Tips on how to get good mileage with trailer (15+ mpg)

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by topsites, May 7, 2006.

  1. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Although every year it takes me months to accustom myself again to drive the rig like it's a train, I see fuel mileage increase from around 12mpg all the way to 14 and 15mpg on my D-250 carbureted 1986 fuel-driven truck.

    Some things I have done that helped:
    Installed 8mm Taylor High performance spark plug wires
    Installed High Performance cap and rotor.
    Installed Flame-Thrower High Performance ignition coil.
    Installed High-performance air filter.
    Installed double-platinum spark plugs.
    Removed tailgate and replaced with a net.

    Doing the above increased my mpg by around 2 miles per gallon (around 20 percent). It also increased power considerably, which makes the next part tough:

    The next part is in the driving. Year after year I practice day in and day out to drive nice and easy on the throttle and accelerate about as slow or slower as a fully loaded 18-wheeler. I fear say the biggest drawback is driving the rig like it's a car, and also thinking that since it has a trailer it needs to PULL so we automatically give it more gas or the same gas longer.
    The trailer will come along without PULLING. It is hard to measure since the motor is doing the work, but if you've ever ridden a bicycle with your child in a seat, you can figure this one out by pedaling normal, you hardly feel the weight but start to push the pedals and oh now you can feel it - same principle applies: Try not to make the truck feel the trailer, but let it come along on its own by being very light on the throttle. Truth be known, less gas is the secret, not more.

    The rig consumes the most fuel from 0mph accelerating, and I have learned this is the time to give it the LEAST amount of fuel. Accelerate very slowly and then give it just a little more once you get up to 15 or 20 mph and then wait while holding the pedal lightly pressed, let the truck work its magic mile by mile per hour, I know I am doing the right thing when the needle is barely moving upward. Let it take a few minutes if that's what it takes, the slower the needle moves, the better the mpg.

    Use terrain to your advantage: Allow the truck to slow some going uphill (never accelerate uphill, and if you have to then stay below the speed limit), and let OFF the gas some just before you crest the hill. Of course, use downhills to build up speed but again, real nice and easy.

    Predict traffic lights and don't make the mistake most folks make of hurrying up to the light to stop and wait. Instead, slow down early and coast most of the way: You're even better off to slow down to 15-20mph a ways up the road and then sneaking up on the intersection so long you don't have to stop, that is the idea.

    If you're not sure whether the light will be green or will turn red, you are better off slowing down in case it turns red than speeding up to try and beat it. Trust me.

    The true secret to driving is to learn to control your speed using only the gas pedal. For example, I almost never use the brakes on off-ramps, instead I let off the gas early enough to slow the vehicle down with coasting.

    At the ON-ramp, use the full length of the ramp to build speed slowly, use some shoulder if you have to but try not to (it's illegal for one, dangerous for another due to roadside debris) but you get the idea: use that ramp to build speed, and be ready to merge below speed limit (I usually merge doing 35-40mph into a 55-65 zone). If you move slow and your turn signal is on, people will see you - The more you drive this way, the more they know your style.

    In traffic, hang back: Everybody is always trying to be number one. The easiest position to achieve in this race is last, and once you're last, fall back some more so you have SPACE in front of you: Use this space when traffic in front slows down so you can coast instead of using brakes.

    From what I have seen, the time saved by rushing is not worth the money spent on fuel, brakes, tires, and everything else that wears and tears at over twice the rate as when taking it real easy, not even when time is worth 60 dollars / hour, not even then.
  2. E&MLandscapeServices

    E&MLandscapeServices LawnSite Member
    Posts: 40

    Your post reminded me of a trip I went on with my brother-in-law many years ago. His boss asked him to deliver a 3-ton air conditioning unit to Miami (12 hour drive). He asked me to go along to drive the trip back. He picked me up in a 12-passenger van - with the unit on a trailer behind it. We were barely maxing out at 40-45 MPH - unless we drafted off a tractor trailer but they didnt like that. We were burning some serious fuel too. We stopped in a truck stop and asked if any of them were going in our direction and one driver said he was and said we could get as close as we wanted behind his truck. We thought we had a great idea - until he came out of the truck stop and got in his rig.... he had a trailer full of hogs. We drove for about 8 hours behind him - windows all the way up, AC off - to keep the hog smell from knocking us out. I bet he was laughing his butt off the entire time but at least we didn't have to stop every 30 minutes for gas.....
  3. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 479

    Good advice in these days of SOARING fuel costs.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Weight is another huge consideration, the quest for ridiculous good fuel mileage comes at the cost of an attitude and a mindset:
    - First, unload everything, and I mean everything until the truck and trailer are empty.
    - Then, plan to do one thing the whole next day, and always try and plan your days so you do one thing the whole day. Example: Mon is grass-cutting all day, tues is mulch all day, wed is all hedge-trimming and fert, and so on.
    - Last but not least, load only that which you need for tomorrow. Then at the end of the day you can either stay that way if the next day is the same thing again, or unload that stuff and re-load accordingly. For mulch, you need a barrow, a pitchfork and a rake, maybe the edger and a tarp. But no, you don't need the chainsaw.

    Fuel cans stay at home: Wb's last all day on a tank, I see no sense in Lco's carrying not one but two 5-gallon fuel cans with them, that's close to 100 pounds extra just in fuel. Fill everything up the night before and learn to go easy on the throttle of the 2-cyclers as well.
    For grass-cutting, I load one Wb, one weed-eater, and the blower. That's it, thou I did take an empty oil bottle and fill it with mix-gas, this is far lighter than 2.5 gallons of mix fuel. And, I have a fuel-syphon because a backpack blower can re-fuel the weed-eater, the truck can re-fuel the Wb and do carry some cash in case you forget to fuel the Wb one night.
    NEVER leave equipment idling while talking to someone or ooops gotta run to the truck get something just for a minute: Always turn stuff off at all times when not in use, even if it's just for a second.
    To train myself to do it, at one time I turned up the idle on all my 2-cyclers (chainsaw, weed-eater, hedge trimmer) just high enough to where the moving part would never stop moving: This forced me to turn stuff off because it would walk away if you didn't - This also relieves a potential safety issue, you should never leave power equipment running.

    So yes, those Lco's carrying all that extra stuff thinking how professional they look, that's not pro, that's amateurish because all they're doing is wasting fuel and a lot more stuff gets in the way at the job site when they need one piece of equipment half the time they unload half the trailer to get to it.
    Not having a ton of stuff on the rig makes it look clean, and it gets better mpg. I do carry a rake and a tarp at all times, and a toolbox and yes, belts and some other spare parts that I know I need in an emergency (jumper cables and a tow rope, stuff like that).
    If something comes up while you're out there that you could do if you had the tool but now you can't, just schedule it for another day: This also helps you prevent yourself from low-balling some quick off-site job 'since you're already there' some Lco's tend to feel like giving a quick discount.
  5. grass disaster

    grass disaster LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,583

    please keep your posts shorter. it's too boring to read all of that.

    HDALLC LawnSite Member
    Posts: 71

    F.Y.I Removing the tailgate in a pick up actually decreases the fuel mileage. the way the trucks are designed now, you need to leave the tailgate on to get optimum fuel mileage because of the vortex created behind the cab helps crate a "bubble of air" that helps the air flow over the bed with the tail gate removed the "bubble" isn't formed allowing the air flow to push down on your bed and increases push on the bed therefore decreasing the gas mileage
  7. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    alot of good information. but I imagine some of the "high perfamce stuff actually hurt you if done by itself. The net is useless. Lockheed(youknow of sr71 fame) did extensive lowspeed tunnel tests to prove this. and acutally the mythbusters(discovery channel) proved it as well.

    I do agree that removing stuff off of the tailer to save weight and thus save fuel, would work. but it would then recquire a second trip to that particular house for the more detailed service. Thus wasting more fuel and travel time.

    I ran my rigs full of mowers and full of fuel and equipment and I had a 20 gallon toung mounted fuel tank.

    With mowers and my detail equipment on board i was able to make one stop at the house each week and take care of weeding, pruning, mowing, minor irrigation repairs. With the 20 gallons of fuel on board and a full tank of gas on the truck and in the equipment. I could run all week and not have to stop at a gas station, except on friday or monday to gas up for the entire week. This saved the countless trips to 7-11 and the extra loss of time filling up equipment or gas cans 2-3 times, plus the lost time of employees getting big gulps, and reduced the risk of accidents but not havingto take a truck and trailer into a possibly tight station.
  8. JJLandscapes

    JJLandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 682

    so lets say you can actually somehow manage to drive that perfectly with the throttle and get your estimate 2 mpg more ..... how much will you save a year ... it might take you a few years to pay off those parts you replaced unless your houses are all 20 miles away from eachother

    something wierd my SUV gets the same mileage with our without a trailer on it i dont have a gas gauge so i clock the odometer
  9. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,619

    Customer gave about 12 pills that smell like mothballs to put in gas tank to increase mpg. It is called BioPerformance. Doing a test now in my two truck gas tanks. One tank is without the pills and the other is with 2 pills. Will see if really gets better gas mileage. Things you do to please the customer. :laugh:

    He sells them for $1 pill.

    The customer claims he is getting 3 mpg better now than before the pills. :laugh:
  10. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

    Thats a old one.

    The best MPG controller is your right foot.

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