What’s the Fuel Cost of Idling?

Paul MilnerMay 18, 2019

It’s easy to keep the truck idling, but should you? Utilimarc wondered if it was time for you to kill the engine to save some coin.

To find out, we looked at fleet data from light pickups, light bucket trucks, and heavy bucket trucks to understand fuel consumption per hour of idle time, and average idle time.

Here are the results:  

Average Fuel Consumption Per Hour of Idle

When looking at Power Take Off (PTO)—the use of energy from a running engine to power hydraulic arms, tow truck lifts and other systems — the light bucket and heavy bucket trucks consumed more fuel when PTO was engaged. 50 percent and 27 percent respectively.

Interestingly, Fuel consumption during idle time for the light pickup is similar to that of the light bucket truck when the PTO is not engaged.

Need help determining the ROI of idle reduction for your fleet? We have the tools and talent to help you save time and money. Click here to get in touch with our Fleet BI team today

So, what does this mean for increased costs?

To find that, we need to understand fuel price and the average idle time for each truck.

Average Daily Idle Time

In past three years, the industry cost of fuel per gallon was $2.49 for gas and $2.68 for diesel.

Light Pickup Costs:

The light pickup averages .41 hours of idle per day and consumes .41 gallons of fuel per hour. That means the light pickup consumes .17 gallons of fuel while idling. Or, $0.42 per day.

Bucket Truck Costs:

For light and heavy bucket trucks, a similar calculation can be done, but excluding PTO time since it’s likely to be necessary for productivity.

Daily Idle Fuel Costs:

Light Pickup: $0.42

Light Bucket: $1.58

Heavy Bucket: $1.08

In short:

By knowing the average fuel consumption and costs of your fleet, you can validate the ROI of idle reduction technologies.

Need help determining the ROI of idle reduction for your fleet?

We have the tools and talent to help you save time and money. Click here to talk to one of our fleet analysts today.


Paul Milner

Paul Milner

Senior Analyst

Paul Milner is a senior analyst at Utilimarc. He studied mathematics and philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Working at Utilimarc for nearly ten years, he helps find the stories and solve problems within complex data sets. See more from Paul


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