Fleet Costs (and how to reduce them)

When you own a fleet of vehicles, the costs can – and do – add up fast. On top of maintenance and operating expenses, there

are costs related to drivers, downtime and depreciation. For fleet managers, it can feel like money is always going out the door. And although some costs are unavoidable, the good news is there are plenty of strategies to keep your expenses under control.

In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • The types of fleet costs
  • How to reduce fleet costs
  • How you can get help from fleet experts


Types of Fleet Costs

No matter how you slice it, keeping a fleet up and running isn’t cheap. It makes sense. Fleets are made up of heavy-duty vehicles with hundreds of moving parts and when even one of them is out of sync, it can impact your entire operation. 

Let’s break down some of the most common types of fleet costs: 


Maintenance Costs

Maintaining your vehicles with routine service is definitely a cost-effective move for fleet managers who are looking out for their bottom line. However, maintenance activities like oil changes, engine repairs, and tire rotation do come with a price tag and when you have a lot of vehicles in your fleet, it can be a pretty big one.


Operating Costs

A number of things fall under the term “operating costs” including maintenance, insurance, and overhead, but one of the largest expenses is fuel. It can represent as much as 60 percent of a fleet’s total operating budget! Unfortunately, as costs continue to rise, the amount of money fleet managers will spend on fuel is likely to get higher as well. 


Driver Costs

Though autonomous vehicles are becoming more common, let’s face it – fleet managers still need people to drive their trucks. And those people need to be compensated for their time and covered by insurance. As your company grows and employs a larger number of drivers, the cost of your human capital is also going to increase.


Downtime Costs

It’s estimated that fleet downtime can equal more than $400 per day in lost productivity. While that may not sound like a lot at first, when you consider that there are 365 days in a year and trucking and transportation companies operate year-round, those numbers can climb quickly and represent a significant amount of missed revenue.



We’ve all heard people say that the minute you drive a new car off the lot, it drops in value. However, your personal vehicle probably isn’t going to get driven more than 40,000 miles a year like a semi-truck routinely is. Therefore, it’s no surprise that these heavy-duty vehicles typically lose between 15 and 20 percent of their value per year.


Tips to Reduce Fleet Costs

Hands down, the best way to manage the costs associated with the items listed above is by taking good care of your vehicles through preventative maintenance. Not only will vehicle care help you optimize their performance, but it will also ensure reliability. From both an internal and an external standpoint, those two factors are huge.

If you’re looking to lower your fuel-related operating costs, purchasing trucks with high-efficiency engines can be a big help, as can enrolling in a fuel card program. You can also use your fleet management software to monitor your drivers’ performance. If you notice a lot of excessive idling – which is a big fuel waster – consider implementing driver training that spells out why idling is a problem.

Additionally, make sure that you’re planning your routes so that multiple deliveries to nearby locations can be made with a single trip. While you’re doing your planning, you should also be mindful of traffic patterns, detours, and road closures. Not only can these measures save you money on fuel but they can also reduce downtime and limit unnecessary mileage.

In terms of driver-related costs, your software can be a big help here, too. By using it to track driver hours, you can help them avoid working overtime, which can be expensive for you and potentially dangerous for them and everyone else on the road.

As for depreciation, well, there’s no way to stop that entirely. However, by maintaining your vehicle, you can keep it in optimal shape for a longer period of time. Additionally, by monitoring vehicle data through your software, you can easily see when the cost of operating the vehicle is no longer worth the expense and make plans to sell it while you can still turn a profit.

Another major way to lower fleet costs is to reduce the size of your fleet. By analyzing your data, you may discover you can get by with fewer vehicles without sacrificing reliability. Considering the average total cost of ownership for a light-duty vehicle can be up to $8,000, the savings that come with removing even 10 vehicles from your fleet can really add up.

But in the end, it all comes down to being prepared to adjust your fleet planning. As we’ve learned over the past few years, the only constant is change, and fleet managers who are willing to pivot and modify their plans for the good of their organizations are already in the driver’s seat when it comes to reducing fleet costs.


Get Help from Fleet Expertsmeasuring s cam

In summary, many fleet costs are inevitable – they’re simply the price of doing business. However, some careful planning on the front end can help you avoid unnecessary expenses and ensure you’re maximizing every dollar in your budget.

Need help with your fleet? The team at Blaine Brothers is here for you. As one of the most trusted names in the trucking and transportation industry, we’ve been serving customers of all sizes across the Midwest for more than 40 years. We handle everything from routine maintenance to fleet management at prices that won’t break the bank and we’re confident we can find solutions that work for you. Contact us now to learn more – we’re looking forward to getting to know you.

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