Understanding how much money your trucking company makes—and spends—on a per-mile basis is crucial to booking profitable loads.
To better calculate your fleet’s costs, revenue and profit per mile, you must determine the fuel efficiency of each truck you operate. Specifically, you need to know how much money you spend on diesel for every mile your trucks drive.
On average, semi-trucks get about 6.5 miles out of every fuel gallon. That performance varies greatly, however, depending on where you drive, how you drive and the age of the truck.
Use the following steps to determine a truck’s miles per gallon fuel usage and costs:
- Fill up your truck’s fuel tank completely. Record the number of gallons and the odometer reading. As an example, let’s say your truck takes 200 gallons of diesel and the odometer reads 68,000 miles.
- The next time you fuel up, write down the number of gallons it takes to completely fill the tank and the new odometer reading. In this example, you filled 190 gallons of diesel and the odometer now reads 69,083.
- Subtract the earlier odometer reading from the current reading to determine how many miles you drove on the last tank of diesel: 69,083 – 68,000 = 1,083.
- Divide the number of miles you drove by the number of gallons you just put into your tank: 1,083 divided by 190 equals 5.7. Your truck’s fuel efficiency is 5.7 miles per gallon.
- Now, you can calculate your per-mile fuel spending. Take the current per-gallon price of diesel ($2.10) and divide it by your truck’s miles per gallon. So, $2.10 divided by 5.7 equals 36.84 cents. If you round that number up, you are spending 37 cents on fuel for every mile your truck travels.
With this information handy, you can more accurately calculate the profitability of different loads for you truck. For example, a dry van load from Dallas to Houston will pay your trucking company $1.89 per mile. Subtract the 37 cents per mile you expect to spend on fuel and you are looking at a $1.52 profit per mile before calculating driver pay and other costs.
Keep in mind that a truck’s miles per gallon will change over time, depending on maintenance, the tires on the truck and the routes driven. The per-gallon cost of diesel, of course, is constantly rising or falling. Continuously tracking the fuel usage and expenses for each of your trucks will ensure greater accuracy in selecting loads and determining freight rates for your company.