Fuel is often the second largest variable expense (after depreciation) faced by business owners and fleet managers. Things like fluctuating gas prices, driver behavior, and vehicle maintenance all play a role in fleet expenses.
While you cannot control the price of gas, you can certainly control the other factors that impact your fleet’s fuel consumption. We’ve put together a list of best practices and fleet management tips that will help you save on fuel costs.
16 tips on how to reduce fleet fuel costs
- Driver’s training
- Minimize idle times
- Limit air conditioning usage
- Use cruise control
- Reduce vehicle weight
- Check tire pressure regularly
- Schedule routine maintenance
- Address DTCs as soon as possible
- Choose low fuel grades
- Know which gas stations offer the lowest prices
- Consider gas delivery services
- Implement fuel cards
- Use fuel-efficient vehicles
- Park your vehicles in the shade
- Plan the best routes
- Use fleet management software
1. Driver behavior training
Most people think they are good drivers, but when it comes down to it, there is usually room for improvement, and your fleet drivers are no exception to the rule! Poor driver behavior can end up costing you big on fuel expenses. Things like aggressive acceleration, harsh cornering, and time spent over the speed limit all impact your fleet’s fuel consumption. For example, going 65 mph on the highway instead of 75 mph can cut your fuel use by up to 20%.
Implementing a driver’s training program will help decrease your fuel cost by training drivers on how to properly operate your company vehicles. The program should cover best practice guidelines including seasonal driving techniques, proper handling, and safety.
2. Minimize idle times
If you’ve ever heard that starting a vehicle takes more fuel than letting it idle, you may not have gotten the whole story. The fact of the matter is that starting a vehicle does require a little extra fuel; however, letting a vehicle idle for more than ten seconds requires more fuel than turning the vehicle off and restarting the engine.
If you’re looking to reduce fleet fuel usage, encourage your drivers to refrain from unnecessary engine idling. This includes limiting habits of heating up or cooling down vehicles for excessive lengths and encouraging the practice of turning vehicles off when making quick stops, when stuck in traffic, or at a train crossing.
3. Limit the use of air conditioning
Some may argue this point but it’s true, air conditioning does create extra stress and demand on the engine, resulting in increased fuel consumption. The rule applies when traveling below 55 mph, where driving with the windows rolled down is the more fuel-efficient method for cooling off.
When traveling above 55 mph, it’s best for fuel efficiency to keep the windows rolled up and use the air conditioning, if necessary. This creates less drag when traveling at higher speeds and uses less fuel. Consider including this tip in your driver’s training to save on fuel usage.
4. Use cruise control
Having drivers use cruise control when they are on flat highway roads is a great way to reduce fleet fuel costs. Without cruise control, drivers may fluctuate between speeds as each mile goes by. In fact, using cruise control at 50 mph uses 20% less fuel than cycling between 46 to 52 mph every 18 seconds.
5. Reduce vehicle weight
For every 100 pounds of weight in your fleet vehicle, fuel economy is decreased by 1-2%. Where possible, eliminate the need for heavy items in your vehicles and always go for the lighter options when possible. Additionally, you can practice storing bulky items inside the fleet vehicle or trunk instead of on a roof rack.
6. Check tire pressure regularly
Keeping your fleet’s tire pressure inflated to the proper pressure can improve your vehicle mileage by 0.6-3%.
You may also want to consider investing in fuel-efficient tires to help reduce fuel spend. Fuel-efficient tires have low rolling-resistance that requires less energy than standard tires to propel them in the direction the vehicle is traveling.
7. Schedule routine maintenance
Simple vehicle maintenance such as oil changes, air-filter changes, and spark plug replacements will have a positive impact on your company’s fuel costs. When performing the oil changes, consider upgrading your motor oil to a higher quality. Higher quality motor oil improves gas mileage by as much as 1–2%. It’s best to go with the type of motor oil the manufacturer recommends in the owner’s manual.
When scheduling your routine vehicle maintenance, we recommend following the owner’s manual for each company vehicle or your own customized maintenance checklist.
8. Address DTCs as soon as possible
If a driver reports that an engine light is on (e.g. the check engine light), it is important to look into the issue right away. Use a code reader to obtain the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) so you can figure out what needs to be looked into.
An inefficient engine could have a negative impact on fuel efficiency and operating costs so it is important to ask drivers to report DTCs as soon as they arise.
9. Choose low fuel grades
When it comes to choosing between regular, mid-grade, or premium gasoline, the best way to save money on fuel costs is to go with the lowest grade. Regular gasoline is a perfectly acceptable choice for your fleet and will get your drivers exactly where they need to go.
If you’re using diesel vehicles, you will be locked into a single price and won’t have many options. This may or may not work in your favor, depending on fluctuating gasoline and diesel prices.
10. Know which gas stations offer the lowest prices
We all know that one gas station in town that always has the cheapest gas; the station that’s just a fraction less than everyone else. It might seem silly to go out of your way and fill up here, but pennies add up over time.
Knowing where to get cheap fuel can help your company reduce fleet fuel costs. You can even enlist the help of technology to find the best fuel prices. Apps like GasBuddy will tell you where the cheapest fuel is near you. Fleet managers can use these types of apps to save money on fuel expenses.
11. Consider gas delivery services
Another fuelling option for your fleet company to consider is using a mobile fuel delivery service. Companies like Yoshi, WeFuel, Filld, and Fuel Me are app-based and will fill your parked fleet vehicles at competitive prices. Some even offer locked-in lower rates if you sign up for a subscription. They can even set up automatic alerts when your vehicles are low on fuel and will fill your tanks so your drivers don’t have to waste billable time at the pump.
12. Implement fuel cards
Fuel cards are an excellent way to reduce fuel costs. They offer discounted fuel prices at specific retailers and often further discounts at in-network locations. Some fuel cards can save you as much as 35 cents per gallon!
To help prevent fuel theft and fraud, you can create customized limits on each fuel card including:
- Where the fuel card can be used
- The type of fuel that can be purchased
- Who can pay for fuel
- Daily or transactional spending caps
Adding these types of restrictions to fuel cards not only helps eliminate fuel theft and fraud but also makes mileage and expense tracking much easier.
13. Use fuel-efficient vehicles
Using fuel-efficient vehicles as part of your fleet is a great way to fuel costs. If you’re considering trading in your older vehicles for ones with better fuel economy, there are free calculators online that estimate how much you’ll save and how long it will take to breakeven. The amount you’ll save depends on your current vehicles and the ones you are considering as a replacement.
If you’re not ready to make the switch, you could always look into diesel vehicles since diesel engines are more fuel-efficient. Diesel fuel contains 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline, which means diesel vehicles can go roughly 20% to 35% farther on a gallon than vehicles that run on gasoline.
14. Park your vehicles in the shade
When fleet vehicles are parked in the hot sun, fuel can evaporate from the tank. Parking in a shaded area can help prevent fuel evaporation and help extend the reach of your fuel tank.
15. Plan the best routes
One of the biggest ways to reduce fleet costs is by planning optimized routes for your drivers. Optimized routes allow drivers to get to their destination in the shortest amount of time and distance traveled.
Route optimization is a great way to increase productivity while decreasing fuel utilisation. Look into the available route-planning software that is available in your area and enjoy the fuel savings!
16. Use fleet management software
Another essential software for reducing fuel costs is fleet management software. This type of software gives you full control over your fleet. You’re able to collect driver behavior data, vehicle health data, and gain full visibility into vehicle location in real-time. You can even set up geofencing areas so you are notified when drivers enter or exit these parameters.
Force by Mojio is a GPS tracking software designed for small businesses that gives you the control and visibility you need to save big on your fueling expenses. If you’d like to see how our software can work for your company, we offer a free 60-day trial. We’ll even ship the GPS device to you. Setting up your account online is easy and you can access the program anytime, from any device.