CRTS Insights

7 Suggestions to Help You Cut Fleet Fuel Costs

Posted by David Shepherd on Feb 23, 2021 3:20:46 PM

Fuel is the second-highest operational cost for fleet managers, after drivers’ wages. In 2018, the cost of fuel made up a whopping 24 percent of carriers’ average total costs per mile. Most fleet managers are keen on cutting fuel costs anywhere they can, but it isn’t always easy to do. 

You’re probably already implementing some best practices to reduce fuel costs, but there may be other methods you haven’t considered. Let’s take a look at seven ways that can help you to save money on your fuel costs. 

Aerodynamic Devices

If you’re driving a refrigerated trailer or a dry van, aerodynamic devices can be incredibly helpful for reducing fuel spend. Any time you can improve the aerodynamics of your trailer, it’s going to help cut down on fuel costs — maybe even more than you would expect.

A recent study showed that combining Utility’s Aerodynamic Side Skirt (USS) and their innovative Aerodynamic Tail (UAT) can give you a fuel savings of 646 gallons of fuel per 100,000 miles. Want to know how much you can save by using their aerodynamic products? Check out Utility’s fuel savings calculator.

There are trailer tails on the market that are unsightly and extremely difficult to use. Utility’s patented UAT is nothing like that. The UAT is small, effective, and requires absolutely no excess work to deploy or store it. When you close the doors, it’s deployed. When you open the doors, it isn’t. 

 

Utility Aerodynamic TailUtility’s Side Skirt is a standard feature on both the 3000R refrigerated van and the 4000D-X Composite dry van trailers. The Aerodynamic Tail is an option on dry vans and reefers. 

Tire Pressure

Under-inflated tires hike up your fuel costs. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that for every one psi drop in the pressure of your tires, fuel mileage drops by 0.4 percent. Keeping your tires properly inflated is an easy and effective way of lowering your fuel costs.

Just about every driver on the road knows this, but tire pressure often goes neglected anyway. Most people have gotten used to the idea of automatic tire inflation systems (ATIS), and they rely on their ATIS to keep tires inflated to the proper pressure. But your ATIS may not be properly configured for individual tires.

Each tire position has a different psi requirement — steering tires, drive tires, and trailer tires. Your tire manufacturer should have a tire pressure chart on their website that lists the proper psi for each position. Make sure you know what the proper psi is for each tire position, and customize your ATIS settings to the right configuration. 

It’s worth noting that over-inflating your tires won’t give you even better fuel economy. The ROI tops out at the correct pressure, and over inflating will only harm the reliability of your tires.

Proper Trailer Alignment

Ride enough curbs or hit enough potholes and your trailer’s axles will become misaligned before long. Once that happens, your fuel efficiency can drop by as much as 10 percent.

If the trailer is dog tracking six inches to the right, your tires are scrubbing with every revolution, trying to go right when the tractor wants to pull the trailer left. That wears on fuel economy badly in addition to premature tire wear. 

If you look in your mirrors and you see more of the trailer on one side than the other side — or if your tractor wheels are closer to one side of the lane than the trailer wheels are — then it’s time to take your trailer in for realignment.

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Manage Fuel Card Usage

If you’re using fuel cards, it’s important to hold your drivers accountable for the way they spend them. Review how your drivers are using their fuel cards, and keep them accountable for purchasing only fuel, and only for approved vehicles. To curb misuse, use a fuel management system that provides real-time fuel purchase alerts and details on every fueling transaction including PIN, odometer and vehicle/driver ID.

Incentivize Choosing Affordable Fuel Stops

Fleet managers understand the value of refueling at the lowest cost fuel stops, but company drivers often just want to find the closest place — or the stop with the best food and showers. You can encourage your fleet drivers to refuel at the most affordable places by providing incentives they’ll be excited about.

Some companies provide incentives for fuel efficiency. These companies will pay an additional bonus per mile if you surpass a target mpg over a certain period of time.

Encourage Off-peak Driving

If you’re going through a big city, it’s better not to do it during peak traffic hours. As much as possible, plan your route to avoid getting stuck in traffic. You’ll burn less fuel, and keep your drive hours lower.

Fleet Management Software

Fleet managers can use telematics software to monitor driver behaviors. Telematics can spot hard braking, speeding, and other poor driving habits that eat up fuel economy. Each instance is recorded and flagged for review later on. 

Telematics data can help you track and understand exactly what your fleet vehicles are doing. You can use that data to provide targeted driver training or specific incentives to reduce the poor driving behaviors.

CRTS Is with You for the Ride

Today it’s more important than ever to keep operating expenses low and maximize your bottom line. Reducing fuel costs can provide significant savings to your business. As a trusted partner to hundreds of transportation companies, CRTS is committed to helping our customers strengthen their businesses. It starts with offering the best semi-trailer products available, but it doesn’t end there. Count on us for unequaled service, and expertise you can count on.

Need help thinking about your trailer needs? Let’s start a conversation.

 

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For 50 years, CRTS, Inc. has been a trusted partner to hundreds of transportation firms. We accomplished this by putting our customers first, providing unequaled service, and offering the best semi-trailer products available. 

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