Navigating Fluctuating Fuel Costs in 2023: Tips for Owner Operators

Truck for a hero section
Written by Mike Skliar

The year 2023 is now driving people into turbulence, not only with the terror shaking the geopolitical arena. There’s another well-known challenge no one is going to skip through – fluctuating costs. One of the industries standing on the front lines to take a punch from this challenge is the trucking business.

Fleet owners are forced to deal with up-and-down policies and pricing systems. They have proven to be too varying to predict. But the silver lining is just within an arm’s reach – there’s a plentitude of ways owner-operators can follow to get past the fluctuating costs turmoil successfully. 

Reduce Your Speed

Your biggest expense is fuel, obvious as it might sound. Now that diesel prices have started making their way to the stars, it’s critical that you maintain fuel efficiency. Slowing down your vehicle by 5 to 10 mph can enhance fuel efficiency by 7%–14%.  

Truck drivers are indeed tempted to drive fast to transport goods more efficiently. However, speed is the main cause of uncontrolled fuel consumption and reduced profit. Fuel mileage decreases if the truck passes its optimal speed. This means that even a small decrease in speed can help optimize fuel consumption. 

Use Cruise Control  

Fuel consumption can also be optimized by using cruise control. Employing cruise control while driving on the highway assists in maintaining a consistent speed, as vehicles consume the most energy during acceleration. Another useful tip is to reduce hard braking and excessive acceleration – with the help of these recommendations, you can cut your fuel costs significantly. 

Take note that you shouldn’t rush it by accelerating through the gears at a reasonable pace. Based on the evidence obtained from drivers, skipping gears whenever possible lets drivers save from 10% to 40% in fuel. 

Keep Your Vehicle Maintained 

If you carry out required pre-trip and post-trip inspections, you improve the maintenance of your vehicle – timely inspection will allow you to spot defects that could, in the long run, debilitate your truck. Preventative maintenance is one of the keystones of keeping a vehicle in good condition, so don’t shy away from doing an accurate check-up of your truck. 

In general, research from multiple studies indicates that regular oil changes can result in noteworthy enhancements in fuel economy. Ensure to replace your filters as well, as clogged filters hinder efficiency and place additional stress on your engine by impeding proper functioning due to dirt and debris buildup.

Eliminate Idling 

Reducing your idle time is one more smart way to cut your fuel expenditures. According to estimates, idling your vehicle burns a gallon of fuel per hour. In plain terms, if you idle your truck during a ten-hour break, you will spend at least 10 gallons a day, and given the price of one gallon is $3,25, you lose $32,50 per day. 

Another effective way of reducing your idle time is purchasing an Auxiliary Power Unit when you buy a truck. This is how you can optimize your fuel consumption to one gallon per day, saving as much as $29,25 a day. If, for instance, you spend 140 days a year on the road, you can save $4,095 on an annual basis. 

One more proven method of cutting down on idle time is to shut down the truck at fuel islands as you fill the tank with gas. 

Plan Trips 

Planning is too apparent to mention while being too important not to emphasize in this article. Thinking through your future trip in detail will largely facilitate your drive, helping you eschew wrong turns, get into traffic jams, and go the extra mile. As a result, you’ll be able to save on fuel costs, time, and repairs. Based on the data obtained from ATRI, the average cost for congestion per truck that averages 150,000 miles per year equals about $34,000 a year. Smart time management and trip planning will keep you from getting into congested areas during peak travel time. 

Be Careful with Shifting 

If you’ve started noticing that your engine started working harder to drive, it’s likely that you will burn a lot more fuel. The solution is simple: use torque to pull the load. By using torque, you will sustain your speed without draining out your engine. 

Optimize Route Miles for Efficiency

There’s hardly any route that cannot be optimized – in order to do some useful tricks with your route, try thinking about how it can be changed in terms of saving yourself more fuel. Don’t be too enthusiastic about side trips. Use precise directions and have your fuel saved. 

Use Roof Fairings

It’s been reported that a full roof fairing propels a 10% increase in fuel efficiency, which can save owner-operators $6,900 a year. Basic, flat-style roof fairings can also save drivers money by 5%, based on some reports. 

In a Wrap

“Insidious” fuel costs now don’t look like much of a problem, do they? Now that you’ve been introduced to cost-saving life hacks every owner-operator should keep in mind, your likelihood of getting into trouble managing costs has largely decreased. That said, the strain of fluctuating costs won’t be lurking somewhere out there to take you by surprise – you’ll confront it by masterfully handling the fuel costs challenge.

Author Avatar
Author Mike Skliar

As the truck driver recruiting agency's CEO, I deeply understand the unique challenges and demands truck drivers face.

Drawing from my extensive work experience, I bring knowledge in truck driver recruitment, logistics, and transportation management. I possess a comprehensive understanding of industry regulations, safety standards, and best practices, ensuring that the agency adheres to the highest standards of professionalism and compliance.

Now, looking back and remembering my path from the very beginning, it seems to me that this story is a lifetime. During all these years of development and growth of our agency, I took part in no less interesting projects in which my experience, knowledge and vision were needed. And I was also able to gain new skills, contacts and experience by participating in the development of these projects from various fields, such as cargo transportation, trucking companies, e-commerce, parcel delivery and much more! But the best is yet to come!

Author Articles