Idling refers to the engine of a vehicle running while stopped, this includes a variety of behaviors like stopped at a red light, stuck in a drive-through or even parked letting the AC continue to keep you cool on a hot day. When it comes to your business, the fuel consumed adds up quickly. Running a fleet, engines are running all the time but excessive idling can seriously impact your bottom line.

Monitoring and reducing the amount of idling time in your fleet can help you improve your fuel consumption and with gas prices hitting record levels this summer, there’s never been a better time to start.

Idling myths that some still buy into

It’s good for the engine

While we’re not sure where this one comes from, it’s long been known that idling can cause potential damage to the vehicle. Engine components including cylinders and spark plugs are impacted by prolonged idling. Vehicle manufacturers themselves recommend avoiding idling for periods greater than 30 seconds

It’s better than turning on and off your ignition.

While some have argued that turning your vehicle on and off is more costly than the time spent idling this isn’t the case. For regular drivers there should be little to no impact on your vehicle for turning the ignition a few times a day but idled stops greater than 10 seconds will start to cost you. Of course, we’re not advocating for you to turn your vehicles off at stop lights, that would only be dangerous but for any duration you’re better to turn the vehicle off to save some money. You’ll notice that many vehicle manufacturers are following this trend and implementing auto stop and start in vehicles these days. 

In addition to the wasted fuel, your fuel economy is also likely to take a hit if you idle for extended periods of time.

It’s necessary during cold weather.

This myth carried over from old technology. If you have a vintage car we don’t recommend that you drive it in the winter anyway but for arguments sake that’s the only type of vehicle that should idle for an extended period during the winter months. Newer vehicles have improved systems which are able to lubricate the engine within 20-30 seconds. Any longer than half a minute and you’re just costing yourself money. Sure you might be a bit warmer but your gas bill will also certainly be higher.    

How much fuel does idling consume?

While an accurate measurement would depend on vehicle size, fuel type and other factors, a general rule of thumb is half a gallon of fuel per hour of idling. A few dollars may not feel substantial but with many hours spent behind the wheel over time and across a number of vehicles it starts to add up. It’s also worth mentioning that some states enforce anti-idling laws which means if one of your drivers is caught you could be stuck with a larger bill.  


Ways to help reduce idling and fuel consumption

While running a business requires that you keep costs under control, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to do so for fleets as fuel and other prices are soaring this year. Here are a few methods to tighten up fuel costs and reduce idling with your fleet.  

  1. Build an engine off while parked policy into your operations. Ensure that employees understand that idling is unwelcome.
  2. Remove the expectation that a vehicle should be warm and cozy before it’s driven. In winter months take your idling policy a little further. Let drivers know that they don’t need to warm the vehicle up for any more than 30 seconds before heading out for the day.
  3. Driver training program. While idling is one component of fuel consumption, poor driving habits like rapid acceleration and harsh braking are another big waste factor. While onboarding new employees establish a driver training program to encourage better driving behaviors.  
  4. While policies and procedures can be helpful, you can’t really monitor driving behaviors on word alone. While telematics systems provide many benefits to fleet operations they also allow you to implement and monitor policies like those mentioned above. While different systems offer unique feature sets we can speak to ours. The Raven Connected Video Telematics system is a cost effective solution providing visibility over your remote field operations. Our solution provides live idling alerts including preview images in the vehicle and on the road and the associated video can also be requested. Additionally, the stop report in the Raven Reporting Framework breaks down idling durations and details for each vehicle over a set period of time allowing you to compare averages across your drivers. Interested in learning other ways the Raven system can save you money, contact our team for a demo.  


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