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Expense Management For Small Businesses

How To Improve Gas Mileage In Your Fleet Vehicles

Learning how to improve gas mileage in your fleet can help save money at the pump and boost your bottom line. Discover tips to make the process easier.

Learning how to improve gas mileage and implementing those solutions in your fleet can help save money at the pump and boost your bottom line.

In this article, we discuss some of the best mechanical and behavior-based tips to help you improve gas mileage in all your cars, trucks, vans, and semis.

How To Improve Gas Mileage: Mechanical Tips

Full gas tank

1) Monitor Vehicle Systems

Monitoring vehicle systems with telematics can help you identify faults in your fleet that have the potential to impact fuel economy and reduce gas mileage.

With the right fleet management software, you’ll receive notifications and alerts for issues including:

  • Problems that affect vehicle emissions
  • Parameters and settings that fall outside a defined range
  • Faults that can lead to compliance violations
  • Faults that directly impact gas mileage

This detailed knowledge provides the insight you need to learn how to improve gas mileage throughout your fleet.

2) Correct Issues That Affect Gas Mileage

When you know what’s going on under the hood of each vehicle, you’ll be better prepared to correct issues that directly affect their gas mileage. And you’ll be better prepared to do so in a timely manner before the issues spread into other systems.

While repairing obvious faults may be first on the list, don’t shy away from analyzing and tweaking the settings that govern how your vehicles operate.

Even small adjustments can have a big effect on gas mileage down the road.

3) Consider An Alternative Fuel

Converting your fleet to run on an alternative fuel — or even a combination of gas and alternative fuel — is another way to improve mileage and reduce the overall costs of keeping the vehicles on the road.

Common gas and diesel alternatives include:

  • Biofuel
  • Electricity
  • Ethanol
  • Natural gas
  • Propane

When considering the switch, it’s essential to research fuel prices, emissions, regulations, and whether or not you’ll need to convert the vehicle’s engine to handle the alternative fuel.

You may be faced with a large expense up front, but, over the long term, the savings can really add up.

4) Adhere To Preventative Maintenance Schedules

Mechanic showing how to improve gas mileage

One of the best solutions for improving gas mileage in your fleet vehicles is to keep those vehicles in good repair. How do you manage that? By adhering to any and all preventative maintenance schedules whenever possible.

As the name suggests, preventative maintenance seeks to prevent both the major and minor problems that can reduce gas mileage and, eventually, sideline your vehicles for a time.

Creating the right preventative maintenance schedule — and sticking to it — can go a long way toward helping you get more miles per gallon out of your vehicles and save more money at the pump.

5) Eliminate Unnecessary Weight

The weight that your vehicles carry directly impacts the miles per gallon they’ll get while on the road.

Even just 100 extra pounds can reduce the fuel efficiency of most vehicles. And, where tools, equipment, and passengers are concerned, it doesn’t take long to accumulate double, triple, or even quadruple that much weight in one go.

Take the time to go through the tools that your technicians and drivers carry on a regular basis, and eliminate the unnecessary weight that can reduce gas mileage.

6) Distribute The Load Evenly

The loads your vehicles do carry should always be as evenly distributed as possible. Instead of stacking all the tools on one side of the work van and leaving the other side empty, spread half the tools on the right side and half on the left side.

Similarly, try to keep tools and supplies centered between the axles (from front to back). If too much weight is concentrated in one area of the vehicle, it makes the engine use more fuel to get up to and maintain driving speeds.

7) Maintain Correct Tire Pressure

An under-inflated tire increases the rolling resistance placed on the engine and forces it to use more fuel to maintain forward momentum.

On an improperly inflated tire, you’ll fill up more often — and pay more in the long run — because the vehicle uses more fuel to get where it’s going.

You can avoid this issue and improve gas mileage in the process by training your drivers to check the tire pressure before starting a trip, every time they stop, and at the end of their route.

8) Make Vehicles More Aerodynamic

Making your fleet vehicles more aerodynamic can result in improved gas mileage over time.

Most modern vehicles are engineered to be as aerodynamic as possible. But adding a curved cap to the top of a semi truck or an air dam on both sides of the trailer it pulls can reduce drag enough to improve miles per gallon considerably.

How To Improve Gas Mileage: Driving Behavior Tips

Woman driving better to improve gas mileage

1) Don’t Overfill The Fuel Tank

This may seem counterintuitive, but filling a fuel tank to the very top can actually reduce the vehicle’s gas mileage.

How so? Because of the way it’s formulated, fuel has a tendency to heat up and expand. If the tank is overfull, the fuel can expand to such a degree that it will overflow right out of the vehicle.

2) Follow Efficient Routes

Following efficient routes is one of the best tips when you’re deciding how to improve gas mileage in your fleet vehicles.

Plan routes using modern GPS and computer-based map programs to provide your drivers with the shortest, most efficient distance between point A and point B.

For a work truck that gets 12 miles to the gallon, shaving just 30 miles off a trip (e.g.,15 miles there and 15 miles back) can save your business more than $10.

That may not seem like a lot at first, but, depending on how many vehicles you have and how far they travel, the savings can quickly multiply.

3) Accelerate Smoothly

Another strategy for improving gas mileage through driving behavior is to accelerate smoothly from a stop.

Each vehicle has a finite amount of power and acceleration — especially when carrying heavy loads. Pushing the pedal to the floor doesn’t get the vehicle up to speed any sooner; it just wastes fuel.

Train your drivers to be gentle with the throttle and to accelerate smoothly and slowly whenever possible. Doing so will use less fuel overall and improve the gas mileage of the vehicle.

4) Brake Evenly

Commercial van driving on a highway

On the opposite side of the coin, braking evenly and consistently to bring the vehicle to a stop is much better for gas mileage than holding the throttle down until the last minute and then stomping on the brake.

Plus, avoiding this type of aggressive driving improves the life and functionality of the major systems in the vehicle (i.e., engine, transmission, and brakes).

5) Coast More

Coasting more often can also improve gas mileage. Train your drivers to:

  • Plan ahead for stops and turns that call for reduced speed
  • Take their foot off the pedal earlier
  • Coast closer to the stop or turn before applying the brake

Doing so reduces the amount of gas the engine uses to move the vehicle forward and improves gas mileage significantly over the course of a round trip.

6) Limit Idling When Possible

It doesn’t matter what type of commercial vehicle your fleet operates — if drivers leave them idling for extended periods of time, gas mileage will decrease.

How can you avoid prolonged idling?

Train drivers to make sure they’re ready to go before starting the vehicle
Use GPS software that warns of congested roads along the route
Encourage drivers to avoid stopped traffic (and the unnecessary idling that results) whenever possible

7) Maintain Speed

Maintaining a consistent speed can be difficult, and most drivers will pilot their vehicle in such a way that speeds will vary from a few miles above to a few miles below the posted speed limit — even over the course of a relatively short distance.

This repeated change in speed uses more gas than maintaining a continuous number throughout.

Encourage drivers to use the cruise control whenever possible to avoid the repeated acceleration and deceleration that can reduce the gas mileage of your fleet.

8) Use Caution On Slippery Surfaces

Spinning the vehicle’s tires on slippery surfaces is a big waste of fuel. Training your drivers to be gentle with the throttle helps avoid this issue entirely, keeps them and others safe, and is an easy way for how to improve gas mileage in your fleet.

Control Fuel Spending With Coast

Control Fuel Spending With Coast

Regardless of the strategies for improving gas mileage that you implement in your fleet, Coast is here to help you control spending across the board.

With Coast you get:

  • Discounts on every gallon on your statement
  • Visa acceptance
  • Easy manager access
  • Advanced spending controls
  • Security alerts
  • Data tracking and reporting

The Coast card even provides real-time expense tracking and a powerful online management platform that gives you full visibility of every dollar spent.

To learn more about Coast and for full terms and conditions, visit CoastPay.com today.