money replacing random parts until you find the root cause, which can often be as simple as bad fuel.
If you have an older truck, you may want to consider running Max Mileage for the injector cleaning properties. Some diesel fuels are sold with detergents, but many aren’t. This means your injectors are prone to buildup which changes the spray pattern and will negatively affect performance and fuel mileage. Here is one such case where Max Mileage solved a pesky injector problem. The following was sent to us by Wendy Wolfe. “We started using Max Mileage over a year ago in our 1999 KW W900L with N14 Celect Plus. We've gained .5 mpg but even more important is the performance. Anyone with an N14 knows about injector issues. We used to replace one every month or 2. We put in 6 reman injectors when the engine was overhauled in December 2019. We replaced 3 of them before July. We haven't had a problem since we started using this product in July 2020. Our truck will never have a fill up without Max Mileage again.”
Bruce Mallinson, Andrew Wilson
Pittsburgh Power Inc.
3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, Pa. 16056