10 Ways to Reduce Fuel Cost for Your Fleet
Your professional driving business could have a storied history, the best freight connections, and knowledge of the most efficient routes. But if you don’t know ways to reduce your fleet’s fuel costs, your rigs might as well stay parked in the garage.
That’s because high fuel costs can deflate your business’s budget faster than a nail in a tire.
Fortunately, we’re here to give you ten ways to reduce fuel costs. That way, you and your drivers can focus on the stunning vistas of the open road—not the numbers rising at the fuel pump.
#1 Research the Right Routes
While taking a longer route to reach a destination may seem counterintuitive, your fuel tank may not think so.
That’s because the shortest route isn’t always the best when saving fuel in the world of fleet management costs—especially if it takes you through terrain that’s less amenable to driving.
Like all vehicles, semi-trucks burn more fuel driving on rough terrain than on flat terrain. In fact, semi-trucks gain upwards of 20 more miles per gallon driving downhill than uphill. What’s more, semi-trucks burn more fuel idling through city traffic than darting down the open road.
When selecting the right routes to take, note the following:
- The time spent on highways vs. city roads
- The number of curves, twists, and turns
- Any steep inclines
When it comes to fleet fuel management, using the most fuel-efficient routes will pay dividends in the long run.
#2 Hire Good Drivers
Just because a semi-truck doesn’t whip around a racetrack at 200 miles per hour doesn’t mean skill isn’t involved in driving these vehicles. Driving a semi-truck can be difficult work. And finding the best fleet drivers can be even more arduous.
However, taking the time to hire good drivers can significantly reduce fuel costs. That’s because good drivers know how to do the following:
- Maintain the appropriate speed limit – In addition to potentially causing harm, speeding consumes fuel faster than a professional driver drinking a cup of coffee at midnight. Good drivers know how to accelerate without resorting to a fuel-depleting heavy foot.
- Brake properly – When driving in a congested city, near-constant braking is unavoidable. However, good drivers know how to avoid “hard braking” to reduce fuel consumption. Instead of abruptly slamming on the brakes, good drivers coast slowly until it’s time to brake.
A good driver doesn’t have to be an Indy 500 winner. They must know how to operate their rig with fuel conservation in mind.
#3 Trust in Telematics
Telematic systems are computers that give detailed analytic reports about rigs in your fleet. The most common data in these reports include:
- Fuel consumption
- Tire pressure
- Engine faults
This data is then fed to a central platform that allows you to compare your rigs across several different metrics. With this information in hand, you can take steps to reduce your fleet’s fuel costs and improve your fleet fuel economy.
For example, if your telematics report shows your fleet’s five best drivers based on fuel economy, you can assign these drivers to more routes.
#4 Avoid Idling
Although idling seems fairly harmless, running your engine without moving is one of the worst things you can do for fleet fuel efficiency.
Some studies show that the average semi-truck wastes $4,000 worth of fuel per year when idling.
To cut back, have your drivers do the following:
- Turn off their engines when parked – Whether running into a store to grab a sandwich or hunkering down at a fuel stop for the night, drivers can turn off their engines when parked to help reduce fuel costs.
- Monitor their idling habits – Although idling drags down fuel efficiency, some idling is necessary. Drivers in cold climates, for instance, need to keep their rigs on for temperature control. However, some drivers may develop bad idling habits when idling isn't required. Encourage your drivers to notice how much time they spend idling and see where they can cut back.
#5 Fill Up With a Fleet Fuel Card
Fleet fuel cards are lines of credit specifically designed for fuel and other fleet vehicle purchases. Like traditional credit cards, many fleet fuel cards allow users to accumulate points and rewards with each swipe at the pump.
But the biggest fuel card reward is the data it can provide to fleet drivers and overall fleet management operations.
In addition to offering fuel savings at the pump, fleet fuel cards can inform owners of the following:
- Any unauthorized fuel purchases
- The type of fuel drivers are using
- Any non-fuel purchases
By analyzing this information, fleet owners can help reduce their intake of high gas prices.
Some fuel cards even allow owners to purchase non-fuel-related automotive equipment to help cut back on maintenance expenses.
That said, always be on the lookout for cards that are accepted everywhere. The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere east of Reno with a half-melted slushie, an empty tank of gas, and a fuel card you can’t use at a dimly-lit pump.
#6 Carry Less to Save More
Knowing how to reduce fleet fuel costs often means understanding how a rig’s weight impacts fuel efficiency. In general, heavier trucks require more fuel usage to get where they need to go.
Some rig weight is unavoidable. For instance, unless you want to bring a sleeping bag on your cross-country trip, chances are you’ll need a sleeping cabin to rest comfortably.
That said, sometimes rigs carry unnecessary extra fuel. And these extra pounds can punish you at the pump. To carry less weight, consider taking the following actions:
- Carry less fuel – At 7.2 pounds per gallon, diesel fuel weighs a lot. Just imagine how heavy a full tank of diesel fuel is. To lower your weight, carry less than a full tank. This will improve your fuel economy and help you save in the long run.
- Eliminate excess – Drivers sometimes carry unnecessary equipment in their cabs and cargo holds. Even if it saves just a few pounds, cleaning out the clutter can help.
- Spread the weight – If one truck is significantly overburdened, divide the cargo between several trucks to distribute the total weight and lower fuel costs.
You should also select the right truck for the job. For jobs that require short-distance hauling, for instance, save money by not using a long-distance truck.
Additionally, match the size of the cargo hold to the job’s cargo requirements. There’s no point in using a massive truck only to fill up a fraction of the space in the cargo hold.
#7 Don’t Skimp on Tires
While purchasing the best tires for your fleet may cost more upfront, it’ll pay off in the long run.
High-quality, low-resistance tires allow your trucks to travel more efficiently. In fact, fuel efficiency increases one percent for each three percent gain in resistance.
Additionally, keep your tires properly inflated. Underinflated tires cause your trucks to do more work, thereby increasing fuel consumption.
#8 Go Aerodynamic
Bulky, clumsy trucks can be more than just eyesores. They can also lead to penny-pinching at the pump.
That’s because the less aerodynamic a truck is, the more wind resistance the truck meets. And more wind resistance equals less fuel efficiency.
To reduce your fuel costs, make your trucks as aerodynamic as possible. This is sometimes as simple as rolling up the windows while driving.
Other ways to make your trucks more aerodynamic include:
- Keeping the tailgate up
- Outfitting your trucks with aerodynamic mirrors
- Removing unnecessary appendages like bug deflector shields
You might even consider purchasing the latest trucks on the market. That way, you’ll have the sleekest rigs speeding down the interstate.
#9 Go Green to Save Green
Going green doesn’t just help the environment; it can also help you lower a high fuel expense.
In short, diesel fuel is expensive. By switching to hybrid trucks, you can save money on diesel fuel while saving money on diesel-engine-related expenses. By some estimates, these savings can amount to $60,000 annually.
#10 Maintain Your Fleet For Success
An improperly maintained fleet is a fuel-siphoning machine. That’s because badly-maintained trucks work harder to reach fuel efficiency.
To reduce fuel costs, don’t wait until a problem arises. Instead, constantly monitor your rigs for maintenance issues, such as:
- Faulty spark plugs
- Engine issues
- Transmission problems
- Clogged filters
- Oxygen sensors
The good news is telematics systems can often alert you to minor issues before they become major problems. It’s usually better to spend money upfront on preventative care so that you don’t have to fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars to get your fleet back to tip-top shape.
Reduce Your Fleet Fuel Cost With AtoB
Sometimes, there’s nothing more thrilling than the open road. After all, what’s better than catchy tunes filling your cab, sunshine reflecting off your aviators, and hundreds of miles of open road ahead?
However, high fuel costs can quickly turn the thrill of trucking into terror at the fuel pump.
The good news is that the AtoB fuel card can help you reduce your fuel costs to get you back to all the things you enjoy about your business. To get started, sign up for an AtoB account. Then, start using your zero-fee, universally-accepted fuel card anywhere your enterprise takes you.
From Connecticut’s bustling cities to California’s golden coast, AtoB gets you where you need to go.
FleetFinancials. 50 Ways to Reduce Fuel Spend.
FleetOwner. Calculating the costs and savings of electric trucks.
GEOTAB. What is telematics?
MotorBiscuit. How Many Miles Per Gallon Do Semi-Trucks Get?
Truckstop. 16 Practical Ways to Improve Trucking Fuel Economy.
Verizon Connect. How Much Gas Does Idling Waste? What Engine Idling Means for Your Fuel Tank.