Eco-driving is an increasingly widespread way to save fuel. For many, this is associated with slow, sluggish driving. However, economical driving is not a slow ride. It is a modern and smart way to save fuel and to reach your destination quickly, and most importantly, safely. Many drivers are deliberately practicing it with their cars while driving. But when it comes to heavy transport, eco-driving plays a very big role here, because you can really save a substantial amount of money.
Basic eco rules for professional drivers:
• Insight. It is important to always anticipate the situation. If there is a possibility, you should try to avoid unnecessary stops - it is better to pause before the intersection and pass it without stopping, as well as try to overcome the roundabout the same way. Always keep such distance from the vehicle in front so that it does not affect your driving when it starts braking or doing some other manoeuvre and you have enough time to take appropriate action to save fuel. When planning a manoeuvre, be prepared to change the lane beforehand, as there may be obstacles and braking may be necessary if you do it later.
• Rolling. Every driver rides his own car for some time in free gear – some do it more often, some less. We use minimum fuel when rolling, only to keep the engine running. The more we roll and the more insightful we are, the less fuel we consume. The truck’s smart systems that recognize road terrain, are based on rolling. A simple situation: one vehicle will reach the red light without releasing the accelerator, then brake approaching it, and then stop. The other car, seeing the red signal lit up, will release the pedal and will roll, avoid braking, maybe not even stop at the intersection. The second car saved fuel, saved brakes and did not lose time. One more important tip - with sufficient inertia, it is advisable to roll with the gear in (we turn on the highest gear, the throttle is fully released), then we do not use fuel at all over the distance to be overcome.
• Speed. Achieving a goal sooner costs more. Each vehicle has its own economical cruising speed. The most important criterion is to maintain a fairly high average vehicle speed, avoiding unnecessary stops or braking while driving at an economical cruising speed. 90 km/h or 82 km/h? Of course, 82 km/h. Why? The truck drives the highest gear at lower engine rotations, lower air resistance if the speed is lower. 85km/h or 82km/h? Of course, 82 km/h if we have enough time to deliver the cargo. If you drive against the wind, the lowest possible speed is recommended. There is no need to overdo – driving at the highest gear, but at low engine speeds is no longer economical. Drivers often think that 90 km/h more economical than 82 km/h is just a myth.
• Economical engine rotation mode. Each truck has its own “green” engine rotation. ALWAYS try to keep the engine in this zone while driving. Keep in mind these green rotations are not in vain - exceeding them, the torque decreases along with power, so that when we exceed the “green” rotation zone, we hear only the roar of the engine and how the fuel “exits right through the chimney”. Another zone is hidden in the green zone and it is the engine torque. You should always try to use the lowest possible engine load.
For example, if you notice an uphill slope, increase the speed of the vehicle (up to 90 km/h - in this case it is useful), capture the highest gear and, when driving uphill, completely or almost completely (depends on the uphill slope), take advantage of engine rotations in the green zone. If you switch to a lower gear, you will do the same. Never lower the gear before the hill or try to overcome the hill at high engine speeds as this will prove useless!
Some truck models have an air turbine indicator (e.g. Volvo). Try not to use the maximum turbine load where this is possible, leaving a small gap to the maximum. Avoid speeding uphill to make it more efficient on the straight road.
• Use of a motor brake. In addition to the “green” engine rotation zone, the trucks also have a “yellow” rotation zone. When a higher braking force is required, switching the handle on the motor brake is often not enough, one or more gears have to be lowered so that the engine rotation arrow reaches the “yellow” zone. Drivers are frequently afraid of this action. Here we have a “good” engine override, which is also provided in the engine construction, nothing will happen to the engine, and the fuel is NOT USED when braking! The trailer is stopped. With the engine brake, we not only save the braking system (brake discs, brake pads), but also save fuel. When this system is activated, the fuel supply is closed and the motor stops the trailer on the drive axle. The more often we replace the working brake with the motor one, the more fuel we save, while also saving the brakes.
• Using autopilot. Autopilot is a system designed to maintain a constant speed. Using autopilot on a smooth road is recommended. If the vehicle has smart systems that recognize road terrain (PPC, I-See, etc.), then they can also be used on mountain roads. It is not advisable to manually maintain a steady speed for a long time using your foot: there are road bumps, the seat is cushioned and constant speed maintenance becomes uneven – the accelerator is pushed and released again many times. As a result, fuel consumption on autopilot is much lower, not to mention the benefits of smart systems.
• Empty motor run. Manufacturers of modern engines do not recommend heating the engines before driving - the engine does not warm up to the operating temperature, which only happens while driving. It is therefore recommended to start the engine, make sure the visibility is good, do not scrape the windows, etc., but start driving straight away, gently reach cruising speed, and then the engine will get warm efficiently. If you stop and wait for more than two minutes, it would be a good idea to stop the engine. Also, when having rest times, the drivers should start the engine to charge the batteries, and if additional equipment is connected, it is also possible to test/inflate the tyres without having to start the engine a second time.
• Tyre pressure. According to statistics, if the pressure of all the tyres of the trailer is lower than the intended pressure by half-bar, the fuel consumption may increase by 4%. For example, if the truck’s average consumption is 27 l/100 km, it can increase to 28 l/100 km due to the half-bar pressure drop. These are very big numbers. It is therefore recommended to check the tyre pressure once a week. The ideal conditions for checking and inflating tyres are when they cool down completely and the trailer is not loaded. Regularly controlling tyre pressures can help achieve maximum economy.