Analytics Lab and the Intelligent Zoning Experiment

Analytics Lab, what is it?

The Analytics Lab free add-in provides a platform for current Geotab users to test features currently under development. By using the Analytics Lab, anyone can participate in the development of new features being considered for addition to the Geotab platform. By rating the experiments and providing feedback, users are able to provide Geotabs development team insight into what is good, bad, irrelevant, or extremely valuable to end-users. User suggestions will influence the direction of future development.

How do I get it?

To install Analytics Lab, simply log into your MyGeotab portal, navigate to the Geotab Marketplace, and search for Analytics Lab. Once it pops up on the list, click to add it to your cart, agree to the terms, and click finish to install. It can be done in seconds!

How do I use it?

Once installed, click Analytics Lab > Catalog to see the current list of experiments. When you see one that interests you, click “try it” and enjoy what comes next. After using it, be sure to leave some feedback and if you found some value, give it a like.

Intelligent Zoning

Today we are going to highlight the experiment on Intelligent Zoning. This is one that just about every Geotab user can get some mileage out of. It can be used to make your current zones more accurate based on where vehicles actually stop, and it can be used to identify zones that have been overlooked or you have not yet had time to add.

Once you click the Try It button you will land on a page that lists the zone recommendations with a relevance rating. A high relevance score would indicate more frequent stops in that zone.

We chose the zone at the top of the list and clicked the Action Needed button to get a birds-eye view of the recommended intelligent zone.

We already had some rather large zones drawn around this office which are displayed as the dark gray zones. Geotab has determined that our vehicles consistently park in the much smaller zone outlined in blue. Stats are also displayed for the average number of stops per month and how many vehicles have stopped at this location. The graph shows us the trend is downward and below that some additional information on the duration of stops as well as driving time to the stop. All of that is excellent information we can use to better understand trips to and time in this zone.

Intelligent Zoning Action Needed screen

Importing the Intelligent Zone

From this point, we can use the Rename and? Import Zone buttons to make this recommended zone a permanent zone in the database. Additionally, we can choose to keep or discard the zones we previously used. Simply disregard recommended zones that are not relevant. So far, everyone we have shown this tool to has come up with a different reason to have it and a different way to use it. What is yours?

What’s next?

Be on the lookout for our next installment of the Analytics Lab series where we will take a closer look at fuel economy benchmarking.

Vehicle & Asset Telematics
Electronic Forms
Mobile Viewing
Routing
Vehicle & Asset Telematics
Electronic Forms
Mobile Viewing
Routing

University of Rochester Success With Route4Me

University of Rochester Meets Increased Demand or Deliveries

The University of Rochester had a sudden and overwhelming increase in deliveries needing to be made due to COVID 19. A routing solution was desperately needed. Now, after 3 months of using Route4Me integrated with Geotab tracking, we interviewed Merrit Woodward, Supervisor of Mail Services to see how the implementation has impacted the pick-ups and deliveries his department provides.

In just a few short months, not only are they keeping up with demand, but considering expanding the delivery services the University of Rochester provides to local apothecaries, hospitals, and patients. Without automated routing, this could not have been accomplished.

Enjoy an inside look as Woody shows us how he is able to keep up and even get ahead using Route4Me integrated with Geotab GPS Tracking.

Transcript of Video

Click below to view a transcript of this video.

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Good afternoon everyone. I’d like to welcome you to our podcast. Today we’re going to be interviewing Merritt Woodward from the University of Rochester, say hello Woody. Hello Woody. I also have Kim Thoman our Business Analyst with us today. Let’s jump in and get started. Today we’ll be talking a little bit about Route4Me. Woody has been a customer of ours since 2015 on the Geotab platform and very recently he deployed route4me to meet his routing needs. Woody, what was it that got you started thinking about routing and thinking that you needed some kind of an application to help you with that?

So even pre-COVID we were doing some on-demand deliveries that made our lives a little bit more difficult as far as being able to plan our actual routes every single day. While Geotab and everything they have worked out great in the beginning you know we used it to its full potential and we’re able to route each one of our drivers based on geographic areas that we needed to go to and it’s been a great tool right from the beginning so, a little intensive on the front end but you know we were able to get through it and actually make sure my drivers got the most out of every day.

Great, and so let me ask you then so what did your process look like before you had implemented not only just the GPS portion of it but a routing solution that coincides with that?

Pre-everything that was paper and dreams. [Laughter] I can imagine that would be. And a huge had no we had nothing other than the fact that we hoped that our driver knew where he was going.

So now that you have implemented the Route4Me solution has it made a big impact on the way that your daily operations work today?

Ridiculous impact actually, yeah we’ve increased our on-demand deliveries and this is partially due to COVID but nothing that’s going to stop when COVID stops. Everyone’s crossing their fingers right now. You know this is never going to go away. So my pre-on-demand, my pre-2015 on-demand deliveries were probably between eight and ten a day. When I first brought on Geotab it was I could implement an increase to 20 to 30 a day without me having to do much, and just to give you a good example, today I had 148 and I consider that a light day.

Wow, that sounds like a huge improvement in your productivity and being able to get more stops in and a lot more happy customers.

Yeah, ridiculous on every level actually.

That’s great! So while we’re talking about it would you mind showing us a little bit about how you use the Route4Me tool on a daily basis?

Okay so this is today’s Route4Me um this is the address book map, so actually I came here, went to address book map and I’ll just let it pop back up for us for a second because it’ll reload hopefully my counterparts are not removing everything on me right now, which they’re not so that’s good and that’s what my new schedule looks like for today. You see a couple of the spots outside every one of these areas is a current delivery area for one of my drivers. It also has certain impacts on what they would actually deliver during the day so this large one down here, he actually makes the longest leap and he comes all the way down into Danville every day. So yeah so that’s his and then he picks up anything in this area afterward on his way back in so that helps us out a little bit, and you know so that’s actually one of our smaller routes you can see we can actually get larger ones like this one up here. He had 31 on-demand deliveries today for himself and tomorrow that will jump to probably 45-50 and I’m able to handle this all really based on this software. Before how it was with Geotab, there was a 25 max for me to import, and then to give someone more than 25 was actually very difficult because I would have to split routes and try to figure out what to do with them from there. Whether they stayed with the same driver or not. Now, with this, I can actually move forward so this is just our planned routes also so this is just what’s planned. Anything that comes in tonight, we actually import all of this information from an excel sheet and put all of these in so if I literally click on one of them (which I don’t know if I can actually do) but you can actually see how it’s got a name and it’s got an address attached to it right there.

Absolutely, going into huge detail.

So that’s information that was provided by the customer tonight. Tomorrow I will actually get more. And you can still see my map I hope, I’ve just changed to what the routes look like today.

Yep, we’re still following you. Wow!

Yep, so that did jump up to 148. It was probably 117 that we imported and then I got another, again something I was never able to do was just be able to add them in afterward on the fly. This automatically updates for the drivers also which is insanely nice. The little quirky things that we got from Geotab don’t happen on this system as much. It’s more, it’s more address-based. It actually zeroes in on the address a little bit better than Geotab does so if you’re going to Main Street sometimes you could end up three blocks away from the address you were on because it already recognized you were on Main Street. Now that doesn’t happen anymore so it’s very, the geocoding is fantastic.

How much time would you say you spent to create these routes that we’re looking at now?

Everything I have on here, so the original ones these routes, and I’m going to go backwards a little bit, so these routes that you see right here probably take me on average if I massage one it’s going to take me five to six minutes to import it. This route here, back before Route4Me was at least a half-hour to 45 minutes worth of work.

Wow.

And the only reason is because inside of that route is there’s a bunch of time stops that I would have to massage into however many so his other 18 deliveries that he’d made today, even this little one over here was the same way that Val’s route here has three or four time stops in here that I add in after the fact that cause more problems. So even that little route still would have taken me at least 20 minutes to figure out.

Well that frees you up for an opportunity to get a whole lot more regular work done other than having to deal with this and hopefully you know there’s only one of you so now you’re a little bit more available to work on some other areas that could be affecting and we can help you know possibly make you more productive in.

Yes, absolutely and it’s all the little things too. It’s like so I just moved down this is my route list for today. You’ll notice that these two here are actually for tomorrow for 4/16 and they are actually duplicated routes that show up. Well, it says so right here, “candidate with Geneva” actually happens every single day this is actually set up Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and this one is Tuesday Wednesday, and Friday because the route changes slightly. These are static routes that go in every morning and they pre-populate the day before so I don’t have to worry about remaking the routes all the time and it automatically shows up every day, which is another huge tool because while you could make as many routes as you wanted in straight Geotab, you would also have to remember to import them or turn them on for any given day.

Yeah and you know that’s exactly why we and Geotab with the marketplace is just, it’s very valuable to have because we can’t be experts in everything. Some people are extremely good at routing, we’re really good at fleet management, but when you combine the two it gives you this great tool where you only have to go to a one-stop-shop to get all of your busy needs done and get everybody planned for the day so it’s amazing to hear how many more stops you got out of a day and how much more you know that ad hoc business that you’re able to add on a daily basis for your customers.

Sure yeah absolutely. We’re actually looking to be able to take on the am and pm deliveries pretty soon.

This is just based on a day-to-day when you know we’re hoping to take that over for at least three of my regular clients, hopefully, before summer fully hits.

And just for kind of just a general explanation, you know Woody is with the University of Rochester and they are out delivering pharmaceutical supplies to/for all of the hospitals in the area so he’s one division of the education university, just to let everybody kind of have an idea what he’s using these routes for. So if you’re a delivery fleet or a service fleet this is really something that you could definitely take advantage of and as he mentioned you could do it with planned routes or you can have unplanned routes that you can do on the fly during the day if need be. So if you get those one-off calls this is a tool that would be able to help you work that into an existing schedule

One of the unusual things that Woody deals with is having some very tight time windows to make some of the deliveries with the chemotherapy drugs. Is that correct Woody?

Yes, it is.

Can you explain a little bit more what the difficulties are there and how we have approached that?

So and that’s you know that’s definitely something we continue to work on. So my favorite part about this system right now is the fact that this which I had no idea when we first purchased the software was this approved to execute. So these two routes tomorrow morning I’m gonna go like that because it doesn’t matter how many I turn on. So now I’ve just hit approved to execute on those. What that’s going to do now is those two routes tomorrow morning will send messages to the pharmacist that their deliveries have been made and what time they were made at. It’s ridiculously helpful for them to know that the compounding center didn’t send out a drug that was three to four hours old and they only have 15 minutes left to use it, and the pharmacist also and the compounding end wants to know that we actually got their chemotherapy drug there on time. So you’ll see weird little things in here that also speak to that. This driver actually that is a start right there. I started him out there only because his route has to happen after that and I do it for the long-term ones in general. So the same thing here. This route starts there because I need him to work his way back. That’s just one of the little tricks I learned on Route4Me on how to do it. They’re actually starting up here and picking up compound from the compounding center but I want them to go directly there first so that’s where their start-stop begins and then they deliver on their way back from those places. So it’s kind of entertaining yeah, yeah it took me a minute to figure that out but it was you know it was a smart way around it and it just you know time windows work and they work well actually. It’s just, as you can see, I don’t exactly have a half-hour buffer in there anywhere where I can just say sit and wait for a half an hour before you can get into one of these places so that was a smart workaround.

Great, great. I’m glad that that was able to be solved for you and if you had to guesstimate just by increasing those, the productivity and the amount of trips and deliveries, would you be able to put up kind of a dollar figure towards the bottom line of how that’s helped you guys improve operations?

Revenue has been without getting into direct numbers, revenue has been ridiculous and we are a non-profit so we’re just looking to cover our costs, but we’re also looking to save the university money as a whole, so on that end, I can’t, yes I can tell you that, yeah on any given week we’re saving at least two thousand dollars a week on outside money, we actually call it green money. Because it’s actually green money, anything spent outside of university is green money anything else inside the universities called blue money. So you want to spend blue money before green money and the blue money is cheaper than real money so,

That’s interesting.

They like that, they like that part, but yes so it is close to two thousand dollars a week and that’s not including myself or my other supervisor’s time that we’ve saved just moving to this over the last couple of months which, I have not done a number based on yet only because it’s been about three months now and once I do I’ll, we’ll definitely share that with Lynn and we can laugh about it later.

Okay, I’m looking forward to that.

Absolutely

If something happened and they told you we were gonna have to take this away from you Woody, what would your response be?

Yeah I would laugh at you first because there’s no way you know unless, unless something blows up somewhere because there’s just no, I, we couldn’t do what we’re doing today without this, at least not to the same potential so I mean I would need to increase my hours by at least two hours a day to be able to do what I do right now, and like I said it just continues to grow. It’s ridiculous so you know we couldn’t we would actually have to stifle a few of our customers if that were to happen.

Yeah, and that’s completely understandable. I mean once you get the hang of it nobody wants to go back to the old days and when you talk about all of the revenue benefits that you can take advantage of and then you consider the fact that the monthly cost for the Route4Me is reasonable and the GPS, especially over the years is extremely easy to achieve. You’ve, sounds like you’ve paid for the solution for an entire month for the fleet in about a week and that’s pretty crazy.

Yeah it’s not quite that long either so we’ll, but I’ll leave that number alone. It might be closer to a day and a half.

Wow. Wow.

Yeah, that’s for real. Yeah, it might be a day and a half, might even be a day. I mean again you know that’s a little being a little extravagant there’s a couple days that have actually paid for it straight out. Yeah so that’s good, yeah and it’s funny because my business has grown in tandem with, or as we’ve gained access to new and different things, and mostly thanks to Lynn I mean you know every tool that I’ve gotten you know has been thanks to her. I’m glad we started this relationship and it’s really worked out for both the U of R and I hope for you guys.

You’re on my list to show intelligent zones next.

Oh boy.

And the good news is that one’s free.

Nice, thank you.

It seemed to me like it was time to get a freebie going your way.

Yeah I’ll take it.

Woody, is there anything else that you wanted to share with us that you think is really cool?

I’m just, I’m just typing in right now and yeah I figured I’d just show you how easy this stuff can get sometimes because it really is just that easy. I will do something that I know we’ll do, it’s fun typing when I’ve got stuff in my earâ??¦ I just love how easy this part is, so this is inserted so that this is going to insert into the best address right there so and at first I was, it’s hysterical you know how you laugh at yourself a lot?

I got annoyed by this at first and it actually gets smarter as it goes so it’s looking at the best possible route, that’s about the average time it takes, so and it tells you right there he was exactlyâ??¦

These are suggestions?

This is suggestions, so every day yeah so every day when I go in here and I get my ad hocs from 8:30 in the morning until 9:30 in the morning and they bury me with them. I think my worst day ever was I got 46 within that hour. I can type, I can literally copy and paste each one of those off of my email and say here okay you need something to go 100 street, no problem. I hit this proceed and it just assigned it to Hugh and it put it in the optimal position.

That’s awesome!

It’s hard to see inside of this right now but he was orange and now there’ll be two numbers for Hugh. Let’s see if I can find Hugh there he is and you can see it actually backed up right there there’s the new one that I just put in.

Wow

But yeah and like I said I laughed because at first, I’m like wow this takes way too long until you realize what it’s doing. It’s actually looking for the best possible place to put it and then it actually puts it there so each one of these routes has and it’s kind of funny you can tell anything that’s a checkmark is one I just put in. Anything with the five-minute mark on it is something that was put in the night before. So just so you know that’s how that works and that’s how it… you know you know so anything because with the checkmarks I’m just putting it in ad hoc. For real it’s there was no planning whatsoever and there’s tons of those in there.

Yeah, one route looks like that’s all it was.

Yeah, and it’s really, yeah it’s not it’s just that’s yeah it just expands out some and then you can see some of them were duplicates and not duplicates andâ??¦ yeah so and it’s fun and I’m dealing with you know upwards of eight to nine customers who are using this using us to do this so that works out really good too.

Awesome! Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I think a lot of people are going to get a lot out of being able to see how this is working in a real-life situation instead of theoretically which is, you know when we are talking with people about routing we’re talking very theoretically because we don’t have anybody to route. We drive desks over here, so I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today Woody. Kim, I thank you for taking time out of your day to join us and I want to thank everyone who has watched.

And if anybody would like more information please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or go to www.fleetistics.com and you can request more information from there as well.

Call Fleetistics for a demo and more information. 855.300.0527

Are you using GPS Tracking now? Call us to arrange for an evaluation of your existing track data to see how much time and money can be saved using Route4Me to optimize your routes.

Vehicle & Asset Telematics
Electronic Forms
Mobile Viewing
Routing

Gasoline Prices Rising – Are you Prepared?

Gasoline Prices Up 15% From Last Month

According to Kiplinger.com gasoline prices will continue to rise slowly, but steadily in 2021. This view is supported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and other authorities on the subject. Thankfully no one is projecting the extreme prices we had from 2008 to 2014, possibly because of demand being low during the pandemic, but they are definitely going to rise from the low prices we have become used to. As this post was written, the national average for regular was $2.40 per gal and diesel $2.64, up 15 cents per gallon from this time last month. An end to the pandemic which we all hope for will likely increase demand pushing prices higher faster.

Back to Fuel Savings Basics

In 2020, with gasoline prices as low as we have seen since 2004, and so many other concerns about keeping employees safe during the pandemic at the forefront, reducing fuel spend was just not our focus. In 2021 we will need to get back to basics when it comes to keeping an eye out for fuel waste.

Many consumer sites like AAA offer tips for consumers on how to save fuel. Back in 2007 when gasoline prices spiked over $3.00 per gallon, businessfleet.com published a great list of 20 ways for fleets to save fuel. Here is their list with some brief explanations. To get the full details and statistics that support their conclusions, you can read their post here.

20 Ways to Save Fuel

  1. Avoid Excess Idling – you get 0 mpg at idle.
  2. Get a Fleet Fuel Card – control what drivers can buy, monitor for fuel theft, and identify top spenders for further review.
  3. Clean Out the Truck and Eliminate Unnecessary Weight – less weight improves mpg.
  4. Keep Tires Inflated to the Correct Pressure – underinflated tires reduce mpg.
  5. Use Cruise Control During Highway Driving – fewer changes in speed increase mpg.
  6. Don’t Buy Premium Fuel unless the vehicle requires it.
  7. Drive the Posted Speed Limit – speeding reduces mpg.
  8. Monitor Preventive Maintenance Schedules – basics like air filters and oil viscosity affect mpg.
  9. Make Drivers Energy Conscious – help them to be more efficient drivers.
  10. Use A/C Sparingly – using A/C only when needed and vents when it is cooler outside saves fuel.
  11. Park in the Shade – keeps interior cooler and prevents fuel evaporation.
  12. Encourage Carpooling when possible.
  13. Make Your Vehicle More Aerodynamic – avoid anything that creates wind drag.
  14. Purchase Fuel-Efficient Vehicles
  15. Anticipate Traffic Flow – accelerate and decelerate smoothly
  16. Avoid Aggressive Driving
  17. Avoid Uphill Speed Increases
  18. Check the Web for the Best Fuel Deals – check out GasBuddy.com
  19. Fill Up in Mild Weather – get more fuel density for your dollars at cooler times rather than the heat of the day.
  20. Use a wholesale club or grocery store – Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s

Fleetistics WEX Fuel Card Integrated with My Fleetistics for Higher Visibility

Fleetistics Fuel Card by WEX

The bottom line is it is time to get back to a fuel savings mindset. Fleet management technology is designed to give you the insight you need into your fuel spend and much, much more. Contact Fleetistics for more ideas on increasing visibility and lowering overall fleet costs.

Optimizing Routes to Increase ROI

Are You Optimizing Routes?

In the world of transporting and delivering goods and services, some companies pay more attention to optimizing routes than others. Those that invest time and energy into route optimization have found that it pays off in spades. Even emergency service providers that cannot plan their routes in advance, can benefit from optimizing each new service call based on shortest route and current road conditions.

Improve Route Efficiency Up to 40%!

Never Too Small To Be Efficient

Whether you have a fleet of 5 vehicles all doing the same job or a fleet of hundreds with multiple specialties and special purpose vehicles, there is a routing and scheduling application available to meet your needs. Route optimization has gained so much traction that one of our premier GPS platforms offers out of the box integration with 9 or more route optimization specialty providers.

Manual routing and optimizing is time consuming, frustrating and a lot of hard work. Once done, any number of things can change making the entire route that you planned so carefully mediocre at best. What if you could easily change and transmit a revised route, knowing that the best optimization choices have been made? That would be a game changer!

Route Organization

Optimizing Routes Made Easy

Imagine uploading tomorrows work orders into a system that can tell you how many trucks are needed, what jobs to assign to what vehicles, and what routes to follow based on the parameters you pre-set in the app. Imagine the time saved on manually planning those routes alone. Then consider these potential savings:

  • Reduce fuel and labor costs by as much as 30%
  • Dispatch drivers using convenient tablet and smart phone apps.
  • Integrate with platforms alerting drivers to traffic, collisions, and other changing road conditions.
  • Increase your dispatcher’s visibility of completed and pending stops improving customer service.
  • Efficiently plan and schedule time sensitive deliveries.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by driving more efficient routes.
  • Gain a competitive edge.
Route Optimization Tool

Increasing Demand for Local Deliveries

In the past year, social distancing has changed the way we buy, sell, and ultimately receive goods and services. We now rely on delivery of things we used to go to the store and pick up ourselves. Companies that provide reliable service, on time delivery, and a way for customers to see where their orders or service providers are and when they will arrive are rising to the top. Integrated routing and scheduling apps are the foundation their systems are built upon.

If you are not optimizing your routes, now is the time to start. Contact us today to review your options and select an app for trial. You’ll be glad you did.

7 Costly Driving Habits that are Easy to Break

We All Have Costly Driving Habits

This post shares valuable information not only for commercial fleets, but for anyone who drives. We all want to keep our vehicles running well and far from the repair shop. A few things you may do out of habit, and never thought much about can be causing serious damage to your vehicle over time. Saving a transmission, braking system, or fuel pump from excessive wear will keep your hard-earned money in your pocket, and you in the driver’s seat.

Costly Driving Habits

#1 Ignoring an Unfamiliar Sound

Some sounds just get our attention more than others. A loud scraping noise is pretty alarming. Most drivers would recognize it as bad news and do something immediately. On the other hand, what about a subtle hissing sound? You may not even be sure you really heard something. Ignoring that sound is a costly driving habit.

Rather than let it go, take a minute to listen more closely. Lift the hood and see if it sounds louder. Ask someone else if they hear it too. Sure, it might just be wind noise, but it could be an early warning sign of something about to go very wrong. If you ignore it until that soft hiss turns into a whistle you could find yourself at the side of the road needing belts or vacuum hoses replaced.

#2 Resting Your Hand on the Gearstick While Driving

According to carthrottle.com and many other sources, this common habit can cause easily avoidable damage to your transmission. The constant weight of your hand or arm on the shift lever, puts pressure on the parts connecting below in the gearbox. That pressure causes unnecessary wear and tear and can lead to very expensive transmission failures.

Break that costly driving habit easily by keeping both hands on the wheel. You will find you have more control and may even react a little faster to potential hazards.

#3 Over-Revving a Cold Engine

Winter is here and vehicles may be very cold when we get in to drive. Newer vehicles with fuel injection systems do not require the same care as older vehicles did in this regard, but after reading a few articles on the subject, it seems prudent not to over tax cold vehicle components. Thermal expansion is a fact and precision parts operate best when they are at their optimum operating temperatures, so spending a few minutes to allow the engine to warm just makes sense. It also makes sense to warm the car before you get in for the sake of your own comfort.

This video shot with a thermal camera shows the warming of a frozen engine is very interesting and informative.

Costly Braking Habits

Your brakes may be the single most important system on your vehicle. Wherever you go and whatever you encounter, when you want to stop, or need to stop in an emergency, the brakes have to work! The alternative ways to stop a vehicle can be extremely unpleasant. There are 3 costly driving behaviors that are easy to break specific to how and when we brake.

#4 Excessive Downhill Braking

Of course, you want to brake when necessary, but riding the brake pedal when driving downhill is a common costly driving habit. Continuing to do it will overheat your brake components and wear them out before their time. Instead, try slowing down some before you crest that hill, take your foot off the gas, and downshift to slow the engine. If you pick up too much speed, brake as needed to slow the vehicle, but don’t keep constant pressure on the brake pedal.

#5 Frequent Hard Braking

Sudden and frequent braking often go hand in hand with distracted driving. Both are costly driving habits. A driver that is aware of what is going on around him (or her) has more time to react. They can more easily swerve safely to avoid an obstacle or decelerate slowly rather than brake at the last second. In any case, breaking the hard braking habit pays off in fewer brake repairs and replacements as well as fewer collision incidents and stressful close calls.

#6 Not Using the Parking/Emergency Brake on an Incline

Those of us who mainly drive in the flat lands may not know this, but you should always engage the parking/emergency brake when parked on an incline, AND it should be engaged before you take your foot off of the main brake and put the gear shift lever into the park position. As a side note, if you drive in a mountainous region you also need to curb your wheels. Communities like San Francisco routinely issue citations for not doing so.

The reason for using the parking/emergency brake is pretty simple to understand. Automatic transmissions have a device known as a parking pawl that prevents the transmission output shaft from moving when your shifter is in park. It looks like a pin that engages a notched ring. When these parts are worn, you will notice the vehicle moves a couple of inches forward or back after you put it in park. According to AAMCO, when you set your shifter to park before setting the parking or emergency brake, the entire weight of your vehicle rests on the parking pawl device. Over time it becomes weak leading to premature failure and very costly repairs.

#7 Emptying the Tank Before Refueling

Costly Driving Habits

This is an easy costly driving habit to break once you accept that you are not saving a dime by filling the tank later rather than sooner. The fuel that you pump into your vehicle at the gas station contains some impurities all fuel does. Over time, these impurities settle to the bottom of your tank. Again, this may be more of a concern for older vehicles and colder climates than newer vehicles in the south, but it still applies to all vehicles over time. When you burn the fuel at the bottom of the tank, those impurities (including water) can be pulled into the fuel pump and engine. Enough water will stall the engine. More important, the last thing you want are impurities getting trapped in critical moving engine parts.

Top mechanic’s recommend to never run the tank dry. Certainly refuel before you are below 1/10 or under 2 gallons. Others say to keep no less than a quarter tank at all times. This is so the fuel level does not go below the level of the fuel pump within the engine. They say when the fuel level is below the fuel pump, the fuel pump generates more heat causing it to wear faster than normal.

Why not start off the new year by breaking those costly driving habits? Your wallet and your vehicle will thank you!