Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has more than 20 years of experience in performing fuel economy testing for the trucking industry. Institute engineers have a comprehensive understanding of fuel economy tests most generally accepted by the trucking industry. These tests are conducted in accordance with Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc. (SAE) specifications J1264, J1321, J1376, and J1526.
SwRI uses SAE Standards J1264, J1376, and J1526 to evaluate fuel consumption
during operating cycles representative of bus, pick-up and delivery, and refuse
operations. SAE Standard J1321 specifically addresses the operating conditions
of long-haul truck fleets. To perform a J1321 program with Class 8 trucks, the
Institute leases tractors and trailers, unless the client chooses to provide the
test vehicles. In this test, the minimum test scope consists of a control truck
and two test trucks driven in a baseline segment and a test segment. For
example, if two test oils are being compared, oil A would be installed in the
control truck and each of the test trucks during the baseline segment. During
the test segment, engine oil B would be installed in each of the test trucks.
Additional trucks and test laps can be added to a program to improve
repeatability and confidence of final results. Results are stated as percent
fuel economy improvement of the test item compared to the baseline condition.
Additional segments can be added to the program to evaluate more than one test
The Institute is located in San Antonio, Texas, which is in the transition zone
between the coastal plain and the Texas Hill Country. The South Texas climate
provides ideal weather for conducting on-road fuel economy evaluations year
round. Public roads include city streets, grades up to 11 percent, and divided
highways. SwRI maintains a paved test track with 0.6-mile straight-aways on its
campus. Additional track and testing facilities are available in neighboring
In its fuel consumption test program, SwRI uses a dedicated scale accurate to
0.1 pound. Auxiliary fuel tanks are filled with the appropriate fuel, weighed,
and then mounted on the truck prior to the test. While on the test lap, the
truck uses fuel only from the auxiliary tank. After the test, the tank is
removed and weighed to determine the amount of fuel consumed.
A consistent driving pattern during test laps is essential to producing accurate
fuel consumption results. The Institute maintains a staff of test drivers
licensed for commercial vehicles and trained to minimize the effects of
operating variables, such as vehicle and engine speed while changing gears
Test Condition Monitoring
To enhance the value of a program, vehicle operating conditions such as truck and engine speed, coolant temperature, and turbo boost pressure can be monitored electronically and recorded during test laps. These data yield valuable information about the effects of the lubricant or device being evaluated. SwRI has experienced observers to accompany the driver and record other pertinent time and distance data.
The Institute also uses a portable weather station to monitor and record weather conditions during each test run. Conditions such as wind speed, humidity, and ambient temperature could affect the amount of fuel consumed during a test lap. These data are taken into consideration when reporting the test results.
This brochure was published in August 2002. For more information about Fuel Economy Testing, contact Larry Eckhardt, manager, Phone (210) 522-2980, Fax (210) 681-5344, Fuels and Lubricants Research Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510.