In the heavy-duty trucking industry, owner-operators and fleet managers must race to stay ahead of rising diesel prices, regulations, and rivals. Seeking that extra edge, many truckers are turning to gauge tuners that coax maximum performance from their engines to yield significant fuel savings.
“I have seen a notable increase in fuel economy with the gauge tuner unit we have—about 15%,” said Joe Parks, general manager of Romulus MI-based Pilot Transport, a division of auto transport company United Road Services Inc.
For a fleet like Pilot Transport, which operates several trucks, the savings add up quickly.
“Right now, our fuel costs are about 72 cents per mile,” said Parks. “We mounted a gauge tuner on one truck and saved about 8 cents a mile. Since we run about 600,000 miles a month, potentially, the monthly savings could be huge ($0.08 x 600,000 = $48,000).”
Previously used in automotive applications, engine performance tuners—more generally known as programmers—are now finding their way into trucks and fleets.
Consisting of a compact control panel, gauge tuners are easily connected to the engine’s control module with wire leads. They operate by monitoring turbo boost pressure, engine rpms, coolant temperature, air flow, fuel rail pressure, and other operating considerations such as vehicle load. Then they balance these parameters by changing the electronic tuning characteristics of the engine management system to yield optimized performance.
“These tuners boost power and torque, but improved fuel mileage is the main advantage; about 15% more miles per gallon,” said Dave Brown of Piedmont Peterbuilt LLC in Greensboro NC. “Our customers who have installed the tuners tell us there’s a 90-day payback.”
The appeal of installing these new tuners has greatly increased with models that simply re-flash the existing mapping of the engine control module without modification to engine hardware.
Since 1998, Bully Dog Technologies has been designing tuners for automotive, and now medium- and heavy-duty trucking applications. The single unit provides four functions: engine tuner, function monitor, performance gauge, and diagnostic device.
“We sell the Bully Dog tuners because anybody with only a little knowledge of computers can install one,” said Brown. “You just plug it in and follow the prompts on the screen.”
The Bully Dog gauge tuner even has a built-in driving coach that offers tips that help develop positive driving habits to improve fuel economy. According to Edmunds, driving habits can increase economy by up to 37%.
“The unit will definitely help newer drivers, telling you where your power is at and when to shift,” said Parks. “We’re definitely seeing a performance boost. The driver said he’s pulling hills better.”
For more information, contact Bully Dog by phone at 877-285-5936 or access www.bullydog.com.