Did you know that most of the fuel a truck burns is used to overcome wind resistance? All that horsepower and it’s mostly used to push the vehicle through the air! It’s a fun fact, but also an important one, since it reminds us that sleeker, more aerodynamic truck design can save significant money on fuel costs.
If you’re wondering how much money, know that for every 2% reduction in aerodynamic drag, you gain approximately 1% better fuel economy. The EPA estimates that a streamlined tractor with aerodynamic devices can reduce fuel costs by over $800 per year (that’s 160 $5 footlongs from Subway!). The longer the route and the higher the speed, the more you benefit from better aerodynamics and improved fuel efficiency. So, what features can reduce wind resistance?
- You likely already have side skirts and trailer-tails. If so, that’s great, because they’re automatically improving your fuel economy around 8%.
- Other aerodynamic options include roof and side fairings, cab extenders/gap seals, and front bumper air dams.
- Flatbed drivers should arrange cargo as low and as smooth as possible.
- You’ll want to secure loose tarpaulins and close the curtains on empty curtain-sided trailers.
- Further modifications can reduce the air passing over axles and tires.
If your truck didn’t come with these features, don’t worry; many aerodynamic options can be retrofitted! There are also a number of resources are available to help you make your truck more aerodynamic, including “Trailer Aerodynamics” from TruckingEfficiency.org and “Improved Aerodynamics” from the U.S. EPA.
What do you do to make your truck aerodynamic? Let us know in the comments below!