Turning off your coach could save you $10,000 a year or more

Chances are, you're avoiding excessive idling these days because you want to be a good citizen and avoid paying fines. Not to mention giving the environment a break. But there's another reason not to idle: You could save some serious cash.

Ambassatours Gray Line, when it announced its participation in the campaign, estimated it would save nearly 5,300 gallons of fuel a year — and at current prices of about $2.75 per gallon, that could work out to $14,575 a year.

Richard Cunninhgam, MCI Technical Support lead, offers the recent example of a customer who had a coach that, over a little more than a year, had idled 44 percent of the time, burning 2,676 gallons of fuel — or about $7,359.  Over one four-day period, the coach idled for just under 31 hours, with driving time of less than three hours — certainly a costly trip in fuel terms.

Filtering information

Fuel dollars are only part of the equation. Though suggested service intervals are generally based on mileage, an idling coach may go through filters and fluids faster than might be expected.

MCI's Raul Gonzalez estimates that a coach that idles a lot can easily incur an extra preventative maintenance visit every year. Service that includes oil and transmission fluid and filter changes could cost hundreds of dollars. If the air intake and coolant filters have to be changed, customers incur additional expense.

Warming up the DPF

Though they contribute greatly to today's cleaner, greener coaches, diesel particulate filters are another potentially costly concern for coaches that sit and run. An idling engine doesn't generate enough heat to sustain operation, says Cunningham, and prolonged idling may cause the DPF to need regeneration more often.

"Minimizing idling time not only saves fuel, but it can lengthen the service interval of the DPF," says Cunningham. "It also saves on engine wear and tear."

"With everyone going green, all you're doing by idling is putting unnecessary emissions into the air," says Gonzalez. Not to mention unnecessary dollars into your coach. And, if you run afoul of local idling laws, into the city coffers. Many sources, including the American Transportation Research Institute, keep compilations of state and local idling laws.

Training drivers to avoid idling makes sense. And there may be an even surer solution — many engine configurations allow the programming of automatic idle-time shutdowns. Consult your engine manufacturer for more information.

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