How can I increase my bus mileage? (17 tips)

In this article, we will discuss: How can I increase my bus mileage? We will give you 17 unique tips for saving fuel while travelling with your Skoolie. We will also discuss how big a school bus gas tank is and how to make your trips more economical. 

How can I increase my bus mileage?

To increase your bus mileage you must try to use the vehicle in a more economical and responsible way. Overall, school buses get good gas mileage. A Skollie can get an average of 10 miles per gallon, which is pretty good for a bus! 

Here are our tips for increasing your bus mileage:

  1. Do not let the engine run: Drive as soon as you have started your engine and stop it for any parking longer than one minute. Modern engines allow you to run just after starting and thus reduce your fuel consumption. Shut off your engine rather than letting it consume fuel unnecessarily.
  1. Change gears as soon as possible when accelerating: Higher gear ratios are more economical in terms of fuel consumption.  It’s about starting smoothly and shifting as many gears as possible without pushing them: fuel consumption is lower in 5th gear than in 3rd, even in town.
  1. Try to anticipate traffic: To maintain the most stable speed possible, traffic anticipation is essential. It allows you to avoid unnecessary braking or accelerating, which saves fuel.
  1. Use the engine brake: To save fuel in town, when approaching a traffic light, anticipate your braking and use the engine brake while downshifting. With a limit of 30 mph, rather than rushing, adjust your speed according to the lights.
  1. Choose the right pump: Here we are not talking about consumption, but about the invoice: as you know, prices can vary greatly from one pump to another. So it’s obvious, but it gets better saying it: play competition between the stations.
  1. Turn off the air conditioning: It is well known, air conditioning is sometimes very helpful, but pushes consumption upwards, up to 15% more if it is at full strength. Of course, not driving with the windows open helps improve aerodynamics, but the air conditioning shouldn’t be used all the time either.
  1. Learn how to better climb and descent: To save fuel on hilly roads, reduce the speed of the bus on the climbs and let go of the throttle on the descent, all while staying in as much gear as possible. When going downhill, when the engine is not in use, and a gear is engaged, vehicles with an injection engine do not consume gasoline because the fuel supply is cut off.
  1. Close the windows at high speed: If you drive slowly, in town for example, leaving the window open will hardly increase fuel consumption, as the aerodynamics play little at low speed.
  1. Use your dashboard efficiently: This makes it possible to verify that when you do not step on the accelerator the consumption is zero! The tachometer displays engine speed (this is more accurate than using your ear). Avoid climbing too high in the revs: shift up a gear from 2000 rpm (diesel engine) or from 2500 rpm (gasoline engine).
  1. Drive 6 mph slower: This saves up gas and you only lose four minutes on a 60 miles highway trip.
  1. Adopt a smooth driving style: Drive at reasonable speeds and, most importantly, smoothly and smoothly. Every time you accelerate or brake hard, your engine uses more fuel and produces more CO2.
  1. Check the oil: Maintain your vehicle properly and check the oil level regularly. A well-maintained vehicle performs better, consumes less fuel and emits less CO2.
  1. Check the tires: 70% of motorists drive with improperly inflated tires, which causes rapid wear. Under-inflated tires can increase your fuel consumption by up to 4%. Remember to add 0.2 bar to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer and check the pressure regularly, preferably every 300 miles.
  1. Don’t overload your bus: Remove any unnecessary load from your vehicle. The additional weight puts more strain on the engine and increases fuel consumption.
  1. Pay attention to aerodynamics: Close the windows, especially at high speeds, and remove empty roof galleries. Wind resistance is reduced and your fuel consumption and CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 10%.
  1. Choose fuel-efficient tires: Tires, especially because of their rolling resistance, represent between 20% and 30% of vehicle fuel consumption. According to Michelin, the green Energy Saver tire offers enhanced grip and rolling resistance reduced by 20%, which would save 3% in fuel. 
  1. Plan your route as best as possible: Plan your route to avoid detours that consume fuel unnecessarily. Your GPS allows you to plan the best route to avoid detours, traffic jams, roadworks etc. The route calculation sites (such as Waze, Mappy, Google Maps, ViaMichelin, etc.) allow you to choose the right route and calculate a correct journey time.

Are school buses fuel efficient? 

Despite their dimensions, school buses are more fuel-efficient than trucks and semi-trucks. On average, a school bus or a Skoolie has a 30% fuel consumption, with 10  mpg!

Besides, diesel Skoolies are more fuel-efficient than gas buses. On average, a diesel school bus can travel about 510 miles on a diesel tank versus just 270 miles on gasoline, based on the same standard size gasoline tank.

Of course, how fuel-efficient your Skoolie is going to be, will also depend on the type of chassis you are going to install and engine power. 

Skoolies Average Fuel Consumption

Chassis typeEngine PowerAverage consumption
Chevy/GMC 6.0L/6L80 or 6.0L/8L8013 MPG
Ford V-10/E4OD11 MPG
Chevy/GMC & Duramax6.0L/6L80 or 6.0L/8L8014 MPG
Ford6.0L 13 MPG
Ford7.3L14 MPG
Ford460 V-87 MPG
Chevy/GMC6.2L V-813 MPG
Chevy/GMC6.5L turbo-diesel V-814 MPG

Note: You can save 40% and more on your gas bill by converting your Skoolie or van to an autopropane. Propane is particularly well suited to vehicles that make a lot of mileage, vehicles that run non-stop or fleets whose vehicles are driven almost constantly. Among fuels, it is the one that offers the best return per dollar invested.

Although the price of propane varies with supply and demand in the same way as the price of gasoline or diesel, it always remains below that of other fuels. By choosing propane, you are sure to save on fuel regardless of price fluctuations. 

In addition, maintenance costs are generally lower than those of diesel-powered vehicles. The evidence is clear and comes from several independent sources; propane is a smart choice for any business looking to lower operating costs with the minimum initial investment.

The bottom line

One of the main costs that you must face when travelling with your Skoolie is the cost of fuel. Speed ​​is the enemy of consumption. The faster you drive, the more fuel your car will use. What a truism, you may be thinking. Indeed, but you may not know that driving at 85 mph increases consumption by 30% compared to driving at 75 mph.

Not only does driving slower save fuel, but you can also save even more fuel by driving smoothly. Avoid accelerations, and avoid revving the engine excessively. If you’re driving around town, your brake pads and your passengers will appreciate it too.

Do you have any tips for saving fuel on school bus journeys? Let us know!

FAQ on How can I increase my bus mileage?

Are school buses fuel efficient? 

Despite their dimensions, school buses are more fuel-efficient than trucks and semi-trucks. On average, a school bus or a Skoolie has a 30% fuel consumption, with 10  mpg!

How to save diesel on a bus?

To save diesel on a bus:

  • Turn off the engine while there is no movement. 
  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Don’t put the pedal to the metal. 
  • Cover the gaps. 
  • Install lightweight or lightweight front and rear fenders.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure. 
  • Use the correct tires.

What fuels do the buses use?

Currently, buses and trucks mostly use diesel as fuel, although there are quite a few initiatives to switch to Gas, less to electricity and occasionally to hydrogen.

Do school buses get good gas mileage?

Yes, school buses get good gas mileage. A Skollie can get an average of 10 miles per gallon, which is pretty good for a bus. 

How to save fuel on a descent?

To consume less fuel on a descent, slow down on the way up and let go of the throttle completely on the way down. Maintaining cruising speed when the road climbs requires extra fuel. And all the more so as the road is steep.


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