winter semi-truck driving

8 Proven Strategies for Fleet Management Fuel Consumption

As fleet managers are well aware, operating a fleet isn’t cheap. There are repairs to make, maintenance services to perform, and new vehicles to purchase along with the usual unexpected costs that are sure to pop up now and again. But hands down, one of the biggest expenses in running a fleet is the cost of fuel. 

Fuel costs can represent as much as 60 percent of a fleet’s total operating budget. That’s a pretty big chunk of change! And with fuel prices continuing to rise, fleet managers must do everything they possibly can to keep their fuel consumption under control. 


Why maintaining fuel efficiency is challenging at the fleet level

When you’re only responsible for your vehicle, it’s fairly easy to manage your fuel expenses. You can look up nearby gas stations on an app to find the one with the cheapest prices and go there to fuel up. You can take your car in for regular tuneups to keep it running at peak performance. 

And because you’re probably the only one who drives it, you can be sure that it’s operated in a way that promotes fuel efficiency – no jackrabbit starts, tailgating, or sudden stops for you!

However, when you’re dealing with an entire fleet of vehicles, maintaining fuel efficiency can become much more difficult. Before we get into why let’s start with a basic definition of fuel efficiency. It is, essentially, a measure of how much a vehicle will convert the energy in fuel into kinetic energy to travel. 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are a few of the reasons maintaining fuel efficiency is so challenging at the fleet level:


While a small, highly fuel-efficient, and aerodynamic car can get more than 30 miles per gallon, a semi-truck will, on average, only get about 6.5 miles per gallon. And when they’re going up steep hills, that number can drop as low as 3 miles per gallon. In other words, that means the costs can – and do – add up fast, especially when you consider how many vehicles may be in a fleet. 


Most people drive their cars relatively short distances to go to work or run errands – and they’re generally not transporting a bunch of heavy items while they’re doing so. That’s not the case for semi-trucks that routinely travel hundreds of miles each week with thousands of pounds piled on top of them. 

Plus, these trucks are doing a lot of stopping and starting as they make deliveries and sit in traffic. All of these factors can cause fuel efficiency to take a hit.

Driver behavior

As we mentioned above, when you’re operating your own personal vehicle, you have near-total control over how it’s driven. That’s not the case when you’re talking about a fleet of vehicles with many drivers. 

If operators are driving erratically with sudden braking, speeding, or acceleration, it can result in a lot of fuel being burned – and quickly. Additionally, this type of driving can put excessive wear and tear on a vehicle which can also contribute to fuel inefficiencies. 


How to save money and improve fuel efficiency for your fleet

While fuel costs will probably always make up the bulk of a fleet manager’s budget, the good news is there are several ways to save money and improve fuel efficiency. Here are eight proven strategies for fleet management fuel consumption:

1. Maintain your vehicles

Having a solid fleet maintenance program in place is beneficial for many reasons. Although safety is at the top of the list, fuel efficiency is not far behind. That’s because things like underinflated tires, clogged filters, and dirty oil can end up making the vehicle’s engine work harder than it has to. 

This, in turn, can have a negative impact on gas mileage – and your bottom line. Implementing a fleet maintenance checklist and schedule will help you stay on top of any potential issues before they turn into serious problems and can save you big money on your fuel bill. It’s definitely a win-win situation.

2. Invest in fleet management software

Fleet management software can play a huge role in helping improve fuel efficiency. By purchasing software that has telematics, which combines GPS navigation with onboard diagnostic sensors, fleet managers can analyze operator behavior to see if they’re driving in ways that hurt fuel efficiency. 

For example, are they idling for long periods of time? Are they speeding? If so, it might be time to do some driver training to nip these behaviors in the bud and encourage them to use the cruise control to help them maintain a consistent speed. Fleet managers can also use their software to run reports on overall fuel usage to see where improvements can be made. The sky is the limit. 

3. Avoid overfilling your gas tank

It can be tempting to fill your gas tank to capacity so you don’t have to stop again soon, but that strategy can work against you. Why? Because when you overfill, the tank can end up overflowing when it’s heated and can also add extra weight to the vehicle. This is not only wasteful, but it can also pose a potential hazard to other motorists. 

4. Monitor fuel prices and shop around

You’ve probably seen two gas stations across the street from each other with dramatically different prices and decided to go with the more cost-effective choice. 

Fleet managers can do the same thing, and thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to find affordable fueling locations. Additionally, they can talk to fuel providers about any discounts that may be available to them as a large-scale fuel purchaser. Finally, they should encourage drivers to stick to the most affordable grade of fuel unless the vehicle specifically calls for something more expensive. 

5. Be smart with route planning

If you can kill two birds (or more) with one stone, you should do it. In other words, plan your routes – using your fleet management software – so your drivers can make several deliveries during one trip rather than wasting a bunch of fuel on just one customer. 

Your route planning should also take traffic into account so that, when possible, you’re not sending drivers out during the rush hour. By having them travel in off-peak times, they can get where they’re going faster and avoid stop-and-go driving and idling, both of which can kill fuel efficiency. 

6. Limit your weight

Just because a truck can hold a lot of cargo doesn’t mean it should always be loaded down. In fact, for every 100 pounds of extra weight a vehicle carries, its fuel efficiency can be cut by up to two percent. 

Over time, that can end up costing you a lot of unnecessary money. Before heading out to make a delivery, make sure that drivers are only taking what is necessary to perform the job and not merely things that are “nice to have.”

7. Pay attention to cleanliness

Keeping vehicles clean isn’t just a matter of cosmetics – it can help them run more efficiently. Removing excess oil, dirt, grime, and salt can improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics, and in the winter, getting rid of accumulations of ice and snow are also important ways to promote fuel efficiency. 

When you consider that ice or snow can add 100 pounds or more of extra weight to a vehicle, it’s well worth your time to put in a little elbow grease and get rid of it. You’ll reap the benefits when it comes to reducing your fuel consumption!

8. Make sure you have the right vehicles in your fleet – and the right amount

It’s always a good idea to monitor your inventory to see how it matches up to your demand. Through analysis, you might discover you have too many vehicles or that they’re not being distributed evenly across locations. 

Additionally, you may find that you have an excess of large vehicles – AKA the ones that suck up the most fuel – and that you could get by with smaller ones. By continuing to keep an eye on your fleet and the needs of your company, you can help lower your fuel costs without losing productivity.  


When in doubt, call the fleet maintenance pros 

Ready to start maximizing your fleet’s potential but aren’t quite sure where to start? The fleet maintenance experts at Blaine Brothers are standing by to help with all your needs. 

As the most trusted fleet maintenance company in the upper midwest for more than four decades, Blaine Brothers works with companies of all sizes and we’re dedicated to providing high-quality, customized services that are guaranteed to keep your fleet running smoothly, safely, and efficiently for many years to come. From our dedicated account owners to our expert technicians, our entire team is 100 percent committed to your success. Why? Because to us, our customers are like family. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Contact us now to experience the Blaine Brothers difference. You’ll be glad you did.

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