CDL Training

Do Truck Drivers Pay for Their Own Gas?

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Being a truck driver can come with some expenses, such as parking, showering and buying food. But do truck drivers pay for their own gas?

No, truck drivers do not pay for their own gas, typically referred to as “fuel” or “diesel”, unless they are an owner-operator. Instead, trucking companies cover the cost of fuel through various methods.

Keep reading to find out how truck drivers pay for the fuel they put in their truck and how trucking companies compensate their drivers for fuel purchases.

How do truck drivers pay for fuel?

When it comes time to fill up, drivers typically pay for fuel using a company fuel card.

Most trucking companies, like Schneider, give their drivers fuel cards to use when refueling. This way, drivers do not have to worry about using their own card/cash to fill up their truck.

Using a fuel card is easy for drivers, as a fuel card functions essentially the same as any other charge card. Some extra steps drivers may encounter when refueling include:

  1. Providing an ID number (for truck, driver or both).
  2. Selecting fuel preferences (tractor and/or reefer).
  3. Entering your odometer information. 

Fuel cards also eliminate the need for drivers to keep track of records or receipts for their fuel. Since fuel cards keep track of how much fuel was purchased, and by who, the companies can do the recording keeping on their own.

Companies use a wide range of fuel cards, such as EFS or ComData cards. Each of these cards has select locations drivers can use them at and offer differing benefits. On top of discounted fuel, cards provide a variety of driver-centric benefits through rewards programs. Depending on the card and fueling location, these can include:

  • Free/discounted drinks.
  • Free showers.
  • Free laundry.

How much does it cost to fill up a semi-truck?

No matter how you are paying, fueling can be quite costly. With diesel fuel currently around $5 a gallon, a full refuel can cost anywhere from $500-$1,500. How much you spend depends on the number of tanks your truck has and size of your tank(s).

The two most common configurations are:

  • One 100-to-150-gallon tank, costing about $500-$750 to fill.
  • Two 120-to-150-gallon tanks, costing about $1,200-1,500 to fill.

These figures are based on a full refuel, but it is worth noting that truck drivers only fill their tank(s) 95% of the way. This is done for safety reasons, as this helps to prevent the tank overfilling due to diesel expansion.

Additionally, truck drivers generally don’t let their tank go below 25% full for similar safety reasons.

How often do you have to fill up a semi-truck?

How often a truck driver has to fill up varies quite a bit, as it depends on many factors, such as:

  • The size of the tank(s) in the truck.
  • The weight of the load being hauled.
  • The miles per gallon (mpg) the truck gets.
  • The type of freight being hauled.
  • The overall condition of the truck/engine.

The average mileage of a modern semi-truck is around 7 mpg, so drivers could theoretically go around 1,050 to 2,100 miles (or roughly 16 to 32 hours of driving) before having to fill up. Typically, though, truck drivers will run out of hours they are allowed to drive well before they run out of fuel.

Because of this (and never wanting to run too low on fuel in case of emergency) most drivers top off their tank every or every other day.

Schneider’s legacy started in 1935 with one man, one truck and one dream. Since then, we’ve grown to become one of the largest carriers in the nation, offering a wide selection of driving jobs and home time configurations. Start your driving career off right by becoming a Schneider driver and taking advantage of our tuition reimbursement options.