Green Operations

What Fleet Managers Should Know About Idle Limiters

July 2010, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Sean Lyden - Also by this author

What if you could lower your truck fleet's fuel costs by 10, 15, or even 20 percent? What if you could extend maintenance intervals and require fewer oil changes per truck, without lightening the truck's workload? What if you could significantly reduce your fleet's carbon footprint to substantiate your company's green initiatives?

What if you could achieve all three objectives at once for a one-time investment of $200-$500 per truck?

That's the value proposition manufacturers of engine idle limiters are posing to fleet managers. Connected to a truck computer, an idle limiter module automatically detects how long the vehicle idles and cuts off the engine according to a programmed amount of time, typically 3-5 minutes. Idle limiters are available as a manufacturer-installed option on most new trucks or the systems can be retrofitted on an existing fleet.

Reduce Fuel & Maintenance Costs

Why consider idle limiters? Proponents point to unnecessary idling, such as leaving the truck running while making deliveries, as a major source of fuel waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a typical commercial truck can waste a half-gallon of diesel fuel per hour while idling. Unnecessary idling just two hours per day squanders $780 per year per truck, based on $3 per gallon. For a fleet of 10 trucks, that's $7,800 in annual fuel savings. Expand that figure over 100 trucks ... you get the idea.

According to Don Malone, president of Malone Specialty Inc., a Mentor, Ohio-based firm that supplies idle limiters to truck manufacturers and several of the nation's largest fleets, the payoff in fuel savings alone is usually within six months.

Another benefit: reduced idling causes less engine wear and tear, allowing fleets to extend oil change cycles and lowering overall maintenance costs.

Comply with Local Anti-Idling Laws

Not only is idle reduction better for the environment, it's also the law in more than 40 states and local government jurisdictions. Fines for non-compliance can range from $50 to $2,500 and more per incident.

"Cities are looking for more ways to collect revenues in a down economy," says Malone. "[Enforcing anti-idling laws] is one way they're doing it."


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