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Right: More than 47,000 truck-lovers attended the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas to check out the newest trucks and accessories from nearly 600 manufacturers. Photo: Randall-Reilly Publishing LLC

Each August, almost 50,000 people attend the nation's second largest trucking event: the Great American Trucking Show. Many of the newest products on display are designed to improve maintenance, operations, and safety. Here are a few that I found particularly worthwhile for fleet managers.

Longer-Lasting Muffler Also Saves Fuel

Whenever I find a device that claims to provide significant fuel savings, I ask the manufacturer if the said claims have been verified using Society of Automotive Engineers–Technology and Maintenance Council (SAE-TMC) tests. Usually, that ends the conversation.

Not so with the Liberator Exhaust (www.getliberator.com).

This muffler has an internal flow area of 30 square inches, almost 10 times the typical muffler. Its open structure lowers required boost pressure. The net effect, confirmed by SAE J1321 tests conducted by the Mieden Technical Center in Northville, Mich., demonstrates “an 80% confidence level that the system produces at least a 3.67% decrease in fuel consumption.”

That's the SAE-TMC test procedure I insist on before I acknowledge anyone's claims. The test requires that fuel in a special tank be weighed, not measured by the gallon. That negates any effect of temperature expanding the fuel. (Hot fuel has less energy per gallon than cooler fuel, but pound for pound, there's no difference.) Under certain circumstances, the tests demonstrated more than 7.67% more fuel mass consumed with OEM mufflers than with the Liberator system.

Calibrate Your Tire Gauge

Tire gauges can go out of calibration by as much as 10% to 20% by bouncing around in a toolbox or in a truck. That can mean a potential blowout even if you recently gauged your tires. At best, underinflated tires mean higher fuel consumption and increased wear.

For less than $200, a fleet can own the ValvePal Gauge Testing Station (www.valvepal.com), a bench-mounted device that can quickly, easily, and accurately calibrate any air gauge.

Battery Conquers Idling

The Odyssey Extreme (www.odysseyfactory.com) battery uses absorbent glass mat (AGM) technology to hold ultra-thin, pure lead plates in position. The fiberglass mats hold the acid electrolyte. Vibration resistance is improved.

The pure lead battery allows deep cycle capability (400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge)—at the same time it outperforms other starting-lighting-ignition batteries with 1150 CCA and 1500-amp discharge at 0 degrees for five seconds. Ordinary batteries use a lead-calcium alloy, which adds strength but cuts current flow.

Truck Steps

The importance of safety devices and safe practices hit home for me recently when a friend fell off the back of a truck he'd been working on. He hit his head and suffered brain damage. That's why I was impressed with Sturdy Steps (www.sturdysteps.com).

The line of six sturdy auxiliary step designs can bolt or weld virtually anywhere you need an extra step or two. Instead of climbing from the ICC bar into the body, think how much easier and safer it would be with steps above and below the bar. Sturdy Steps can be attached almost anywhere safety would be improved by lessening climbing distance.