Most fleet managers have the same answer to the question of why excessive engine idling is bad for their fleet and their company’s bottom line: it wastes fuel.
Yes, that’s one drawback of allowing your drivers to leave your company’s vehicles idling longer than necessary when they’re in the field. But there are many other reasons to crack down on excessive idling of your fleet trucks — and some of them are far more serious than wasting fuel.
Idling can actually shorten your vehicle’s warranty
When one of your field service techs leaves a truck engine running at a job site for 45 minutes, he’s not just burning gasoline. He’s also tacking engine hours onto your truck.
If the vehicle manufacturer sets your powertrain warranty according to total engine hours, then your driver is needlessly speeding up the end of that warranty. When the inevitable repair issue comes up, you might be in for a nasty surprise when you find out the vehicle is out of warranty — and your company is on the hook for the full repair charge.
Idling increases wear and tear on the engine
Engine idling could also be creating some of those repair costs to your fleet. That’s because excessive idling can lead to all sorts of damage to a vehicle’s engine.
Just a couple of examples: Engine efficiency will degrade as carbon accumulates in the valves and other components of the engine. A diesel engine’s exhaust fluid filter can become contaminated through excessive idling, which can hurt vehicle performance and increase emissions.
Idling can lead to costly fines
There are now more than 65 state and local regulations against excessive engine idling across the US. Governments put these laws in place to combat the risks both to people’s health and to the environment, as well as to reduce noise pollution. The bottom line for your business is that violating any of these anti-idling regulations could lead to substantial fines and other penalties.
The American Transportation Research Institute put together a state-by-state list of anti-idling laws as of 2019. As you’ll see if you review this list, your drivers could be in violation of some of these laws if they’re caught idling for as little as 5 minutes. Plus, the fines for violating some of these regulations can run tens of thousands of dollars.
Idling can lower the ROI on your vehicles
Over time, the effects of too much idling of your fleet’s vehicles will increase your repair and maintenance costs to keep them operational, shorten these vehicles’ useful lives, and require you to purchase new vehicles more often.
Which means excessive engine idling hurts the bottom line of your entire fleet operation — well beyond the costs of wasted fuel.
And yes, the wasted fuel can cost you a small fortune
As the nonprofit organization Idle-Free California points out, excessive idling of heavy-duty vehicles costs a fortune.
The organization explains that a heavy-duty commercial truck burns about a gallon an hour. Two hours of idling a day, assuming $3.75-per-gallon cost of diesel fuel, can cost a business more than $1,950 per year (assuming 260 word days) for each of its trucks. For a 25-truck fleet, that would be nearly $50,000—just in needless fuel costs for idling trucks.
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