Though most drivers think nothing of parking at a destination and sitting in a running car, fleet managers understand the true cost of idling.
Running the engine while the car is parked is a common action, especially during the winter. People idle to warm the cold cab, check their emails before a meeting, or to enjoy their music for just a little bit longer. While it might seem like a simple, everyday thing, these extra minutes can create great costs.
What are the costs of excessive idling?
Vehicle idling is the easiest way to waste fuel and create higher fleet fuel costs, especially for large vehicles. In a study done by the U.S. Department of Energy, they found idling transit bus use one gallon of fuel per hour. And large trucks and tractor-trailers weren’t far behind.
2. Wear and tear
While idling uses excess fuel, it can also damage your engine, water pump, fan clutch, belt, alternator, and thermostat. Every minute your vehicle runs causes wear, inching closer to mechanical problems and costly repairs.
3. Increased oil changes
Idling creates engine use without a visual measurement. Though your vehicle may still be within 3,000 miles since your last oil change, your engine has used more oil in that time. With this extra use, your oil may be low or dirty, causing problems without your knowledge. Even if you consistently check your oil and change it when needed, your preventative maintenance costs will increase significantly.
4. Voided warranties
When manufacturers consider your warranty coverage, they look at two things: your mileage and your engine hours. Engine hours show the amount of time your engine has been running since it was manufactured, even when the vehicle isn’t moving. When idling, your engine hours increase without a change in mileage, leading owners to think they’re within warranty coverage when they’re not. Unsurprisingly, this can create substantial costs when low-mileage vehicles break down unexpectedly and are denied warranty coverage.
How can I reduce idling in my fleet?
While you can’t control what your drivers do, you can track their driving behavior through telematics. With a device such as the Geotab GO8, you can carefully monitor the amount of idle hours for each driver. Using this information, you can develop a more effective and targeted training plan for your fleet. Knowledge is power, so use your telematics to reduce your idling hours before vehicle damage creates greater costs.