10 Ways to Cut Your Fleet’s Fuel Costs
Diesel fuel is definitely the life’s blood of any utility fleet. It is what keeps your trucks going. Without it, you would be out of business.
Commercial carriers consume over 38 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually. If you’ve been paying attention to the rising cost of diesel fuel, you can probably imagine just how many dollars that translates to. Diesel fuel is one of the biggest expenses of any company that operates heavy trucks. In fact, fuel expenses can account for as much as 25 percent of a company’s operating costs. Fuel is expensive, but it is necessary.
The cost we pay at the fuel pump is largely out of our control. Consumers have watched fuel prices rise and fall like a wild roller coaster ride over the past several years. There is nothing we can do to influence the price of a gallon of diesel fuel.
There is something we can control, however. In fact, there are numerous ways that heavy truck owners and operators can cut fuel costs no matter what the price is at the pump. By finding ways to decrease the amount of fuel our trucks use, we can improve our bottom line. The less fuel our fleet uses, the more we save on total dollars spent. That’s just good business.
Whether you’re just beginning to think about ways to save money on fuel costs, or if you’ve been at it for a while and are looking for some new inspiration, here are some tips that will work for just about any utility fleet.
Ways to Cut Fuel Costs
- Purchase New Equipment to Score Higher MPG.This may seem like a no-brainer. A truck that uses less fuel for each mile traveled will require less money to operate. However, purchasing new equipment isn’t always a feasible option. It is a good idea to crunch some numbers to see if trading up for more fuel-efficient models will provide enough payback to make it worth your while.
- Move to an Automated Transmission. An automated transmission offers consistent and precise shift points to increase fuel economy. While a driver with experience may be able to beat the fuel efficiency of an automated transmission, you can’t beat the consistency day in and day out, driver to driver that this type of transmission offers.
- Don’t Over-Power. Resist the urge to invest in more size and power than you need. There are situations where extra durability and horsepower can work to your advantage. But if you don’t need it, don’t use it. By using a truck with the least amount of weight and horsepower that can effectively complete a job, you could save a ton on fuel.
- Keep Your Wheels Aligned. When just one wheel is slightly out of alignment, it’s almost like dragging it sideways down the road. But a good alignment will save more than just fuel. It will also save on tire wear and tear.
- Check Your Tire Pressure. Find the ideal tire pressure based on weight and load conditions, and then maintain that pressure. An under-inflated tire increases roll resistance causing your truck to burn more fuel.
- Invest in Driver Training. While automated transmissions can potentially help every driver in your fleet use less fuel, you shouldn’t rely too heavily on automation. Shifting is only part of an operator’s driving. There are many other ways to conserve energy and save on fuel costs.
- Keep Your Warm-Up Brief. Modern diesel engines really don’t need to idle for long periods to warm up, even during cold weather. In most cases, as long as the temperature needle isn’t stuck on the peg, you can take it easy on the throttle and be good to go by the time you maneuver out onto the highway.
- Use Your Momentum. Gravity can be a big truck’s best friend. Generally, a big truck’s weight will help it coast downhill, through small towns, and even crest a hill on the interstate. If you want to save gas, consider easing up on the accelerator under these conditions and let the weight of the truck do the work.
- Turn Off the Engine. Unless you’re stuck in traffic, turn off the engine if you have to stop for a minute or more. Your trucks will guzzle more fuel idling for ten to twenty seconds than it takes to restart them. Letting your work trucks idle on a job site just isn’t cost effective.
- Get a Tune-Up. Keeping your vehicles well-tuned can improve their overall gas mileage. Regularly checking to make sure the cables and connections are clean and healthy, that the chassis is well-lubricated, and fuel filters are clean will keep your trucks running smoothly and efficiently. A poorly maintained truck has the makings of a gas guzzler.
Taking measures to make sure you aren’t wasting fuel unnecessarily is just good business practice. There may not be anything you can do to control the price of gas, but that doesn’t mean you are helpless when it comes to your fuel budget. By implementing just a few of these strategies you can significantly cut your fuel costs, which leaves more money for profits.