If you have trucks as a big part of your business, you are no doubt always thinking of ways to get better fuel mileage. When it comes to truck aerodynamics, a major goal is to reduce drag. Reducing drag increases truck fuel economy, which can save you a great deal of money over the course of the year. So how do you reduce drag?
What Is Drag?
First, it’s important to understand what aero drag is. Aerodynamic drag is a fluid force acting on a moving body in the direction of the fluid stream flow. A more uniform, less rigid vehicle design allows air to move fluidly and easily over the vehicle, meaning less drag to slow the vehicle down. Anything that allows the air to flow more easily and with less interruption over the vehicle reduces drag and improves your vehicle’s ability to move in a given direction.
With that in mind, here are six effective ways to decrease aero drag so your trucks will get more mileage out of their fuel tanks. You should be able to use one or more of these methods in your operation.
A vortex generator can successfully delay flow separation, reducing drag. What is a vortex generator? It is simply a small aerodynamic vane attached to the surface of a vehicle where there is downward airflow separation. They were originally designed for use on aircraft, but can now be found on trucks, trailers, RVs, and SUVs. These simple attachments serve to reduce overall drag, rear-end airflow separation, and turbulent airflow, meaning better gas mileage, better top speed, and increased overall performance.
Fairings are panels you can add to various parts of the outside of your truck to reduce drag. Panels under the truck or trailer’s body are usually called side skirts, while panels hanging from the back of the truck are called rear tail fairings. The idea of panels and fairings is similar to other drag-reduction devices: improving airflow. Side skirts reduce undercarriage and wheel drag while rear tail fairings reduce rear-end drag. Fairings can increase your truck’s fuel efficiency by as much as 15 percent.
When you need to unload the truck, you can easily detach the fairings or move them out of the way, depending on the type you have.
Vented Mud Flaps
These little accessories for your trucks are more than just decorative additions. Not only do they prevent dirt, grime, water, and other road debris from spraying up into your tires and the undercarriage of your truck, they also make your truck more aerodynamic.
Your fender is the first part of your truck that has to face drag. Adding aerodynamic drive fenders to your truck that have a more airflow friendly shape can reduce overall drag quickly and efficiently, allowing greater top speed and better gas mileage.
If you’ve ever taken a good look at your truck wheels, you can see why they might not be so aerodynamic the way they are. There is a huge indentation in the middle, coming down from the rim to the center of the wheel. Within that indentation are often bumps and ridges. What this all means is that there are plenty of opportunities for air to get into those wheel wells and swirl and rumble around, completely disrupting smooth airflow and slowing your truck down.
Plugging up those holes with some solid wheel covers allows air to flow right past those tires and out behind your truck without allowing any additional drag on your vehicle. If this improves your fuel economy by just ¼ of 1 percent, over the course of 100,000 miles a year at 6 miles to the gallon and $3 per gallon, eight wheel covers could mean $1000 in savings per tractor each year.
Improve Your Truck Fuel Economy Even More
While aerodynamics is a big factor in your truck’s fuel economy and one you need to pay attention to, it is only one factor. In addition to all the drag-reducing methods suggested above, you can also improve fuel economy for your trucks by reducing the rolling resistance of and taking care of your tires.
We have a variety of products that can protect and preserve your tires, further increasing fuel economy. To find out more about these products and other ways we can help you keep your trucks on the road and running efficiently, contact us today.