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Limit Idling to Save Fleet Fuel Costs – Matrack Insight

The idling of automobiles has always been a contentious issue between industry, governments, and climate activists. The term ‘idling’ applies to all vehicles but is more relative to the trucking industry. 

The idling results of a heavy-duty truck engine are very significant concerning cost, fuel consumption, noise, engine maintenance, and emissions.

What are the Effects of Gas or Engine Idling?

The effects or results of engine idling are manifolds. The foremost is the pollution of the environment. The exhaust emitted by the idling vehicle contains contaminants related to various fatal ailments like cancer, asthma, and heart and lung conditions. Children suffer the hardest, as they are more vulnerable than adults. 

Air pollutants from vehicle exhaust result in smog, harmful air pollutants, acid rain, climate change, and other environmental issues. Idling costs money and wastes fuel. Excessive idling over time can increase engine wear and tear and raise maintenance expenses. 

Last but not least, it impairs the health of the driver & clouds his judgment on long trips due to lack of rest.

Reasons For Idling


The comfort of the driver’s climate control is one of the primary causes of trucks idling so frequently. The engine must be maintained and running for the HVAC system to function in hot and cold situations. Additionally, appliances like microwaves, televisions, and refrigerators are also powered by running engines. During milder seasons of spring and fall drivers have reported idling for roughly 5 hours per day and about 7 hours during winter and summer.

Waiting Hours

Long-distance truck drivers experience a lot of waiting time. A commercial vehicle can sit motionless for a significant amount of time and let its engine idle while waiting to make deliveries, cross borders, and pick up items for delivery. These are due to various factors listed below.

  • For running, the air-conditioning and heating system.
  • For electric supply to onboard electronic appliances and auxiliary equipment.
  • Prevent freezing of fuel & engine block in cold conditions.
  • Out of habit or lack of awareness that excessive idling is not good. The notion that warming up is suitable for the engine remains despite the development of fuel injection and other technologies that have eliminated the necessity for prolonged idling.
  • Many times, due to unprofessional shippers who do not value time resulting in long waiting hours.

If you are a truck driver or wondering how you can increase your income, then this article regarding the highest-paying jobs for truck drivers will help you.

Idling MythBusters 

  1. Contrary to popular belief, modern engines can start with less fuel than expected. More gasoline is consumed by the idle time of even 30 seconds than by restarting the engine.
  2. Restarting an engine is better for the engine than idle. Idling results in the wearing down of engine parts by leaving gasoline residues. This wears down the engine parts and increases maintenance costs over some time—frequent restarting results in annual wear and tear expenses.
  3. Idling an engine can use up to half a gallon of fuel each hour, depending on the engine type and size.
  4. Even though it might not seem like much, idling for a short while each day can add to a significant expense in the long run.
  5. Idling an engine in cold weather can be detrimental to its health. 
  6. It’s preferable to warm up the engine for the first few minutes of driving at a low pace.

Gas Wasted by Idling

The amount of gas consumed while idling a vehicle varies according to its kind, size, and class. Following are some of the instances of gas waste depending on the vehicle type

Medium & Heavy-Duty Vehicles -MHDVs 

There is a wastage of 0.84 gallons of fuel every hour, in the case of gasoline-driven MHDVs weighing between 19700 and 26000 pounds. Diesel engines that weigh between 23,000 and 33,000 pounds produce less waste 0.44 gallons per hour.

Delivery Trucks

The gas waste of delivery trucks is 0.84 gallons per hour when the engine is idle. They squander 1.1 gallons per hour when they have a load, which raises the cost of fuel. Delivery trucks have the highest fuel use while idle.


Heavy-tractor trailers lose roughly 0.64 gallons per hour without any load and 1.15 gallons per hour when loaded while idling. Their heavy weight of 80,000 pounds can waste a lot of gasoline when the engine is idling.

How does Idling Impact Your Fleet?


Truck idling can cost fleet owners anywhere between $6000 to $12000 annually. When overdone, it can increase expenditures, waste gasoline, and shorten the vehicle’s lifespan. Concerns over air quality are a major driving force behind increased engine idle regulations. Long-term engine idling is discouraged by the regulator, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are heavy fines of up to $25000 for breach of idling laws. In many jurisdictions like California, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, etc. engine idling is illegal.

Engine Damages

When your truck is idling at a low RPM as opposed to when the engine is running at a normal speed, interior car parts are more likely to sustain damage. Idling has detrimental impacts that might cause engines to fail. Over-idling causes carbon residue to build up and settle over the machine since the gasoline is only partially burned and the engine is not operating at the proper temperature. In addition to increased maintenance costs that result in overall vehicle damage and downtime, idling harms the engine.

Driver Health 

Idling for long hours exposed to hazardous pollutants adversely affect driver health. A driver in an idling truck is exposed to more contaminants due to a lack of airflow and higher noise levels. Additionally, the heat generated inside the truck cabin is higher than the temperature outside.

Is Truck Idling Necessary?

Climate management is one factor that is essential and keeps truck drivers alive. If their truck lacks an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), they must keep the engine running to prevent heat stroke or freezing to death. Although avoidable, truck idling is occasionally required.

Idling is sometimes unavoidable, as in the following situations.

  1. In cold conditions to prevent objects from freezing in trucks that are non-temperature controlled in winter.
  2. Where the truck cannot move due to traffic snarls. 
  3. When a driver permits the truck to accumulate air pressure before releasing its brakes.
  4. To use an electrical inverter for running appliances without discharging the battery.

Despite not being advised or permitted in many states, truck idling occasionally becomes necessary. Even in the absence of the driver, the truck may need to be left idling.

The Wastefulness of Idling | Go By Truck Global News
Source: Go By Truck News

How to Prevent Idling 

Idling cannot be avoided but reduced by following specific procedures and instituting orders in your fleet operations.

  • Prepare facilities and lodging for drivers to use throughout their lengthy trips. To avoid being inside the truck to stay warm or cool, let them know where they may safely relax and take breaks. It will go a long way in earning their trust and translate into savings for your company.
  • Avoid idling for engine warm-up. It is advisable to begin driving as soon as possible because doing so causes engines to warm up more quickly.
  • Utilize the appropriate insulation and ventilation settings within your trucks. If the insulation and ventilation are proper, the drivers themselves will choose to turn off the engine. It will result in savings on fuel for your fleet.
  • Install Auxiliary power units (APUs) in your fleet. The APUs provide drivers with onboard power for climate control and electrical devices. Most APUs, are powered by diesel. There are additional APUs that run on batteries and alternate fuels. Some APUs can connect to a power pedestal to receive grid power. Drivers of semi-trucks who spend the night in their cabins benefit substantially from engine idle reduction provided by auxiliary power units.
  • Equip your fleet with GPS tracking software. If you want to cut down engine idling, GPS fleet tracking software is the best option. The program frequently gathers information about the daily activities of trucks and drivers. Your fleet managers can use this data to evaluate it and identify locations where drivers could increase efficiency, cut down engine idling time & save precious fuel.

Saving Fuel

Idling of the engine results in the burning of costly fuel. You must be wise in saving fuel. You cannot ignore the advantages provided by fuel cards when it comes to financial savings. Fuel cards help you better plan your fleet and save a lot of money on fuel. Partnering with a reputed fuel card company is important for your fleet savings. Matrack is one such name having an impeccable reputation in the trucking industry. Matrack’s fuel card offers flexibility and advantages. 

Some of the advantages of using a Matrack fuel card are as follows:

  • You receive a 1.5% early-pay discount and a 60-day no-interest payback period with Matrack’s Fuel card.
  • No advance payments are required, and there is no worry about receipts because everything is monitored online.
  • Using a Matrack fuel card in conjunction with your GPS management software, you can also monitor the routes taken by your fleet, their mileage, and the locations and frequencies of their stops. You can save money by using this tool to determine the fleet’s quickest path and analyze data.


Idling may not evoke the same response as a weapon of mass destruction would, but it is a slow killer that has been steadily playing its part. Without a comprehensive plan to address this problem, we risk leaving the ecosystem in danger and making future generations vulnerable. Reducing idling fleets will save money, fuel, and the environment. It can be achieved with appropriate equipment and training and be a win-win situation for all parties.