Understanding Semi-Truck Fuel Efficiency

With diesel prices rising, fuel efficiency is becoming more of a priority than ever, especially in the trucking industry. Commercial motor vehicles are not the most fuel-efficient rigs on the market. The average semi-truck gets about 6.5 miles per gallon (MPG), while a typical automobile receives about 25 MPG. However, minor changes can result in significant fuel savings over time, considering how many miles a long-haul trucker travels, which is often more than 100,000 per year. Read on to learn about semi-truck fuel efficiency and how you can improve yours.

What is Fuel Efficiency?

Fuel efficiency, measured in miles per gallon, describes how far a vehicle can travel with a certain amount of fuel. Motor vehicles with better fuel economy consume less fuel to drive the same distance as vehicles with poor fuel economy, reducing wasted fuel. Driving a fuel-efficient rig saves you money, reduces your carbon footprint, and lowers your vehicle’s dependence on oil. 

Tips For Improving Semi-Truck Fuel Efficiency

Truck drivers can take full advantage of a haul by being aware of their fuel mileage. Knowing how many MPG your semi-truck gets will minimize costs and improve travel and delivery time.


Follow these five tips to increase fuel efficiency in your semi-truck:

  1. Regulate Your Speed

Maintaining a consistent speed and avoiding major accelerations or decelerations will result in consistent fuel usage. For every mile per hour (MPH) increase above 55 MPH, semi-truck fuel efficiency reduces by 0.1 MPG. Additionally, accelerating from 0 to 65 MPH can use up to half a gallon of fuel. Keeping your speed consistent will help you avoid these two problems. Driving under 65 MPH will also improve your safety and that of other drivers on the road. 

  1. Use Cruise Control

Taking advantage of cruise control is another way to regulate your speed. Cruise control keeps your vehicle at a steady pace, saving you up to 6% in fuel consumption throughout your route. It is important to note that drivers should only use this function when road conditions are safe.

  1. Stay in a High Gear

Staying in one gear for as long as possible will also help improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Aim to stay in top gear at least 85% of the time while on the highway. Additionally, make as few gear shifts as possible and maintain a revolutions per minute (RPM) range of 1250 to 1350.

  1. Reduce Idle Time

Avoiding idling when possible will help reduce wasted fuel as well. Every hour of idle time can burn a gallon of diesel and decrease your semi-truck fuel efficiency by 1%. It is best practice to shut the engine off if you plan to park for more than five minutes. Many companies have auxiliary power units (APUs) in their vehicles that allow you to maintain a comfortable temperature without idling. 

  1. Check Tire Pressure

Regularly checking your tire pressure is another good practice for not only improving your fuel efficiency, but also improving the safety of your vehicle and the lifespan of your tires. For a 10 pounds per square inch (PSI) drop in tire pressure, your vehicle’s mileage reduces by 1%. Under-inflated tires also generate more heat, causing them to weaken and eventually break. Make tire pressure checks part of your pre-trip inspection routine, and keep a gauge in your vehicle to check pressure while on the road.

Get Started With a Truck Driving Career Today

The demand for truck drivers is growing. There is no better time to join the industry than now, and Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you get started. Our commercial driver’s license (CDL) program in Albuquerque combines classroom, range, and on-the-road training from experienced instructors to help our students graduate in as little as four weeks.

Contact us to start earning your CDL today.


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