5 Ways to Increase Your Fuel Range During Holiday Camping

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When planning for holiday camping we think of all other things than the fuel we are going to use during the trip, it my understanding that less experienced in the camping trend pack a lot of the unnecessary item on their 4×4 loading up hundred of kilos on every available space.

For example, 50kg sounds like a lot if you’re thinking in terms of concrete bags slapped on the passenger seat… but look at it this way. A second spare tyre will factor in about 30kg, that’s over half a tank a year just to look like you’re off on an adventure, right after you’re done getting some milk from the shops. Add in a few other bits and pieces that don’t need to be on for daily duties, and it’s easy to save two full tanks of fuel a year, just by not driving ‘decked out’ everywhere. Would you rather look like you’re on an adventure, or have the money to actually go on one? So ditch the roof top tent and second spare when you’re traveling around town or on day trips.

  1. The Rusty nail principal

Engines use very little fuel per hour sitting on idle, they’re also not overly affected by aerodynamics until over 80km/h. That leaves a whole lot of fuel consumption being soaked up just by pushing the weight of your 4X4 around. Look at it this way. You have 10km to travel, and two different ways you can accomplish this. Option A is to accelerate gently, reach the speed limit and then maintain a constant speed for the whole distance. Option B sees you accelerate a little more aggressively until you reach the speed limit, then you brake smoothly until at a stop, and then start again. Stop-start for 10km. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out which one will chew more fuel. Stop-start driving chews fuel due to the increased amount of acceleration, which puts the engine under more load. Sitting in the slow lane along the freeway with your speed rising and falling by 10km/h constantly will chew more fuel than driving at a constant pace.

That’s why he old saying is ‘drive like there’s a rusty nail sticking through the accelerator pedal, slow and steady acceleration rather than mashing the go pedal on and off at every opportunity. I think it’d be more apt to say stop-start traffic sucks; don’t cause it for yourself.

2. Maximise Aerodynamics

There’s a reason land speed record cars aren’t shaped like shipping containers, and a small percentage of that scales down to the real world too. It’s a bit like a sliding scale, we’re not going the sort of speeds they are so we don’t need to be as slippery; but in the quest for low fuel consumption every little bit adds up. In fact one of the big reasons manufacturers keep canning old style 4X4s is due to poor aerodynamics hurting fuel consumption and as a result increased emissions. With that in mind it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go out of your way to make your four wheel drive less aerodynamic.

3. The right Tyres and pressure.

Grab a bag of concrete and sit it on your shoulders. It’s heavy, but not exactly a feat worthy of YouTube fame. Now get that same bag of concrete, and with the same arms you just picked it up with swing the bag of concrete around your head in a circle. That’s the difference between static weight and rotational weight; and why bigger, heavier tyres aren’t always a good thing. Increasing the diameter of the wheel is a bit like swinging the bag of concrete in an even bigger arc. Now try and swing that bag of concrete in an arc while you’re underwater. That’s the effect of tyre pressures being too low and an increase in tyre width – more commonly known as ‘rolling resistance’. The actual numbers come down to a lot of different factors, but unless you’re about to compete in a strongman competition this should put a bit of perspective on oversized tyres and their effect on fuel consumption.

4. Etra fuel.

There’s two ways to get a longer fuel range, either decreasing fuel consumption, or increasing the amount of fuel you carry. Long-range fuel tanks are a bit of a mixed bag. They’re a literal necessity if you’re doing long-distance travel, but can also hurt, too. An average long-range fuel tank can add over 100L to your carrying capacity. With 15L/100km that’d net you an additional 660km before your fuel light comes on. Except you’re now carrying close to an extra 150kg of weight, or 3-6 full tanks of fuel a year just to get better fuel range. It is advisable to leave them empty when not in use and make the most of them when you need them. They can also help you stock up on fuel when it’s cheaper.

5. All the little things.

If you break down what you’re really doing when attempting to save fuel, it all basically comes down to making things easier for your engine. If there’s a way to put less load on your engine it’ll give you improved fuel economy; it’s the basic principle of most diesel tuning chips and their claims of improved fuel economy. It doesn’t all need to be on a large scale though. It’s estimated at speeds under 80km/h, having the air conditioning running can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10%. This is simply due to extra strain on your engine driving an extra pump. Ironically enough, over 80km/h the drag of having your windows down is worse than having your AC on. You can take this right down to the micro level.

Dirty oil is thicker, meaning an increase in friction and more power required to move. That’s from your engine right through to your diff and even dodgy wheel bearings can affect fuel. Depending on your engine even a dirty or clogged air filter can cause massive restrictions. Each small component may only make a fraction of a percentage of improvement, but over 18,000kms a year it’s money in your pocket, not the bad guys’ pockets.

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