I drive for a trucking company that is a very big proponent of saving fuel. The trucks we drive have tails on the back of the trailer, we also utilize the mudflaps that are not solid (solid mud and rock flaps block air flow) but they are perforated to allow the air to flow through them, they are called aerodynamic mud flaps.
(This is the trailer tail on the back of my semi trailer.)
We have trailer skirts that are supposed to save around 7% in fuel when you are driving at highway speed.
Our tractor idle time is supposed to be 3% or less, we do have the separate bunk heater/cooler units in the trucks that operate without the engine running to keep idle time at a minimum.
These units keep the inside of truck warm or cool and works very well when the truck is shut off. I enjoy these units, they work great.
Crap! We Have To Now Drive With Trailers That Have Flaps On The Back!
When our company told us they were going to be putting trailer tails on our trailers almost 2 years ago, I didn’t know what to think.
I thought that they would be such a pain in the rear, and they looked funny.
Now that I have used them close to 2 years, they are very easy to open and close.
They are not a pain when I am opening or closing the trailer doors, like I thought they’d be!
When using the tails for trailers, you do have to remember that when backing up, and there is something behind you, you need to close the tails.
They extend a few feet behind the trailer, so you can’t back up as close to objects as you are used to unless you close them first.
Have I ever backed up with the tails open, and hit any thing? I will not confirm nor deny that this has happened to me.
But they are very sturdy, and anytime that I’ve seen someone back into something with the tails open, I have seen them just close up with no damage.
I was driving through a town in Connecticut and came to a stop light, and got a knock on my door, a teenage kid told me that I had my trailer doors open.
I told him that the doors were closed, and it was a trailer tail, and they were supposed to be open to save fuel, he looked confused, then the light turned green.
Here is what the company atdynamics.com claims:
TrailerTails® are the most durable, cost effective and efficient trailer rear drag aerodynamics technology in the history of the trucking industry. TrailerTails® are:
- Certified to deliver 6.6% fuel efficiency gains at 65 mph based on SAE Type II testing validated by the U.S. EPA, sufficient for standalone compliance with 2010 CARB regulations for trailer aerodynamics, and exempt from U.S. DOT length restrictions.
I do not keep track of my fuel savings when using the trailer tails, or the trailer skirts, I let the company do that, and apparently they are happy with the fuel savings results.
- Proven to perform in drop and hook dry van and refrigerated trailer operations in all weather environments.
- Essential to the profitability of any fleet operation accruing over 30,000 miles per year at highway speeds.
TrailerTails® work independently from trailer skirts to reduce the low pressure suction drag which occurs at the rear flat surface of a long-haul trailer. TrailerTails® alone on average save truckers over 8 gallons of fuel for every 1,000 miles traveled at highway speeds. (Original Claims)
Anyway, I don’t mind driving with the big rig trailer tails, I am used to them now, and it has not been any inconvenience to me at all.
This trailer tail video from YouTube shows the semi-trailer tail in action, and the advantages, it is true that you can open or close this semi truck accessory in under 4 seconds.
This equipment is Certified by the EPA and approved by the Department of Transportation.
Update: Using these trailers with tails for going on two years, I have had no maintenance problems at all until recently,
Commercial Vehicle Trailer Tail Problems!
I have hooked up to a couple of trailers the last few weeks and one of the panels from a few of the trailers would not stay open, I had to close them and drive, the cause was the shocks or struts went bad.
You need to have spare shocks in case this happens, our company has sent spare ones to a few of the shops we use, so they can be fixed, I think that they need more heavy duty shocks.
How long should you be able to use the tails before having to replace any parts, is 2 years reasonable? To be fair we probably have 100 trailers with the tails, and I have come across 2 that needed shock replacements, and 1 tail that had a crack around the bar attached to the fiberglass trailer-tail.
2015 Big Rig Trailer Tail Update
Commercial vehicle trailer tails have been upgraded and improved since writing this post. Gone is the rubber that was riveted on, and used as seal or gasket, when the trailer flaps were open.
tI was tested and found out this rubber was not needed for fuel savings, sometimes they ripped and you would have rubber hanging. And I believe keeping things that are out in the wind simple, the fewer items attached are best.
The shocks and parts on the tails must have been improved, I drive trailers with tails every day, and have not had any mechanical problems with the vehicle tails in a year. They are much sturdier and problem free, the bugs just had to be worked out from when they came on market a few years ago.
There are roughly two million tractor-trailers on American highways, says ATDynamics. Based on Energy Department figures, a 6 percent reduction in diesel fuel use would amount to savings of 1.6 billion gallons a year, a reduction of about 14 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions — and save about $6.6 billion. Courtesy of NYTimes.com.
How Much Does A Trailer Tail Cost? Inquiring Minds Want To Know!
There are a few different models of trailer tails available, including the new AutoDeploy model that has a built in speed sensor and automatically opens when you are driving and hit 35 miles per hour. Your looking to spend around $2500.00 for the basic tail.
Your savings each year in fuel is around $1400.+ if you drive 50,000 miles a year, this is better than putting the money in the bank.