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Fuel Costs: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Owner Operators may have a lot more stress on the road then some of their company employed counterparts, but the rewards can be outstanding. Trucking as a whole has a very small profit margin with all things considered, so pinching pennies can definitely better your situation in the long run. Fuel is an expense that is required for any trucking business, so limiting the amount of fuel is important for any owner. One major factor to consider when looking at improving fuel costs is to look at the tires on your equipment. 

Tire Type

Many operators have a preferred brand of tires they enjoy using. With that said, one should understand how a tire affects fuel economy. Firstly, a tire can cause increased resistance when it grips to the road. Some drivers may like a tire that allows them to handle the vehicle more securely, but it could be hurting your efficiencies while on the road. For example, "Ribbed tires are usually significantly better for fuel economy, although they not provide enhanced wet or snow traction." Definitely something to keep in mind when choosing your next set. 

Tire Inflation

If the operator is set on the tires they prefer to use, then we could look at some other areas of resistance. According to Jim Park, "The truth is, there are several ways of lowering a tire's rolling resistance that are not related to traction, or where the compromise is minimal." One such area of concern should be the inflation of the tires. Regardless of the tire style, low inflation could be hurting your wallet. For every 10 PSI of under inflation, the operator suffers a 1% drop in fuel efficiencies. 

Tire Alignment

Improperly aligned vehicles can cause additional resistance on the road as well. In the most severe cases, you could have alignment issues not only on the Semi-Truck, but also the trailer that is in tow. This should always be considered before going on a long over the road haul. A total misalignment can not only cause a drop in fuel efficiency by over 2%, but also cause excessive wear and tear on the tires. This wear can become more costly as new tires are an additional expense that owners need to worry about. 

Knowing where your expense are going is important. Once an owner knows that they spend most of their money on fuel, they should look for ways to lessen this expense. One can see that taking care of your tires could cause a 5% increase in fuel efficiencies.

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