The Hidden Costs of Excessive Engine Idling Times

Our prospective clients often enquire as to how much fuel they can save by using ScorpionTrack Fleet to identify and control excessive engine idling across their fleet. 

Our Response


 Is that using the system offers the potential to save all of it! In addition to saving fuel, reducing idle times reduces CO2 emissions and harmful pollution. It will also extend the life of your vehicles.

Reducing excessive engine idling is one of the quickest ways that a fleet operator can reduce their fuel costs. In fact, a number of our clients have reported fuel savings of between 10% and 18% based on cutting idle times alone. Amongst some of our fleet customers using ScorpionTrack Fleet for the first time, an operator of 50 vehicles saved 1,300 gallons of fuel in the first year by reducing their idling time by an average of 25 minutes a day per vehicle. Other fleet customers had identified their drivers were clocking up between 40 – 70 minutes idle time each day. Across their fleet, based on vehicle manufacture estimates, this equated to an average idle time per vehicle of 36,000 miles of engine wear per year.

There are a number of reasons for engine idling. It could be habitual whereby driver habits such as slipping the clutch and keeping the vehicle in gear whilst stationery prevents the engine from cutting whilst in eco-mode. This practice may be recurrent whilst stationery at traffic lights or in start-stop traffic, especially on heavily congested roads. Drivers making regular stops may also choose to run the engine whilst the air conditioning is on during the summer and in winter months, keep the inside of the vehicle warm. When embarking on a journey, the best way to warm you vehicle in winter is to drive it, as your engine and the vehicle’s climate control system will warm up quicker and more efficiently.

When the engine is cold, excessive idling can harm your vehicle as the fuel is not fully combusted when the engine is running outside of its peak operating temperature. Fuel residue builds up on the cylinder walls and risks contaminating the engine oil impairing its ability to lubricate. As a result, deteriorating engine efficiency also increases fuel consumption. It’s not just the cost of fuel that put operators of idling fleets out of pocket.

It is premature engine wear resulting in increased vehicle servicing and maintenance costs. And whilst your vehicles are off the road, there’s the cost of operational downtime and replacement hire vehicles.

Generally, if you anticipate you will be idling for more than 30 seconds, other than when you are in traffic, it is best to shut your vehicle off and restart it. With ScorpionTrack Fleet, fleet operators can set alerts and reports that can be used to identify excessive idling, empowering them to educate their drivers to improve driver behaviour for the benefit of the environment and the company’s bottom line.