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What Engine Idling Means for Your Fuel Efficiency

08/28/2020
What Engine Idling Means for Your Fuel Efficiency

Fleet managers and companies often overlook engine idling, but it can account for thousands of dollars in unneeded costs for businesses that operate fleets of vehicles. Idling eats up gas, and as a result, raises costs. The larger your fleet, the more money you could be wasting from fuel loss and performing maintenance operations due to engine damage. Besides impacting your fuel efficiency and vehicle performance, engine idling can harm the environment by putting more harmful toxins into the air. 

To save your company money and reduce idling waste, it's crucial you know what engine idling is and how it can raise your costs. 

What Is Idling?

A vehicle is idling when the engine is running, but the vehicle isn't moving. Engine idling is a fairly common occurrence, as it naturally occurs throughout the day when you're waiting in traffic or stopped at a light. Because engine idling can waste fuel and harm a vehicle's engine, many drivers and companies that employ drivers look for ways to reduce idling time.

Engine Idling and Fuel Consumption

Some people wrongly assume that turning off your engine and starting it back up will actually waste more fuel than just leaving it on. In fact, leaving your engine on while idling for longer than 10 seconds will generate a greater number of greenhouse gasses and use more fuel than simply turning it off and starting it back up later. Since idling wastes fuel so quickly, it's no wonder that companies and individuals hope to reduce engine idling.

Since even 10 seconds can lead to a greater waste of gas, it's important to understand how much gas you waste while your fleet's engines' idle to calculate how much money your company is wasting on unnecessary fuel costs every year.

How Much Gas Does Idling Waste?

One study calculated how much gas a vehicle wastes when idling, depending on its type, class and size. Some of the primary examples of gas waste include:

  • Passenger cars: Passenger cars will vary in the amount of gas they waste per hour while idling, based on fuel type and engine size, among other factors. For instance, a passenger car on the lower end may waste 0.16 gallons an hour, while those on the higher end may waste 0.39 gallons per hour.
  • Medium-heavy trucks: Gas-powered medium-heavy trucks that weight somewhere between 19,700 to 26,000 pounds waste even more fuel, with 0.84 gallons of fuel wasted per hour. Those that run on diesel and weigh between 23,000 to 33,000 waste less, coming in at 0.44 gallons per hour.
  • Delivery trucks: Delivery trucks have some of the highest idling fuel uses. These trucks waste 0.84 gallons per hour when the engine idles. With a load, they waste 1.1 gallons per hour, driving up fuel costs significantly.
  • Tractor-semitrailers: Tractor-semitrailers that weigh 80,000 pounds can also waste a significant amount of fuel while the engine is idling. They waste around 0.64 gallons an hour without a load, and they waste 1.15 gallons an hour with a load.

Other Negative Effects of Engine Idling

Besides wasted gas and increased fuel-costs, there are plenty of other negative effects that can come from engine idling. For instance, when an engine idles for a prolonged period of time, it can end up causing chemicals to build up in the engine that can then lead to mechanical degradation and even more fuel consumption. Idling also puts dangerous chemicals into the air that can lead to poor air quality and environmental damage.

Damage to the engine can be even more pronounced, with engine idling potentially damaging the Diesel Exhaust Fluid filter or the Engine Gas Recirculation valve. Additionally, airflow into the engine is significantly hampered while idling, leading to unstable engine temperature. Along with airflow concerns, idling can cause your engine to have dirty oil that harms your diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) filter, leading to reduced vehicle performance and greater gas emissions. 

What You Can Do Instead

Engine idling will happen, but it doesn't have to happen often if you take appropriate action and establish good habits. Companies can get around these negatives by following the tips listed below:

  • Turn off your engine: Drivers of small vehicles can reduce engine idling by turning off their engines if they suspect they'll be idling for longer than 10 seconds.
  • Don't idle to warm up your engine: Many drivers are under the impression they need to idle their engine when they start their vehicle to properly warm the engine up. In reality, engines warm up faster if you start driving, so it's best not to idle and start driving as soon as possible. 
  • Train drivers: If you operate a fleet of vehicles for your company, training programs for your drivers can be a great way to reduce idle time. In these programs, drivers can learn how to reduce idle time while on routes and be encouraged to implement practices that reduce idling. For example, you can train them to fill out reports near their truck rather than leaving the engine running and filling the paperwork out in the cab.
  • Invest in auxiliary power units: Auxiliary power units are great at reducing engine idling times for drivers of semi-trucks who sleep in their cabins at night. These power units help to power the truck without using any fuel so that the driver can use important features like AC and lights without the worry of idling.
  • Utilize GPS tracking software: For companies that operate a fleet, GPS fleet tracking software is a must-have if you're looking to reduce engine idling. The software is commonly used to collect data about what drivers and trucks are doing throughout the day. With this information in hand, your fleet managers can analyze it to find areas where drivers could improve and reduce their engine idling time. 

Choose GPS Fleet Tracking for Greater Fuel Efficiency

If you're ready to take control of your fleet's fuel costs and waste, you should start with GPS tracking devices from Track Your Truck. When you work with our company, you get unparalleled benefits that can take your company's fleet to the next level. Our GPS tracking devices and software can be customized to track vehicle idling time to give you all the information you need to make a change. 

Explore our GPS tracking devices and request a quote today. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 888-434-3848.

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