Trailer side skirting, you have all seen them on our highways. What do they do and are they cost effective?

Trailer side skirts have been on trailers for many years. The purpose of them is to deflect the wind down the side of the trailer instead of underneath it, reducing drag, which then creates less rolling wind resistance. This reduces fuel consumption and fuel costs. These skirts are typically made of fiberglass with aluminum or metal reinforcement hangers. There are different makes and models for every trailer out there.

A long time ago when I was driving, I remember the first aerodynamic product I saw on a trailer was a fiberglass nose cone that fit over the front of a trailer. These were great in theory but not very practical when hooking up to a truck with a larger bunk. They also were not feasible when dealing with reefer units as they could not be used. They were for the most part phased out. Then came the trailer skirts. A cool, well thought out idea as well.

Trailer Side Skirt

A typical trailer with skirts applied to a trailer can save upwards of 4% on fuel costs depending on what applications are at play. Now that may not seem like a lot to most people, so let’s do the math.

Example: If a company has 1 truck and hauls a trailer without side skirts using approximately $300/day in fuel costs, switches to a side skirted trailer and saves approximately 4%, that translates into about a $12 savings/day. Multiply that by 240 days/year = $2,880.00/year minus purchase and installation costs which would only be in the first year of operation. This is a considerable savings for any trucking company over the life of that trailer.

Now, if we take this same example and multiply that by 500 trucks all hauling side skirted trailers, it now translates into a whopping $1,440,000.00/year. 

On an even bigger operation of 1000 trucks hauling side skirted trailers, the savings are even more at $2,880,000.00.

One doesn’t have to think too hard about whether to apply them to their own operations. Although, there are the product purchase and installation costs to keep in mind as well in the first year. Even still, the savings can be very good for any bottom line.

Another product that is being seen quite often on the roads these days are trailer tails. These are similar devices but are made to fit on the back of the trailer. They are against the back doors when not in use. They will pop out when the draw cable is pulled and become engaged. They stick out the back of the trailer to deflect the tail wind that comes from the trailer running at highway speeds. This apparatus can save an owner up to 5% on fuel consumption. Using the above example, there are again, considerable savings when having a larger fleet.

Certainly, something to think about when making small or large trailer purchases in your future.

Until next time…

Dana G. Smith, CC

Dana G Smith CC is a Certified Relationship Coach/Consultant and co-creator of The Mindful Trucker, helping companies and professional drivers with better Health, Safety, Wellness & Driver Solutions.