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Fuel Saving Tips for Businesses- Top 9 Ways Fleets Can Lower Fuel Costs

May 1, 2022Tyler Linn

Fuel Cards, Driving Habits, & Other Tricks

Fuel Saving Chart - Gas Pump
Source- Adobe Stock

Is your fleet struggling to combat inflation and rising prices and in need of some serious fuel saving tips?
With gas and diesel prices on the rise daily, we've compiled a definitive list of ways your fleet can save at the pump.

Whether you operate a team of trucks or manage a group of rental cars, these 9 fuel saving tips will help rescue your business' valuable finances.

Let's begin.

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Top 9 Fuel Saving Tips for Businesses

Low Fuel Gauge
Source- Adobe Stock

Thankfully, finding ways to reduce your fuel use isn't hard. Whether your fleet is filled with commercial trucks, cargo vans, or passenger sedans, these tips will help ease the expense and increase mileage.

1.) Identify and Manage Excessive Idling

One important part of limiting costs is to restrict idling. Idling is a huge drain on many fleet budgets. The less idling, the less gas or diesel you have to purchase.

This includes:

  • Warming up the engine longer than needed
  • Running the engine during stops or deliveries
  • Running climate control during the winter & summer months
  • Keeping the engine on to use in-vehicle equipment i.e. cellphone charger

According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), idling burns up to 1.5 gallons per hour. The DOE also reports the average heavy-duty truck idles around 1,800 hours per year. That means you could be losing up to 2,700 gallons of fuel every year per truck from idling alone. Not only is that costly, but trucks that carry "hours operated" warranties use up valuable warranty hours.

Last of all, you could get fined. Certain areas of the U.S. (Dallas, San Diego, D.C., and more) belong to the Clean Cities Coalition and have outlawed unnecessary idling.

2.) Improve Navigation & Delivery Schedules

Route Matrix - Fuel Saving Tips
Route Matrix - Route Optimization Tool

Another way to save is to improve your routing and delivery schedules. If your company still operates without GPS or route optimization software, you could be losing out on valuable time and money. By getting more stops in with less time on the road, you can maximize your ROI.

Additionally, without route optimization, your company could be missing out on extra stops. Small commercial navigation steps like knowing traffic and road conditions ahead of time can pay huge dividends for your business.

3.) Reduce Theft & Unauthorized Fuel Purchases

Reducing losses from theft and unauthorized purchases is also key. The best way to do this is by using fuel cards instead of company credit cards. With fuel card solutions, you can keep a close eye on every purchase and on employees who may be tempted to pass off receipts for personal fill-ups as well as business ones.

4.) Reduce Excessive Speeding

Speed reduction is by far the easiest of the fuel saving tips to achieve.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), a truck traveling at 75 mph uses 27% more fuel than one going just 65 mph. That's a huge decrease in miles per gallon. By implementing telematics solutions, you can help train your operators to slow down and improve their MPG through driver self-coaching.

Department of Energy - Fuel Saving Tips
Source- Department of Energy

For passenger cars, the DOE shares that every 5 mph over 50 is equal to an added $0.28 per gallon. For more specific insights, you can use this DOE tool to calculate exactly how speeding affects your vehicle's mileage.

Keeping an eye on the speedometer is possibly the most immediate way your drivers can impact their fuel efficiency. Other benefits of driving more slowly include driver and cargo safety. Considering 26% of fatal accidents in 2019 involved speeding as a contributing factor, it’s in everyone’s best interest to slow down.

5.) Reduce Drag

Another tactic to help your fleet's fuel consumption is to reduce drag. Drag is your vehicle's resistance to forward movement. Installing aerodynamic body accessories and selecting the right tires can help with reducing drag.

FlowBelow Aerokits- Fuel Saving Tips
Source- FlowBelow Aerokits

Strategies that have proven to improve aerodynamics include:

  • Install Trailer Skirts - Many trucking companies have adopted their use, and for good reason. Trailer skirts have proven to increase fuel economy by as much as 7%. Skirts do this by preventing unwanted air circulation underneath trailers, creating more aerodynamic vehicles.
  • Reduce the Truck-to-Trailer Gap - Any space air can creep into can become a source of drag and reduce mileage. The gap between the truck and trailer can become a significant source of circulating air and additional drag. According to RTS, eliminating this gap can improve fuel economy up to 6%. By installing gap faring, you can effectively improve your vehicle's drag.
  • Install "Boat Tails" - Trailer tails or "boat tails" can also improve the aerodynamics of your truck. In a 2019 study by MBPI, trailer tails were found to increase fuel economy by 4%. When combined with trailer skirts, that number jumped to 8%.
  • Using Wheel Covers and AeroKits - Some companies like FlowBelow even offer wheel covers and AeroKits which help to eliminate drag between axles and across wheels.

6.) Preventative Maintenance

Field Warrior DVIR
Field Warrior App DVIR Checklist

Routine maintenance is an often-overlooked aspect of increasing your fuel economy.
Maintenance items that can negatively impact your miles per gallon include:

  • Old/fouled spark plugs
  • Dirty intake/exhaust ports
  • Dirty oil
  • Clogged catalytic converter
  • Dirty MAF sensor
  • Clogged air filter
  • Clogged fuel filter
  • Misaligned axles
  • Body damage
  • Low tire pressure

Creating a regular preventative maintenance schedule or ensuring proper DVIR implementation for your fleet can ensure your vehicles are running in peak condition. This will also help to create safer vehicles and less frequent breakdowns.

7.) Improve Driver Habits

Driver habits play a significant role in increased savings. When trying to reduce your business' fueling expenses, often the fastest way is to start with the drivers. Coaching your drivers to be more safety-conscious can often pay huge dividends for your business.

Ways drivers can improve their fuel economy include:

  • Driving at the lowest engine speed possible
  • Using cruise control where appropriate
  • Braking and accelerating smoothly and gradually
  • Using progressive shifting techniques (upshift at the lowest rpm possible)
  • Coasting wherever possible
  • Limiting unnecessary truck idling
  • Starting out in a gear that doesn't require the use of the throttle when releasing the clutch
  • Limiting unnecessary shifting
  • Limiting the use of cab accessories to reduce parasitic energy losses

8.) Use Telematics Tools

Telematics tools can help your business save at the pump.

You may not naturally think of a telematics tool when trying to reduce costs. But, having one unlocks insights into how your fleet is run and where you can improve.

IntelliHub displays a driver's route along a map with a breadcrumb trail. Fuel Saving Tips
IntelliHub Driver Activity Monitoring

Here are some of the ways a telematics solution can help you save:

  1. Route Optimization – Finding shorter routes can reduce the total miles driven and increase the number of stops for your vehicles.
  2. Driver Behavior Monitoring and Coaching - Use driver behavior monitoring and coaching tools to measure and reduce vehicle idling time, speeding, harsh acceleration, and more with driver coaching and in-cab alerts.
  3. Plan Proactive Maintenance – Regular maintenance can catch vehicle problems and prevent high fuel consumption due to faulty parts.
  4. Identify Efficiency – Telematics data can help you find your most efficient vehicles and allow you to utilize them more.
  5. Limiting Unnecessary Stops – Telematics solutions can help you identify and put an end to side trips that are adding to your business expenses.
  6. Reporting – Vehicle reports can help you track how much fuel is being used so you can make data-driven comparisons and decisions about fleet and fuel efficiency.
  7. Decrease Theft – Your telematics solution will let you know if consumption is trending out of the ordinary and help you pinpoint unauthorized fuel stops.

9.) Fuel Cards

A fuel card account is one of the best ways to save on the cost of fuel. Here's what you need to know about fuel card solutions.

  • Most memberships offer discounts on fuel purchases
  • Each one offers different benefits and networks - so be sure to investigate several options to find the best one for your business
  • Fuel card integration saves time and prevents fraud by eliminating the need to save, organize, and report paper receipts
  • Fuel cards allow you to set spending controls to help track and manage your budget
  • Allows you to maintain accurate records and reports and simplifies IFTA reporting

Read more here on how to choose the best fuel card for your business.

FAQs

How do truckers save fuel?

Truckers can save fuel in many ways. Some of the best fuel saving tips include limiting idling, driving slower, taking optimized routes, using a fuel card, better driving habits, and staying on track with preventative maintenance.

What is the most economical commercial van?

  • 2022 Ford Transit Connect Van -25.5 mpg
  • 2022 Nissan NV200 - 25 mpg
  • 2021 Ram Pro Master City Cargo Van - 24 mpg

What fuel card is best?

According to Freight Waves magazine, the following fuel card options are the best currently available solutions

Best Fuel Card for:

  1. National Networks: WEX Fleet
  2. Rewards: Fuelman Fleet Cards
  3. Large Fleets:  BP Fleet
  4. Flexible Payment:  ExxonMobil Fleet
  5. Small Businesses: Shell Fleet

How do fleet cards work?

Fleet fuel cards can be used just like a normal credit card at gas stations. Fleet cards can also require information such as driver ID and current odometer reading to assist in reporting and preventing fraud. Card suppliers help fleets save funds by brokering deals with fuel providers - passing along the deals to you in exchange for account dues.

Are company fuel cards worth it?

This is a case-by-case basis. Fuel cards can help your fleet save on expenses so long as your fleet gets more out of it than the price of membership dues. For example, if your fleet pays for added benefits like truck or car washes, but if your company doesn't utilize them, you may actually be losing money.

Is fuel cheaper with a fuel card?

Yes. Fuel cards offer a wide range of benefits which generally includes cheaper fill-ups and per gallon discounts.

How do I choose a fuel card?

Choosing a card comes down to return on investment (ROI). You'll need to research your options and determine which offering best serves your organization.
Criteria to judge card providers by include:

  • Fueling discounts
  • Fuel station network size
  • Auxillary benefits (discounted washes, oil changes, convenience store purchases, etc.)
  • Interest/Balance charges
  • Security features
  • Spending controls
  • Reporting features

What is route optimization?

Route optimization software analyzes multiple stops and finds the most efficient route available. It does this by factoring in stop location, delivery windows, travel distance, travel time, and more.

Can Google Maps optimize my route?

Google Maps is not an effective solution for route optimization as it does not factor in key aspects like delivery windows.

What is the best route optimizer?

Route Matrix allows fleet managers to optimize their stops with a user-friendly solution. Users can easily:

  • Drag and drop stops onto a map
  • Override and customize the route
  • View route totals and summaries
  • Visualize stops on an interactive map
  • View unassigned stops
  • Notify drivers of upcoming routes and changes

What does IFTA mean?

IFTA stands for International Fuel Tax Agreement. It is a non-profit organization based on an agreement between the lower 48 states of the U.S. and Canadian provinces to simplify tax reporting. Commercial motor vehicles that travel throughout multiple states and provinces within the member jurisdictions only have to maintain one fuel use license and file a single IFTA tax report. Although not required, Canadian territories and Alaska also participate.

How do you calculate IFTA?

Calculating your taxes due for the IFTA can be very complicated. Miles driven in each state/province, fuel used, purchased, and taxes already paid are all considered. It's best to use an IFTA calculator solution or utilize a telematics solution like those from Forward Thinking Systems, to measure usage accurately and auto-generate IFTA reports for easy filing.

Fuel Saving Tips Recap

Overall, there are dozens of ways to save on the cost of fuel. But the best ways all involve paying close attention to your fleet's vehicles, driving habits, and analyzing where your business can do better.

9 Fuel Saving Tips

1.) Identify and Manage Excessive Idling
2.) Improve Navigation & Delivery Schedules
3.) Reduce Theft & Unauthorized Fuel Purchases
4.) Reduce Excessive Speeding
5.) Reduce Drag
6.) Preventative Maintenance
7.) Improve Driver Habits
8.) Use Telematics Tools
9.) Fuel Cards

Implementing a telematics solution is one of the best ways to do this. With tools like Route Matrix, IntelliHub, and FleetCam, you can stay on top of maintenance, driving habits, route optimization, and more, all while saving on fuel costs.

If you'd like to start saving more today, book your free demo now!

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