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Updated Feb 20, 2024

10 Ways to Reduce Your Fuel Costs

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David Gargaro, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Writer

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Fuel is a critical component of operating a fleet of vehicles. Without fuel, your trucks aren’t going anywhere. Knowing the impact fuel costs have on the bottom lines of businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles, it is important to find ways to cut down on these expenses. Here are 10 strategies you can implement to reduce fuel costs for your fleet.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right GPS fleet management software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

How to reduce fleet fuel costs

Fuel costs are impacting businesses, according to a June 2023 American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) study that found a 54 percent increase in fuel costs in 2021 led to a 21.3 percent increase in fleet operating costs in 2022. To combat this, try the guidelines below to keep your fleet costs low.

1. Partner with a telematics provider.

GPS fleet management software enables you to track your vehicles’ performance and maintain driver safety. It can monitor driver routes and patterns, fuel consumption and other metrics. This technology also helps you comply with state and federal regulations, including the requirements for electronic logging devices, the International Fuel Tax Agreement and driver vehicle inspection reports. Partnership with a telematics provider will ensure that you equip your vehicles with the right systems for your needs.

Electronic logging devices, also known as ELDs, are must-have items for your fleet. They assist in driver schedule planning while ensuring inspection adherence and regulatory compliance.

2. Keep tires properly inflated.

According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ensuring that vehicles have properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by an average of 0.6 percent, up to 3 percent. Vehicles lose 0.2 percent in fuel efficiency for every 1 psi below the recommended tire pressure.

Since outside temperatures affect commercial vehicles’ tire pressure, drivers need to check their tire pressure regularly when there are changes in the weather and temperature. There can be significant variations in tire pressure in both cold and very hot climates. Drivers and maintenance professionals should check the tire pressure before trucks go out on the road and as part of regular maintenance.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
Some ways to reduce fleet maintenance costs include shortening drivers’ routes, replacing old vehicles and shrinking your fleet size.

3. Maintain the oxygen sensor.

All vehicles manufactured since the 1980s are equipped with oxygen sensors. These devices analyze the oxygen concentration in the vehicle’s exhaust gasses, then send the data to the engine’s computer to calculate the amount of fuel required for every combustion cycle. Like any equipment, oxygen sensors will break down over time, which means they must be replaced at some time in the vehicle’s life. Your fleet’s maintenance department should set up notifications to identify and repair faulty oxygen sensors to keep the vehicle running efficiently on the road.

4. Drive on smooth roads.

The quality of the road surface can have a significant impact on fuel efficiency. The vehicle’s engine creates kinetic energy to produce forward momentum. Uneven road surfaces will bounce and shake the tires (and vehicle), which disrupts the kinetic energy produced by the engine, making it less fuel-efficient.

While your drivers cannot control road quality, they can avoid uneven roads as much as possible. Planning out the vehicle’s route and using GPS devices with route suggestions will help your truck drivers avoid bad roads and traffic congestion that can reduce fuel efficiency. 

FYIDid you know
GPS technology, such as GPS fleet management software, can help you plan your drivers’ routes to avoid bad roads and traffic congestion as much as possible.

5. Avoid unnecessary idling.

Vehicles that are started more often throughout the day use more fuel than vehicles started fewer times. At the same time, idling vehicles waste fuel for no reason and accumulate unnecessary costs. These wasted expenses can add up across your fleet to be a significant drain on your bottom line.

Train your drivers to turn off their engines if they expect to be parked or standing for a while. This will result in short-term and long-term financial savings in terms of fuel consumption and engine wear. Drivers should also learn to change gears sooner to lower their overall revolutions per minute, which can also reduce fuel consumption.

Use telematics software to alert your drivers to turn off their vehicles when they have shifted into park and review the software’s reports of which drivers idle the most to work on changing this habit.

6. Set speed restrictions for drivers.

Speeding wastes fuel and is potentially dangerous, particularly for truck drivers. Set speed restrictions for your drivers to reduce fuel consumption as well as safety risks.

GPS fleet management and telematics can also track fuel usage and remind drivers of when to slow down and drive within the speed limit, which will reduce fuel consumption further. You can use the software to create reports that determine which drivers are not following the company’s speed restrictions.

7. Train drivers to avoid aggressive driving.

Much like speeding, aggressive driving can increase fuel consumption. Aggressive driving includes accelerating too rapidly, speeding, braking too quickly and taking corners too sharply.

Your driver training program should include teaching drivers to curb aggressive driving habits as this will reduce fuel consumption and improve road safety. You can also use telematics to send drivers reminders to avoid aggressive driving, including hard braking and acceleration.

Did You Know?Did you know
Driver scorecards are common in many GPS management solutions and can curb aggressive driving habits.

8. Match the vehicle and engine to the route.

It’s important to match the vehicle to the task when possible. It is not fuel-efficient to transport a small load across a short distance in a 45-foot tractor-trailer. A smaller, electric vehicle might be the better option for transporting this type of load. Lighter, gasoline-run vehicles would also be better for longer routes.

Transporting goods in vehicles with smaller engines can be more fuel-efficient. Many transport trucks are overpowered for the routes and deliveries they take. Try to match the trucks and engines to the routes rather than sending whatever truck happens to be available.

9. Ship lighter loads when possible.

In addition to matching the vehicle to the route, lightening the truck’s load can improve fuel efficiency. Heavy vehicles use more fuel than lighter ones. It’s the main reason that vehicle manufacturers use composite body parts in new cars, as this decreases the vehicle’s weight and makes it more fuel-efficient.

To improve fuel efficiency, ensure that your trucks only carry what is necessary to ship cargo to its destination. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each additional 100 pounds on a vehicle can reduce its fuel efficiency by 1 percent. Carrying open cargo, such as on flatbeds, is also less fuel-efficient than carrying cargo inside a closed truck.

10. Convert to electric vehicles or alternative fuels.

Electric vehicles are more fuel-efficient than gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Switching to vehicles that run on alternative fuels can also lower your fuel costs as they cost less to operate per gallon than trucks that run on diesel or regular gasoline. For example, biodiesel is a renewable fuel based on vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled cooking grease, which is used in diesel vehicles.

While comparable electric vehicles cost more upfront than diesel- and gasoline-run vehicles, electric vehicles cost less to maintain. They have fewer moving parts that will break down with repeated use as well as fewer parts to maintain or replace.

The best GPS fleet management software for managing fuel costs

Many of our picks for the best GPS fleet management software come with features for lowering your fuel costs, including:

  • ClearPathGPS. This platform makes it easy to optimize fuel costs while maintaining fleet health. Check out our ClearPathGPS review to learn how else this vendor improves your vehicle management.
  • Verizon Connect. With Verizon’s GPS fleet management system, you can review the gap between your target and actual miles-per-gallon values. You’ll also see the corresponding financial loss. Learn more about the GPS fleet management features that Verizon offers via our Verizon Connect review.
  • Samsara. Among GPS fleet management platforms, Samsara is one of few that integrates with FLEETCOR-issued fuel cards. These integrations are associated strongly with lower-cost fleet fueling. Read our Samsara review to discover the other features included with this platform.
  • GPS Trackit. You can generate highly detailed fuel performance reports in GPS Trackit that show how to lessen your fuel usage and improve your fleet’s driving habits. Explore GPS Trackit’s array of powerful fleet management tools via our GPS Trackit review.
  • NexTraq. NexTraq specializes in fleet safety metrics, through which you can advise your drivers on how to use fuel more efficiently. Check out our NexTraq review to learn more about this GPS fleet management system’s strengths.

Lower fuel costs follow naturally from smart decisions

GPS fleet management systems give you just the right data for figuring out how to improve your fleet’s performance in ways that reduce fuel costs. Teaching and encouraging safe driving can also minimize your spending on fuel. Pairing a dedication to great driving with state-of-the-art fleet technology brings reasonable fuel spending entirely within reach.

Max Freedman contributed to this article.

author image
David Gargaro, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Writer
David Gargaro has spent more than 25 years immersed in the world of business. In 2018, he published the book How to Run Your Company… into the Ground based on his firsthand experience at a small business. In the guide, he advises on everything from strategic partnerships and product development to hiring and expansion — and all that's in between. Gargaro's expertise, which also extends to sales, marketing and financial planning, has also been published in the business-focused Advisors Magazine, Moody's Analytics and VentureBeat. He has been hired to speak on topics like the customer experience and created an entrepreneurs' toolkit for startup founders.
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