Why do semi-trailers use diesel fuel?

Look at the trucker next to you, pump your arm up and down and see if he honks for you. It’s a fun way to pass the time on the road, but another way could be to learn about semi-trucks. Have you ever wondered why these big rigs use diesel fuel? Let’s answer this question and a few others.

Diesel fuel gives semi-trailers the desired efficiency

Highway semi-truck | Shutterstock

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According to fueleconmy.gov, most of the gasoline used in a traditional vehicle is not converted into usable energy. Diesel fuel offers much more usable energy. In fact, while 30% of gasoline is converted into energy, diesel is typically converted 10-15% better than gasoline. This allows many vehicles to travel up to 30% farther per gallon.

Considering that the average output of a tractor-trailer is 7 miles per gallon of diesel fuel, efficiency is extremely important in these large trucks.

Is modern diesel fuel in semi-trailers more environmentally friendly than before?

Yes, the EPA has found ways to reduce sulfur levels in diesel fuel, making it better for the environment. The diesel engines in passenger trucks and 18-wheelers that we see on the road today are far less harmful to the environment than those that drove many years ago. Semi-trailer diesel fuel is now regulated to be much cleaner than before. The difference is extraordinary. Prior to 2006, diesel contained more than 5,000 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, but diesel used today is regulated to contain no more than 15 ppm of sulfur.

Isn’t idling bad for 18 wheelers? Why do truckers idle their trucks at night?

A line of Semis heading towards the weigh station
A line of tractor-trailers heads towards the weigh station | Shutterstock

Idling is bad for any vehicle. Most motors are designed to perform best when in motion. Surely you have noticed a line of tractor-trailers at a truck stop with the engines running. This usually happens when the driver has finished his hours of the day and needs to rest. Unfortunately, using many material comforts in a tractor-trailer requires the engine to be running.

For every hour an 18-wheeler idles, one gallon of diesel fuel is burned. Worse still, the fuel is not completely burned, which can lead to engine problems. Idling tractor-trailers result in billions of dollars lost every year in the trucking industry.

How many gears do semi-trailers have?

Semi-trailers in traffic
Semi-trucks in traffic | Shutterstock

Most standard tractor trailers have ten gears, but some can have up to 18. Normal numbers for gears in these large rigs are 10, 13, 15, and 18. These extra gears are needed to slow the truck and speed it up when transporting a heavy weight. load.

How much room does an 18-wheeler need to turn around?

The average tractor-trailer is between 70 and 75 feet long. This length requires 55 feet to make a safe U-turn. Unfortunately, most US highways are only 12 feet wide, so a tractor-trailer cannot safely or legally turn around. If you see a trucker trying to turn around, remember the space required and get out of the way.

Do mud flaps improve the efficiency of a semi-trailer?

Semi red showing mud flaps
Red semi showing fenders | Wiki Commons

Mud flaps on semi-trailers can be interesting to see. Some trucks give these items a bit of personality with cartoon characters or funny sayings, but these items serve a purpose. Not only do the mud flaps on an 18-wheeler improve efficiency, they also provide greater safety.

Semi-trailer fenders are designed to improve airflow, reduce rainwater spray and reduce drag. All of these factors improve fuel efficiency. Mud flaps also protect other vehicles from mud or debris that can fly off the tires.

Blue semi truck driving on a highway, highlighting why truck horns are so loaded
Semi-trailer | Zetong Li via Unsplash

You now know a little more about the semi-trailers on the roads next to you. Pump that arm and see if your friendly trucker will give you the horn you need to make your ride more enjoyable.

Then find out if the GMC Hummer EV is actually eco-friendly or find out why semi-trucks use the type of engine they use in the video below:

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