I almost crashed when I saw this Shell station was trying to sell diesel for $5.99 a gallon. I know the price of fuel has gone up, but $5.99? That’s insane. Nobody wants to pay that much for diesel.
Within a mile of the place I took this photo, I found a station selling diesel for $4.39. While it felt great to save $1.60 a gallon, I know that between now and the November elections, we will continue to see the price of fuel rise. The good news for those of us reading Diesel Power is we already own the best engines we can buy for saving money on transportation.
This month’s issue is dedicated to fearing no fuel costs. We’ve packed our pages with stories about making cross-country road trips burning the cheapest diesel we could find. We’re showing you around the Class 8 trucks that hold the world record for fuel economy. We’ve exposed the future of fuel-saving motor oils. We’re also taking you to the Persian Gulf to show off the Navy’s sea-mine-sweeping hardware that keeps the popular oil-shipping route through the Straits of Hormuz open—no matter what. And with this issue we’re also launching our first iPhone app that’s designed to find diesel fuel anywhere in the country.
So until the price of fuel comes back down (and it will), we’ll be shifting some of our focus back to fuel-saving tips and technologies we can all use with our diesels.
How Diesel Got Expensive
Diesel engines have always been about producing the maximum amount of torque for the lowest costs over the longest period of time. Buying the engine has always been the most expensive part of diesel ownership. Yet once the initial investment was made, the cost of diesel fuel and the economy offered by our engines offset the cost of the buy-in.
That equation began to change when the Big Three launched a torque war in the ’90s. Though fuel prices have continued to climb during the last 10 years, the horsepower levels have increased faster. The thing that didn’t climb in that time period was fuel economy. Not because it couldn’t have, but because we didn’t really want it to. For the first 100 years of diesel, our engines were all about efficiency. During the last 10 years, diesels have been about hot rodding. Number 2 diesel fuel had been living in the performance shadow of high-test gasoline for far too long. Thanks to the epic push of diesel performance, compression-ignition now has a seat at the table of all the big motorsport competitions.
However, the best thing to come out of the last decade of diesel performance is the technology that now allows diesels to outperform their gasoline counterparts in everyday driving. Diesel vehicles used to be penalty boxes when it came to performance. Those days are over. And thanks to that spike in fuel costs we had four years ago, Detroit has developed new diesel-powered solutions to the high-fuel-cost problem. These new diesel vehicles are on their way to dealer lots—and they won’t just be in ¾-ton tow vehicles.
10 Ways You Can Save Money On Fuel Today!
Drive longer distances. Diesels are best when they are at operating temperature and the turbo is making boost. Combine short trips whenever possible.
Use your EGT gauge as a driving coach. The lower the EGT, the better your fuel economy.
Drive the right diesel. Lightweight vehicles will always get better fuel economy—especially in stop-and-go driving.
Slow down. The aerodynamic resistance of a vehicle moving through air increases exponentially as the vehicle’s speed increases.
Spend money to save money. Friction-reducing lubricants, low-rolling resistance tires, and performance products that increase injection timing and pressure can all improve fuel economy.
Shop around for the best fuel price. The price of diesel varies greatly; use an auxiliary tank to buy fuel from the stations, towns, and even states that sell fuel for less.
Avoid using the brakes. Brake pads turn energy into wasted heat and require you to use more fuel to speed back up.
Drive like a big rig. Use highways instead of city streets and try to avoid bad weather and hills as much as possible.
Avoid traffic. Driving 0 mph equals 0 mpg no matter what you are driving.
Don’t drive by yourself. If you own a four-door crew cab truck, carry people with you who can share the fuel costs.