Well maintained trucks get 5-10% better fuel economy: NACFE

Implementing a robust preventive maintenance program can improve a truck’s fuel economy by 5-10%, according to a new Confidence Report issued by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE).

While a maintenance return on investment is typically calculated based on uptime and equipment life, NACFE urges fleets to also consider the impact proper maintenance has on fuel economy.

“The reason you do maintenance is to keep trucks up and running,” said NACFE’s Mike Roeth on a conference call today. “Our major finding is there’s a secondary benefit with respect to fuel economy.”

NACFE examined 10 components and systems as part of its study. They included: lubricants/engine oil; intake/exhaust system and DPFs; engine cooling; air compressors; wheel alignment; tires; fuel filter systems; aerodynamic devices; electrical systems; and air-conditioning.

The report found that proper maintenance can address 30-50% of the fuel consumption related to those parts and systems.

“Certainly no truck will ever have problems with all 10 of these components at once, but the massive size of that figure is indicative of just how significant the opportunity is to use maintenance to improve fuel efficiency,” NACFE reports. “In short, proper maintenance saves fuel.”

Fleets surveyed as part of the study said they have seen a 5-10% fuel economy improvement after implementing rigorous preventive maintenance practices.

NACFE came to four key findings through the study: That fleets value maintenance but tend to look at it as a means to reduce downtime rather than improve fuel economy; there is strong evidence that well maintained trucks will enjoy improved fuel economy; that increased fuel economy can be used to justify investing in preventive maintenance technologies, tools, etc.; and that there are many sources available to help with decision-making.

Denise Rondini, NACFE study manager and communications director, said savings are available even with many well-running trucks.

“Even a vehicle that is running safely and reliably may still enjoy substantial fuel economy savings thanks to additional or more optimized maintenance,” she said.

NACFE acknowledges it’s difficult to quantify the overall savings available through preventive maintenance. However, it scored a robust preventive maintenance program highly within its Confidence Matrix.

NACFE also looked at telematics-enabled predictive maintenance and found more study is required due to the lack of information available and the costs associated. The full report is available free of charge at www.TruckingEfficiency.org. Among the tools included is a checklist one progressive fleet employs to manage maintenance-related issues that can affect fuel economy.


James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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