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How to Calculate Fuel Cost Consumption for a Truck


January 20, 2020

As a leading invoice factoring company that offers tailored solutions to the trucking industry, we know that fuel is one of your biggest expenses. Knowing how to calculate fuel cost consumption for a truck is essential for all trucking companies of all sizes, from owner-operators to fleet owners.   

Without knowing your fuel efficiency, you won’t be able to make a realistic budget for fuel, and you won’t know if you can make small changes to improve your numbers. Check out our fuel efficiency tips below to see if you’re getting the most out of your fuel.  

How can I improve my truck’s fuel efficiency?  

Every trucker knows that fuel efficiency comes down to a lot of factors: the make and year of your truck, the way you drive, the loads you carry.   

What are some of the basics that go into how quickly your truck burns through fuel?  

Truck Specs: Obviously, newer trucks with newer technology are designed to improve fuel efficiency.  

But there’s a huge range of how many miles per gallon a truck can get. Twenty-eight wheelers have been clocked at under three miles per gallon going uphill and over 23 going down the same hill. The features of the truck can change our fuel efficiency. For example, an aerodynamic design boosts fuel efficiency and “super single” wheels can give a seven percent efficiency increase. 

Weight: Naturally, the more weight you carry, the more fuel you’ll burn through. 

Maintenance: Trucks that are well cared for and have optimal tire pressure have greater efficiency.    

Driving Habits: Certain things, like driving fast and using the air conditioner a lot, increase the amount of fuel you use. 

How to Calculate Fuel Cost Consumption for a Truck 

The basic formula is Miles Driven divided by Amount of Fuel Used. 

Step 1: Fill up your tank and reset the odometer, then drive like you normally would. 

Step 2: When you’re ready to refuel, make a note of the number of truck miles you’ve driven and the number of gallons of fuel you’ve added to fill it back to the top again. 

Step 3: Do the math. Let’s say you added 200 gallons of gas at your stop and you drove 1,400 truck miles. Your equation will be 1400 / 200 = 7. To be fair, that would be quite a miraculous number. Fleets hitting 7.28 mpg made headline news for their efficiency. Older fleets usually top out at around 5.9 mpg. 

Try it for yourself :

MPG Calculations Have Limitations—They’re Not the End-All  

It’s good to know how many miles per gallon you’re getting because you’ll need the number for budgeting and to know how profitable your loads are. The problem is, sometimes people get so wrapped up in maximizing efficiency, they make decisions that might actually hurt their bottom line. If you’re trying to get more out of your fuel, you might think taking a lighter load will help. But savings in fuel costs might be minimal compared to what you gave up on a heavier load.   

You may want to explore options like freight ton efficiency to get a clearer picture of your true fuel cost numbers. For example, when Shell ran with its concept truck, the Airflow Starship, its payload was 77 percent greater than the average payload—a whopping 39,900 pounds. Even still, its freight-ton efficiency was 2.5-times greater than the North American average — 178.4 ton-miles per gallon compared to 72 ton-miles per gallon. To be fair, this modern truck also got an eye-popping 8.94 miles per gallon. Remember, though, this is only part of the fuel cost equation.  

Increase Your Efficiency with Factoring and a Fuel Card  

No matter how many truck miles per gallon you’re getting or what your freight ton efficiency is, it’s hard to keep your truck on the highway if you’re stuck waiting on a payment from the last load. Invoice factoring helps with this by giving you immediate payment for your invoice. When you factor with Triumph Business Capital, you get access to fuel discounts at more than 3,600 locations nationwide. You can even get your money loaded on your fuel card for free. Learn more about how it works to find out if it’s the right solution for you

Trucker’s Guide to Freight Factoring

Our Trucker’s Guide to Freight Factoring explains what exactly invoice factoring is, how it works, and if it’s a right fit for your trucking company.