The recent spike in fuel costs is hitting tradesmen right in the bottom line. Plumbers, masons, drywall installers — and all the other professionals who require a full-size truck to bring home the bacon — are feeling the pinch. All is not lost, though; these three simple changes in driving style and vehicle maintenance can yield appreciable gains in fuel economy.
#1) Keep it under 65! Drag increases exponentially with speed, i.e. wind resistance at 80 MPH is four times greater than at 40 MPH. This makes a huge difference when you’re driving something with the aerodynamics of a brick.
#2) Lighten the load! Every extra 100 lbs of mass can reduce mileage by up to two percent. So if you really don’t need those extra bags of concrete, leave ’em at home base.
#3) Keep those tires at their recommended air pressure! For every PSI below spec, fuel economy goes down by about half a percent. Check it regularly, when the tires are cold, with a quality pressure gauge. Dollar-store tire gauges are notoriously inaccurate, so spend a little extra on a decent one.
Car Talk‘s Tom and Ray Magliozzi recommend Accu-Gauge tire-pressure gauges, and I generally take their advice. You can get one at Amazon for $13 — not a bad deal.
Note: Thanks to Brett Herndon for the photo. Brett is testing out Aero-Caps that significantly increase fuel economy, but at the moment he’s mired down trying to find funding to get it out to the masses.