Fuel Economy Tips for Diesel

by Debbie Mcrill ; Updated July 27, 2017
Diesel is typically used for heavy-duty vehicles.

Diesel is a motor vehicle fuel for use in compression ignition engines. Diesel is typically extracted from crude oil, although biodiesel is a proven alternative. Biodiesel can be made from vegetable oils, recycled oil and animal fat. In 2008, approximately 18 percent of U.S. petroleum usage was from diesel fuel. Increasing diesel fuel economy is environmentally important to decrease emissions and beneficial for saving money on fuel costs.

Vehicle Speed

Vehicles that use diesel are heavier equipment such as buses, tractors, semi-trailer trucks, delivery vehicles and heavy-duty pickups. These vehicles are not very aerodynamic. Accelerating slower and driving at a slower speed increases fuel mileage. The wider front end of most diesel-powered vehicles creates resistance as they move through air. As speed increases, the "standing" air in front of the vehicle becomes a wall of resistance. According to Super Gas Saver, driving twice as fast means a vehicle will use four times more power to travel at 70 mph compared with 35 mph.

Decrease Weight

When you carry equipment and tools, more power and fuel are required to haul the additional weight when accelerating from a stop or when driving uphill. Remove items, such as extra tools, that aren't required for everyday use. Consider replacing steel toolboxes with plastic to reduce weight. By reducing weight, you'll also increase the life of your brakes, creating additional savings.

Vehicle Momentum Tips

Momentum is the power needed to speed up and wasted energy to slow down. Consider the scenario of a driver pushing on the accelerator until he sees a traffic signal and then immediately using the brakes. All of the momentum built up is lost.

Paying attention to traffic signals in the distance, the driver can take his foot off the accelerator and coast closer to the signal before applying the brakes or possibly arriving at the signal as it turns green. Avoiding a complete stop reduces power consumption.

The same theory applies when driving in heavy traffic. Driving slower is more efficient than stopping and starting. According to Super Gas Saver, these techniques can save up to 10 percent in fuel consumption under the right conditions.

Vehicle Maintenance Tips

Maintaining a diesel vehicle so it performs efficiently is important to fuel economy. A clean air filter, fuel injectors and oil make the vehicle run better. Proper tire inflation increases fuel mileage. Perform preventative maintenance according to the vehicle manufacturer's guidelines.

About the Author

Debbie McRill went from managing a Texas Department of Criminal Justice office to working for Compaq and Hewlett-Packard as a technical writer and project manager in 1997. Debbie has also owned her own businesses and understands both corporate and small business challenges. Her background includes Six Sigma training, and an Information Development career with journalism and creative writing as her passion.

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