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How to Calculate Cost per Mile

calculating your cost per mile

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The cost to keep your truck operating is the single most important financial calculation you can do for your trucking business. But it’s something that a lot of drivers and owner-operators don’t track.

If you’ve never tracked your cost per mile, you may be relieved to know you don’t need accounting software to do it. In this post, we’ll explain how to calculate cost per mile and why you should.

Table of Contents:

  1. Why you should calculate cost per mile
  2. How to calculate your average cost per mile
  3. Calculate how many miles you expect to drive
  4. Calculate your fixed expenses
  5. Calculate your variable costs
  6. Determine your salary expenses
  7. Calculate your cost per mile

Why you should calculate your cost per mile

Knowing your cost per mile reveals your spending patterns and areas where you could cut costs. It helps you set a fair transport price, so you don’t lose money on a load. 

Once you understand your cost per mile, you’ll know exactly how much you should charge per mile to be profitable.

How to calculate cost per mile

Calculate your cost per mile with this formula:

Total expenses/Total miles = Total cost per mile

To figure this out, you’ll need information from previous trips:

  • Expense receipts from food, fuel, lodging, and other expenses from the previous month
  • List of monthly payments, such as truck fees, permits, and insurance
  • An odometer reading from the first day and final day of the previous month

1: Calculate how many miles you expect to drive.

Odometer information helps you figure out how many miles you drive in a given month, whether paid or unpaid. Use this formula:

[End-of-the-month odometer reading] – [Beginning-of-the-month odometer reading] = Total miles

For example, if your mileage was 67,426 at the beginning of the month, and 75,968 at the end of the month, here’s what you would calculate:

75,968 – 67,426 = 8,542 miles

Now it’s time to figure out your total expenses.

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2: Calculate your fixed expenses.

Your expenses break down into fixed costs, variable expenses, and salary costs.

Fixed costs, or fixed expenses, are what you pay each month, whether you drive 10 miles, 1,500 miles, or not at all. They include:

  • Truck payments
  • Insurance
  • License plates
  • Permits

You usually pay fixed costs monthly, quarterly, or yearly. But to calculate your cost per mile, you need to know the monthly total for each fixed cost. If, for example, your annual license plate fee is $1,800, divide that amount by 12 months. This totals $150 per month.

Your fixed costs might look something like this:

Truck payment                                             $1,500
Insurance – Collision                                   $500
Insurance – Health                                      $400
License plate                                               $150
Permits                                                        $75
Parking Expenses                                        $250
TOTAL                                                         $2,875

3: Calculate your variable costs.

Variable costs or operating expenses are based on how often and how far you drive. These include:

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  • Fuel costs
  • Meals
  • Broker fees
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Lodging
  • Tires

While some variable costs go up the more you run your truck, others can go down the longer you’re on the road.

Here are some variable costs you might have:

Fuel                                                                            $1,500
Meals/lodging                                                           $800
Tolls                                                                           $100
Tires                                                                          $450
Maintenance                                                             $450
Repairs                                                                      $300
Broker fees                                                                $1,000
Miscellaneous                                                           $350
TOTAL                                                                       $4,950

4: Determine your salary expenses.

Whether you run a fleet of trucks or operate solo, you pay or draw a salary plus related expenses. Salary expenses can include wages, payroll fees, benefits, and employment taxes. If you pay yourself $4,500 a month, this is your salary expense.

5: Calculate your cost per mile.

Using the above example numbers, let’s figure out your cost per mile. First, calculate your total expenses by adding fixed costs, variable costs, and salary costs:

$2,875 + $4,950 + $4,500 = $12,325

Next, divide the total expenses by your total number of miles (8,542).

$12,325 / 8,542 = $1.44

Your cost per mile is $1.44.

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Does this cost per mile seem a little high? One way to reduce costs and increase revenue is to book additional loads. In general, the more loads you haul, the lower your cost per mile will be.

Trucking companies and owner-operators use the Truckstop Load Board to find quality, high-paying loads of all different kinds. Booking jobs through our load board could boost your margins per mile while reducing your overall costs. Want to know more? Visit Truckstop for more information and schedule a free demo.

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