What is Idling? – 4 Tried and Tested Ways to Save Fuel Costs

The rising demand for online delivery and at-home services has led to massive growth in the use of trucks and delivery vans. As per a report, the fuel consumption by trucks used for business accounts for around 53.9 billion gallons in a year. So, if you have a team of drivers, you would want to know various ways in which you can cut down money on fuel consumption. This can happen by idle reduction of the vehicle’s engine. While your drivers won’t have a choice at times, they can still reduce motor vehicle idling. 

Being a dispatcher or delivery manager or business owner, you must ensure driver efficiency to maintain customer satisfaction. But you must also ensure that you reduce the idling fuel consumption to cut down fuel costs. So, ‘what is idling, and how does it impact your business?’ We will explain it in detail and provide ways to avoid it and save fuel costs.

What Does Idling Mean for a Vehicle’s Engine?

To simply answer, ‘what is car idling?’, it means when the engine is kept running when the car is not moving. In mechanical terms, an idling engine spins at very low RPMs. It is also known as ‘lugging.’ Drivers keep vehicles idle while moving across traffic or on a signal. Car idling is also common for people on the driveway waiting for the excess traffic to get clear. 

Engine idling in drivers isn’t always deliberate. Truck drivers mostly keep their vehicle engines running to maintain temperatures while sleeping in the truck. School buses have idle time while waiting for all the children to board. In any case, idling engines burn the same amount of fuel and spread the same amount of air pollution.

How Much Gas Does Idling Use?

Vehicles can use more gas than anticipated during idle time. This directly impacts the gas expenses as your drivers might need to refuel vehicles more often. But, no two vehicles spend the same amount of fuel during idling time. It varies based on factors such as engine size, weight, and fuel type used. 

Moreover, when your drivers take lunch break, it could increase the cost and hence, the wasted fuel. A long-haul truck might idle badly and burn fuel for about 1800 hours over a year. This roughly comes to 1500 gallons of diesel being used. 

States with Anti-Idling Laws

There are some states and local governments that restrict idling and charge fines on drivers for violating their anti-idling laws. Some states also limit running engines when parked for up to three, five, or ten minutes. Here are a few states with anti-idling laws:

Arizona Colorado California Connecticut Delaware
Georgia Illinois Maryland Vermont Maine
Ohio Pennsylvania Utah Minnesota Massachusetts
New York New Jersey New Hampshire North Carolina Texas

How Does Idling Impact Your Business?

Keeping a vehicle idle is more harmful than starting and stopping the engine. Idling is said to cause twice the damage on the internal parts of a vehicle as compared to regular driving. Here are a few ways in which idling can impact your business:

1. Wastage of fuel 

Being a business owner, it is important to see where your expenses are wasted. Specifically, if you handle large fleets, such as in the logistics industry, you might try to find ways to reduce fuel costs. But, when drivers leave their vehicles idle during heavy traffic on the road or long parking duration, they indirectly affect fuel usage.

As we saw earlier, there’s a high amount of fuel wasted when idling a vehicle. This directly impacts the fuel expenses, thus hampering your business.  Although a gallon may seem little, growing consumption can add up fuel wastage.                                                                                                                                          

2. Rising vehicle maintenance costs

The belief – leaving the vehicle idle for some time saves fuel and doesn’t damage the engine – is untrue. The engine wear caused by idling increases the cost of maintenance. If the engine is beyond maintenance, replacing it can cost even more. When a vehicle is idling, it isn’t operating at a normal temperature. So, the residue left due to low combustion of fuel wears off the exhaust system, thermostats, and fan belts. 

3. Fewer deliveries

When drivers are in between traffic and have no way to reach their destination earlier, their deliveries are meant to get delayed. As a result of late deliveries, your customer satisfaction level goes down. This also means that your drivers may not be able to finish their delivery quotas as required. In the end, you will have less number of deliveries and may need to invest in more drivers and vehicles to meet the demand. 

4. Impact on driver’s health 

Idling directly affects the environment and leaves a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. It also impacts the drivers due to close proximity. There are many chemicals and carcinogenic components present in gasoline. Hence, the air surrounding a vehicle that is idle can be harmful to breathing. This can result in damaged lungs, heart disease, asthma, or other health problems for drivers.  

4 Excellent Ways to Reduce Vehicle Idling and Save Fuel Costs

Now that you know the issues that can arise due to idling, finding the right solutions can help avoid it. Businesses or drivers who have daily transport operations can adopt the below techniques to stop idling time and save money:

  1. Business owners or managers must have regular training sessions to coach drivers about idling. When drivers are taught about ways to reduce idling, they can include the best practices from the start. Vehicles must be turned off if drivers need to idle for more than a few seconds. 
  1. You can get GPS fleet tracking software to prevent vehicles from idling in your fleet. Such software can be beneficial in collecting data about their vehicles and drivers. Fleet managers will be able to track the speed and location of their vehicles with GPS technologies. When they have information on engine status, they can improve the driver’s performance if required and reduce idling.
  1. Fleet managers and individual vehicle operators can buy auxiliary power units (APUs) to stop idling. An APU device supplies cooling, heating, and electrical power that can be used during the resting period of a truck driver. This way they can have a comfortable time in their cabins without having to burn fuel. 
  1. Using optimization to plan delivery routes is another way to reduce idling. It lets you find the best sequence of stops for faster deliveries. A route optimization software will help schedule deliveries in the same region so drivers can complete them in one go. As a result, there are fewer chances of idle time, and better chances of multiple deliveries.

Reduce Fuel Consumption and Vehicle Idling with Upper Route Planner

If you wish to reduce fuel consumption and make cost-efficient deliveries in your transport business, you need something extra for a competitive edge. Switching to a route optimization software is an excellent way to save money on transportation. Upper Route Planner gives you the ability to automatically assign routes to multiple drivers and add multiple stops.

Let’s look at the key features of Upper.

1. Cost-efficient route planning

Are you wasting a lot of money on unplanned routes? Upper Route Planner helps you save expenses on fuel with an effective route optimization algorithm. Our software provides the best optimized routes to help you ensure that your drivers spend the least amount of idle time on the road. This reduces excessive idling, thereby reducing fuel costs.

2. Route optimization 

Did you know you can save more fuel when you can prioritize delivery stops? Our intelligent software optimizes routes around the stops you set on high or crucial priority. With Upper, you can also schedule suitable routes for drivers based on the vehicle they are using. This will help ensure they reach their destination without keeping their engine running over idling.

3. One-click dispatch

What more do you need when you can optimize routes and dispatch them to multiple drivers in just a click? You can share delivery details with your drivers through an email/text message or through the driver app. This way they can get going with their orders without having to visit the depot. If one of your drivers isn’t available, you can also reassign a route to another driver. 

Learn more about using the features of Upper by signing up for a 7 days free trial!

Reduce Fuel Costs on Idling with Upper Route Planner

Tried all the methods to reduce fuel costs without much success? Let Upper lower your burden. Start planning the most optimized and cost-efficient routes in seconds.


You can idle your car maximum for 1 minute as it won’t be harmful to your vehicle. Nowadays, advanced technology is helping people keep their cars idle for a slightly longer duration. So, you can opt for such a technology if you can’t avoid an idling car.

There are many causes of rough idling. They are: defective fuel pump, clogged air filters, dirty fuel injectors, spark plugs or spark plug wires, and different exhaust system troubles.

With Upper, you can choose from distance or time-based route sequencing to optimize your routes. Optimizing routes as per driving preferences such as avoiding highways, tolls, and ferries makes it easier for them to make faster deliveries.


Idling is meant to happen with the number of vehicles and trucks on the road. It may not seem harmful, but slowly and steadily, it can impact everyone on a big level. It doesn’t just waste a significant amount of fuel, but also releases toxins into the air. Making use of the right technologies can bring down a lot of idling time and diesel fuel costs.

Thankfully, you have Upper as your route optimization software! It will ensure that you have the best and most effective route plans scheduled for multiple drivers. In a few seconds, you can upload addresses from your excel sheet and get your drivers to do the tasks. With accurate ETAs and customer notifications, you can also take the added benefit of customer satisfaction. Start your 7 days FREE trial now.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.